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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials [Kindle Edition]

Philip Pullman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,691 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“The most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings.” --The Oregonian

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal--including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.
Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.
But what Lyra doesn't know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other. . . .

A New York Times Bestseller
A Newsweek Top 100 Book of All Time
An Entertainment Weekly All-Time Greatest Novel
Winner of the Guardian Prize for Children's Fiction
"Very grand indeed." --The New York Times
"Superb . . . all-stops-out thrilling." --The Washington Post
"A shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"The Golden Compass is one of the best fantasy / adventure stories that I have read. This is a book no one should miss."--Terry Brooks

Editorial Reviews Review

Some books improve with age--the age of the reader, that is. Such is certainly the case with Philip Pullman's heroic, at times heart-wrenching novel, The Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied:
As for what experimental theology was, Lyra had no more idea than the urchins. She had formed the notion that it was concerned with magic, with the movements of the stars and planets, with tiny particles of matter, but that was guesswork, really. Probably the stars had daemons just as humans did, and experimental theology involved talking to them.
Not that Lyra spends much time worrying about it; what she likes best is "clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." But Lyra's carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from "gyptians" to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

In The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman has written a masterpiece that transcends genre. It is a children's book that will appeal to adults, a fantasy novel that will charm even the most hardened realist. Best of all, the author doesn't speak down to his audience, nor does he pull his punches; there is genuine terror in this book, and heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. There is also love, loyalty, and an abiding morality that infuses the story but never overwhelms it. This is one of those rare novels that one wishes would never end. Fortunately, its sequel, The Subtle Knife, will help put off that inevitability for a while longer. --Alix Wilber

From Publishers Weekly

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy now appears in sophisticated trade paperback editions, each title embossed within a runic emblem of antiqued gold. The backdrop of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book I sports a midnight blue map of the cosmos with the zodiacal ram at its center. The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass carry similarly intriguing cover art, and all three titles offer details not seen in the originals: in Compass and Knife, for example, Pullman's stamp-size b&w art introduces each chapter; Spyglass chapters open with literary quotes from Blake, the Bible, Dickinson and more.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
333 of 359 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, impressive, not all morally injurious June 18, 2005
First of all this is really a review of the trilogy and not The Golden Compass on its own - (I prefer the British title Northern Lights and I wonder why it has a different title in North America?).

Its been a long time since I read a book ostensibly for children, possibly the last time was when I was an actual child unless you count a couple of adult re-readings of Tolkien - but I felt I had to read it to know what the fuss was about - both from the ample praise given to these books by critics and also some of the controversy they seem to have provoked - some of which is touched on in these reviews. And yeah I was impressed - I felt genuinely gripped by the plot and went out and bought both sequels right after reading Northern Lights and read them all in a day and its not everyday I do that. Incidentally I don't want to sound like I'm boasting but the last few books I read included Jorge Luis Borges, Albert Camus and Umberto Eco - all fairly grown up, intellectual authors so the previous reviewer's comment that the only people who'd enjoy this are either children or just stupid is just blatantly untrue. There is so much to admire in these works - the creation of Lyra's world with its alternative version of history, the interesting touch of the daemons and the way they represent the characters' natures, the depiction of the frozen north with its Panserborne and witches etc was just fascinating, along with the other parallel worlds visited over the trilogy (though Lyra's is the most fully realised I think) as was the whole underlying framework of Pullman's universe with its blend of theoretical physics, William Blake, Paradise lost, theology etc - you have to salute Pullman's creativity and imagination here.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's it doing in the Children's Section? January 22, 2001
What's it doing in the Children's Section? Is it simply that children are at the heart of this fable? Be forewarned, this is a rich and complex tale with themes that examine the creation and structure of the universe, good and evil, and the very meaning of life and death. While cloaked in the trappings of an epic odyssey, the language, violence, and themes make this a book most suitable for mature young readers and adults.
"His Dark Materials" is not only "Dust" --the fear of which propels this story -- but it is the dark recesses of human nature. Pullman questions our views of the world, science, religion and ourselves. It is bold enough to make a clear philosophical stand, which the reader, like Lyra, comes to understand over the course of this journey through multiple universes and the inner depths of human spirit.
So why is this book in the Children's Section? Perhaps it's because it requires a mind not set firmly in its ways -- a mind that can jump from idea to idea as quickly as Lyra's daemon can change shapes.
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191 of 223 people found the following review helpful
By kyravon
For anyone else getting confused, apparently for some stupid reason they retitled the book for the US version. (It's not like it's a different language and we wouldn't understand the translation.) I was about to buy this book, thinking it was a continuation of the series that I loved when I realized the plot sounded remarkably familiar.
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397 of 471 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop confusing us with different titles July 29, 2005
After reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials one realizes that Harry Potter is training wheels, wonderful, but training wheels nevertheless. Having said that: On the web page for Northern Lights, Amazon states: buy Northern Lights + His Dark Materials for whatever the lower price is. Why don't you clearly state that Northern Lights is the original UK title for The Golden Compass? I thought perhaps there was another volume. You are a good organization. Don't try to snooker us, please.
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416 of 497 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From DUST thou art! December 30, 2000
By L. Feld
Whew! I just finished reading all three of Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" books in a little over a week (I couldn't put them down!), and I'm still trying to absorb all of this. My initial reaction: this is going to be an all-time classic, and certainly not just of "young adult" or "fantasy" books (Phillip Pullman himself has stated many times that he can't read "fantasy," because it "doesn't tell [him] anything interesting about being a human being." While it is certainly different than the "Lord of the Rings," it is NOT AT ALL ridiculous to place Pullman's creation in the same pantheon as Tolkien's, which is something I swear I never thought that I would say. Anyway, the bottom line is that this trilogy is an amazing, mind-blowing, fascinating, exciting, heartbreaking, work of transcendent brilliance, and it starts with the story of Lyra, somewhat inaccurately titled, "The Golden Compass" (I guess that sounds better than "The Alethiometer" or "Lyra vs. the Gobblers" or something, but I strongly prefer the British title, "Northern Lights"). Also, the marketing of this book is very strange - if you look at the cover you might think this was some warm, fuzzy children's adventure story about a girl and her pet bear. Not!!! Instead, how about Phillip Pullman's dark take on creation and extended riff on multiple themes raised in John Milton's "Paradise Lost" and the Book of Genesis. The bottom line: if Phillip Pullman is mainly for children, than so are John Milton and the Bible! I don't think so.... Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by Rachel
4.0 out of 5 stars Super fast shipping - as described - VERY happy?
Super fast shipping - as described - VERY happy?
Published 3 days ago by DAWN M. COOK
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Wintry Fantasy Pick for Adults, Iffy for Kids and Teens
[Taken/adapted from my blog: http://scififantasylitchick.wordpress...]

