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The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
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The Golden Compass (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Philip Pullman

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27,55360462 (4.09)2 / 822
Member:dolphin30
Title:The Golden Compass
Authors:Philip Pullman
Info:Del Rey (1997), Edition: Second Printing, Paperback, 351 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (1995)

  1. 3413
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Patangel)
  2. 180
    Sabriel by Garth Nix (staram)
  3. 183
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (sturlington)
  4. 206
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
  5. 2411
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling (Patangel)
  6. 50
    Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Kerian)
  7. 40
    The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (StefanY)
  8. 106
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  9. 52
    Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Jannes, passion4reading)
    Jannes: Epic and awe-inspiring and steampunk-ish... also surprisingly complex characters and moral ambiguity for a YA novel - just like HDM
    passion4reading: Intelligent and thought-provoking children's/YA fiction with an unusual premise.
  10. 52
    A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle (Anonymous user)
  11. 41
    The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (timspalding)
  12. 52
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (bibliovermis)
  13. 31
    The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman (Aleana)
  14. 31
    Pavane by Keith Roberts (timspalding)
  15. 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.
  16. 53
    The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce (VictoriaPL)
  17. 53
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (Jannes)
  18. 10
    A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Anjali.Negi)
  19. 10
    Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Aleana)
  20. 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.

(see all 30 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 578 (next | show all)
This is one of those novels where once I'm finished I am angry that I waited so long to read it.
The edition I have has an introduction by Terry Brooks and the first paragraph says "You are going to love the Golden Compass." He was right!
There are obviously countless reviews on this book, the classic such as it is, that there isn't much more I can say that hasn't already been said. Strong characters with dynamic and endearing qualities that draw you and make you care. Strong plot with enough guessing and twists and turns, that you don't really want to stop reading until you've cruised through half the book in one sitting. As well as a moral question that underlines the entire book, disguised as a fantasy adventure.
Lyra is an engrossing and truly human heroine that you will undoubtedly fall in love with. She is courageous, curious, honest and loyal. She is what protagonists wish they could be. Together with her Daemon, Pan, they race across the world, taking us as a reader on an adventure of fantastical heights, as well as in depth thought and growth. I've fallen in love with Lyra and Pan in a way I haven't fallen in love with a protagonist in a long time.
It's strong, and I agree with Terry Brooks, that you will love the Golden Compass. ( )
  Kiddboyblue | Aug 29, 2018 |
I first read “His Dark Materials” in college, at the insistence of my father, a huge fantasy nerd and book worm. I knew little to nothing about it when I opened the first pages of “The Golden Compass”, but was taken in almost immediately by the characters and the world that Philip Pullman created. And then my own personal copy (I have the whole series bound up in one) sat on my shelf, untouched until Anita picked “The Golden Compass” for book club. I was curious as to how I would view the book almost fifteen years after reading it the first time. But going back to “The Golden Compass” was worthwhile for me, even after all that time.

I will be honest, the stories of the entire series are so entwined in my mind that I can’t help but take influence from “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass” when I look back at “The Golden Compass”. So my opinions of “The Golden Compass” now are probably affected by works that aren’t within the text of the first book, which was an interesting quandary to be in. During Book Club when Anita would ask questions about the story, I realized that my opinions of various things took influence by the series as a whole (as well as the first prequel book “The Book of Dust”), and I haven’t quite been able to remove the two. But I will do my best here. I really, really love the world that Pullman has built, an alternate universe that have the same locations in our world, but with various changes to make it unique to its own. When he describes Oxford, it sounds like the Oxford of our world, but there are differences that make it its own unique location. Within this world are daemons, beings that take on the form of an animal and are attached to all people, functioning as a soul outside of the body. It’s such a cool concept that Pullman made of having a huge and intricate part of you on the outside instead of within. This time around reading it I definitely felt it a bit more than I did in college, as my initial thought was ‘how cool to have an animal sidekick!’. Now I was more introspective about what that would actually mean for a person.

I also really like the way that Pullman completely trusts his readers to handle the complex and dark themes that he throws their way. This book is definitely YA, but it takes on religious fundamentalism, child torture, and institutional corruption without holding much back. While the philosophical meditations on religion and dogma play out a bit more in the later two books, with The Magesterium REALLY revving up into its quest for absolute power, there are moments, like with the Gobblers that want to separate children from their daemons because they feel it attracts Dust (aka Original Sin in this world). Pullman is not shy when it comes to his thoughts on organized religion, and he doesn’t mince words about it. Reading it again reminded me just how much faith he puts in his readers to be able to tackle some of this critical thinking he encourages them to tackle.

It was really great going back and re-reading “The Golden Compass”, and now I feel like I should continue with a re-read. I feel like it held up pretty well for me, and this classic series still remains a powerhouse in YA Fantasy.

-----

Well since Kate mentioned it, I will take this opportunity to propose joint reviewing the next two books as well! Yes? Yes?

