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His Dark Materials

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (1-3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,042195361 (4.28)314
Lyra Belacqua tries to prevent kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments, helps Will Parry search for his father, and finds that she and Will are caught in a battle between the forces of the Authority and those gathered by her uncle, Lord Asriel.
  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. 73
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (guurtjesboekenkast)
  3. 63
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 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
    Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1: Foundling by D. M. Cornish (Bitter_Grace)
  6. 00
    The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: The gothic world of Lyra's Oxford shares a certain similarity with the miles of mouldering masonry that is Gormenghast.
  7. 00
    Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace (wosret)
    wosret: Take a journey through through the underworld; there's more to reality than you know.
  8. 00
    Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (kaledrina)
  9. 00
    Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (thenothing)
    thenothing: Hollow City could easy be fan fiction of His Dark Materials
  10. 01
    Nation by Terry Pratchett (JonTheNiceGuy)

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» See also 314 mentions

English (187)  French (3)  German (3)  Vietnamese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (195)
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
Letto per le sfide
1. Alphabet 2020 per Un libro di un autore il cui titolo per H
2. Babele 2020 - Modalità difficile (9/15)
3. Extra-Large 2020 - Modalità difficile (5/9, #946 pagine). ( )
  JaqJaq | Jan 7, 2022 |
I truly enjoy the writing style of Philip Pullman he has a great way of creating a believable but still fantastical world and populating it with interesting and intriguing characters. I do not enjoy the ending to this series at all but I can still enjoy the series as a whole even if the ending deeply irks me. ( )
  KateKat11 | Sep 24, 2021 |
Even though I'm not sure about the whole premise of the spiritual world having physical form, this was a wonderful journey, well written and thoroughly enjoyable. I will definitely be reading this trilogy again. ( )
  Stephen.Lawton | Aug 7, 2021 |
This book is the compilation of all three novels from the Pullman series. There are spoilers in this review - you've been warned.

The Golden Compass was an interesting read. Pullman succeeds in creating a very imaginative world where the main character, Lyra Belacqua, discovers bizarre and spell bounding places. But where Pullman fails is in the building of characters and their relationships to one another. I found the characters disconnected and their interactions with one another flat in many instances.

The Subtle Knife introduces us to Will Parry the next main character that becomes the love interest of Lyra Belacqua. I found this novel to be less believable than the Golden Compass as the worlds created are less interesting. Most of the focus of this novel is on the corruption of the church, and with it, comes the author's anger. I felt this novel was more pedantic (like Ayran Rand's Atlas Shrugged) and plodding than the first. I also felt a certain manipulation as God is described as a mortal creature within one of the many "worlds" and is not really the creator. This novel has many darker moments and make it inappropriate for young children.

The Amber Spy Glass introduces us to Mary Malone. Where Lyra and Will are to play the future roles as Adam and Eve, Mary Malone is to play the Serpent that tempts the two into sin. Of the three books I found this novel to be the most tedious and least imaginative.

All three novels are written in same grammatical style as pulp fiction - over use of adverbs, repeated phrases for emphasis, and quite a few cliches. Only the third book made a best sellers list, more for the controversial subject matter (killing God) than for the writing. For those of you who love words, these books will disappoint.

As far as the theology of these books, the Catholic Church has nothing to fear, these books do an awful job of indicting anything but the corruption of people. In fact, a reader could substitute Big Government, Big Business, or any human institution and come to the same conclusions without much disturbing the story line. People are corrupt and corrupt the institutions they work in when power is to be gained.

Pullman attempts to point out that God is false, and that consciousness - embodied in "Dust" - is all that really is. The problem with this is a contradictory premise set in the Subtle Knife and refuted in the Amber Spyglass. According to the Subtle Knife, Dust has always existed and formed the first conscious being thirty three thousand years ago. In the Amber Spyglass we learn that Dust is created from consciousness, which, according to Pullman, didn't exist thirty three thousand years ago. So who was the first mover? Pullman doesn't say.

Pullman describes a church and it's influence that hasn't existed since the 17th century. Since this is fiction, he can make up anything he wants, but an astute reader will be forced into asking questions. And those questions will color the enjoyment of the story by forcing the reader to accept a premise that is outside their experience. Mark Twain once quipped that "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." In order to have an ominous antagonist, Pullman is forced to create a Church that is all powerful and quite possibly represents the government which is at odds with most people's experience. The author paints himself into a corner on this point.

I also found the ending to this series quite unsatisfactory. Toward the end we have Lyra and Will falling in love with each other, only to have the two separated forever because they come from different worlds. Just when Pullman gets a relationship right he renders it apart and for no very good reason I can discern. But this is emblematic of the three novels. The author's treatment of the character's relationships belies a cold, almost dead, personae. The ending is quite cruel but, in hindsight, fits with the author's perspective.

