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“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
Published: Random House Kids an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780440418603
List price: $7.99
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Availability for The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials: His Dark Materials
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In his Carnegie Medal Acceptance Speech, given in 1996, Philip Pullman contends that "There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children's book." His subsequent remarks about the importance of story, its centrality to both children's and adult literature, will be most welcome to anyone who grows tired of the sort of "literary armageddon" that certain critics, ala Harold Bloom, envision when faced with the adult consumption of children's books.These are exactly the sort of bold words one would expect from the author of His Dark Materials, a juvenile fantasy trilogy inspired in part by the works of Milton and Blake, and which takes up the cause of challenging certain long-entrenched theological and religious beliefs; among them the perfection and immortality of god, the justice of religious authority, the concept of original sin, and the role of free will. The Golden Compass is the first book in Pullman's trilogy, and opens in Oxford, in a "universe like ours, but different in many ways." It follows the adventures of a young girl named Lyra, who, together with her daemon Pantalaimon, finds herself swept up in an extraordinary adventure, the consequences of which will be more far-reaching than anything she ever could have imagined. With a sinister and all-powerful church, known as the Magisterium; a mystery involving kidnapped children and the terrible rumors as to their fate; a sea voyage to the far north; a fascinating cast of characters including gyptians, armoured bears, and Siberian witches; this book offers more than enough narrative excitement to keep any reader enthralled. The theological and philosophical controversies of Lyra's world provide a fascinating undercurrent to the story, particularly the concept of dust - a mysterious substance with great significance for the future of individual people, individual worlds, and the general universe....This is my third time reading The Golden Compass, which I first encountered when I was given an advance reading copy of it back in 1996. I have found each reading to be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience, and have been struck by different aspects of the story every time. As there are over 1,000 reviews for this title, I will avoid any more general summary, and focus on some of my specific observations this time around.First, this work always reminds me of the fact that adults too frequently undervalue the intellectual capability of children, their curiosity about and ability to grasp complex ideas and realities. Given that Pullman explicitly makes this point, when writing of Lyra's desire to learn about Dust, I find it ironic how often adult reviewers of this series will speak of its sophistication as somehow astonishing, "in a children's book." I must conclude that they have either failed to grasp this key point, or are seeking to assuage their own insecurities.Pullman's books have stirred up quite a bit of controversy, due to their sharp criticism of orthodox theology and religious institutions. While I do not find his arguments arbitrary or unfounded, I had to chuckle when I realized that much of what is considered "theology" in Lyra's world would be considered science in our own. Is Pullman being ironic, or is he intentionally implying that scientific institutions are as susceptible to corruption as religious ones?Finally, I consider Pullman's conception of the "daemon" to be a stroke of pure genius! The physicality of the soul in this world provides an extended, and very useful, metaphor for examining the human soul. It also allows the reader to truly witness the horror of spiritual violence, in a way impossible under any other circumstance. The complicated relationships between people and daemons, both their own and others, and between the daemons themselves, gave me much to ponder, this time around.more
This first book of His Dark Materials reminded me somewhat of Terry Pratchett. The world portrayed is only partly fantasy, which lends an interesting slant to the ending. I found the beginning a bit slow, but the second and third parts really kept my attention.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and the narration with full cast was amazing! I might not have made it past the beginning if I had been reading rather than listening...more
This is children’s fiction, but it’s a good escapist yarn for adults too. I liked it better than Harry Potter. In the world depicted here, every human is accompanied by his or her daemon, a part of one’s soul that takes the form of an animal, and must always stay close. In this story, Lyra, the hero, is given an instrument that always tells the truth, although it requires skill and concentration to read it. There are some great characters woven through her adventures, including a taciturn and noble armored bear.more
I loved the audiodrama! The cast was amazing, and the story--though, Lyra was a little bit too clever at times (I wish she'd have struggled a bit more to piece things together)--was exciting and engaging!more
I can't believe that it has taken me this long to read The Golden Compass. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year. I kept telling myself that I would read it at some point, so I was very excited to have my book club nudge me in the right direction.

I loved the dynamic duo that was Lyra and Pan. I applaud Phillip Pullman for creating two characters that were so distinct yet cohesive. I don’t mean Lyra and Pan had distinct personalities. They are very much unique, individual characters, who complement each other very well, and it’s hard to imagine one existing without the other.

When Lyra and Pan leave the college to live with Mrs. Coulter, I don’t think anyone could have predicted or imagined everything the two would be forced to endure. From the moment they escaped from Mrs. Coulter’s wicked grasp, I was on edge. I knew that she was bound to reappear with that awful monkey daemon of hers. And after witnessing that terrible golden creature attack Pan, I was not anxious to see him or Mrs. Coulter again.