The Story: "The Golden Compass" (or "Northern Lights," its UK title), by Philip... Read more
Published 14 days ago by ScifiFantasyLit Chick
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
I'm reading it for the third or fourth time in 10 years, and enjoying it everytime more. A thought-provoking wonder
Published 16 days ago by O. Delgado Gosalvez
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and mind-blowing
His Dark Materials takes on questions and topics usually not found in YA novels, including religion, multiverse-theory and questioning authority. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Jay Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars my favorites
Love love love these books! I can't wait until my kids are old enough to read them and cherish them like I do.
Published 19 days ago by Sara Fires-rodgers
5.0 out of 5 stars Oldy but goody
I'm glad to be rereading this book again. Great story and character development.
Published 25 days ago by S. E. Schneider
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
The premise is interesting, but it's written from the perspective of a young child. I found it hard to immerse myself into the book.
Published 1 month ago by rohdedogg
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 1 month ago by ladybug72
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting!
Wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book. I've heard positives and negatives. I found each chapter to be beautifully written and mesmerizing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JuJuFo
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Topic From this Discussion
Has anyone criticizing these books seen the movie "Jesus Camp"?
I haven't seen it, but I must ask you:

Have you ever been to a Christian camp?

That one sounds unusual and cultish, at best.
Feb 5, 2008 by molly |  See all 2 posts
"My books are about killing God." -- Pullman
Thank you for the point of what Pullman has said his purposes were. That brings us to a crucial question. Is the meaning of something limited to what the creator meant it to be? I think not. Despite whatever intentions someone had for creating something, that original purpose is not the only... Read More
Sep 30, 2009 by Jason Brier |  See all 6 posts
To all of the recent "this is anti-Christian" reviews
I came across this quote today, in a book I am currently reading and not in an email--I just wish I'd had it three weeks ago when I was being barraged with these emails from people in my church community regarding these books:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of... Read More
Nov 5, 2007 by Kiki |  See all 57 posts
The Story is Not Anti-Spiritual
That is exactly how I feel about the series.
Folks who are judging it harshly before reading it don't understand what it's about. It's not about killing God, but it's more about how corruption in the church makes people do evil things in the name of their faith despite the fact that it's really... Read More
Oct 28, 2007 by Akemi |  See all 48 posts
The graphic stories of the Bible versus Harry Potter etc
Oh, be quiet about spelling and grammar, the guy's post was perfectly intelligible, and you guys go straight after the spelling/grammar cards because you obviously can't think of a witty retort.
Nov 10, 2011 by A. R. E. Su Xin |  See all 5 posts
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