Book Discussion: The Golden Compass - SPOILER FREE thread
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Well, I am about 2/3rds through it, and I will say that I agree with the others: It is a good strong fantasy, but I am not seeing the kind of wonder in it that will pull me in for future reads. Overall, it is not turning out to be predictable, the characters are engaging enough, and the plot has sufficient 'pull' to carry itself forward.
That's so spoiler-free, I could write the above for just about any book at all that I liked. ;)
Our family watched "Hairspray" last night, (which was absolutely phenomenal, by the way, highly recommended) and in front of it, they have a seven minute extended preview of The Golden Compass. I think you can just watch that and be done, lol. I'm about halfway through, and they covered every significant scene in that preview. Sometimes, too much is too much.
So far, so easy read. Nothing too remarkable here, I find. I'll save my detailed nitpicking for the spoiler thread later.........
I read it about three years ago. I remember not liking the idea of "daemons" at first. They seemed unoriginal .. too much like indian spirit guides or guardian angels ... but Pullman makes them believable and by the end, I was totally happy with the concept.
I got the next two in the trilogy and am about halfway through the last one The Amber Spyglass. Quite enjoyable for light bedtime reading but I won't be telling people it's a "must read". To be honest I was interested in what was said about the religious aspects but I feel the press has made more of that than the text actually justifies. I found myself thinking of daemons as "external souls".
I am not susre that the press is at fault, this time. The way I first heard about the religious controversy was when I received an email from a relative telling me to boycott the book and the movie because the author was all about "killing God". This relative is very involved in a very fundamental Christian church but she also knows very well I am quite opposed to fundamentalism and its "causes". I was surprised to get this "book burning" message from her as she is otherwise very smart and thoughtful. All to say, I think it is the churches who are adding fuel to the controversy fire.
I must confess I'm usually pretty dense with religious themed books. When I was little and read the Narnia books, I read them as pure fantasy until I got to The Last Battle and then I finally clued into the Christian tie-ins (I told you I was/am dense). When I read The Golden Compass I was equally clueless to the religious tie-ins. I read it superficially I guess. I saw the daemons as external souls too PossMan, and loved that idea, sort of like having Jimminy Cricket on your shoulder all the time, a bit of a pain, but nice company too.
It wasn't until I read several threads of LT that mentioned Pullman as being quite the vocal atheist and The Dark Materials trilogy as reflecting that. Then of course I went back and glanced through them again and saw it. Just dense, that's all I am! ;-)
I agree maggie. I think the more people call for a ban on something the more popular it becomes. You'd think the churches would have learned by now!
#5 I read the trilogy a little over a year ago & loved the daemon concept as I love pets & their company: so the idea of a creature being that connected to you-a soul mate literally has great apeal for me. I went on the Golden Compass website & took a quiz which said that my daemon would be a Snow Leopard (one of my favorite animals) named Alexius. Your daemon is always of the opposite sex which would seem to make one a more balanced individual.
As to the controversy about the books I may also be dense as I thought the message was to be more cautious about following individuals or groups too blindly especially when they are doing things that are just wrong morally-so wrong that no justification would make them right!!
As to the killing God thing-atheists deny the existence of God-so how does one kill someone who does not exist????
When we read the books for a class, we discussed how they are essentially a re-working of Paradise Lost, with some fantastical themes thrown in there. I don't remember all that was established, but I'm willing to elaborate on some in the spoiler thread if it interests anyone.
I picked up on the religious connections, but not the literary ones, on first reading.
I checked out the Golden Compass movie's website and also took the quiz to find my daemon (always wanted one). Mine is a racoon. Hmmm, don't know what to think of him. More shall be revealed. I think I need to finish the book before the movie opens because I am going to be sorely tempted to cheat and go to the movie as soon as I can fit it in.
katylit #8: I think the more people call for a ban on something the more popular it becomes.. I'm sure that's right and possibly the only reason I bought Salmon Rushdie's The Satanic Verses when I'd already decided I wasn't too keen on some of his other works. In the case of Pullman I think making the film made a big difference as illustrated by the fact that many of the objectors use the title of the US version (Golden Compass) which is also the title of the film, rather than the UK title (Northern Lights).