When Lyra and Pan finally discover what is going on at the North Pole, I think I was more horrified than the characters themselves. I should note that a couple of years ago I flipped to the movie version of this book on TV, and I happened to see the scene where the oblation board/Gobblers attempt to rip Lyra and Pan a part. The scene was so uncomfortable to watch that I turned off the movie. I was convinced that this was going to happen to Lyra and Pan in the book. I guess I should have finished the movie... This was an absolutely appalling section to read, because it made me extremely sad and upset to think about what these adults were doing to these poor, helpless children and their daemons. I think the only part that was more upsetting to read was when one of the doctors actually touched Pan. I was as livid as Lyra and Pan were disgusted.

The concept of “dust” was very fascinating to read about. The fact that adults believe that dust causes sin and want to shelter children from it by ripping them apart from their daemons is interesting. Why haven’t the adults considered the possibility that dust is not a catalyst for sin but a product of it? And since children are more innocent than adults, it would make sense that they naturally have less dust, right? It seems that the adults wanted to be free from the church’s influence(I’m mainly referring to Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel’s disappointment with the church for not allowing them to further investigate the city in the parallel universe, the true origins of dust, and “intercision”), but they never take responsibility for their own actions. They immediately blame someone/something else for their sins and claim that because of dust, they can’t help but to sin more. Sound familiar? Adam and Eve?

In addition to the fascinating concepts of dust and intercision, there were so many wonderful, likeable characters, such as John Faa, Farder Coram, Ma Costa, and Iorek Byrnison, that made the story even more enjoyable to read. I am a little upset that we didn’t get to see what happened to John Faa and Farder Coram (and perhaps this is something that we see in the later books). And the witches! I want to learn so much more about these creatures. There were also some mentally unstable characters that I’d like to read more about, like Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter. I’m interested in their relationship and the relationship between their daemons.

This book probably invoked more emotion in me than any other that I can recall reading in my adult life. I’m actually happy that I did not read this between the ages of 10-12; I know that I would have been utterly heartbroken. Having to witness children being ripped a part (against their will!) from their essence, their souls, their best friends, the one thing that is truly them, was sickening to read and think about. Pondering the symbolism behind dust and witnessing intercision are things I'm not sure my 10 year old mind would have been ready to explore.

I will say that I feel like this review is all over the place and I apologize for that, but there’s so much to discuss and so many ways to interpret the literature. In short, I think this is a great read for people of all ages. The story is well told, the characters and setting are extremely well thought out, and the content would give any scholar something to ponder for days. I highly recommend this book. I very rarely rate unfinished books that are part of a series, but this absolutely gets 4 stars. The only reason it doesn't get 5 is because it isn't its own complete story because readers are left with a cliffhanger.
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This book was amazing.

I had seen the movie a few years back and I had remembered liking the movie but it never really stuck with me. Recently however, a coworker of mine was raving about the book and told me it was a must read. So I had that sucker sent over to my library and started it the day I got it, and finished it the next day.

I couldn't put it down. Thankfully I had thought ahead and had the other two books in the series shipped with it as well so I don't have to wait to read them.

I love Lyra as a character as she is strong and independent and doesn't take shit from anyone. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. I think she is a phenomenal role model for young girls (and even boys) who read this story.

Now, I have to stop writing because The Subtle Knife is waiting for me...more
A really good story with some classic YA structure, somewhat dampened by clumsy exposition. I confess I was inspired to read the book after I heard all the hue and cry from the Vatican and their ilk. I can only say that if they object, it's because of their own guilty conscience.more
I loved this as a start. I was immediately drawn into Lyra's world -- particularly Oxford. I remember being very gripped by the story and reading it very quickly.more
The Golden Compass, like any book that has entered the popular consciousness through a movie, tends to be overhyped and perhaps oversimplified. But this first book of the trilogy tells a much more complex story.On the one hand, it’s an introduction to an endearing twelve-year-old urchin, Lyra Belacqua, whose been raised by Oxford scholars in a familiar but parallel world. Her patron, Lord Asriel, flits in and out of her life, when not searching for the mysterious “dust,” until he becomes imprisoned. When she learns he’s her father and her young friends begin to disappear under strange circumstances, she launches into a quest to save them. On the way she discovers Gyptians, witches, armored bears and other strange characters, as well as the wicked Mrs. Coulter, one of the most intriguing villains in fiction.This book can be read as a children’s fantasy quest, but it’s told on many levels. It also has the not-so-subtle axe-to-grind of Philip Pullman’s well documented religious (or anti-religious) views. These views, while present, mostly do not detract from the fast paced story.Of relatively minor note, I found the omniscient point of view a bit distressing as the author switches heads sometimes in mid-paragraph, and the writing, while imaginative and richly detailed can get occasionally sloppy.I think of The Golden Compass as the simple start of a much more epic quest, almost like The Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings. Overall, this is a fascinating read and an original story in an age of too many clones. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.more
i read this after recognizing that i was neglecting fantasy as a genre and asked another librarian to recommend something. she made this sound fantastic and it was. it's a nice allegory and has a strong, smart female protagonist.more
Lyra is a plucky heroine. But what really keeps me reading is all the mysteries this book sets up. What is "Dust"? What are daemons, really? What is Lord Asriel's ultimate plan? Who made the alethiometer, and why? These questions are all intriguing enough to make me want to dive right into the second book.more
Well written, and I'm interested to see where the series goes. I was pulled into this from the first paragraph, and have so many questions that I hope the series will answer. I found the characterizations and dialogue realistic and appealing, and identified strongly with the main character due mainly to the strong writing.more
Lyra is aces. What a fierce child. What a rollicking tale and richly landscaped and clad in that British fantasy fashion.