As Kate mentioned, I too struggled separating my mind with this book as a single unit outside of the trilogy as a whole. Unlike Kate, I’ve OBSESSIVELY re-read this series throughout my entire life. My mom read the first book to my sister and I when we were little, and then I remember that the next two books were various Christmas presents the years they came out. And it’s been an ongoing love affair ever since. Reading a series this way was also a peculiar experience. As a kid, most of what I got from these books was the action and yeah, “wouldn’t it be fun to have an animal side kick??” But as I’ve re-read, each time a bit older, there’s always another level to find. This alone easily earns it a spot on my top 10 lists.

But yes, reading this book alone and then discussing it for bookclub was hard. So much of the groundwork that is laid in this one seems like major plot points here, but then as you continue, expand exponentially and you realize you only had the tip of the iceberg to start with. But here it goes.

“The Golden Compass” definitely reads as the most middle grade/young adult of the series. Lyra is the singular main character and her feelings and adventures are at the center of everything that takes. The story pretty much lives and dies on whether you are interested in her. And Lyra has to be one of the great child protagonists. What makes her special is the fact that, from the beginning, it’s clear that she’s not a “good” child. She’s precocious, meddlesome, and disobedient. And yet she’s never terribly punished for these traits. Instead, all of these aspects of her personality are crucial to not only her success in this story, but to her very survival. Lying, in particular, is a specific strength of hers, and it is always presented as such: a strength. But for all this, Lyra is also incredibly brave, loyal, and loves openly, taking in those who society might overlook. All together, she makes for an excellent child lead. Pantelemon, for his part, serves as a balance to her character, and their witty banter and the supports they offer each other were always at the basis of my desire for a daemon of my own.

The story does have a slow start. I remember as a child being fairly bored for a good bit in the beginning of this story. As Kate said, Pullman doesn’t pull his punches with big ideas, and he dives right into these within the first 20 pages of the book, before readers have had time to form any other ideas for themselves. But once the action does start, it’s all great. And everything he includes strikes the perfect balance of appealing to both children and adults. Child snatchers called Gobblers? Significantly creepy for kids, but wait, they are also connected to this high-level religious dogma for adult readers. A child concentration camp where the kids break out? Great for kids! Super creepy for adults reading about events that look scarily similar to historical happenings. Armored bears? Awesome for kids! Awesome for adults! It’s really a testament to Pullman’s talent that he so neatly balance an action-packed adventure for kids while also introducing huge topics of religion and what makes up humans themselves.

And that ending! How can you NOT want read the entire series after that? Again, no punches pulled. Children are reading this, and yet Pullman doesn’t hesitate to introduce some really tough and challenging topics. Even as a kid, shocked and dismayed by these events, I remember appreciating the fact that this story felt so real, regardless of all the talk of armored bears and daemons, and I think it was because of the fact that Pullman treated these topics as not only acceptable but necessary for kids to read about as well as adults.

So, in summary, obviously I loved this book. Always have, always will. ( )
  thelibraryladies | Aug 20, 2018 |
Good stuff, liked it a lot
-the world it's set in is beautiful and fantastical
-there are plenty of captivating and exciting action scenes
-there are also a few really emotional scenes which i love
-i love all the characters too, even the bad guys. they're all compelling.
I'm excited to read the next book

(another good thing--this book/series spark a lot of interesting debates considering it is the antithesis to CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, a book series I love) ( )
  MegScrungus | Aug 7, 2018 |
Northern Lights (known as The Golden Compass in North America and some other countries) is a young-adult fantasy novel by Philip Pullman, published by Scholastic UK in 1995. Set in a parallel universe, it features the journey of 12-year-old Lyra Belacqua to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as "Dust".
  Cultural_Attache | Aug 4, 2018 |
This is the first book in Phillip Pullman's Hist Dark Materials series. It is a very powerful fantasy series and explores ideas about good and evil and the development of the individual. I like that the protagonist is a girl, Lyra whereas many of the other popular fantasy series feature a male main character. The setting is another powerful element of this book. The first book takes place in different universes. Pullman describes it as follows: "the first volume is set in a universe like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set in the universe we know. The third volume will move between universes." The character development is most compelling in the book as is Pullman's ability to create a plot where there are many moments of exciting action, however, there is a sense of a slowly-unfolding mystery which makes it very hard to put down. One of my favorite aspects of the story was that in the first universe, characters have animal daemons always by their side. The story is complex, so readers need to be sophisticated enough to keep track of the details. Dust is another major element of the book which is something that manifests more fully as children grow up. This book is allegorical about religion and some believe Dust to be the same thing as sin. The Golden Compass serves the purpose provided through fantasy of allowing readers to explore belief without maybe having to commit to it. It is an exciting story and full of deep meaning and big questions which is why it has become a modern fantasy classic.
  claireelam | Jul 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 578 (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.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pullman, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Astrologo, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailey, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baylay, KateCover artistsecondary 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
Williams, StuartCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
First words
Lyra and her dæmon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.
Quotations
We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not...or die of despair.
...this was in the seventeenth century.  Symbols and emblems were everywhere. Buildings and pictures were designed to be read like books.  Everything stood for something else.; if you had the right dictionary you could read Nature itself.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Northern Lights was published in the US as The Golden Compass
Please distinguish between the book, abridgements and the movie.
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (1)

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. 432
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:41 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 21 descriptions

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