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His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,057None282 (4.3)252
  1. 131
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (guurtjesboekenkast, BrileyOC)
    BrileyOC: Both series provide excellent fantastical escapism as well as profound (though different) religious viewpoints.
  2. 62
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (guurtjesboekenkast)
  3. 52
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) by J. K. Rowling (guurtjesboekenkast)
  4. 20
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (Jannes)
    Jannes: Not for your average young reader of Pullman, I would imagine, but Milton is a great read if you want to get to the stuff that inspired His Dark Materials. It's not as difficult a read as you would imagine, either, if you just give yourself some time to adjust to the style.… (more)
  5. 10
    Foundling by D. M. Cornish (Bitter_Grace)
  6. 00
    Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (thenothing)
    thenothing: Hollow City could easy be fan fiction of His Dark Materials
  7. 00
    The Wind on Fire Trilogy by William Nicholson (Pigletto)
  8. 00
    Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (kaledrina)
  9. 01
    Nation by Terry Pratchett (JonTheNiceGuy)

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» See also 252 mentions

English (153)  French (3)  German (3)  Vietnamese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (161)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
I really wanted to love this trilogy. I loved the thought of all this ridiculous controversy with religious nutpeople. While Northern Lights showed some glimpses of everything this story could have been, the rest was just a struggle to read through. Maybe those high hopes just ruined it. Made me hate all those plot holes and that mediocre writing. Although I cannot recommend this book to anyone, I guess all this crazytalk about banning it will just attract all the more people to it, and maybe that in itself IS the best thing this book has going for it. A crappy book inviting some people to think about freedom of choice. ( )
  MartinEdasi | Feb 13, 2014 |
I couldn't love this series because it felt like Golden Compass felt like three books smashed into one, which kept leaving me disappointed and unfulfilled. Each time another section ended, I didn't have a desire to keep reading. There wasn't anything that propelled me to continue with the story.

1. Oxford
2. pirates
3. polar bears ( )
  shellwitte | Dec 11, 2013 |
This review only applies to book 1: The Golden Compass

Growing up with an addiction to Dungeons & Dragons and reading through my town library's entire Science Fiction and Fantasy section before I was sixteen has left me with a life-long proclivity for the fantastic. Some of my favorite novels manage to combine the highly literary (or experimental) with the fantastical. I'm willing to take a chance on books considered straight fantasy or science fiction, but I haven't been making the best choices this year other than Kraken. I gave Golden Compass a chance having found that many GR folks including friends have given it top marks. I didn't realize it was considered YA fiction nor had I seen the movie.

Frankly, I was underwhelmed. I had expected the next Lord of the Rings and this was nowhere near the sophistication of that work.

First to the good:

I appreciated a certain feminist sensibility that surrounded the main character, Lyra. Early on in the book it was directly called out that females were "not permitted" to enter the private club area of the college where she was raised...but she snuck into it anyway, ignoring the rules. And this event led to all that followed. She was a clever street smart girl who despite her diminutive size and youth is directly responsible for saving the day. She is the heroine through determination, compassion, and wit.

I felt enough urgency in the plot to want to know "what happens next." It kept me reading.

The Gyptian tribal people demonstrate a certain level of "town hall" democracy in their decision-making process. It was nice to see the sort of communal Q&A between leader and individuals that doesn't happen in our society. Although, they still had a leader, he seemed to rule more by moral strength and fairness than by force or even by convention.

Now to the not-as-good:

I did not get the deep believability from the characters that the best writers manage to create. I never bonded with the main character nor her friends to the extent that they felt real. Neither did the villains of the piece. They seemed even more exaggerated and one dimensional than the rest.

The Gyptian tribe seemed rather like a cross between Gypsies and Native Americans, and they were a bit too "perfect." As in, the noble savage.

Occasionally weak logistics. By that I mean, when a writer needs to create an actual physical experience such as a fight or moving a character through a house, they must deal with logistics. Describing the actions in a way that allows the reader to visualize the event without bogging it down without too many words and mucking up the pace of the narrative. At times, I founds Pullman's logistics awkward or vague. Distances were unclear and timing was off.

Some of the relationships felt forced. Lyra manages to convince a warrior bear to join her quest and before you know it she "loves" him (in a platonic way). The build of this love was not very convincing--it seemed more like a device contrived by the author in order to increase the drama and emotional weight of the danger experienced by the bear.