Philip Pullman I don't like so much. Not quite sure why. Onward to the next one. Perhaps it will shake out then.more
I loved this the first time I read it. This second time through has me second-guessing myself. I found it more contrived, less fresh this time. Also Lyra's accent grates on my inner ear painfully. I do like the premise, still.more
Even better reading it the 2nd time. The film is good, but does not do it justice. So deep and rich.more
I was initially intrigued by this book and bought the remaining two in the trilogy. I didn't bother reading the third one. The device of each person having a daimon was the best part. I began to find the books confusing and too dark. I much preferred Pullman's Victorian photographer books (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess).more
I picked up this book, well the series really, in order to spend some time reading a few stories to my eight year old daughter. However, she wasn't very interested in the book because there were so many words she didn't know the definition of. However, I fully enjoyed the tale.

I picked this book specifically because it appeared to have a strong young female lead character and the story didn't disappoint in that regard. In fact Lyra is, perhaps, one of the bravest characters I've ever read. Considering she is, maybe, 11 years old she faces and overcomes incredible circumstances throughout the book.

The setting of the book is an alternate earth that is very similar to our own world, but in an age gone by, but also one that is very foreign. For instance Texas is a country and Polar Bears are warriors who can talk. However, the most unusual part of the world is also one of the main elements of the overall story - the daemons; an animal representation of each person's soul.

Lyra and her animal companion, Pan, experience a wide range of adventure as well as a a colorful cast of characters. One of the coolest aspects of the book is that it isn't obvious who is actually doing good and who is doing evil - or if either of the two main characters that are a focus of Lyra's attention are doing good at all. The only thing we really know is the people who befriend Lyra all seem like really good people.

I hope to get my daughter to come back and read this book either by herself or with me in the future because I think she would really enjoy the story.more
3.5 really, because of the Snow Queen's special appearance as Marisa Coulter. There were also a couple of genuine fairy-tale like moments (you know that moment when you slip into complete suspension of disbelief, and the evil stepsister cutting off her toe seems like the only way for the plot to go? I love those. They're not always in parallel with literary quality, as is the case here - but they're worth their weight in gold).
I've been told this is basically a set up for the next two installments. That makes a lot of sense, and if the writing improves when reading those in English*, I may upgrade this to a 4-star rating.

*worst. translation. ever.more
This one is difficult for me to review. I liked the story, but I didn’t love it.

Lyra reminds me a bit of Arya from Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”, although Lyra clearly acts like a child and Arya kind of kicks ass on a whole other level. I never really liked Lyra, although I could sympathize with her at some point. I’m not fully satisfied about a book when the connection with the main character isn’t there, or barely there.

There’s not particularly anything wrong with this book, the story itself must have sprouted from a very imaginative mind, but it just didn’t touch my heart. When you read a really, really great book, you just know. It will have conquered a very special spot in your heart. This one was just a good read, but it didn’t give me that special feeling, it didn’t make me jump around in excitement or gasp in shock. It didn’t make me read hours on end, just so I could know what would happen next.

There were some great twists in this story, which were kind off spoiled for me because I watched the movie when it came out some years ago. Maybe I would have thought differently about this books if I hadn’t seen it, but we’ll never know now. But that is another indication this wasn’t a great book for me. There are a few books I’ve read over and over again and although I know all the twists and all the details of the story, I can’t get enough and I devour the book every time. The fact that this books was less interesting because I’d already seen the movie and knew the plot twists says a lot.

I like the concept of a daemon as a sort of life companion. I kept wondering how my daemon would look like if it settled and what I would like it to be. All of us get lonely sometimes, but with a daemon, you’ll always have someone to talk to and confide in, he or she is a part of your soul. It’s also very interesting, because once a daemon settles it represents your own character. This can be very confronting or come as a relief, but it’s something you’ll have to live with and accept. This part of the story gets a big thumbs up because it has a deeper meaning than just being a “companion”, it makes you think and speculate and it brings something extra to the journey you make in this book.