On the whole, if you like fantasies, enjoy the special effects more than the story line, don't care about the music in words and are not too particular about relationships then these novels will entertain you. They are not high or middle brow literature and they are a little to dark for young children. ( )
  gluegun | Jul 27, 2021 |
(28) Every year around this time, I re-read a book from the past. Lately - it has been in the form of Children's literature, I read aloud to my children. As they are going on 12, I will not be able to do this much longer so I am trying to pick enjoyable things that also have some merit. So we read aloud 'Golden Compass' and will begin the HBO series. I suspect we will finish the series. My previous reviews of the series from 13 years ago are below. I completely agree with my pre-motherhood self and so don't have much to add. My children who go to Catholic school are beginning to wrestle with science and religion and I read 'Chronicles of Narnia' to them probably about 4 years ago - so this is nice counterweight. At least the first book is - if I remember correctly they get much more shrill. Now after having finished the second, I can attest to that. Continue to totally agree with my reviews from 2008. My 11 yo accused the author of blasphemy, but is continuing to listen open-mindedly.
The Golden Compass (read 2/10 - 2/16/08) and re-read early summer 2021 to children

The orphan Lyra, in a parrallel world from ours, begins a journey taking her from the confines of the hallowed Oxford University to the Artic Svalbaad. Along the way she meets many interesting creatures and people, discovers her parentage, and learns more about alternate universes and a strange phenomenon called Dust. We are introduced to daemon's -- similar to a witch's familiar -- without which no human can survive intact.

Marvelous atmosphere and settings are created; while the plot and action are more pedestrian, yet entertaining. I think to say Pullman had nothing deeper to say re: religion is being obtuse. There are overt mentions of Christianity and the Bible, as well as allusions to the compatibility of religion and science. I certainly did not see this as advocating atheism or children being encouraged to kill God (not yet, at least) but one wonders if, on some level, Pullman is presenting a foil to Chronicles of Narnia. Even the names of the protagonists are suspiciosly similar -- Lyra/Lucy and Asriel/Asland. One could read into it that Pullman advocates throwing off the shackles of (self) righteousness and embracing one's inner daemon; one's true nature which is, in part, lusty, shameful, sinful. Subjugating our natural impulses leads to living the life of a zombie.

Anyway, as far as Book 1 goes - enjoyable, but not epic. This ain't no Lord of the Rings, nor even Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


The Subtle Knife (read 3/23 - 3/28/08) and re-read summer 2021 to my children

Lyra meets Will -- a boy from "our" world-- and they join forces to discover 'The Subtle Knife' -- a weapon in Lord Asriel's war against the Church. Our characters are moving now frequently between multiple realities, each with their own perils: secret police, the evil Mrs Coulter, and the Dementor- like soul sucking Specters.

Rather clumsily constructed, hard to tell where the narrative was going and I occasionally lost the track of the characters motivations, whereabouts, etc. More science fictionesque that Book 1 and Pullman continues with his provocative version of the Christian creation myth. Unlike the knife, the author is not subtle -- he has a big problem with organized religion. Although it doesn't offend me and I never thought I'd say this -- I can see why the uber-religious are bothered.

On the whole rather interesting and eyebrow raising, but only mediocre writing.

The Amber Spyglass (read 5/3 -5/7/08)

The finale of this trilogy really felt like more of the same. Lyra and Will and friends battle the church and the God-poser, Metatron; meanwhile rescuing trapped ghosts in the Land of the Dead. At times entertaining and charming -- especially the cast of characters, such as the Gallivespians; the Angels and the old shriveled 'Authority,' the mulefa, and you gotta love Mrs. Coulter. But the same problems ultimately re-surface.

Pullman continues to weave a new 'creation myth' as he puts in plugs for agnosticism and building 'a republic (certainly not a Kingdom) of Heaven on Earth'. While in many ways, I agree with him -- it came across a bit too forceful for me, almost annoyingly "p.c." - if you know what I mean.

The writing suffers from a bit of cliche, melodrama, and the whole Will & Lyra romance thing was nauseating. But overall, interesting, mildy enjoyable -- but IMO much better children's/YA fantasy out there. I think The Golden Compass was easily the best of the three. ( )
  jhowell | May 26, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Pullmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hughes-Hallett, LucyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mullen, DouglasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Targete, Jean PierreCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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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Lyra Belacqua tries to prevent kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments, helps Will Parry search for his father, and finds that she and Will are caught in a battle between the forces of the Authority and those gathered by her uncle, Lord Asriel.

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Vydavateľstvo Ikar po prvý raz predstavuje slovenskému čitateľovi súborné vydanie Pullmanovej fantasy ságy pod názvom Temné hmoty. Svetoznáma trilógia, ktorá pozostáva z kníh Zlatý kompas, Magický nôž a Jantárový ďalekohľad, získala významné ocenenia, predovšetkým cenu Nibbie a Whitbreadovu cenu za najlepšiu britskú knihu roka.
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