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The Golden Compass (1995)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
33,55970766 (4.07)2 / 923
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.
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    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
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  6. 50
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    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.
  8. 50
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  9. 52
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    A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle (Anonymous user)
  11. 63
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (bibliovermis)
  12. 41
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    A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Anjali.Negi)
  14. 31
    Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox (SunnySD)
  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. 31
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  18. 97
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  19. 10
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  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 29 recommendations)

1990s (1)
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» See also 923 mentions

English (676)  Danish (6)  German (4)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (701)
Showing 1-5 of 676 (next | show all)
Really excellent books... ( )
  Serenity17 | Nov 5, 2022 |
Published in 1995, this book is much different than expected, in a good way. I had heard of it for years and always thought it was a story for children. Yes, it has an adolescent protagonist, but it definitely has wider appeal. The plot is in the form of a quest undertaken by Lyra, a courageous twelve-year-old, to find a missing friend. She learns how to use an alethiometer (the “compass” of the title) that indicates truthfulness. She searches for the secret of a magical Dust.

The reader gets to know this fantasy world along with Lyra, as she journeys through arctic conditions, meets an armored bear, finds out secrets about her family, uncovers a nefarious conspiracy, and uses her wits to her advantage. One of the highlights is the use of “dæmons” (which some would call familiars), an animal companion that forms an integral part of one’s personality. Each person has a dæmon, and those of young people can change form, before “settling” into one type as the person becomes an adult.

It is an adventure story with a dark side, filled with witches and adults that kidnap children for evil purposes. It is an extremely creative and well-crafted fantasy world. The political situation involves global control by a theocracy. I am not a big reader of fantasy, but this book is the type that appeals to me. Children can enjoy it at face value and adults can marvel at its complexities. It is perfect reading for the Halloween season, especially if you are looking for something a little eerie (but not too scary), a little mystical, and a lot of fun.

This is the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy. I am hooked and plan to read the next two. The audio version is among the best I have heard. It is read by the author and a full cast of about two dozen actors. It is like listening to a play. Simply outstanding!
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
This is, once again, an audiobook review. For some reason, I have not been able to finish reading a physical book since January! January! I work in a bookstore and I cannot finish a book, ’tis shameful I say. That being said, the audiobook is awesome! I love when the readers are different for each character, as is the case with The Golden Compass, and the author, Philip Pullman, is the narrator, making it all the more special.

Storywise, I think I let myself build up The Golden Compass in my mind to the point that it was never going to live up to my unrealistic expectations. This is a book that I have been told I absolutely must read for the majority of my life – my earliest memory of someone telling me about it was my fifth grade teacher in 1999, three years after it was first published in the US. So I’ve had 18 years to build this book up in my mind. (I also find it incredibly hard to believe that I was in 5th grade 18 years ago… I feel so old!)

Once I was able to get past the fact that it is not perfect, nor is it my new favorite book, I was able to simply enjoy it. Pullman is a masterful storyteller and Lyra is the perfect roguish character. She might be a liar, but she is fiercely loyal to those she loves and cares about and it makes perfect sense why so many of my teachers and friends figured I would really enjoy her story.

The antagonist of the story is not always clear which makes for a compelling story and the pages (or discs) turn and change as fast as an armored bear charging down an enemy. Pullman has a mind for critical thinking and philosophical approaches to fairly adult topics. When viewed through Lyra’s child’s eyes, it makes it much harder to understand why adults can’t seem to figure out how to set the world right. Her innocence makes her the perfect lens through which an adult reader views the problems facing the world today. But, it is not necessary to think so deeply into the philosophy of the story to enjoy it. The Golden Compass is a wonderful adventure, and with Pullman releasing the first book in a new trilogy (a prequel of sorts) in the fall, it is a timely must read! ( )
  smorton11 | Oct 29, 2022 |
I was 100% obsessed with Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass when I was growing up (far more so than Harry Potter), so you best believe that I was super stoked to find out that this gem finally got a proper illustrated treatment. The story, obviously, remains the same complex and magical tale of discovery and adventure, but having illustrations to illuminate the text softens the story somewhat. That’s not to say that Chris Wormell’s illustrations are childish, but more so that they bring a lighter sense to the story in its darker moments. Pullman doesn’t shy away from challenging themes (parental abandonment, illicit government activity, and questioning authority), so while Wormell’s pictures show the story with accuracy, their simple woodcut line style and rich palette keep the tone more in line with Lyra’s curiosity, the glow of Dust, and the magic of childhood adventure – regardless of the high stakes. The Grimm’s-esque fairytale inspiration for the narration is strong for all that it is set in a modern and realistic world just a breath away from ours, and Wormell’s woodcut style drawings tread the same careful line of harkening back to a childish innocence with darker undertones. I’m definitely planning on picking up the rest of this illustrated sequence to round out my bookshelf, since this is a perfect pairing! ( )
  JaimieRiella | Sep 20, 2022 |
Philip Pullman's famous fantasy story "The Golden Compass" had been on my to-read list for a very long time, my copy of it being more and more bathed in dust over the last couple of years as it waited on my shelf before I could finally bring myself to read it.

For quite some time, I hadn't been in a particularly fitting mood for anything fantasy-related when it came to reading - except for listening to Paolini's Eragon audiobooks, my interest in the genre had somewhat faded as I tried to read 'serious' literature more regularly (whatever that means). However, Pullman's novel came at exactly the right time to convince me that the genre hadn't yet lost me completely. Much has been said already about the originality of this novel, and a lot of criticism has (not always undeservedly) been shed on the character development. This book doesn't necessarily have to be classified as a children's fantasy novel - it can easily be enjoyed by teenagers, but also adults will likely be able to find a compelling story in here. That's the most powerful aspect a fantasy writer can choose to adopt for their stories, in my opinion: to be able to write something that can be classified as enjoyment, but also easily holds up for more demanding readerships seeking more intellectual elements. Pullman's exploration of the importance of science and religion in this first installment of the "His Dark Materials" series invites the reader on a journey through an interesting world filled with complex society dynamics.

It's easy to see why this book has become so popular during the 1990s: it's a quintessential modern classic of the fantasy genre, and I am glad I finally decided to get over myself and give the genre another well-deserved chance. ( )
  Councillor3004 | Sep 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 676 (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
Baylay, KateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, Rufussecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berdage, RoserTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borbás, Máriasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, TerryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rohmann, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rooijen, Quirijn denEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabino, ElianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sahlin, OlleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ströle, WolfgangÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Targo, LindaToimetaja.secondary 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
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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
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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