All in all, this was a good read and as it’s kind of a classic, one you should read just to know what it is all about. I’ll read the next books in this trilogy and I hope I can make a better connection with the characters in those. My rating: 3,5 dragons.more
Due to the current controversy over this (jumpstarted by the upcoming release of the movie), it moved to the top of my reading list. I'm interested to see where this is going - definitely a cliffhanger ending. Pullman has definitely created a fascinating world, but this was clearly the introduction with much more to be discovered.more
first read as part of the SFBC 3-in-1 around 2001-ishmore
I'm not really sure how I felt about this one. I enjoyed it for the most part and I think it deserves 4 stars but something about it just didn't really do it for me. I really loved the start. It was intriguing and succeeded in pulling me in to read the rest of the book. Lyra was a lovely character and very easy to engage with. I thought the plot took a bit long to unfold and that the explanations of the world (Daemons, Dust etc) were too spread out but other than that, it was rather enjoyable. It definitely picked up in the last quarter of the book and I really enjoyed the ending. I liked reading about the plans and why they came about. Overall, it was good enough and the world Pullman has created is fascinating. I'm just not sure if I'm very eager to read the next in the series. I think I might though- Lyra and Pan are fun characters.more
A fantastical story about a little girl and her adventures to and in the North. This is an alternate reality to our's and its a fascinating read to be sure. Texas is even its own country! The only gripe I have with the book which keeps it from 5 stars is that sometimes Pullman just TELLS us things instead of letting them be revealed. I know in some ways its used to build intrigue such as how very early on we are simply told Lyra is the CHOSEN ONE, but it still just urks me a bit.more
A great work of fantasy. A story that really draws you in, and characters that are very lifelike. I loved the descriptions and could really imagine the alternate universe Pullman sketches, and the people in it.A very interesting aspect of the trilogy is the commentary on religion. Though I am not religious myself, I do find that Pullman goes quite far in his criticisms and think he is rather harsh on the church and it's works. I think not all religion is bad and tht religion can bring good things as well, whereas the picture that Pullman paints is rather bleak, making religion into an evil institution that only manipulates people for it's own benefit.more
Wow. This book totally blew me away. I found myself unable to put it down. I even found myself on the verge of crying out, “Hooray!” during one particularly daring rescue. (I’m not generally this emotive a reader, so this says a little something about this book, I think.) The characters are complex; like real people, the “good guys” aren’t clearly good and the “bad guys” aren’t clearly bad. I love the moral ambiguity, and I can see this touching off some very interesting conversations between children and adults as they read these books. I’ve only read the first book, but I really can’t see the fuss about Pullman promoting atheism to kids and all that. On the contrary, I found this to be quite a spiritual story. It is set in a parallel universe in which the Church has maintained power into the 20th century (no reformation, no enlightenment, apparently). I can see that it might be a warning about power and the lengths to which those in power go to retain that power, but I don’t see this as anything near an indictment of God or the belief in God (unless you believe that God and religion are inextricably linked, which I do not).

I plan to pick up the second book from the library tomorrow, so I’ll see if my opinion changes after reading it. Regardless of the controversy, I found this an incredibly entertaining read. I look forward to sharing it with my daughter once she’s past the Curious George stage.more
A lot of fun, and definitely makes you want to read the rest of the trilogy. Pullman has created a world that effectively blends the modern and the fantastic.

From talking to a couple friends who have read this before, it seems like one's opinion of Lyra plays a big role in one's appreciation of the book as a whole. I, for one, found her delightful. I do wish that she'd spent a little less time over the course of the book being captured, but she proves to be resourceful and smart without seeming unrealistic, while giving off enough of a bratty vibe to feel authentic without being obnoxious.

One element of the book that I especially enjoyed was that while Lyra figures in a prophecy (as happens so often in fantasy novels), she and most of the characters remain blissfully unaware of it, letting the reader know that she's important without making the character and plot a slave to the prophecy.

