The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials

Paperback | May 22, 2001

byPHILIP PULLMAN

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The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time.” Philip Pullman takes readers to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach.

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal--including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.

But what Lyra doesn't know is that to help on of them will be to betray the other...

A masterwork of storytelling and suspense, Philip Pullman's award-winning The Golden Compass is the first in the His Dark Materials series, which continues with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

A #1 New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Guardian Prize for Children's Fiction
Published in 40 Countries

"Arguably the best juvenile fantasy novel of the past twenty years." --The Washington Post

"Very grand indeed." --The New York Times

"Pullman is quite possibly a genius." --Newsweek

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From Our Editors

The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group’s reading of The Golden Compass. We hope that this guide will help you to navigate - alongside the story’s young protagonist, Lyra Belacqua - Philip Pullman’s richly imagined universe, populated by armored bears, gyptians, witches, a...

From the Publisher

The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time.” Philip Pullman takes readers to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach.Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears...

From the Jacket

In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First...

Philip Pullman has won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass (and the reader-voted "Carnegie of Carnegies" for the best children's book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award for The Amber Spyglass; a Booker Prize long-list nomination (The Amber Spyglass); P...

other books by PHILIP PULLMAN

His Dark Materials Yearling 3-book Boxed Set: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber…
His Dark Materials Yearling 3-book Boxed Set: The Golde...

Paperback|May 27 2003

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The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Volume 1
The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Volume 1

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see all books by PHILIP PULLMAN
Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 7.63 × 5.13 × 1 inPublished:May 22, 2001Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0440418321

