Get ready to return to a world of alethiometers, daemons and armoured polar bears. Acclaimed English author Phillip Pullman has announced the publication of a long-awaited follow-up to his bestselling His Dark Materials novels.

The novel, titled The Book Of Dust, is due to be released on Oct 19 this year.It will be the first of a trilogy.

“I know from their letters and tweets that my readers have been waiting patiently (mostly) for The Book Of Dust for a long time. I’ve been writing it for several years, and I’ve been very parsimonious with information about it. It gives me great pleasure and some excitement at last to satisfy their curiosity (and mine) about this book,” said Pullman in an announcement on his website.

The His Dark Materials trilogy consists of Northern Lights (1995, published as The Golden Compass in the United States), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass (2000).

Since their release, the books have won several literary awards, including the Carnegie Medal for Northern Lights and the Costa Book Of The Year for The Amber Spyglass.

They have sold more than 17.5 million copies, and been translated into 40 languages.

Author Philip Pullman

Author Philip Pullman

According to the author, his new books will continue to tell the story of Lyra Belacqua, the heroine of the His Dark Materials series. The first two volumes will cover two parts of her life, starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her 20 years later.

“What can I tell you about it? The first thing to say is that Lyra is at the centre of the story. Events involving her open the first chapter, and will close the last. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College and, in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up,” said Pullman.

The author went on to say that the book was neither a sequel nor a prequel, but an “equel” that will stand beside the original trilogy. He added that there will be settings and characters that readers will recognise, as well as new ones, including “a boy that we have already seen in an early part of the story, if you were paying attention.”

“I’ve hugely enjoyed getting to know the new characters, seeing Lyra again, and exploring the world(s) they live in. I’ve loved watching the story expand across the years, and take me to places I’d never dreamed of. As for future volumes, my lips are sealed,” he wrote.

Previously, Pullman has also written two short companion books to His Dark Materials, namely Lyra’s Oxford (2003), and Once Upon A Time In The North (2008). A film based on Northern Lights, titled The Golden Compass, was released in 2008.

The Book Of Dust will be published jointly by David Fickling Books and Penguin Random House Children’s in Britain, and by Random House Children’s Books in the US.