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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials Kindle Edition

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 dæmon, 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 dæmons 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 dæmon, 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 dæmon, 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

Pullman's masterfully rendered fantasy-adventure, the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy, captivates from the start on this vibrant audio production. As narrator, the British author is swift and sure, inviting young listeners along for a most intriguing story. Young Lyra Belacqua and her daemon companion Pantalaimon leave their sheltered life among the scholars and caretakers at Oxford University to find Lyra's best friend, Roger, who has been kidnapped. Lyra's quest leads her to the Far North where she encounters battle-ready witches, talking polar bears and a team of evil scientists who plan to perform a hideous experiment on Roger and the other children they have captured. But worst of all, Lyra learns that her fearsome Uncle Asriel and the mysterious Mrs. Coulter (who had tried to befriend and kidnap Lyra) are at the center of the child-demon investigations. With the help of the kind Gyptians, Lyra is able to outsmart her enemies and rescue Roger. The cast of actors enact a breadth of characters, from headstrong Lyra and her excitable, impatient daemon to the superior and sharp-sounding Lord Asriel. The villains, dramatic voyages and fantastic creatures are certain to hold listeners' attention throughout the hefty recording. The production is also available in trade packaging, in three separate installments. Ages 9-up. (May)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6558 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0440418321
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (November 13, 2001)
  • Publication Date: November 13, 2001
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1ICM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,842 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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352 of 380 people found the following review helpful By M. J. JACKSON on June 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By BookBuzz on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By L. Coll on June 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished the Pullman "His Dark Materials" trilogy. The books are extremely well written and engrossing. I agree with the other reviewers that there is a strong anti-organized religion message here, but I think that it goes over the heads of most young readers, just as the Christian metaphors of Narnia are lost on the average ten-year-old until pointed out by an adult co-reader. If your child does pick up on it, it is a great entree into a discussion on the differences of opinion on religion and the existence of God. Our dinner conversation started with these books and ended with the war in Iraq. Any child who is old enough to read this is probably at the age of questioning anyway, so it is also a great opportunity for parents to discuss and affirm their own beliefs with their kids.
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422 of 505 people found the following review helpful By L. Feld on December 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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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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
Is this the same Golden Compass as the movie that is coming out this year?
Yes, this is the same series of books as the movie that's coming out soon. If I were you, I'd read the books before your mind gets imprinted with the movie. From looking at the trailers online, the movie does stray somewhat from the book. AND, if you read this book, you'll read the next two... Read More
Jul 23, 2007 by E. Hada |  See all 3 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
Biblical Parallels within "The Golden Compass"
This is in reply to R. J. Richs' post and JS Moores': THANK YOU.
Anagrams and mirrors anyone? It is a work of fiction designed to take us away like Calgon AND...GOD forbid!! to let us make a decision...or not.
I wouldn't have this life any other way.
I said it before...Well done, Mr. Pullman!
Dec 23, 2007 by D. F. Printup |  See all 4 posts
"His Dark Materials" Audiobooks in French? Be the first to reply
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