ISBN - 13:9780440418320

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from still an enjoyable story as an adult I listened to the unabridged audio book version of this, and while I enjoyed the story, I didn't so much like the full cast narration. There were too many widely differing voices vying for my attention. I do think that it would have been better listening with one female voice for Lyra and one male voice for every one else. Lyra has been left in the care of the staff and students of Jordan College. While they care for her, they must place their jobs and studies ahead of her. They do their best to guide her, but that is the job of a parent. Her constant companion, Pantelaimon, acts on instinct to protect her, but a daemon can only do so much. He can't keep her safe from adults who have other plans for Lyra. Once they are torn away from their home at the college, they experience a series of adventures that help uncover a great mystery. Throughout these events, Lyra is forced to grow up and to learn to trust her own judgement. While at the college, she has led a sheltered life where others tell her what to do; after she leaves so much follow her own path. Even I had trouble deciding who was good and who was bad in this story, so it isn't surprising that Lyra was likewise challenged. I did like that once she had made up her mind, she was firm on her convictions and became steadfast friends to several characters. This is a good model for the young readers of The Golden Compass. As I listened to the story, I refected on how significant the daemon was to each young person. They never truly were alone. Imagine if our children were raised with such a constant companion. I imagine it would have an overwhelmingly positive influence and that our children would generally gorw up to be better balanced adults.
Date published: 2016-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This was a geat book I am so glad I read it!!!! My favorite character is Pan. He and Lyra always make me laugh!
Date published: 2015-06-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good book, but just that, not great. This was definitely a page turner. However, I would not call this a series for kids. The subject material is kind of dark. I also couldn't really empathize with the main character.
Date published: 2014-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a bold move Started as a child like adventure, finished as philosofical challenge
Date published: 2013-04-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantasy for Youth and Adults! If it weren’t for my book club, “The Golden Compass” is probably a book I would never have decided to read. I picked up a copy of the book from the library, only to have my 22 yr old daughter start it and tell me I was going to have to get another copy if I wanted to have it read in time for my next book club meeting. So I did...and I started reading with mixed feelings, wondering how a fantasy novel written for youth was going to capture my attention. Twenty pages in and I was hooked. I thought the language might be intended for younger readers, but it’s really not...this book is well written and challenges you to think. With all the religious controversy that I heard about this book I was prepared for that aspect, but instead found myself not necessarily paying any attention to anything but the story that the author, Philip Pullman, is telling. To end this review: I loved “The Golden Compass”...I fell in love with the Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon...with the armoured bear, Iofur Raknison...with Farder Coram. I have the second and third book in the trilogy waiting for me...after the quick mystery that I decided to fit in first.
Date published: 2011-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eat your heart out CS Lewis! Far from your typical wish-fulfillment type adventure story for children, in which an ordinary kid discovers he or she has been endowed with a magical weapon or power or whatnot, and sets out to become a hero - His Dark Materials is a series for youngsters with some real philosophical and existential meat to it. It is no mere magic sword or treasure map discovered by Lyra our wiley protagonist, nor the magical ability to fly or turn invisible. What she learns instead, is that her enigmatic Uncle is conspiring to wage war against God. What she finds to get her started on her journey - an instrument called an alethiometer which allows her to decipher the truth in all matters of cosmology and discourse. This is a story at it's heart about truth and free will -- the value of real human volition. This is no Percy Jackson and certainly no Narnia -- Hallelujah, Amen. Add to this impressive pseudo-Miltonian plot, this not-so morally cut and dried counter-thesis to CS Lewis' didactic Narnia series - a highly inventive Victorian steampunk fantasy world complete with airships, bow-wielding flying witches and a society of armour-sporting polar bears warring for dominance in the North Pole, and you've got yourself a pretty badass fantasy trilogy that children and adults seeking a more humanistic approach to fantasy will enjoy sinking their teeth into. Okay fine, most kids aren't going to read this for the treatise on doing away with church made fabrications about the afterlife in order to focus on bettering the world at our finger tips in the present -- the life we have in front of us right now, but I think they'll sure as hell enjoy the armoured Polar Bears. I most certainly did, and then some. I found the Golden Compass to be the most enjoyable installation, mostly for the physical distance covered in the actual journey and the compelling darkness of the ending. The Trilogy ends up playing out as an endorsement of free will over pious servitude. The fall of Adam and Eve is regarded by Pullman, as a positive event in mythology rather than the troublesome origin of all ill-fortune as is viewed by tradition. This is the kind of story most kids with devout church going parents will want to smuggle in from the library and read with a flashnight beneath the sheets at night. And don't watch the movie. It's crap.
Date published: 2011-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! The book was great! A bit too religious. First book.
Date published: 2010-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This was a good book there where some parts that seemed to drag on for a little bit but other then that it ways very good with a lot of interesting plot twists.
Date published: 2009-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely wonderful This series is my favorite, it is a clinging suspensfull awesome book, and if you don't read this book you really are missing out, Philip Pullman is my favorite author, these books won't let you down! Buy them! seriously. A must read for any age.
Date published: 2009-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely wonderful This series is my favorite, it is a clinging suspensfull awesome book, and if you don't read this book you really are missing out, Philip Pullman is my favorite author, these books won't let you down! Buy them! seriously. A must read for any age.
Date published: 2009-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Warning: This book is brilliant! I am a Christen and I stil love this book (and the whole series). The book didn't make me change my opinions about God or anything, it's just a book. I don't know why Christians or Catholics (or anyone who believes in a God) hate is so much.
Date published: 2009-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from an ok start the start of teh series that was so highly reccomended to em from my brother turned out to have a dissappointing begining. it was ok but not what i was expecting out of it. the first one lacked something that the others had although the ending for the first one is very cliff hanger if you like that sort of thing. I would reccomend this only cause the rest of teh series was good
