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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
26,50158339 (4.1)2 / 792
Recently added bytheo0, balagan, jimpudar, joewills, private library, drarnoldoriel, texanne, SerenaYates, apeniche, MASpeech
  1. 3413
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Patangel)
  2. 170
    Sabriel by Garth Nix (staram)
  3. 183
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (sturlington)
  4. 2511
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling (Patangel)
  5. 196
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
  6. 115
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  7. 50
    Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Kerian)
  8. 40
    The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (StefanY)
  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)

1990s (10)
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English (561)  Danish (6)  French (3)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All (1)  All (581)
Showing 1-5 of 561 (next | show all)
I've read this a couple times before, but listened to it this time, which was fantastic with a full cast. ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
This book just makes me all kinds of happy. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to read these, really... Granted, I do go to a Christian university and it is such a great time to see people's reactions when I say that I'm reading these. Honestly. My advice to those people would be to read them for yourself and stop letting other people make decisions for you. Because this book was lovely as well as relatively complex. The plot has a lot going on in it that you don't necessarily catch on to right away.
With that said, usually I'm not a huge fan of talking animals (there are reasons as to why I never made it past the first Narnia book. I just couldn't handle the talking animals.) So I was a tad bit nervous as these books get compared to Narnia a lot (or should I say contrasted? The atheists alternative? whatever.) partly because of the animals aspect and I'm not a huge fan of Narnia...
Anyway, comparisons aside, I loved the world that was built up. One in which each human had a daemon companion. I loved all the little rules that went with these daemons. They are always animals, they are always the opposite gender of their companions, they can shift fluidly through any animal shape until the human reaches adulthood in which they remain in a set form, and that touching another person's daemon is considered to be the 'great taboo.' Even though the daemons did talk, they only talked to their humans. So Pantalaimon is really one of the only animals that talks (thank goodness). Also, as a side note, I'm pretty sure that he doesn't stay in this form, but Pan's ermine form was always my favourite. I want an ermine daemon...
The setting was amazing. It started out in Oxford and moved into the arctic north. I loved how the fantasy elements could be injected into the real world almost seamlessly. With daemons, witches, and giant talking bears, everything seemed to fit so perfectly in the setting it was given. And yes, there are talking bears... and, ok, they were badass so I let that slide. I mean, there's a battle between two armoured bears at the end. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is.
I also am genuinely a fan of Lord Asrial but darned if i have any idea what his place in the story is going to be. Everything is really focused in on Lyra. So much so that it's hard to get a real grip on the other characters. Most of the time I'm ok with that, but occasionally it just became really boring for me. There's a dry patch around the middle of the book that i had a really difficult time getting around. Lyra is a girl who is bold, strong, and analytical. She's described as someone who really doesn't have much of an imagination, and while that seems kind of weird and something of an off putting trait, it fits with her. She's not like the typical girl protagonist and that was what I really really liked about her and the story as a whole.
As a whole, I loved this book. It has controversy along with it, and personally I think that makes it even better. There's nothing wrong with a little controversy. I mean, yeah The Church was the painted baddy of the book, but it's not like it wasn't done in a way that was legitimate. The Dust (the thing that sets the whole plot into motion) was something that the Church thought was linked to original sin, and that it was connected with when a child's daemon set its form, thus if a child and their daemon were severed from each other, it would keep this 'original sin' away from the person. Thus, some pretty horrible experiments went on in the North.
It all just added up to a genuinely interesting book. It was just good. The writing is fantastic and the story is interesting and just dark enough as a whole. ( )
1 vote eaduncan | Sep 14, 2017 |
EVERYTHING about THE GOLDEN COMPASS is original, wondrous, magical and brilliant!

To start, I often times have a hard time describing THE GOLDEN COMPASS to those who have asked me... to me, it almost feels as if it is a parallel-world to our own, with magical realism, steampunk elements and perhaps even takes place during the Edwardian Era in the U.K. with mythical creatures, hot air balloons, and witches... there an organized group of dark and sinister people that are kidnapping children and taking them up North. No one knows why or what they are doing to the children. Soon, people realize that the government, police and more are corrupted and there aren't many people to trust in order to get help and find these innocent children...

Lyra is confident, stubborn and very determined for her age. She is not one to be caged or tricked into anything. She is extremely smart, observant and is one to decide for herself. She often questions everything and everyone around her; something that is frowned upon but necessary during all that she has to endure. However, like any child, Lyra is enchanted with everything she sees outside from where she grew up in Jordan College and Oxford; until she realizes that she is fated to deal with things that she only knew of stories. Being able to only rely on herself, question the world and tell stories herself saves her from many things and shows us that one will always rely on themselves in order to get through most things.