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Just as good the second time through, although I found myself wishing that Pullman had continued describing the symbols used by the alethiometer, rather than just giving the questions and answers directly. I suppose it probably would have slowed the book's frenetic pace as it built to its climax, but I found the actual descriptions of how Lyra was interpreting the symbols to be amongst my favorite parts of the book.more
Pullman's world building is undoubtedly original and imaginative, but the characters in this story are so uninteresting that not once did I care about any of them. Actually, that's not completely true. The boy who was severed from his daemon and eventually died—I forget his name—that one broke my heart.The story did pick up a little towards the end even though it was a slog getting there. I may continue on with the series some day, but for now I'm giving it a rest.more
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Reviews

In his Carnegie Medal Acceptance Speech, given in 1996, Philip Pullman contends that "There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children's book." His subsequent remarks about the importance of story, its centrality to both children's and adult literature, will be most welcome to anyone who grows tired of the sort of "literary armageddon" that certain critics, ala Harold Bloom, envision when faced with the adult consumption of children's books.These are exactly the sort of bold words one would expect from the author of His Dark Materials, a juvenile fantasy trilogy inspired in part by the works of Milton and Blake, and which takes up the cause of challenging certain long-entrenched theological and religious beliefs; among them the perfection and immortality of god, the justice of religious authority, the concept of original sin, and the role of free will. The Golden Compass is the first book in Pullman's trilogy, and opens in Oxford, in a "universe like ours, but different in many ways." It follows the adventures of a young girl named Lyra, who, together with her daemon Pantalaimon, finds herself swept up in an extraordinary adventure, the consequences of which will be more far-reaching than anything she ever could have imagined. With a sinister and all-powerful church, known as the Magisterium; a mystery involving kidnapped children and the terrible rumors as to their fate; a sea voyage to the far north; a fascinating cast of characters including gyptians, armoured bears, and Siberian witches; this book offers more than enough narrative excitement to keep any reader enthralled. The theological and philosophical controversies of Lyra's world provide a fascinating undercurrent to the story, particularly the concept of dust - a mysterious substance with great significance for the future of individual people, individual worlds, and the general universe....This is my third time reading The Golden Compass, which I first encountered when I was given an advance reading copy of it back in 1996. I have found each reading to be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience, and have been struck by different aspects of the story every time. As there are over 1,000 reviews for this title, I will avoid any more general summary, and focus on some of my specific observations this time around.First, this work always reminds me of the fact that adults too frequently undervalue the intellectual capability of children, their curiosity about and ability to grasp complex ideas and realities. Given that Pullman explicitly makes this point, when writing of Lyra's desire to learn about Dust, I find it ironic how often adult reviewers of this series will speak of its sophistication as somehow astonishing, "in a children's book." I must conclude that they have either failed to grasp this key point, or are seeking to assuage their own insecurities.Pullman's books have stirred up quite a bit of controversy, due to their sharp criticism of orthodox theology and religious institutions. While I do not find his arguments arbitrary or unfounded, I had to chuckle when I realized that much of what is considered "theology" in Lyra's world would be considered science in our own. Is Pullman being ironic, or is he intentionally implying that scientific institutions are as susceptible to corruption as religious ones?Finally, I consider Pullman's conception of the "daemon" to be a stroke of pure genius! The physicality of the soul in this world provides an extended, and very useful, metaphor for examining the human soul. It also allows the reader to truly witness the horror of spiritual violence, in a way impossible under any other circumstance. The complicated relationships between people and daemons, both their own and others, and between the daemons themselves, gave me much to ponder, this time around.more
This first book of His Dark Materials reminded me somewhat of Terry Pratchett. The world portrayed is only partly fantasy, which lends an interesting slant to the ending. I found the beginning a bit slow, but the second and third parts really kept my attention.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and the narration with full cast was amazing! I might not have made it past the beginning if I had been reading rather than listening...more
This is children’s fiction, but it’s a good escapist yarn for adults too. I liked it better than Harry Potter. In the world depicted here, every human is accompanied by his or her daemon, a part of one’s soul that takes the form of an animal, and must always stay close. In this story, Lyra, the hero, is given an instrument that always tells the truth, although it requires skill and concentration to read it. There are some great characters woven through her adventures, including a taciturn and noble armored bear.more
I loved the audiodrama! The cast was amazing, and the story--though, Lyra was a little bit too clever at times (I wish she'd have struggled a bit more to piece things together)--was exciting and engaging!more
I can't believe that it has taken me this long to read The Golden Compass. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year. I kept telling myself that I would read it at some point, so I was very excited to have my book club nudge me in the right direction.

I loved the dynamic duo that was Lyra and Pan. I applaud Phillip Pullman for creating two characters that were so distinct yet cohesive. I don’t mean Lyra and Pan had distinct personalities. They are very much unique, individual characters, who complement each other very well, and it’s hard to imagine one existing without the other.

When Lyra and Pan leave the college to live with Mrs. Coulter, I don’t think anyone could have predicted or imagined everything the two would be forced to endure. From the moment they escaped from Mrs. Coulter’s wicked grasp, I was on edge. I knew that she was bound to reappear with that awful monkey daemon of hers. And after witnessing that terrible golden creature attack Pan, I was not anxious to see him or Mrs. Coulter again.