Date published: 2009-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from had to read all three Once I finished this book I had to go on to read the other two right away. I also found out that some side stories are out there in the cutiest hardcover format. So, of coarse, I had to read them too. I love the way Pullman writes. It draws you right into the story and does not let you go until it is finished with you.
Date published: 2008-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fabulous Lyra is a 12 year old girl who has been raised at Jordan College in Oxford by scholars. She has been somewhat neglected and hence has become a 'wild' child. She plays with Roger, one of the kitchen maid's sons. When Lyra sneaks into the retiring room and catches sight of the Aurora Borealis and visions of an alternate world, she is excited beyond belief. Roger disappears one day and Lyra is terribly concerned. Soon thereafter she is apprenticed to a Mrs. Coulter who is planning a trip to the Arctic. Before long however, Lyra finds out that Mrs. Coulter is really one of the people who are snatching children off the streets. The rumors of what are done with these children are horrendous. Lyra begins a real adventure and rescue. Pullman has created a fantasy world that is wonderful. Each human has a daemon who is attached for life. Animals talk, witches fly and there are polar bear kings. All the stuff of a really good 'fairy' tale.
Date published: 2008-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! Lyra is a rebellious child who has grown up in a college with scholars because her parents were killed in an accident. She doesn't care to learn much, but would rather explore, play with her friends, and make fun of the scholars. Her daemon, Pantalaimon, has not yet taken a permanent form because Lyra is still a child. Each person in the world has a deamon, an animal that is the soul of the person, showing their emotion, defending their human counterpart and speaking to them. When Lyra hides in a closet as her uncle comes over, she learns about the North and sees a child standing beside a man with a stream of dust coming out of the sky. Lyra is in awe and wants to travel to the North. She soon gets her chance when a woman asks Lyra to become her assistant in preparation for travelling North. But soon Lyra learns that there's more going on in the North than just scientific experiments. Children are being snatched from their home and they are never found, but there are rumors. Rumors of experimentation on children and their daemons. For a fantasy novel, I was surprised at what a page turner this book was. It doesn't take too long to understand the alternate world that Pullman has created and get completely enveloped in it. The ending, however, isn't too satisfactory but this is because there's a book #2 and #3. I'm looking forward to reading the next one and seeing what else Lyra gets up to. She's a smart girl for a 12 year old!
Date published: 2008-09-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Compelling Fairytale A hypnotic, compelling fairytale, despite the difficulties of the opening segments. Destined to become a classic across all age groups. Phillip Pullman creates a story set on an alternate Earth, in an alternate Oxford and London, England, that takes Lyra Belacqua, Oxford ward and hellian, into the perils of the Arctic and the mysteries of the Aurora Borealis. While some of the concepts in the novel are not new and are predictable (a king lost then found; villains who end up related to the protagonist), others are deliciously novel or at least presented with a novel twist. The writing is tight, and after the ponderous and confusing first segments the story suddenly coalesces and launches the reader on an adventure of high proportions. I found myself turning pages and hungering to return. Some of the segments and concepts are indeed very dark, quite adult if moralistic, and perhaps a bit mature for children, although certainly I would recommend the novel to ages 13 to 90. Overall a very good read.
Date published: 2008-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from NOT just for kids! This book is really wonderful! I am personally a bit of a Harry Potter freak (and a nerd :) ) and this stands up to it. The story is much darker, and also has a great deal of depth and very interesting themes. This would be a fab book for a book club, lots of great and dynamic discussions can be had.
Date published: 2008-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Refreshing Fantasy Philip Pullman excels in the telling of the tale of Lyra Belacqua, a girl who has lived most of her life in Jordan College of Oxford of the late eighteen hundreds. When hidden in the wardrobe in the male-only Retiring Room with her daemon, Pantalaimon (basically her conscience in the form of an animal), Lyra witnesses the Master of the College pouring a poison in her uncle Asriel's wine. When the Master leaves, Asriel enters, and Lyra makes herself known to her uncle, telling him about the wine. Asriel spills the wine and shows the Scholars of Jordan College some photograms of his strange discoveries he found in the North, something called Dust. The tale escalates from here and with many twists in the plot, it was very unpredictable, surprising, and a wonderful tale.
Date published: 2008-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This is one of the best novels I have read in a long long time. Once I picked up the book I could not but it down You should buy the whole trilogey.
Date published: 2008-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Question Everything After all the talk about Pullman's supposed anti-Catholicism or anti-Christianity or atheism or whatever one wants to label it, I approached The Golden Compass (known originally as Northern Lights) with an open mind and found something other than what I'd been told to expect. I found elements that questioned Christianity and Catholicism and the nature of God and its works, but I also found elements that questioned parental authority, the ethical and practical roles of Science, and the nature of good and evil. And it is this consistent questioning that I see as the message of Pullman's first book of "His Dark Materials" -- not any of those supposedly dangerous messages that were focused on during the movie's release. The notion that we should question everything, even if we are children -- or especially if we are children -- is one of the most important messages humankind can hear, and one of the hardest for us to learn or employ. Most people simply do not want to question. It takes work; it takes struggle; it takes strength, and far more strength than unquestioning faith or simple acceptance require. The fact that Lyra questions everything around her at all times is her salvation. And ours if we would only learn the lesson. Say what you like about Pullman's story, but regardless of your religion or politics or economics or taste he does something brave that needs to be respected -- he challenges us to think about everything. I understand that he doesn't maintain the amazing level of The Golden Compass, nee Northern Lights, in the books that follow, but I am compelled to read them to see for myself. I think Pullman would appreciate that.
Date published: 2008-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Will pull you in Though marketed as a children's fantasy, this book does deal with some mature themes, making it great for all ages. It has a very pure method of sucking you into this world, great for escapists of all ages!
