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

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
35,40372866 (4.07)2 / 942
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.
  1. 3614
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Patangel)
  2. 190
    Sabriel by Garth Nix (staram)
  3. 203
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (sturlington)
  4. 207
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
  5. 2512
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling (Patangel)
  6. 72
    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.
  7. 50
    Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Kerian)
  8. 50
    The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (StefanY)
  9. 62
    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. 20
    A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Anjali.Negi)
  12. 53
    The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman (Aleana)
  13. 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.
  14. 53
    The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce (VictoriaPL)
  15. 97
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  16. 31
    Pavane by Keith Roberts (timspalding)
  17. 31
    Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox (SunnySD)
  18. 32
    Nation by Terry Pratchett (brianjungwi)
  19. 54
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (bibliovermis)
  20. 10
    Cold Magic by Kate Elliott (Jen448)

(see all 29 recommendations)

1990s (1)
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» See also 942 mentions

English (695)  Danish (6)  Spanish (5)  German (4)  Italian (3)  French (3)  Finnish (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (722)
Showing 1-5 of 695 (next | show all)
Well, wow! I can see what all the hub-bub was about! So well written. This novel has a maturity that you don't often find in YA books these days. It presumes a certain level of intellect that is refreshing these days! I loved the various levels of interaction between the characters and felt the story was deftly and masterfully woven. Can't wait to read the next 2! ( )
  avanders | Nov 28, 2023 |
This is a tough one because I read this book about a year ago, thinking it would be the kind of book I would've loved as a child and being very disappointed with it. Then I re-read it very recently as a refresher as I was about to start the second book in the series. So I have moderated my view somewhat.

The first impressions that stayed with me were - loved the concept of daemons and would have loved to have come up with that one myself; loved Pantalaimon as a character, liked the characters of the gyptians such as Farder Coram, and the aeronaut Lee Scoresby - but wasn't keen on Lyra. I found her very irritating; she was a habitual liar (though I appreciate she later finds that a useful survival skill when up against villains), she somehow magically taught herself to use a very complex instrument that usually needs to be looked up in books to interpret, which was very convenient as it told her all sorts of useful things. Also everyone seemed to love her - such as Iorek Brynison, the king-bear-in-waiting, and Lee and the gyptian woman who hid with her in the cupboard when she was a kid. She seemed a bit too amazingly lucky and always to know what to do, e.g. how to blow up a research base and get a load of scared kids out, how to deal with homicidal bears. I appreciated that the book was well written, that scenes were vivid etc, lots of action too.

Occasionally, things are rather silly - for instance, there's a lot about how Lyra's hair is so distinctive that she can't be seen above deck on the narrow boat, so why don't the gyptians dye it brown? Then two insect thingies attack when she does appear and one gets away and you think it will bring the villains down on them when they get to the ship - but nothing happens. The other insect creature is captured just so Lyra has something handy to help her escape much later in the story. So there are some narrative weaknesses. And I found there were just too many impossible things, piled on one and another till it seemed ridiculous.

On re-reading, I'm giving the book an additional star than I expected to originally, because it is well written and quite a good pageturner, although the omniscient narrator and attendant head-hopping within scenes can be offputting. I still find there are too many concepts - Pullman put the whole kitchen sink in as well as everything else. Parallel worlds, Dust, daemons, more or less immortal witches, talking bears, and lots lots more. One's willing suspension of disbelief becomes rather fatigued. And as I'm discovering, this house of cards doesn't hold up very well when it comes to the second book.
( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
I listened to the full cast audio, which was fantastic. Complicated, intellectual, good fantasy. ( )
  nogomu | Oct 19, 2023 |
I only occasionally venture into "Young Adult" books, as I dislike books that come across as patronising towards their readership, treating the child as stupid or naive ("The Secret Garden" for instance barely scrapes by when re-read as an adult, and dont get me on The Narnia books!).[return][return]This however, was a reasonable story, reasonably written. I can appreciate why it has become a modern favourite, set in an alternate version of Earth where children are heroes, and can be captured and killed (by losing their daemons), where armoured bears can talk and witches fly through the skies to war with each other. ( )
  nordie | Oct 14, 2023 |
Wow. Just wow. Beautiful and noble and harsh, best young adult book I can remember. Comparisons to Lion Witch and Wardrobe, that Tesseract series, etc. only better. ( )
  emmby | Oct 4, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 695 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pullman, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Astrologo, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailey, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baylay, KateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, Rufussecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berdage, RoserTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blackwell, DouglasNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borbás, Máriasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, TerryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Degas, RupertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dowling, AlisonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hagon, GarrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rohmann, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rooijen, Quirijn denEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabino, ElianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sahlin, OlleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheridan, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shilling, JillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ströle, WolfgangÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Targo, LindaToimetaja.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tulinius, Gretesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tutino, AlfredoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, StuartCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wormell, ChrisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, JoannaNarratorsecondary 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.
...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
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Disambiguation notice
Originally published as Northern lights in the UK and in the USA as The golden compass (from a title submitted to the publisher). Translations into other languages have used both, including Het noorderlicht (Dutch), La bussola d'oro (Italian) and Der goldene Kompass (German).
This is the record for the unabridged book and associated unabridged audio-books. Other versions, including abridgements, the BBC radio drama (2003), the movie (2007), the TV series (2019), each have their own records. Please distinguish between them.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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
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