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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) Hardcover – April 16, 1996
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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
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
"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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought this book was great. It was very engrossing and entertaining. I saw the movie first and wasn't too impressed, but I am glad I got the book!Published 4 days ago by Janet F. Smallwood
I finally read it! I bought a box set of the whole series and it had just been sitting on my shelf gathering dust. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Alex Tate
Thank you for writing these great stories of the past. The stories presented faith, hope, love, dreams, restitution, reconciliation, conversion, and peace. Read morePublished 1 month ago by elaine m. suda
Really keeps your interest and a good start for the young fantasy reader, as the main character is a 12 year old girl, Lyra. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Think about this
An interesting take on a coming of age story. I found the main character, Lyra, to be the most realistic... believing with passion as quickly and fully as only a preteen can. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shawn Stewart