Date published: 2008-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Darker than the movie makes it better If you like Harry Potter, then I definitely recommend checking out the His Dark Materials trilogy from Phillip Pullman! I had seen The Golden Compass in theatres this past Christmas and knew I had to read the book. It definitely did not disappoint me. The main character, Lyra Belacqua, is a fun trickster who is definitely smarter than HP while still being sweet and sensitive. In this fantasy world, every person has a daemon, an animal that is sort of their "soul" and an outward expression of their feelings as well as a helpmate. Lyra's journey begins at an Oxford college and takes her throughout an alternate northern Europe, leading to her meeting many strange and endearing characters, while unravelling a mystery and rescuing her good friend Roger. A caution: the book ends up being a lot darker than the movie, which I appreciated but did not expect. Best to take this book and clear your reading schedule of others so that you can truly appreciate the world that the author has created. I'm taking a break in between this one and the next so I can make the adventure last longer!
Date published: 2008-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful audio production This is an excellent audio production of a great book. The author himself is the narrator and there is a full cast playing all the voices. It's very enjoyable to listen to, and it's unabridged so you're not missing out on any of the detail of the book. Definitely worth listening to.
Date published: 2008-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For mature children I thought this book was very good- reading it as an adult. I think I would think twice about giving it to the suggested age group- as some parts are quite graphic and violent. It has a very strong female hero- a great thing to see in a book!
Date published: 2008-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good one to share I picked this one up because it was so popular among my students. It's a great read for 12 year-olds... an intriguing story to keep them interested and high-quality writing to keep them challenged. Pullman conjures up a world that is familiar enough to resonate, but different enough to pique curiosity and provoke thought.
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definitely a Surprise! A friend told me about the book a few years ago, and I finally read it. Why did I wait so long! This book invites you into Lyra’s world. Chapter by chapter you continue to turn the pages to unravel the mystery…. now I’m anxiously anticipating the next book.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantasy Book worth reading! I have to admit...I am a huge fiction reader. From mysteries, suspense, thrillers...well you get the drift :-) I picked up this book over the Christmas season on a whim. I had heard about the controversies surrounding the release of the movie but I didn't really know what it was based on. From the first page I was hooked! The writing is superb. The imagination and creativity take you to another world filled with witches, talking bears and great action!! I am currently reading the 2nd book in this series and it is just as good! You WILL enjoy reading this series...guaranteed!
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Buy The Whole Series at Once I've heard so many good things about His Dark Materials trilogy, so I had a feeling I would be kicking myself for not buying all three books at once. When I bought this one, my first though was: "If I end up liking this book and don't have the others ready to read right after this, I'll probably be really ticked." It's pretty much ended up that way. Despite the book seemingly being written with children in mind, it's still a great story for fantasy lovers. I really liked this and can't wait to get my hands on the others.
Date published: 2008-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from wonderful tale I would strongly urge anyone who plans to watch this movie to read the book first. It is a great book and I can't wait to read the sequels.
Date published: 2008-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than Potter! This is an excellent book - although I would say it is for older children (say > 12) as there is violence and death. I was absolutely glued to the book. Although I don't think it drew me in as much as the Potter books, I feel the writing is better, as is the imagery created by the detailed descriptions provided by Pullman. This does draw you into the story - and gives you a good opportunity to create pictures in your own mind of exactly how the scenes and characters should look. I have since read the remaining 2 stories - highly recommended. Warning: in one of the books an adult kills a child to gain his own ends - this could be an issue re: children reading the story. In addition, if you are religious, keep in mind that religion in this book is viewed very negatively - controlling and the killer of creative thought. Still, my 13 year old daughter read it and loved all of the books - she was totally unaware of the religious significance of much of the book. Excellent and recommended!
Date published: 2008-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really good A really good book. The beginning was a little slow, but once the ball got rolling, it was impossible to stop. Force yourself to read the first few chapters, and you won't be able to put it down.
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best fantasies At first when I started reading this novel, I wasn't sure if it was going to be interesting or not but after a few chapters it got really good. The story was very interesting with all the daemons and alternative universe. This is a book that I recommend for all fantasy lovers of all ages. It's a must read book.
Date published: 2008-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book of all time This is not just a book - it is a work of art; it paints a beautiful picture of different universes and a child's imagination and bravery as she takes on many different adventures. It is not only a very exciting book, but it's also very captivating. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves adventure/fantasy books and want one you can't put down!
Date published: 2008-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome book... This is one of the best books that I have ever read! I am only 13 years old (12 when I read it) and I think that it was just an awesome book. I cant wait until I can watch the movie, I hope that it is as good as the book. ^_^
Date published: 2007-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Suffering From Harry Potter Withdrawl? (www.thebookblog.ca) Lyra has lived in Jordan College since she can remember. She’s your normal young girl, very mischevious and an incredible liar. Lyra is a very different person for a writer to pick as their protagonist. She has an insatiable curiousity about the happenings of the North, where people have been discovering things about Dust and other universes, but she doesn’t quite understand it all. What she does know is that many children her age are beginning to disappear, including her good friends. Lyra also soon discovers that the woman who takes her in as her protege may have something to do with it. This book is hard to summarize, because everything gives something away. I’m sure the succeeding books won’t make things any easier. After reading The Golden Compass myself, I am going to be much more reluctant to recommend it to younger children. The way I see it is that once you’ve read all of Harry Potter, you’re ready for His Dark Materials. An older audience will understand much, much more of it than the younger will, and the faint of heart might want to think about it before picking this one up. This series is not written to be read individually; if you choose to pick it up, be prepared for a three-book investment. If you have read Harry Potter and you’re looking for a new series to satisfy your fantasy craving, this is definately what you need to read...
