The Golden Compass

By Philip Pullman,

Book cover of The Golden Compass

Book description

The first volume in Philip Pullman's groundbreaking
HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, now a thrilling, critically
acclaimed BBC/HBO television series. First published
in 1995, and acclaimed as a modern masterpiece, this first
book in the series won the UK's top awards for children's literature.

"Without this child, we shall all

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Why read it?

28 authors picked The Golden Compass as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I loved that this book doesn’t oversimplify challenging themes for a young audience. It mingles magic, action, and fascinating worldbuilding with some heavy philosophical and ethical undercurrents in a unique and compelling way.

The protagonist, Lyra, was a bit of a brat (in the best way), and I loved her mix of naivety and intelligence. I especially enjoyed the portrayal of dust as a conscious particle, and the most fascinating aspect for me was the study of its mysteries.

While I can’t comment on the specific religious undertones—I am not Christian and harbor no negative feelings against the church—I did…

Years ago, this book was handed to me as a gift with a knowing look, like a secret was about to be revealed to me. I gobbled it up and was literally walking to the book store while reading the last chapter so I could start reading the next book immediately.

I was surprised to find the series in the middle-grade section of the store because even though the protagonist is 11-year-old Lyra, the story is layered and sophisticated in a way that goes beyond most middle-grade books. Lyra’s world has a wonderful “out of time period” feel before any…

From Danika's list on adventurous girls in fantastic worlds.

The first thing that made me adore this trilogy was Pullman’s prose, which to me felt lush, lyrical, and brimming with emotion. I also loved his vision of a world in which people’s souls existed outside of their bodies in animal forms with which they could interact.

Its theme of rebellion against authoritarianism, coupled with the heroine’s heartbreaking journey and its rich Biblical allegories, kept me turning pages faster than any book I had read before (or since).

These books, though categorized as “young adult” fiction, delivered real frights and made me shed real tears. I think it’s one of…

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, starting with this book, remains one of my strongest literary influences to date.

The series plays with genres and themes as deftly and easily as the many worlds described in the books blend and bleed together. Magic and quantum mechanics, witchcraft and “atomcraft,” religious allegory, and coming-of-age narrative all merge together here, casting this book into a unique space entirely its own.

Lyra and Will are protagonists for the ages, and the way they form bonds with the allies who help them along their journeyfrom an armored bear to a cowboy aeronaut…

Nothing about this book, or the His Dark Materials series, should appeal to me: Talking polar bears? Witches? A protypically cynical, devil-may-care adventurer?

But any thoughts of “children's book” faded when I encountered the book’s dark heart—as in parent-trying-to kill-perfectly-lovely-child kind of dark. Setting his saga in a steampunk variation of Victorian England, Author Pullman is deadly serious.

I often wrestle with issues of spirituality, fate, and the role of religion, and with this trilogy I found much to enjoy and think about. The religion vs. science theme might strike some as heretical, but I find it intriguing and thought…

The first book in Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy introduces a rich multiverse that draws theological parallels with Christianity and the inferred contradictions of humanity, morality, and social order.

These contradictions are firmly embedded in protagonist Lyra Belacqua, whose main skill is to use complex and convoluted untruths to protect herself. During the series, Lyra adapts her craft of artifice so that others may benefit, and in this act gives readers an insight into how subterfuge can change, depending upon the moral compass the character who applies it.

Lyra’s character is feisty yet incredibly intelligent, providing a robust role model,…

The sense of wonder and suspense in this world that is so like our own is enough to keep the reader turning the pages from start to finish.

I personally like the more intellectual turns that the story takes in between its occasional bouts of action. As exciting as attacks by bizarre monsters and charging polar bears can be, following the thought process of this often rather unsympathetic little girl and her spirit animal conscience in trying to figure out just what it is they’re meant to do and how to do it is what really makes this otherwise ordinary…

The Golden Compass (also published as Northern Lights) is the first book in a trilogy of tales set in a world where every human is accompanied by a daemon—a sort of physical embodiment of your inner spirit.

Though not technically “animals,” daemons can take the form of animals. And, for some people, they can talk in the best possible way, like a perfect combination of coach, conscience, and companion. Pullman’s heart-wrenching story builds far more than an alternative world for his readers: there are multiple universes to explore and experience, along with a warrior race of armor-plated polar bears…

From Peter's list on animals that talk.

Lyra ‘Silvertongue’ Belacqua is one of the most compelling young female protagonists ever wrought. It feels to me that she was brought to us on a bolt of liquid lightning.

She is a girl from another universe where the inhabitants’ souls exist externally in the form of animals. It’s mind-bendingly beautiful. And her quest is deep, dark, and dangerous. And while Pullman can sometimes get mired by his loftiness, preachiness, and pedantisms, ultimately this is the very touching and adventurous story of a girl who crosses dimensions, worlds, and precipices—including a dive into The Land of the Dead from which…

Staying with fiction, this is a book (or rather, a trilogy of books), that has so much to say about presences and voices.

It made a huge influence on me as a young reader with the first volume, Northern Lights, being released when I was 10. Throughout the series the prominence of daemons, spectres, angels, and ghosts prompts readers to be constantly thinking about questions concerning self and others, and the divisions of mind, body, and soul.

In his collection of essays, Daemon Voices, Pullman has also written about how fictional characters begin speaking for themselves as part…

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