Nearly 22 years after the first book in Philip Pullman's acclaimed 'His Dark Materials' was published, the English author is returning with a new trilogy set in the same world.
Arguably the most highly-anticipated fiction title of the year, 'La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One' will see the return of Pullman's heroine Lyra Belacqua.
The book was released worldwide in over 30 languages today.
Pullman has told fans the new series will not be a prequel or sequel to 'His Dark Materials' and will instead run alongside the original story.
Volume one is set to begin ten years before the original book, with volume two set to take up the story 20 years later.
The original series courted controversy for its depiction of the church, organised religion and its vision of the afterlife - however it remains one of the most popular fantasy series of the past two decades.
Sales in the US rivaled those of Harry Potter, while the first volume in the series was later made into the global hit film, 'The Golden Compass.'
This latest instalment of the story is bookseller Waterstones’ biggest pre-order title since Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.
Online pre-orders shot the new title straight to the number slot on Amazon's bestseller chart when it was announced last February.
Philip Pullman in the Divinity School, Bodleian Library, 18-10-2017. Image: Ant Upton/Photocall Productions
Speaking at a special launch event at 'Jordan College' in Oxford last night, Pullman said he had "always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College."
"In thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up.
"This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life; starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her 20 years later."
He said the new series will tell a different story but "there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before."
A new televised adaption of His Dark Materials is due to be broadcast by the BBC in 2018.