Date published: 2007-12-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It Was OK. Not as Good as the Hype Lower class children are disappearing and when Lyra finds that her friend is missing she wants to find him and get him back. Lyra becomes caught up in her new life but eventually realizes that all is not as it seems and those she trusts are involved with the disappearance of the children. Lyra goes on a quest which ultimately results in her following her destiny. I wanted to like this book much more than I did. Honestly, I wasn't even close to blown away. The story was slow to start. Lyra was the only fleshed-out main character and I wasn't fond of her at all. Boring is the word that comes to mind. The book also ends with a cliff-hanger which is a technique I really do not appreciate. I'm not saying this was a bad book though. Once the the pace picked up, I did find the story interesting and parts did read quickly. I'm finding it difficult to write this review as nothing really stood out to me as being great. It was ok; and I will be reading the next book, and most likely the last.
Date published: 2007-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from HUGE hit! I read before anyone could imagine...5 years ago. Happy that it's a hit. It should be, a book this good can't hide forever. The series I've read, best I've ever read. Just read and trust me most people will because of the movie. But read it before you watch. The movie still can't compare to the book. Though the movie is good..not great!
Date published: 2007-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I read The Golden Compass after seeing the trailer for the movie and already knowing the name of the movie without reading the book or seeing the name in the trailer, I figured I should go and read the book, and before the movie came out. And I'm glad I did. Lyra is an amazing little girl, and Pan sounds like a very interesting daemon. The adventure that they go on is incredible for their age. The whole book was interesting, and I couldn't put it down. The different worlds, which you learn a lot more about in the other two books, is something that I liked reading about, as well as Dust and finding out what it really "was". I also liked learning more Lyra's Uncle. People are saying a lot about the "religion" subjects it has and that they wouldn't let there kids read it. But really, its a book. A book can't change your mind on something unless you let it, and its fiction. Just read an enjoy.
Date published: 2007-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Read. This book was one of the best books I have ever read. When I saw that is was reccomended for 10-12 year old I was suprised. Even if a 10 year old could read this book they would proboly never understand what it was about or what the people are saying. Out of the series this was for sure my favorite. I also really hope they do a good job of the movie because it would be a very hard book to make into the movie. If they do mess the movie up I will be very dissapointed. I hope that someone that can change the sight will change the age group for this book please.
Date published: 2007-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and different It's a pretty good book although there are times when I thought I was undergoing a lesson in theology and just wandering off the deep end. I'm still confused as to what Dust is. Also, I was a little surprised to find this book in the kiddie section considering there are parts in the book where it is rather graphic (then again..aren't young children playing Manhunt 2?) Other than those points I mentioned, I enjoyed this book, I liked the relationship characters had with their daemons and the magic mixed with the somewhat modern technology (ie machine guns). Reminds me of other novels I've read. I'll be looking forward to reading the other two.
Date published: 2007-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not really for children When I read online that this book was recommended for kids between 10 and 12, I was very surprised: I've been dealing with Comparative Theology and Religious Belief for 20 years and had trouble understanding the concept of "Dust". I think the first reviewer overstates their case by calling it "psychotic religious nonsense", but conceptually, it is tough to follow: how many years and brain hours have been devoted to the concept of "original sin", and it remains a mystery! Furthermore, it begins badly: I had a VERY difficult time settling in, which is unusual for me, since this sort of fiction is my favourite genre. The only thing that kept me going is my own compulsive nature: I just CAN'T put away a book without reading to the end! Yup, I surely wind up reading through an awful lot of junk that way, but then sometimes I luck out as I did with "Golden Compass". I did not care one little bit about the protagonist or the book until half way through Chapter 3, when suddenly the first child she knows goes missing, and the "Gobblers" are introduced. By the way, LOVE the cocktail party where the name is properly explained! Perfect characterization of the type of social function it is AND of the people there - exceptionally well done! In fact, all of Pullman's characterizations are extradordinarily well drawn, even if it does take some time to care about Lyra, our heroine. I think the back jacket should contain a better description of the novel: what time period is involved; the fact that it is an alternate world; what daemons are, etc. It's true that all of those questions are eventually answered, but it takes a long time to sort out not only the players, but when and where the playing field is! I had a hard time following it, and I just don't see how a younger reader possibly could. You'd just have to accept everything at face value and plough on. As Lyra moves from one setting to the next, I found myself wishing he had kept up with the people in each place, as well as following her specific journey. Pullman is masterful in creating memorable people and believable dialogue: individuals you care about and would like to know more of. The subject matter does become quite dark however, and I really, really would not recommend this to a sensitive 10 or 12 year old child, even though Lyra is right at that age herself. Just as the Harry Potter series becomes very dark at the book "Goblet of Fire", and the movies lose their charming feel of "fun and games" in a world where magic is real; "Golden Compass" quickly becomes traumatic somewhere around Chapter 12 and the poor lost child. I cried for/with him, and I'll bet it would give a youngster nightmares for life! Overall I really recommend this book, but to an adult audience. I'm only sorry I didn't find it sooner.
Date published: 2007-11-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from argh! i personally did not enjoy this book although some parts were interesting. this book sort of dragged on. i recommend u read and buy eragon. its worth every penny!
Date published: 2007-04-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from absolute worst Could someone writing a book for teenagers comeup with a story that actually coherently captures the true essence of reality, without poisoning us without too much psychotic religious nonsense. I hate the idea of someone actually spending time and making money churning out these horrific creations. Why not spend your time writing something that actually makes sense unlike this dull and worthless book. This almost makes me want to throw things including this book into a fire especially designed for removing garbage like this from the earth. The only possible thing they could comeup with that outweighs the stupidity of this book is a movie of the same name, which unfortunately is already in production.
Date published: 2006-11-15
Rated out of 5 by from IndigoKids Recommends: Experts' Favourites A great suggestion if you liked Harry Potter or Eragon.