When Lyra and Pan finally discover what is going on at the North Pole, I think I was more horrified than the characters themselves. I should note that a couple of years ago I flipped to the movie version of this book on TV, and I happened to see the scene where the oblation board/Gobblers attempt to rip Lyra and Pan a part. The scene was so uncomfortable to watch that I turned off the movie. I was convinced that this was going to happen to Lyra and Pan in the book. I guess I should have finished the movie... This was an absolutely appalling section to read, because it made me extremely sad and upset to think about what these adults were doing to these poor, helpless children and their daemons. I think the only part that was more upsetting to read was when one of the doctors actually touched Pan. I was as livid as Lyra and Pan were disgusted.

The concept of “dust” was very fascinating to read about. The fact that adults believe that dust causes sin and want to shelter children from it by ripping them apart from their daemons is interesting. Why haven’t the adults considered the possibility that dust is not a catalyst for sin but a product of it? And since children are more innocent than adults, it would make sense that they naturally have less dust, right? It seems that the adults wanted to be free from the church’s influence(I’m mainly referring to Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel’s disappointment with the church for not allowing them to further investigate the city in the parallel universe, the true origins of dust, and “intercision”), but they never take responsibility for their own actions. They immediately blame someone/something else for their sins and claim that because of dust, they can’t help but to sin more. Sound familiar? Adam and Eve?

In addition to the fascinating concepts of dust and intercision, there were so many wonderful, likeable characters, such as John Faa, Farder Coram, Ma Costa, and Iorek Byrnison, that made the story even more enjoyable to read. I am a little upset that we didn’t get to see what happened to John Faa and Farder Coram (and perhaps this is something that we see in the later books). And the witches! I want to learn so much more about these creatures. There were also some mentally unstable characters that I’d like to read more about, like Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter. I’m interested in their relationship and the relationship between their daemons.

This book probably invoked more emotion in me than any other that I can recall reading in my adult life. I’m actually happy that I did not read this between the ages of 10-12; I know that I would have been utterly heartbroken. Having to witness children being ripped a part (against their will!) from their essence, their souls, their best friends, the one thing that is truly them, was sickening to read and think about. Pondering the symbolism behind dust and witnessing intercision are things I'm not sure my 10 year old mind would have been ready to explore.

I will say that I feel like this review is all over the place and I apologize for that, but there’s so much to discuss and so many ways to interpret the literature. In short, I think this is a great read for people of all ages. The story is well told, the characters and setting are extremely well thought out, and the content would give any scholar something to ponder for days. I highly recommend this book. I very rarely rate unfinished books that are part of a series, but this absolutely gets 4 stars. The only reason it doesn't get 5 is because it isn't its own complete story because readers are left with a cliffhanger.
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This book was amazing.

I had seen the movie a few years back and I had remembered liking the movie but it never really stuck with me. Recently however, a coworker of mine was raving about the book and told me it was a must read. So I had that sucker sent over to my library and started it the day I got it, and finished it the next day.

I couldn't put it down. Thankfully I had thought ahead and had the other two books in the series shipped with it as well so I don't have to wait to read them.

I love Lyra as a character as she is strong and independent and doesn't take shit from anyone. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. I think she is a phenomenal role model for young girls (and even boys) who read this story.

Now, I have to stop writing because The Subtle Knife is waiting for me...more
A really good story with some classic YA structure, somewhat dampened by clumsy exposition. I confess I was inspired to read the book after I heard all the hue and cry from the Vatican and their ilk. I can only say that if they object, it's because of their own guilty conscience.more
I loved this as a start. I was immediately drawn into Lyra's world -- particularly Oxford. I remember being very gripped by the story and reading it very quickly.more
The Golden Compass, like any book that has entered the popular consciousness through a movie, tends to be overhyped and perhaps oversimplified. But this first book of the trilogy tells a much more complex story.On the one hand, it’s an introduction to an endearing twelve-year-old urchin, Lyra Belacqua, whose been raised by Oxford scholars in a familiar but parallel world. Her patron, Lord Asriel, flits in and out of her life, when not searching for the mysterious “dust,” until he becomes imprisoned. When she learns he’s her father and her young friends begin to disappear under strange circumstances, she launches into a quest to save them. On the way she discovers Gyptians, witches, armored bears and other strange characters, as well as the wicked Mrs. Coulter, one of the most intriguing villains in fiction.This book can be read as a children’s fantasy quest, but it’s told on many levels. It also has the not-so-subtle axe-to-grind of Philip Pullman’s well documented religious (or anti-religious) views. These views, while present, mostly do not detract from the fast paced story.Of relatively minor note, I found the omniscient point of view a bit distressing as the author switches heads sometimes in mid-paragraph, and the writing, while imaginative and richly detailed can get occasionally sloppy.I think of The Golden Compass as the simple start of a much more epic quest, almost like The Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings. Overall, this is a fascinating read and an original story in an age of too many clones. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.more
i read this after recognizing that i was neglecting fantasy as a genre and asked another librarian to recommend something. she made this sound fantastic and it was. it's a nice allegory and has a strong, smart female protagonist.more
Lyra is a plucky heroine. But what really keeps me reading is all the mysteries this book sets up. What is "Dust"? What are daemons, really? What is Lord Asriel's ultimate plan? Who made the alethiometer, and why? These questions are all intriguing enough to make me want to dive right into the second book.more
Well written, and I'm interested to see where the series goes. I was pulled into this from the first paragraph, and have so many questions that I hope the series will answer. I found the characterizations and dialogue realistic and appealing, and identified strongly with the main character due mainly to the strong writing.more
Lyra is aces. What a fierce child. What a rollicking tale and richly landscaped and clad in that British fantasy fashion.