Daemons remind me of the dragons in McCaffrey's Pern novels. I would love to have one or the other. I think it's the idea of never having to go it alone, of always having a guide/companion with you who knew you so intimately you could always be completly yourself. I wonder if it would be better or worse, for everyone to have daemons which would therefore make it very hard to lie, even to yourself.
The first time reading these books I didn't catch on to the religious aspects. To me it was more about power and keeping most of the population mindless and malleable. But I must have just forgotten the religious aspects because reading the book now I can see how it is the power hungry using religion as a reason for the cruelty they do.
I don't think there is anyone trying to kill God in this book though. Maybe in one of the next two? I don't remember them that well. Or did I miss something?
sandragon - My reading of the religious complaints relates to the author being outspokenly atheist and that he was quoted as having said the series was all about killing god. I have no idea if the alleged quote is accurate or not. I also heard that it is all more clear in the third book. Makes me want to read all three again.
One thing I found very funny was the kids coming up with the name "Gobblers" and finding that some adults used the same term as a pronounceable acronym.
I liek the subtle differences between Lyra's Oxford and the real place - not that I know it well. You can easily imagine the ancient university rooms being as described.
I really liked the daemons and thought it a lovely idea. Like many I'd love ot have one - although I don't suppose they could actually help you make any better choices than you'd make for yourself.
#9 Vanye, about the daemons as pets idea - almost the whole time I read this at home, one of my dogs was curled up on lap. Maybe it was my imagination, but I think the book helped me bond with them a bit. :)
reply to readingfox: I LOVED the the alternate universe oxford too. I studied (and lived) at magdalen college one summer so Im a little bit familiar with it, I'd love to go back some day.
In reply to several posts about "killing god":
1. Isn't that kind of a spoiler? ;-)
2. But (and here is a spoiler for future books) its not even in the golden compass anyway.
3. I find it amusing thata book can be called atheistic when it has god as a character in the book (the later books).
4. I find it even more amusing that christians can be upset about a book being written where god dies. Have they never even opened the new testament? He (big spoiler alert) dies in that book too. ;-)
There is a little book by Pullman called Lyra's Oxford which has a map in it which I have compared w/a map of the real Oxford. As a Tolkien fan I liked seeing how the city is just full of Colleges it is like a maze in that way-colleges right next to one another. The buildings are all so old & architectuarally interesting. I have a couple of those view books that they sell to tourists which show a lot of the buildings both inside & out. I am an Anglophile in case you couldn't tell! 8^)
>20 -- great points!!!!! Now if you could just repeat them on all 423 (more added daily!) GC threads here on LT... :)
#20: I didn't consider the "killing god" piece to be a spoiler since one, it is not in The Golden Compass and two, it is a quote from the author, according to his critics from the conservative Christians.
#20, et. al, the "alternate Oxford" stuff was awful to me. I've never been there, so all of the description was tedious and meant nothing. I really got the feeling that it was all an inside joke of some sort. Not a joke, per se, but you get what I'm aiming for.
Spoiler free - I liked them, but not as much as The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper.
It appears that the movie adaptation of the Pullman book, though, will be infinitely better, sadly, than the execrable adaptation of Cooper's book, released earlier this fall. Did it even come to "a theater near you"??
I refused to see it. How can they take away all the Arthurian references and consider it the same story? NOT!
#24 aww, that was always my favorite part. As a kid this book made me want to go to college at oxford.
#26 I refused to see it as well. Almost didn't recognize it was that book from the trailer. Never a good sign.
I am posting this link for anyone who is interested in a reasoning Christian's response to The Golden Compass. There have been many references here to what I think of as hysterical responses to the work, thought it might be good to have another viewpoint given. I liked this article a lot.