Date published: 2006-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable If you are ready to embrace your wild side, than sit down and open up the first installment in Philip Pullman's remarkable series. This is the first book that has ever truly stuck to me, and I found it absolutly amazing. The very first person you truly meet is a youn spunky girl who goes by the name of Lyra Belacqua. Lyra starts her journey to hunt down her childhood friend Roger. Roger is only one of many children who are vanishing and being used in horridic experiments to seperate humans from their life long companions known as daemons. Daemons are animals that reflect each person's true self. What hurts Lyra the most is that her very own uncle is involved in all of this. Will Lyra save Roger? Will she even survive? Find out in this book that lets you truly see the north for what it is!
Date published: 2006-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting, Fabulous, New! I loved this book! Though it is written for young adults and youth as an adult I truly enjoyed the unique storyline. I have never read a book quite like this and have yet to find one with such great plot ideas. The idea of a constant companion, a kind of guide for each character intigued me. Never have I looked at the world through such fantastic eyes as when I read this book. I would recommend it to anyone young or old.
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing The book "The golden compass" is an amazing fantasy I just got a couple of days ago. The book is about a young girl named Lyra who is determined to find her friend who was kidnapped and was used to experiment on. I definetly give this book a two thumbs up because of it's creativity and expressive writing about the thoughts of a little girl in trouble. I also like the book for it's desrciprive words and dialoge. I love books that go beyond reality and into a fantasy world where anything can happen. It lets my mind wander and i'm glad i picked this book off the shelf. Philip Pullman did an extraordinary job!
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not just for kids I loved this book, buy the whole trilogy, it's a keeper.
Date published: 2006-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everything you want in a book! I first read this book when I was twelve and loved it. I recently read it again and I still feel the same! This story, which is the first in Pullman's trilogy of "His Dark Materials", is not just for young readers. In this novel we discover Dust, an important and mysterious substance. Finish the trilogy and you'll be amazed and enlightened to find out exactly what it is.
Date published: 2006-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extraordinary Read!! My mother gave this book to me for Christmas years ago and I fell in love immediatly! I have read and reread it many many times, and it continues to be one of my most treasured books in my growing collection. There is such depth in the characters and the storyline...that it really makes you begin to wonder what life would be like with the subtle differences found in Lyra's World. A truly beautiful book, one that EVERY one should read!! Note: it stands as a great book on it's own, but the other two books are a must to read as well, as they finish off the story. To an ending that will break your heart....
Date published: 2006-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from outstanding read Philip pullman has realy out done him self in the amazing adventure of a girl named lyra and her deamon pan, what a great book to read.
Date published: 2005-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent At first I thought the book was really weird and I was missing something. The as I read on the book became very interesting. I loved it because there were so many twists and the end. It was a really good book!
Date published: 2005-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from FANTASTIC! This book is amazingly written! It will keep you in complete suspense for the whole story. Once you begin to read it, you will never be able to stop because of all the fantastic happenings!
Date published: 2005-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! The Golden Compass is filled with suspense and interesting fantasy from the works of a great author. This book will lead you to different worlds and show how one girl will make a big difference. This is one novel that you dont want to miss out on!
Date published: 2005-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book is AMAZING This book is so good. I read it on my summer vacation and I couldn't put it down. As soon as I finished it I wanted to read the next one. It is very detailed and the author has a great imagination. I would definetly recomend this book!
Date published: 2004-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My review on The Golden Compass The Golden Compass is one of the best books you can read! It is packed with tons of adventure, action and suspense. It is a book you will not want to miss out on reading!!! So go on, what are you waiting for, buy it. It won't be a mistake.
Date published: 2004-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must have This book is a must for any reader of any age. This book has everything: adventure, suspense, theological examination..... If you have not read it, go do so, you will not be dissapointed.
Date published: 2004-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great book i thought this book was verry good, it had lots of adventure and was soooo interesting that i could't put it down i liked following lyra on her journey and i loved the 2 siquels. i would recomend this book to all my friens. this book was my favourite of the 3 even though i am only 1/2 way through the third book.
Date published: 2003-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular This was the most amazing book I have ever read, give it a couple chapters and you are unable to put it down, I have read it over and over again. It never ceases in its thrilling quality. Its spectactular and truely genius. I admire Philip Pullman and am in awe at his amazing imagination and intelligence.
Date published: 2002-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating The Golden Compass was a great read. If you have read the first book, you have to read the sequels!! The plot just gets more twisted and interesting.
Date published: 2002-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Golden Compass A masterful work, with suspence every step of the way. If you don't read this book you will never experience tue litteracy.
Date published: 2002-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best of the Best in fantasy...Magical You will be swept away in this story of a girl named Lyra, who starts out as a small orphan girl in Oxford, but who goes on a thrilling adventure. It's suspense keeps you turning the pages and longing for the sequel. Dont miss out on this enchantimg story!!!!
Date published: 2002-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Golden Compass Rocks!! omg this was the best book ever! i picked it up and couldn't put it down, its a rock-em knock-em sock-em in-the-*** book that will keep you up all night long.
Date published: 2002-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 stars it is a very good book. totally breath takin and a twist of an end ,it will take you to a whole other world, filled with magic and mystery!
Date published: 2001-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Golden Compass Rocks This book is a thriller it is like a roolercoaster because it twists and turns. It has you on the seat of your pants and you wont be able to put this book down !! It has a conclusion that is totally what you least expected !! THis is not compareble to Harry Potter because this is by far better than that. This is the best book ever seen in children's literature. I hope you take the time to read Philip pullman's Masterpiece. This book is the first in a set of three entitled His Dark Materials.
Date published: 2001-06-07

