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188 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and exciting
My three girls and I all love to read, I mean LOVE it! We also like to discuss books we read together. As such, it is always a joy to come across a book or series that engages all of us and ends with long conversations we all learn from. While I do not feel these books are age appropriate for my 8 year old, even with an advanced reading level, it IS for my 13 and 17...
Published on November 16, 2007 by J. Anderson

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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very uneven
Pullman has a very fertile imagination, which has allowed him to populate these books with many unforgettable characters and ideas. Unfortunately, the pacing of the books is very uneven. There are some points (e.g. the ends of both the first and second books) that are just too frenetic, where what should have been a whole chapter gets condensed down to a single page in...
Published on April 22, 2002 by Amazon Customer


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188 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and exciting, November 16, 2007
My three girls and I all love to read, I mean LOVE it! We also like to discuss books we read together. As such, it is always a joy to come across a book or series that engages all of us and ends with long conversations we all learn from. While I do not feel these books are age appropriate for my 8 year old, even with an advanced reading level, it IS for my 13 and 17 year olds. After The Golden Compass, they both fought over who would get to read The Subtle Knife first.

Based on some of the reviews here, much of this series seems to personally offend anyone that is christian. It seems like anything that is threatening to their beliefs is deemed dangerous and negative. However, I think it is a good thing to have your beliefs challenged; it makes you use your mind, question things, and creates thought!

I would much rather have my girls read something they didn't agree with and found distasteful than have their right to read what they want denied. I am grateful for the freedom they experience in our country and the opportunities they are afforded because of it--opportunities to read something like these books that will make them use their minds, for example!

It comes down to this: If you are someone who likes to read, likes to be entertained, likes to use your imagination, and likes to think for yourself rather than allowing someone else to think for you, you will find value in this series!
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219 of 239 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant fantasy trilogy, September 20, 2007
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This review is from: His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) (Hardcover)
Philip Pullman's dark fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, ostensibly written for children, is actually literature of a much higher order. The title of the trilogy comes from a particularly powerful passage of Milton's Paradise Lost, the great religious epic poem whose central story is the thematic basis for this trilogy. Another important influence on these three novels is the Christian Parsifal or Sir Percival story, which dates back to the early middle-ages as part of both the King Arthur and the Holy Grail cycle of tales. From its very first page, Pullman's crisp, evocative writing creates a world not quite like ours but just similar enough to be uncomfortable and strangely familiar. As readers of the trilogy know, most of the events in these books do not occur on our world or even in our universe. Of course, because this is post Tolkien fantasy, Mr. Pullman has absorbed all of the usual fantasy tropes and has no desire to repeat them. So what he writes is new, deeper, with fully rounded characters that come alive on the page. His courageous young heroine, Lyra Belacqua with her daemon familiar, Pantalaimon, always by her side, is one of the great creations in "children's literature". Lyra and Pan make an especially entertaining, often very amusing, pair. Her fearsome Uncle, Lord Asriel, is one of those rich, ambiguous creations that keep you guessing as to their motives, reminiscent of Professor Snape in J. K. Rowling's Potter novels. Pullman's writing is lean and well crafted and exciting to read. Once started, it is very difficult to set aside.

This three volume boxed set contains the books in hardcover with their original dustcovers. Their artwork is lovely. It also contains a map: a necessity in today's complex world of fantasy. The first volume, The Golden Compass, has been filmed and was recently released on DVD. The two succeeding books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, will presumably follow thereafter. This set makes a lovely gift for an older and mature reading child or an adult who still retains memories of childhood and all of its dark mysteries. Strongly recommended.

