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The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (1995)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
23,43052347 (4.11)2 / 686
1990s (6)
Unread books (1,502)
  1. 3413
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Patangel)
  2. 150
    Sabriel by Garth Nix (staram)
  3. 152
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (sturlington)
  4. 2211
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling (Patangel)
  5. 166
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
  6. 114
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  7. 40
    The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (StefanY)
  8. 40
    Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Kerian)
  9. 52
    A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle (Anonymous user)
  10. 41
    The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (timspalding)
  11. 52
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (bibliovermis)
  12. 53
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (Jannes)
  13. 31
    The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman (Aleana)
  14. 20
    The Witches of Willowmere by Alison Baird (mene)
    mene: "The Willowmere Chronicles" series includes daemons, but focusing more on the Ancient Greek version. "His Dark Materials" series has a parallel world where everyone has a daemon, but in a different way than the daemons in the Willowmere Chronicles.
  15. 53
    The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce (VictoriaPL)
  16. 31
    Pavane by Keith Roberts (timspalding)
  17. 32
    Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Jannes)
    Jannes: Epic and awe-inspiring and steampunk-ish... also surprisingly complex characters and moral ambiguity for a YA novel - just like HDM
  18. 10
    Stravaganza: City of Masks by Mary Hoffman (Jannes)
    Jannes: Similar themes: parallel worlds, dimension-traveling youths, splendid cities... Pullman's work is, in my opinion, far superior, but both are worth checking out if you like this sort of thing.
  19. 10
    Cold Magic by Kate Elliot (Jen448)
  20. 21
    Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox (SunnySD)

(see all 27 recommendations)


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English (501)  Danish (6)  French (4)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (521)
Showing 1-5 of 501 (next | show all)
The Golden Compass is the first book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and its undeniable an amazing book, if not one of the best books a reader can read. The story, characters, and world is amazing. The story follows Lyra as she goes North to find her father. On her way she meets a lot of people and unfortunate events in which she must overcome. The characters are plentiful and each of them is easy to fall in love with, while some are easy to hate. The writing style implored by Phillip Pullman is so complicated but dazzling at the same time.. I don't think I ever read a book where one sentence was one page long. That's almost 30 lines! It's hard to even find one cons about this book unless your a person who likes the simple writing style of J.K. Rowling. Now, this book is not for the most religious people, and that is where the controversy comes to play. I can't tell you what the controversial parts because that would spoil the story, but I assure you, when you are done with this book, you will easily figure out those parts. ( )
  Remy_Ferrell | Nov 24, 2014 |
Really liked this. I hope the next two are just as good. ( )
  PaulDW | Oct 14, 2014 |
Summary: Central character is Lyra a young girl living in the alternate world. That closely resembles ours in the 19th century. Everyone in this world has a Daemon (something closely related to the soul) which is an animal that follows the humans everywhere. Lyra and her daemon hid in a wardrobe where her uncle is about to make his lecture to scholars about his recent trip. Soon children go missing believed to be taken for experimentation. Lyra goes off trying to find her friend Rodger. She has a Golden Compass, a tool that if read correctly can have people tell the truth.

Personal reaction: I loved this book. Lyra is an excellent Heroin. I never wanted to stop reading this book. I wanted to find out what happened to the kids. Some interpretations that I had seen people said that they had seen a religious aspect to the book. I did not see that I saw the fantasy. There was a lot of fore shadowing done in the book.

Classroom extensions: 1) Have the students pick an animal that they want to be their spirit animal. Have them write a short essay why they had chosen that animal. Then have them present it in front of class.2)Have students identify the endangered species that were mention in the book. Assign books and have the present what region in the world these animals come from. Also why these animals are going endangered.
  pambam_11 | Oct 10, 2014 |
In Phillip Pullman's "The Golden Compass", we are pulled into a fantastical world where Polar Bears can talk, Witches roam the skies, and the souls of humans are anthropomorphic animal companions called daemons. Suprisingly, despite being the first in a trilogy, the book works amazingly as a stand alone novel. This book is a staple of my younger middle school days that made me reread it over and over again. In the book Lyra goes off on a journey to save her friend who was kidnapped. While the over arching theme of the series is less prominent in this book, the main message of this book is an important one as well. This book focuses on courage and how we must be strong in the face of our fears. Along a similar vein, it also focuses on friendship and how we must fight to do what is right for our friends. This novel is in my opinion amazing and one that everyone should read once in their lifetime. It is a roller coaster ride the entire way through with action packed sequences as well as heart-wrenching moments that will make you cry. One aspect of the book that is just so fascinating is the concept of daemons (pronounced demons). Every human is born with one companion that, before puberty, can change shape between different animals. Once you "become an adult" your daemon settles into a form that best fits you. It's so interesting because on one hand, when Lyra talks to her daemon Pantalaimon, it is two characters entirely, but in their reality they are one in the same being. These daemon's are the representation of these human's souls in this world and it gives the novel a very fantastical and different feel to fantasy without it being overtly magical. Overall, Pullman crafts a splendid world that pulls the reader in and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. ( )
  MattM50 | Sep 30, 2014 |
Pullman very convincingly creates an alternate world which is visually lavish and populates it with an assortment of characters whose natures and relationships with each other are rich with history. The book opens straight into the plot which immediately keeps you on your toes regarding who the Good Guys and Bad Guys are. There are very good dashes of mystery, adventure, history and human conditions and a rare dash of eye-rolling soap opera. ( )
  kitzyl | Sep 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 501 (next | show all)
As always, Pullman is a master at combining impeccable characterizations and seamless plotting, maintaining a crackling pace to create scene upon scene of almost unbearable tension. This glittering gem will leave readers of all ages eagerly awaiting the next installment of Lyra's adventures.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Pullmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Astrologo, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, TerryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rohmann, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tutino, AlfredoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Into this wild abyss,
The womb of nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, not 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
First words
Lyra and her dæmon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.
We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not...or die of despair.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
'The Golden Compass' was originally published in Britain, Australia and elsewhere as 'Northern Lights'
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Book description
In a universe somewhat like our own, children are beginning to disappear from cities around England. For Lyra Belacqua, a half-wild orphan girl living at Jordan College, Oxford, the kidnappings are just another excuse for games, battles and tall stories - until her best friend Roger is reported missing. Vowing to rescue him, Lyra embarks upon a journey to the savage North, where physicists and theologians alike are conducting controversial research into the nature of something known only as 'Dust'. Apart from her friends the gyptians, her only guide is a curious golden instrument called an alethiometer. If she is to survive her ordeal, she will have to learn to interpret its cryptic and peculiar messages.

AR 7.1, Pts 19.0
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440418321, Paperback)

Some books improve with age--the age of the reader, that is. Such is certainly the case with Philip Pullman's heroic, at times heart-wrenching novel, The Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied:
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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:41 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

» see all 19 descriptions

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