Reader reviews for The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials

I liked this book the most out of the His Dark Materials series. My problem with the series as a whole is that it's too didactic, Pullman pounding in his message against organized religion in later books with ten-inch nails. In terms of message and themes this series seems to consciously be the anti-Narnia, without ever being derivative of that world in its creative details. However, in the first volume, I was so fascinated by the world Pullman creates, the rich style and the non-stop action that this first book didn't simply outweigh the problem I had with the polemics, I didn't even notice it: compulsively readable. I particularly was intrigued and charmed by his "daemons"--talking animal spirits that are more than just companions, they're a part of your soul. The relationship between the protagonist, Lyra, and her daemon Pantalaimon is one of the most compelling aspects of the book. (And displays the most appealing part of Lyra's character--one problem I do have with the book and the series is that I otherwise find Lyra hard to like. Iorek Byornison, on the other hand, the armored talking polar bear, is made of win.) I also loved how this book (and the trilogy as a whole) blends fantasy and science fiction. Daemons, "Dust," the "alethiometer" referred to in the title aren't just magical devices but thought-provoking ways to examine questions of identity and reality. Pullman in this novel creates one of the most fascinating worlds I've seen in fantasy, and one unusual for being set in an alternate history Age of Steam rather than a pseudo-medieval setting. Marketed as "young adult" or even for children, this is definitely the kind of novel that can fully capture adults too.
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I enjoyed this adventure, although it took me a while to really get into the story. I think it really took off for me after she ran away and her adventure took off. The ideas of the deamon and dust were both very interesting to me. I loved the people who she met and helped her, almost more than I liked Lyra herself. In the end I felt satisfied with the story, but I am not in a hurry to keep reading on in the series. Maybe I will try the series again as my children get older, I think it would make a fun book to read aloud.
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This is a great series for anyone who loves the Harry Potter books. It's fun to have a girl as the protagonist.
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I had started this book months ago and got distracted by reading something else. When I found out it was coming out as a movie I went back and reread it. I'm surprised that I got distraacted the first time because it was a really interesting book. Very sci-fi with alternate universes and scientific backgrounds. Can't wait for the movie, or the next book.
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I ended up really liking this book, especially when I first read it at eleven. It's an entertaining, enthralling read for young adults and grownups alike, especially those who like adventure and fantasy. Well-written, beautifully detailed, and engaging, although your mileage may vary on the sequels.
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Loved every minute of it. Pleasantly surprised! Found that the majority of the criticism thrown at the book from religious conservatives were totally unwarranted, although I guess I can see why they are scared of the book. They are scared of the book just as the Magisterium is scared of Dust. They can't control it and since they are in the business of controlling minds and especially those of young children, they don't like it when someone comes along and teaches kids to think for themselves, that adults are not always right, that too much religion can sometimes be a bad thing. After reading the book, my girlfriend and I watched the movie, excitedly rubbing our hands together, excited to watch the book come to life on screen. Unfortunately, the movie was a huge disappointment, as the plot order and even some plot details were changed. We kept asking ourselves, "Why?" It seemed that sometimes details were changed just for the sake of doing so and we couldn't understand why. And then to see that the entire last 3 chapters of the book were left out entirely, well.. let's just say we were more than a little peeved. Also the movie moved along way too fast and if we had not first read the book, we would have been totally lost. But this review is for the book, not the movie, and so I have to say it was fantastic.
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Ok just finished golden compass and I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. First of all Pullman has a great writing style, his sentence structure is done in such a way that it grips you and makes you share the suspense and the ambience of that world. But even better than his writing style are his ideas! First of all this takes place in an alternate reality, the main difference from our own is that every human has a daemon accompanying them. A daemon is described as the human soul in animal form which serves as more than a companion but probably half of a whole. As such the animal is a best expression of a persons character- for example the meek and subservient have mice and pups for daemons while the devious and deceptive have serpents as daemons. Also before a human reaches adolescence their daemon much like their personalities often change form with their emotions- and believe this device is used very well to describe Lyra (the main character's) state of mind.Also their is the concept of Dust- which i wont spoil. Basically Pullmans world is one which is a joy to discover as you read on. The plot for this is all but simple but the gyst is that it follows the main character Lyra Belaquia. Shes a twelve or eleven year old girl who has a daemon called Pantalamion. In her adventures around her home of Jordan College she witnesses a murder attempt on her Uncle Asriel, but warns him before any damage is done. Then after eavesdropping on the meeting between her Uncle and the other professors she finds out about the mystery of Dust and so forth. From that point her uncle leaves, and shes given this althieometer (the golden compass) which is a mystical item which allows one to read the future. However the item is rare and shouldnt be allowed to fall in the wrong hands. Meanwhile this clandestine group called the Oblation board (AKA Gobblers) have been behind the mysterious disappearance of children all across england, including Lyras dear friend Roger. And the head of the organisation; Mrs. Coulter has taken a special interest in Lyra and thus an adventure begins with Lyra being on the run from the Gobblers while searching for her kidnapped friend and her Uncle. Now this is a bad synopsis really the plot is actually pretty great with a huge twist which caught me offguard and the movie didnt get a chance to show. Part of why the plot is deep is that it incorporates many races and cultures *Polar Bears ROCK!!!!!!!* and witches for example. Furthermore the secondary characters are very intriguing example Iorek Bynirson- the falled Polar Bear Prince, Lee Scoresby the happy-go-lucky yet enigmatic aeronaut, John Faa and Father Coram- the Gypsy Heads, Serafina Pakkala- one of the century old witch clan leaders etc etc all just make me wanna check the sequel to see if any light is shed on them. Though I have my doubts if that'll actually happen-_-Anyway- all I'll say is that its a great book im dying to read the sequels as the world has sucked me in much like Potter. And one more thing I must add Lyra has to be one of the most likeable main characters ever- shes brave and crafty with a bit of a stubborn brat streak bt man she just doesnt give a damn about adults. The ending especially just has me so excited considering how much of a harda** she could be lol. Anyway 4 and a half stars !!!
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An excellent book with lasting impact. The protagonist is fun to read, and it is easy to empathize with her. There is a lot to enjoy here, as we discover this alternate world through her eyes. The ending would have been a torment if I didn't have the next book ready to hand at the time.Recommendation: For mature young readers.
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So basically, this book rules. The first in His Dark Materials trilogy and one of my favorite books of all time, it is the adventures of Lyra, a girl who lives under the care of Oxford College. Only this is not the real Oxford College, but one of a different world. A world in which your soul lives outside of your body and is basically your bff.A creepy uncle who is doing scientific experiments, an assassination plot and a kidnapping send Lyra on a quest to find her bff (not her soul, but her other one). Included in this adventure: Gyptians, a Texan with a hot air balloon, evil religious zealots, a golden compass that mysteriously tells Lyra what to do, and ARMORED FREAKING POLAR BEARS!! And Lyra gets to ride on one's back!! Too amazing to go on, it totally blew my mind. Seriously, even if you don't like YA Lit, read this. Especially before the movie comes out this winter.
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A fierce story, completely unsentimental. Lyra is a wily girl who faces the deadly challenges she encounters with courage and cunning. She's child but nobody's fool. Pullman creates a fantastical but believable alternate universe where humans have daemons and amour wearing bears are formidable warriors. The story moves briskly along with no slow parts.
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