Mike Birman
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207 of 228 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polar Bears!, October 17, 2007
By 
M. Lee (Somewhere in the West Coast) - See all my reviews
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There are enough (I dare say much more than enough) reviews out there that pertain to the actual contents of the book, whether it be good or bad, so I shall not express how awesome I think the trilogy is. I, instead, want to comment on the various editions of the book/trilogy available out there. I personally bought the Dark Materials Omnibus, which is absolutely gorgeous, and has very sturdy binding. The cover has a nice texture to it, and is much lighter than one would expect for its size (it is quite large). However, I have seen other versions of the trilogy, and I found that the paperback versions, printed by Knopf, are also wonderful and pleasing to the eye, which are printed with heftier paper than the Omnibus. The "standard" versions (the ones that cost 7.50 or so) are also great, though not as pretty as the other ones; they are, however, lightweight and tightly bound (I got those for my brother, who enjoyed the series). However, if you are in search of a copy to give as a gift, then I suggest the Omnibus or paperback versions, simply because of its aesthetic value.
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109 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous fantasy writing for adults and children!, December 3, 2007
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This review is from: His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) (Hardcover)
This is by far the most engaging, intelligently-wrtten works of children's literature I have ever read. (And for anyone getting hyped up about the religious factor, please read this before you judge!) The prose is sophisticated (I would say this is for kids with a very good vocabulary, maybe a 9+), and the characters are engaging. And talk about action packed! Pullman always keeps the reader guessing, and the action always is intriguing. The books do have violence in them (nothing too gory, but there are some battle scenes with blood, and some characters die), so keep that in mind if you want to read it to kids younger than 9.

A lot of people say this book is anti-religious, anti-God, atheistic, etc. Most of these reviews have obviously not read the series. I actually found The Golden Compass in the book closet of the Catholic school where I taught English Lit! This book for certain is NOT anti-Christian. It does not preach evil values, & it does not encourage children to kill God. The book has a lot of religious aspects: souls, angels, and spirits. This book IS anti-religious corruption, and it IS against using religion to justify evil. One review mentioned the book encourages female circumcision: so wrong!...what the book said was that religions have used faith in God to cause harm to many, including the cutting of genitalia! And if Pullman is an atheist, so what? C.S. Lewis was a Christian. Does that mean Jews, Muslims and Buddhists can't enjoy the Narnia series, even though its messages aren't parallell to their own religious values?

One thing that I do like is that Pullman creates very strong-minded children for his main characters, especially Lyra. Despite having horrible parents, Lyra finds strength within to overcome seemingly impossible tasks with the aid of her daemon Pan. I like that Pullman talks a lot about how fear can destroy people and societies, and also on a subtle level, how technology gone too far can wreak havoc on the world. I also like that Lyra both respects and questions authority. She has a mind and a sense of adventure, and I love that she breaks so many female sterotypes.

I'm re-reading the series now and am giving it to my 10 year-old cousin for Christmas. I know he'll love it as much as I do!
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, Thoughtful, Dangerous, November 30, 2007
This trilogy is what reading is all about. It creates a world where you can lose yourself and reflect upon the "real world" that we live in. I found it moving and important.

I picked up a copy of "The Golden Compass" as a houseguest at a friend's house. I confess I wasn't much company, as I could not put the book down for my visit. Before I left my host's house, I went online to buy the entire Trilogy which was waiting for me when I got home. I unpacked, and started reading again.

It truly is thought-provoking and brilliant. Unfortunately, it is also dangerous to those beliefs which we simply assume to be true. Questioning and analyzing are basic intellectual activities, and these books are marvelous opportunities to use fiction to really make you think. Perhaps that's why we are seeing so many negative ratings from those who are very "faith-based". They seem to assume if Faith is questioned (which this series does), then it is anti-Christian. I don't quite get that, as I think Faith without questioning is dangerous itself.

I would agree that the youngest readers may not be equipped for the explorations these books present, but after reading them themselves, perhaps parents will be able to make an informed decision.