Extra Content

Read from the Book

OneTHE DECANTER OF TOKAYLyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen. The three great tables that ran the length of the hall were laid already, the silver and the glass catching what little light there was, and the long benches were pulled out ready for the guests. Portraits of former Masters hung high up in the gloom along the walls. Lyra reached the dais and looked back at the open kitchen door, and, seeing no one, stepped up beside the high table. The places here were laid with gold, not silver, and the fourteen seats were not oak benches but mahogany chairs with velvet cushions.Lyra stopped beside the Master's chair and flicked the biggest glass gently with a fingernail. The sound rang clearly through the hall."You're not taking this seriously," whispered her daemon. "Behave yourself."Her daemon's name was Pantalaimon, and he was currently in the form of a moth, a dark brown one so as not to show up in the darkness of the hall."They're making too much noise to hear from the kitchen," Lyra whispered back. "And the Steward doesn't come in till the first bell. Stop fussing."But she put her palm over the ringing crystal anyway, and Pantalaimon fluttered ahead and through the slightly open door of the Retiring Room at the other end of the dais. After a moment he appeared again."There's no one there," he whispered. "But we must be quick."Crouching behind the high table, Lyra darted along and through the door into the Retiring Room, where she stood up and looked around. The only light in here came from the fireplace, where a bright blaze of logs settled slightly as she looked, sending a fountain of sparks up into the chimney. She had lived most of her life in the College, but had never seen the Retiring Room before: only Scholars and their guests were allowed in here, and never females. Even the maid-servants didn't clean in here. That was the Butler's job alone.Pantalaimon settled on her shoulder."Happy now? Can we go?" he whispered."Don't be silly! I want to look around!"It was a large room, with an oval table of polished rosewood on which stood various decanters and glasses, and a silver smoking stand with a rack of pipes. On a sideboard nearby there was a little chafing dish and a basket of poppy heads."They do themselves well, don't they, Pan?" she said under her breath.She sat in one of the green leather armchairs. It was so deep she found herself nearly lying down, but she sat up again and tucked her legs under her to look at the portraits on the walls. More old Scholars, probably; robed, bearded, and gloomy, they stared out of their frames in solemn disapproval."What d'you think they talk about?" Lyra said, or began to say, because before she'd finished the question she heard voices outside the door."Behind the chair—quick!" whispered Pantalaimon, and in a flash Lyra was out of the armchair and crouching behind it. It wasn't the best one for hiding behind: she'd chosen one in the very center of the room, and unless she kept very quiet...The door opened, and the light changed in the room; one of the incomers was carrying a lamp, which he put down on the sideboard. Lyra could see his legs, in their dark green trousers and shiny black shoes. It was a servant.Then a deep voice said, "Has Lord Asriel arrived yet?"It was the Master. As Lyra held her breath, she saw the servant's daemon (a dog, like all servants' daemons) trot in and sit quietly at his feet, and then the Master's feet became visible too, in the shabby black shoes he always wore."No, Master," said the Butler. "No word from the aerodock, either.""I expect he'll be hungry when he arrives. Show him straight into Hall, will you?""Very good, Master.""And you've decanted some of the special Tokay for him?""Yes, Master. The 1898, as you ordered. His Lordship is very partial to that, I remember.""Good. Now leave me, please.""Do you need the lamp, Master?""Yes, leave that too. Look in during dinner to trim it, will you?"The Butler bowed slightly and turned to leave, his daemon trotting obediently after him. From her not-much-of-a-hiding place Lyra watched as the Master went to a large oak wardrobe in the corner of the room, took his gown from a hanger, and pulled it laboriously on. The Master had been a powerful man, but he was well over seventy now, and his movements were stiff and slow. The Master's daemon had the form of a raven, and as soon as his robe was on, she jumped down from the wardrobe and settled in her accustomed place on his right shoulder.Lyra could feel Pantalaimon bristling with anxiety, though he made no sound. For herself, she was pleasantly excited. The visitor mentioned by the Master, Lord Asriel, was her uncle, a man whom she admired and feared greatly. He was said to be involved in high politics, in secret exploration, in distant warfare, and she never knew when he was going to appear. He was fierce: if he caught her in here she'd be severely punished, but she could put up with that.What she saw next, however, changed things completely.The Master took from his pocket a folded paper and laid it on the table beside the wine. He took the stopper out of the mouth of a decanter containing a rich golden wine, unfolded the paper, and poured a thin stream of white powder into the decanter before crumpling the paper and throwing it into the fire. Then he took a pencil from his pocket, stirred the wine until the powder had dissolved, and replaced the stopper.

Bookclub Guide

US1. The author tells us that The Golden Compass takes place "in a universe like ours, but different in many ways." How do you think Lyra's universe relates to ours?2. What is a dæmon? How do they make humans different from other creatures? Why do you think servants' dæmons are always dogs? What sort of dæmons might your friends, relatives, classmates, or coworkers have? Describe your own dæmon.3. The world of The Golden Compass is ruled by the Church. However, the nature of its power is unclear. What power do you think the Church holds over its people?4. On pages 89-90, the General Oblation Board is explained in reference to the historical sacrifice of children to cloistered life. "Oblation" refers to the act of making a religious offering. What offering does the General Oblation Board make and to whom?5. Human knowledge and experience are made physical in Dust. What other psychological, intellectual, or spiritual activities does the author physicalize?6. What is the relationship between "severing" and death? Is the author using this fantasy to explore the notion of psychic or moral death?7. Why do you think the author stresses that Lyra is not an imaginative child? Why would "imagination" be dangerous to her? How would it affect her understanding of the alethiometer? Is Lyra a truth-seeker? Who is Lyra Belacqua and/or what does she symbolize?8. In what ways is gender a significant or stratifying element in the novel? Why do you think all witches are female? Why are dæmons usually the opposite gender of their human counterparts? Is the fact that Lyra is a girl-child relevant to the themes of the story?9. Alongside human society in The Golden Compass, there exists the community of the armored bears, who have their own hierarchical structure and moral code. In one way Svalbard seems little more than an interesting foil to the human condition, yet the bear kingdom is also a final destination, the site of the story's climactic conclusion. What do you think is the author's purpose in inventing - and exploring - the world of the armored bear?10. The author has filled this novel with binary imagery: person-dæmon; mother-father; Iorek-Iofur; Lyra's universe-the universe in the Aurora. What other binarisms can you find in the structure, landscape imagery, and vocabulary of this fantasy? How do these dualistic elements affect the novel's larger themes?11. Discuss Lyra's "betrayal" of Roger in relation to other betrayals that occur in the novel. Has reading The Golden Compass altered your understanding of the act of betrayal?12. Are Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter in collusion or are they fighting each other? How and in what way? 13. Curiously absent from The Golden Compass are four words that are prevalent in most fantasy adventures: right, wrong, good, and evil. Can these terms be applied to this story? How and why, or why not?14. On the last page of the book, Lyra and Pantalaimon recognize that they are still "one being; both of us are one." The expression resonates with a phrase from marriage ceremonies. Contrast this moment in the story with the preceding interplay between Lyra's parents.15. The Golden Compass is the first book in the trilogy His Dark Materials, which gets its name from a passage in John Milton's Paradise Lost, quoted at the beginning of the novel. Philip Pullman has said, "Milton's angels are not seriously meant to be believed - beings with wings and halos and white robes. They are psychological qualities, conceived and pictured as personalities. With them, Milton tells one of the central tales of our world: the story of the temptation and fall of humankind." Discuss the passage from Paradise Lost and this statement from the author in relation to The Golden Compass.16. When Lyra walks "into the sky" at the end of Book One, we can presume that she is walking into the world of Book Two of His Dark Materials - "the universe that we know." What do you think will happen to her and Pantalaimon when they cross the bridge?

