Philip Pullman's latest short story is Once Upon a Time in the North, sort of a prequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy in that it relates the story of the fateful first meeting between Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby and armored bear-warrior Iorek Byrnison. I preferred this one to Lyra's Oxford, the other 'companion volume' - this one had more oomph and, well, I was rather more partial to the characters.
That said, this has all the limitations of a short story. I found myself wanting more character development, more plot, &c. For what's here, though, Pullman's done a good job.
The small volume is nicely designed, with appropriately-murky engravings by John Lawrence. A must-read for the HDM completist or die-hard Scoresby fans, but probably not a requirement for others.