Philip Pullman I don't like so much. Not quite sure why. Onward to the next one. Perhaps it will shake out then.more
I loved this the first time I read it. This second time through has me second-guessing myself. I found it more contrived, less fresh this time. Also Lyra's accent grates on my inner ear painfully. I do like the premise, still.more
Even better reading it the 2nd time. The film is good, but does not do it justice. So deep and rich.more
I was initially intrigued by this book and bought the remaining two in the trilogy. I didn't bother reading the third one. The device of each person having a daimon was the best part. I began to find the books confusing and too dark. I much preferred Pullman's Victorian photographer books (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess).more
I picked up this book, well the series really, in order to spend some time reading a few stories to my eight year old daughter. However, she wasn't very interested in the book because there were so many words she didn't know the definition of. However, I fully enjoyed the tale.

I picked this book specifically because it appeared to have a strong young female lead character and the story didn't disappoint in that regard. In fact Lyra is, perhaps, one of the bravest characters I've ever read. Considering she is, maybe, 11 years old she faces and overcomes incredible circumstances throughout the book.

The setting of the book is an alternate earth that is very similar to our own world, but in an age gone by, but also one that is very foreign. For instance Texas is a country and Polar Bears are warriors who can talk. However, the most unusual part of the world is also one of the main elements of the overall story - the daemons; an animal representation of each person's soul.

Lyra and her animal companion, Pan, experience a wide range of adventure as well as a a colorful cast of characters. One of the coolest aspects of the book is that it isn't obvious who is actually doing good and who is doing evil - or if either of the two main characters that are a focus of Lyra's attention are doing good at all. The only thing we really know is the people who befriend Lyra all seem like really good people.

I hope to get my daughter to come back and read this book either by herself or with me in the future because I think she would really enjoy the story.more
3.5 really, because of the Snow Queen's special appearance as Marisa Coulter. There were also a couple of genuine fairy-tale like moments (you know that moment when you slip into complete suspension of disbelief, and the evil stepsister cutting off her toe seems like the only way for the plot to go? I love those. They're not always in parallel with literary quality, as is the case here - but they're worth their weight in gold).
I've been told this is basically a set up for the next two installments. That makes a lot of sense, and if the writing improves when reading those in English*, I may upgrade this to a 4-star rating.

*worst. translation. ever.more
This one is difficult for me to review. I liked the story, but I didn’t love it.

Lyra reminds me a bit of Arya from Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”, although Lyra clearly acts like a child and Arya kind of kicks ass on a whole other level. I never really liked Lyra, although I could sympathize with her at some point. I’m not fully satisfied about a book when the connection with the main character isn’t there, or barely there.

There’s not particularly anything wrong with this book, the story itself must have sprouted from a very imaginative mind, but it just didn’t touch my heart. When you read a really, really great book, you just know. It will have conquered a very special spot in your heart. This one was just a good read, but it didn’t give me that special feeling, it didn’t make me jump around in excitement or gasp in shock. It didn’t make me read hours on end, just so I could know what would happen next.

There were some great twists in this story, which were kind off spoiled for me because I watched the movie when it came out some years ago. Maybe I would have thought differently about this books if I hadn’t seen it, but we’ll never know now. But that is another indication this wasn’t a great book for me. There are a few books I’ve read over and over again and although I know all the twists and all the details of the story, I can’t get enough and I devour the book every time. The fact that this books was less interesting because I’d already seen the movie and knew the plot twists says a lot.

I like the concept of a daemon as a sort of life companion. I kept wondering how my daemon would look like if it settled and what I would like it to be. All of us get lonely sometimes, but with a daemon, you’ll always have someone to talk to and confide in, he or she is a part of your soul. It’s also very interesting, because once a daemon settles it represents your own character. This can be very confronting or come as a relief, but it’s something you’ll have to live with and accept. This part of the story gets a big thumbs up because it has a deeper meaning than just being a “companion”, it makes you think and speculate and it brings something extra to the journey you make in this book.