Lastly, I'll comment on the accusation of "anti-Christianity" some have leveled at this book. I was really looking forward to some bold blasphemy but found nothing of the kind. The book seems to actually endorse the premise that literal souls exist although it manifests our souls as visible spirit animals bonded to each human. There is a running theme through the book that the fictional Church is trying to hide certain revelations that might bring into question orthodox religious doctrine. And they are willing to do cruel and violent things to hide them. But this doesn't call into question religious beliefs so much as it simply accuses a religious institution of corruption. Even Roman Catholics recognize that their church has done horrible things in the past such as endorsing the burning of witches and so-on. Popes have fathered kids. Priests have molested kids, and the church covered it up. But all that doesn't necessarily invalidate Christianity so much as certain institutional behavior. So overall, nothing much to get excited about there. Although, I am modestly curious whether Pullman will go further in the subsequent books, I did not find this compelling enough to read further. End of story. ( )
  David_David_Katzman | Nov 26, 2013 |
It's a huge and impressive story fuelled by a powerhouse imagination, with iconic themes and one memorable scene after another. It's sad to relate, therefore, that I disengaged emotionally when I realised that we don't get any reassurance that Moxie the cat is OK. A pity, but there you go. ( )
  hyarrowen | Sep 24, 2013 |
I don't usually read books like this but a friend recommended it and I figured I may as well branch out a bit on this book quest, so to speak. I'm actually glad I did. It's very much a fantasy book and with the main protagonist being younger and I wasn't really expecting to get into it but it was actually pretty surprising how engrossed I got on Lyra's journey as I tried to work out what was going on, who was trustworthy, who wasn't and everything else that was going on.

It's going to be interesting to watch Lyra grow and find out how the story develops after the end of the first book.

I can understand why it's so popular and I'm almost curious as to watch the film (not going to get into a rant about how they changed the book's name in North America because I feel like I might have had that particular rant about Harry Potter and the PHILOSOPHER'S Stone before. ;)) but I probably won't because it's one of those weird things where I just think the film won't do it justice. Maybe when I'm finished with the trilogy I might go back and watch it. ( )
  sunnycouger | Sep 20, 2013 |
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Has the adaptation

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Has as a reference guide/companion

Has as a study

The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials by Mary Gribbin

The Magical Worlds of Philip Pullman: A Treasury of Fascinating Facts by David Colbert

The World of the Golden Compass: The Otherworldly Ride Continues by Scott Westerfeld

Navigating the Golden Compass: Religion, Science and Daemonology in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (Smart Pop serie by Glenn Yeffeth

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For The Golden Compass:

Into this wild abyss,
The womb of nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the almighty maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds,
Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
Stood on the brink of hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage...

--John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II

For The Amber Spyglass:

The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their stations;
The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up;
The bones of death, the cov'ring clay, the sinews shrunk & dry'd
Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing, awakening,
Spring like redeemed captives when their bonds & bars are burst,
Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field,
Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air;
Let the inchained soul, shut up in darkness and in sighing,
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years,
Rise and look out; his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are open;
And let his wife and children return from the oppressor's scourge.
They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream,
Singing: "The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning,
And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night;
For Empire is no more, and now the Lion & Wolf shall cease."

--from "America: A Prophecy" by William Blake

O stars,
isn't it from you that the lover's desire for the face
of his beloved arises? Doesn't his secret insight
into her pure features come from the pure constellations?

--from "The Third Elegy" by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell

Fine vapors escape from whatever is doing the living.
The night is cold and delicate and full of angels
Pounding down the living. The factories are all lit up,
The chime goes unheard.
We are together at last, though far apart.

--from "The Ecclesiast" by John Ashbery
First words
Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen. (Northern lights)
Will tugged at his mother's hand and said, "Come on, come on..." (The subtle knife)
In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with melt-water splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below. (The amber spyglass)
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
This work is all three books (Northern Lights aka The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) in one volume.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440238609, Mass Market Paperback)

In the epic trilogy His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to worlds parallel to our own. Dæmons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes--if it isn't destroyed first. The three books in Pullman's heroic fantasy series, published as mass-market paperbacks with new covers, are united here in one boxed set that includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. Join Lyra, Pantalaimon, Will, and the rest as they embark on the most breathtaking, heartbreaking adventure of their lives. The fate of the universe is in their hands. (Ages 13 and older)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:14 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The complete trilogy of His dark materials by Philip Pullman combined in one volume telling the story of witch clans, armored bears and haunted otherworlds.

» see all 12 descriptions

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