The world-building is what dreams are made of - magical and within reach. You can tell that every little detail was carefully thought out and made to be important to all of the characters and the story. I really enjoyed how the narrator would give us their thoughts and extra bits to help us better understand the history behind what was happening.

The whole concept of everyone having their own daemons (pronounced demons) is mesmerizing to me! Our world would be so very different if we all had our own personal daemon to represent and guide us. Although the actual concept as to how and why each person has a daemon is never fully explained except that children's daemons can shape-shift into different animals and accommodate themselves to the child's emotions and needs until they reach adulthood. Once they are grown adult's daemons seem to take on one animal-like shape for the rest of their lives, representing their person's characteristics since once one becomes an adult one is surer of themselves and has taken on a role in society. Also, the bond between a person and their daemon is one of life and death - they cannot be separated, it's as if they share a soul. If one dies, so will the other. The realization of having a separate identity that can cause harm to oneself is quite terrifying to me, but still, an enigma that I would love to learn more about and would possibly wish to have.

My only grievance with Pullman's writing is that I felt as if he went over and beyond with the details and underestimated what his readers would get from his/this world. I truly felt that more could have been visualized with less of the particulars. For example, the narrator would often times step in and give us extra bits about how Lyra was feeling, or what one of the other characters were thinking about it, or more details as to the history of something that had happened which led to what was about to happen - and then the story would jump right back into Lyra's point of view. Often times it felt like someone was just disrupting the flow to purposefully be spoilery about the things that were about to happen rather than letting the reader have a moment to guess and wonder... I hope that what I am saying is understandable and not truly a negative thing. It is most likely that I am not used to this style of writing.

Overall, I sincerely enjoyed Lyra's journey and felt all of her emotions through every one of her encounters. Big or small, every moment was believable and cinematic - a true classic that will be read for many, many years!

*I received this book directly from the publisher to post an honest review during the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ( )
  thebumblegirl | Aug 30, 2017 |
Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about it:
If Pullman's imagination dazzled in the Victorian thrillers that culminated with The Tin Princess, in this first volume of a fantasy trilogy it is nothing short of breathtaking. Here Earth is one of only five planets in the solar system, every human has a daemon (the soul embodied as an animal familiar) and, in a time similar to our late 19th century, Oxford scholars and agents of the supreme Calvinist Church are in a race to unleash the power that will enable them to cross the bridge to a parallel universe. The story line has all the hallmarks of a myth: brought up ignorant of her true identity, 11-year-old Lyra goes on a quest from East Anglia to the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate Roger and her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel. Deceptions and treacheries threaten at every turn, and she is not yet certain how to read the mysterious truth-telling instrument that is her only guide. After escaping from the charming and sinister Mrs. Coulter, she joins a group of "gyptians" in search of their children, who, like Roger, have been spirited away by Mrs. Coulter's henchmen, the Gobblers. Along the way Lyra is guided by friendly witches and attacked by malevolent ones, aided by an armored polar bear and a Texan balloonist, and nearly made a victim of the Gobblers' cruel experiments. 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. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 25, 2017 |
This review is of the 20th Anniversary Edition, specifically. (I gave five stars to the book)

I have many anniversary editions of books I love (some signed, some not). After finishing the trilogy I ordered this immediately to add to my collection. It's a nice book, for the discounted Amazon price I paid ($16.50 as of this writing), but is really lacking when compared to other anniversary books.

The slipcase is a lovely Navy blue and gold design, the same as the Amazon product image. It's made of cardboard with a paper cover that is supposed to look like leather, and there is an image on the back as well as the front. The book itself has white boards with a gold foil stamped compass design on the front board. The new dust jacket design features an image of Lyra riding Iorek Byrnison and has a slight iridescence. This is more visible on the plain inside of the jacket (designed to look like Dust, perhaps?) It has a shiny, glittery look. The book has a deckle edge (uneven cut pages).

My issue with the book is that it has the same standard production values of any trade hardcover. When I pulled the book out of the box, I was surprised at how light it was, especially considering it has a slipcase. An anniversary edition should have a better, heavier quality paper. And a gilt edge would have complemented the gold compass design better. Moreover, the "extra features" are disappointing. "A letter from Philip Pullman to fans" is just a page and a half intro to the book. The conversation with Lev Grossman was a few pages at the end. No added illustrations, not even a color plate. In short, there is very little to distinguish this from a regular edition apart from the slipcase.

Overall, if you don't own the book already, this edition is worthwhile if you can grab it for less than $20 as I did. I'm holding out hope that with the new book coming, they'll do a truly special hardcover box set of the trilogy (something more affordable than The Folio Society set). The pictures are of the actual book I received. ( )
  jshillingford | Aug 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 561 (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 (20 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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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
Northern Lights was published in the US as The Golden Compass
Please distinguish between the book, abridgements and the movie.
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References to this work on external resources.

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.

» see all 18 descriptions

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