Read for yourself, think for yourself, allow the mysteries to absorb you. But don't expect to get a lot done outside of your reading time!!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best books I've ever read� If not the best at that, October 28, 2000
By 
Steve (Ridgefield, CT, USA) - See all my reviews
I'd have to say that after reading all the ambigouosly worded quotations on the back of the book, I was apprehensive when picking up The Golden Compass, the first book in the trilogy. As with every book, it was adorned with advance praise, which is a nice way of saying "we think you'll like it and I have to go spend the money I got for recomending it to you." Still, Pullman was a good author, and so I bought it, and I very much enjoyed it. I was young (9 or 10, I believe) when I read the first book, and I enjoyed it simply for what was on the surface. I did the same with The Subtle Knife, and after going to the publisher's site this summer (Randomhouse), I noticed that the third book was coming soon. I went back and reread the other two books (in two days, no less), and I thouroughly enjoyed them, and moreso, considering that I'd read Paradise Lost on my own time. After reading The Amber Spyglass, I must say, it is a worthy conclusion to this trilogy, deftly avoiding predictability at every turn, and finishing with a profound truth about life and sacrifice. Pullamn has kept me enthralled all the way through, and I cannot think of a better, deeper, and more epic story.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the greatest, November 20, 2000
A Kid's Review
His Dark Materials are wonderful. They have so much suspense, action, thrills, and adventure, you will never put them down. By the way, you have to buy the whole set or else they won't make any sense to you. The characters are great. The objects are great. The BOOKS are great! There are so many amazing ideas. There are fantasy creatures and fantasy places that are very cool. You will love them as much as I did.
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711 of 860 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Compass; A great follow up to Harry Potter., October 27, 2001
After finishing the 4th Harry Potter book I moped around for a few days lamenting the fact that the next installment isn't due for publication for quite some time. Luckily, a friend of mine suggested the Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman. Five pages in to The Golden Compass I was hooked. With a "Potter like" fervor I ripped through the first book in two very long nights. After which I was useless at work, but just as satisfied as when I first discovered the work of J.K. Rowlings. A great read!
A note to parents: The world that Pullman conjurs is a bit darker than Harry Potter's. There is more violence and some very frightening situations. I'd say 11 and up would be a good age for these books.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative story, great values!, December 2, 2007
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I was utterly enchanted by this series. I picked up The Golden Compass in a free books pile at the Catholic school where I worked as an English teacher; once I started it, I could not put it down. When I finished, I immediately purchased the next final parts of the series! Many readers have said that The Subtle Knife is the weakest link, and I certianly agree, but I find that's the same for most trilogies.

I was surprised to see so many negative reviews of this book, most of them saying that the books are anti-God. I found the series to more to be anti-religious corruption than anti-God. or anti-spiritual. (The deamons in Lyra's world are like souls in our world). Many people lovingly praise the Narnia series; I find this is just one more perspective in religious fantasy. Many reviews quote a nun character as saying Christianity was a big mistake. I think this book can be an excellent way to open up conversations about how people all too often use faith to serve their own needs (as the history of Catholicism and Christianity has shown, in addition to all other religions). If you are concerned about these aspects regarding your children, read the book first and then decide it you think it's appropriate.

I think this book teaches some great values, such as questioning corrupt authority and pursuing the truth. I also love seeing a strong female character in the main role. Also, I like how Pullman highlighs the importance of animals by making daemons take on animals forms. In all, I found this series incredibly imaginative and thought-provoking. I was blown away at the end, and highly recommend this series to fantasy fans of all ages.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely consuming- disturbingly thought provoking, April 17, 2003
By 
Kim Johnson (Bedford, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Pullman's moving His Dark Materials series is based on Milton's epic poem "Paradise Lost" and deals heavily with religion and metaphysics. It's not for the very young, the easily offended, the narrow minded, the faint of heart or those looking for a light,easy, preachy or moralistic children's book. These three books make you think and feel. I reccomend buying all three books at the same time, setting aside a large chunk of time, reading a summary of "Paradise Lost" and stocking up on food and facial tisse because this powerful, but heart- breakingly melancholy series offers no closure until the third book. I think it's about 1000 pages or more in total.
That said, you'll notice that while many praise this book, it's dificult to say what's it's about (notice lack of plot summary in reviews and even on back of books). Let's just say that it is set in many different worlds, some like ours, some different, and the main characters are 11 year old Lyra, 12 year old Will and 3000 year old Dust. The three books really focus on what happens to and how people deal with Dust (a sort of conscious matter) in different worlds and planes of existence.
The books are definetly fantasy, not sci-fi, and those who enjoy the richness and detail of Harry Potter's world , or Tolkien's work will enjoy this one. The His Dark Materials series is much more challenging, and frankly unsettling, because it is so imbued with moral ambiguity, and moral slippages- what's right in one situation isn't right in others, etc. It may leave you questioning what and why you believe.
The Dark Materials series stands out because of the mixture of romance, action, mystery, technology,legend, and lore. More than being about religion, or other worlds or rites of passage the His Dark Materials series is about Truth. Live truthfully, question the truth, and never, ever prevent others from living truthfully. The worse thing you can ever do, the series implies, is to keep the truth from people. Keeping people in the "Dark" prevents them from enjoying life and living in the moment.
I don't feel that I can adequately describe how powerful, moving or important this series is. It's absolutely consuming; it'll take you away. Read this one- you won't regret it. I'd give it an infinite number of stars if I could.
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His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)
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