From Our Editors

The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group’s reading of The Golden Compass. We hope that this guide will help you to navigate - alongside the story’s young protagonist, Lyra Belacqua - Philip Pullman’s richly imagined universe, populated by armored bears, gyptians, witches, and human beings, whose dæmons are never far from their side. Dæmons are one of the most striking, charming, and powerful images in The Golden Compass. These spirit-creatures, which seem like physical representations of the human soul, can change form to reflect the myriad of emotional states their humans go through as children. But in adulthood, each dæmon settles into the animal form that best reflects the inner nature of its human counterpart. It is in this unusual and imaginative creation that Pullman turns his sharpest mirror back onto his readers, helping us to imagine our own souls as precious, living extensions of ourselves that we can love, challenge, or even betray. The Golden Compass is a complex story that turns on a simple word: "Dust." This Dust does not gather in the unswept corners of Jordan College, Lyra’s Oxford home. Rather, this Dust seems to reveal - or perhaps contain - the thing that makes each human being a unique creature. The concept of Dust provokes fear in some; others realize that mastery over Dust could be the source of great power. Although she does not quite realize it, Lyra - along with her dæmon Pantalaimon - finds her life inextricably entangled with the exploration of Dust. And as her understanding of Dust and her mastery over a mysterious tool called the alethiometer increases, the dangerous journey that she seems destined to make takes some astounding twists and turns.

Editorial Reviews

“Extraordinary storytelling at its very best.” —The Detroit Free Press    “Superb . . . all-stops-out thrilling.” —The Washington Post   "Very grand indeed." —The New York Times   "Powerful […] a fantasy adventure that sparkles with childlike wonder." —The Boston Sunday Globe   "Marvelous […]  the writing is elegant and challenging." —The New Yorker   "Arguably the best juvenile fantasy novel of the past twenty years […]  If [The Subtle Knife] is as good as The Golden Compass, we'll be two thirds of the way to the completion of a modern fantasy classic." —The Washington Post Book World   “Pullman is quite possibly a genius…using the lineaments of fantasy to tell the truth about the universal experience of growing up.”  —Newsweek"Masterful storytelling […]  with a cast of instantly beguiling characters." —The Dallas Morning News   “The most magnificent fantasy series since Lord of the Rings.”  —The Oregonian “Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century.  An astounding achievement.”  —The Cincinnati Enquirer "Once in a lifetime a children's author emerges who is so extraordinary that the imagination of generations is altered. Lewis Carroll, E. Nesbit, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien were all of this cast. So, too, is Philip Pullman, whose Dark Materials trilogy will be devoured by anyone between eight and eighty. The most ambitious work since The Lord of the Rings, it is as intellectually thrilling as it is magnificently written." — New Statesman   "Thrillingly paced and exotic […] breathtaking." — Columbus Dispatch “[…] a rare few have minds capacious enough to engage in vast cosmos-making, imagining realms and inventing universes. I am thinking of Dante and Milton and Blake. We may now add Philip Pullman.” —Parents Choice (online)   "The Golden Compass is one of the best fantasy/adventure stories that I have read in years. This is a book no one should miss." —Terry Brooks, author of The Sword of Shannara "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." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review   “This first fantastic installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy propels readers along with horror and high adventure, a shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review   "This first fantastic installment propels readers along with horror and high adventure […] A shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred   “The characters of Lord Asriel, Mrs. Coutler, and Iorek Byrnison and the cold and beautiful Northern setting are captivating; the constantly twisting plot and escalating suspense are riveting; and Lyra and Pantalaimon are among the gutsiest and wiliest of adventurers. Touching, exciting, and mysterious by turns, this is a splendid work.” —The Horn Book Magazine, Starred   “Glorious. And what an ending — simply operatic.” —School Library Journal, Top 100 Children’s Novels (#28)   "This is a captivating fantasy, filled with excitement, suspense, and unusual characters." —School Library Journal   "A totally involving, intricately plotted fantasy that will leave readers clamoring for the sequels."  —Booklist, Starred review   “Glorious. . . . The Golden Compass is one of those lyrical suspensions like Alice in Wonderland and The Lord of the Rings that crosses all age lines and intertwines mythologies and legends with seamless beauty.” —BookPage From the Hardcover edition.