WARNING: There are lots of SPOILERS in this article, so don't go there if you don't want them.
edited to add that the name of the article is: "Fear Not the Compass"
Well, this non-Christian's opinion is that it is a very good article. I wish more Christians were like this fellow.
I guess we quiet ones feel a little overwhelmed by all the hoopla sometimes. I know I do. Thanks MrsLee. I really like that article. :-)
Ignoring Pullmann because the books seem to be blasphemous is like ignoring Douglas Adams because HE'S an atheist too. Terry Pratchett is an atheist apparently, and a humanist, however he never deliberately attacks other people's religions, he just sends up the lot in Small Gods. Never forget the furore over Monty Python's Life of Brian, it was banned in many places, which I feel was a gross crossing of the line in censorship's road to hell paved with "good intentions".
Like that article most recently posted said, making a fuss over the movie because of alleged anti-Christian messages will only make Pullman more cemented in his thinking.
I thought that the article was very good and very different from many other articles you see on this topic. I have chosen not to read the books nor to see the movie. There are so many other books and movies out there that it really isn't like it is a hardship on me and I hadn't really ever heard of them before anyway. I generally don't read this type of fiction.
I don't have a problem with the author being an atheist or agnostic or whatever he is - it actually doesn't sound like he really knows what he is. I think, to me, he actually comes across as exactly what he professes to be against just on the flip side of the coin. While I am offended by those who claim that if I do not believe as they do I am condemned to h*** or whatever horrible thing is going to happen to me, I am equally offended by his position and just don't wish to contribute to expanding his bank account.
If I had not read various interviews with him, I probably would not have a problem with either the books or the movie. I am one of those people who really has to be hit over the head with symbolism, etc. in a book to pick up on any of it. I read it for the enjoyment not for the message. I enjoyed the Narnia movie and it didn't seem overly religious to me. I would assume that this movie wouldn't seem overly un-religious to me either. I find the author's interviews and quotes so distasteful that it is now impossible for me to either read the books or see the movies without the religious or non-religious undertones being completely apparent even to a thick headed person like me.
As for my kids, if they wish to read the books, that is their choice. My oldest has read about the author's position and beliefs and has chosen not to read them at this time. My other son has no interest in that type of book and my girls are too young at this time.
The trailers of the movie appeared to scary to my girls and the boys have not expressed any desire to see the movie either. But as they get older they may change their minds and that is ok with me. I would watch it with them so we could discuss it and see what their opinions were. But, again, there is so much out there to pick from, it isn't like we are going to be hurting for entertainment by not going.
I hope this position doesn't seem offensive to anyone - it isn't meant to be. It is just my particular opinion about this particular situation. Again, I don't care that he is an atheist - that is his choice. He just seems pretty arogant to me and a bit offensive.
I personally applaud your having your own opinion about the author, the book, and the movie. I have problems with the people who believe I must be as frightened as they seem to be of his creative efforts. I appreciate my right to choose and yours too.
So glad to see a decent christian article. I've had at least 3 people I know, Two of which I am in bible studies with, come to tell me about "A movie that is a threat to Christianity and seeks to convert children to atheism". It was getting ridiculous. One person who sent me an email hadn't even heard of the books or movie till he received the warning email and forwarded it to me. That scares me more than anything. Why would someone forward a letter about the evils of something and advocating the boycott of it without even knowing what it was?
When the third person started to tell me about this "danger" they got as far as "atheist movie" before I cut in with "you mean the movie I'm seeing opening night?"
My parents were originally among those who were nervous about harry potter, and I'd given my little brother the dark material books to read and he was on the last one. Rather than let them realize what he was reading and hear the fuss I went to them directly told them I'd let him read them, I loved the books, I'd already given them to my other brother and gave them a summary of all three books and any objectional parts. Worked nicely and prevented any overeactions from occurring.
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