All in all, this was a good read and as it’s kind of a classic, one you should read just to know what it is all about. I’ll read the next books in this trilogy and I hope I can make a better connection with the characters in those. My rating: 3,5 dragons.more
Due to the current controversy over this (jumpstarted by the upcoming release of the movie), it moved to the top of my reading list. I'm interested to see where this is going - definitely a cliffhanger ending. Pullman has definitely created a fascinating world, but this was clearly the introduction with much more to be discovered.more
first read as part of the SFBC 3-in-1 around 2001-ishmore
I'm not really sure how I felt about this one. I enjoyed it for the most part and I think it deserves 4 stars but something about it just didn't really do it for me. I really loved the start. It was intriguing and succeeded in pulling me in to read the rest of the book. Lyra was a lovely character and very easy to engage with. I thought the plot took a bit long to unfold and that the explanations of the world (Daemons, Dust etc) were too spread out but other than that, it was rather enjoyable. It definitely picked up in the last quarter of the book and I really enjoyed the ending. I liked reading about the plans and why they came about. Overall, it was good enough and the world Pullman has created is fascinating. I'm just not sure if I'm very eager to read the next in the series. I think I might though- Lyra and Pan are fun characters.more
A fantastical story about a little girl and her adventures to and in the North. This is an alternate reality to our's and its a fascinating read to be sure. Texas is even its own country! The only gripe I have with the book which keeps it from 5 stars is that sometimes Pullman just TELLS us things instead of letting them be revealed. I know in some ways its used to build intrigue such as how very early on we are simply told Lyra is the CHOSEN ONE, but it still just urks me a bit.more
A great work of fantasy. A story that really draws you in, and characters that are very lifelike. I loved the descriptions and could really imagine the alternate universe Pullman sketches, and the people in it.A very interesting aspect of the trilogy is the commentary on religion. Though I am not religious myself, I do find that Pullman goes quite far in his criticisms and think he is rather harsh on the church and it's works. I think not all religion is bad and tht religion can bring good things as well, whereas the picture that Pullman paints is rather bleak, making religion into an evil institution that only manipulates people for it's own benefit.more
Wow. This book totally blew me away. I found myself unable to put it down. I even found myself on the verge of crying out, “Hooray!” during one particularly daring rescue. (I’m not generally this emotive a reader, so this says a little something about this book, I think.) The characters are complex; like real people, the “good guys” aren’t clearly good and the “bad guys” aren’t clearly bad. I love the moral ambiguity, and I can see this touching off some very interesting conversations between children and adults as they read these books. I’ve only read the first book, but I really can’t see the fuss about Pullman promoting atheism to kids and all that. On the contrary, I found this to be quite a spiritual story. It is set in a parallel universe in which the Church has maintained power into the 20th century (no reformation, no enlightenment, apparently). I can see that it might be a warning about power and the lengths to which those in power go to retain that power, but I don’t see this as anything near an indictment of God or the belief in God (unless you believe that God and religion are inextricably linked, which I do not).

I plan to pick up the second book from the library tomorrow, so I’ll see if my opinion changes after reading it. Regardless of the controversy, I found this an incredibly entertaining read. I look forward to sharing it with my daughter once she’s past the Curious George stage.more
A lot of fun, and definitely makes you want to read the rest of the trilogy. Pullman has created a world that effectively blends the modern and the fantastic.

From talking to a couple friends who have read this before, it seems like one's opinion of Lyra plays a big role in one's appreciation of the book as a whole. I, for one, found her delightful. I do wish that she'd spent a little less time over the course of the book being captured, but she proves to be resourceful and smart without seeming unrealistic, while giving off enough of a bratty vibe to feel authentic without being obnoxious.

One element of the book that I especially enjoyed was that while Lyra figures in a prophecy (as happens so often in fantasy novels), she and most of the characters remain blissfully unaware of it, letting the reader know that she's important without making the character and plot a slave to the prophecy.

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Just as good the second time through, although I found myself wishing that Pullman had continued describing the symbols used by the alethiometer, rather than just giving the questions and answers directly. I suppose it probably would have slowed the book's frenetic pace as it built to its climax, but I found the actual descriptions of how Lyra was interpreting the symbols to be amongst my favorite parts of the book.more
Pullman's world building is undoubtedly original and imaginative, but the characters in this story are so uninteresting that not once did I care about any of them. Actually, that's not completely true. The boy who was severed from his daemon and eventually died—I forget his name—that one broke my heart.The story did pick up a little towards the end even though it was a slog getting there. I may continue on with the series some day, but for now I'm giving it a rest.more
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