Dreamer Hlessi, January 26, 2011 (view all comments by Dreamer Hlessi)
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman is a masterpiece that no review can give justice to. No matter how many times I read it, I find myself thinking of new and bright ideas. Being the first in Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, this book is actually only the start of an adventure the young girl, Lyra, must take. It's filled with external fragments of our souls called daemons, armored polar bears, witches, and other worlds.
Though it's often thought of as merely a children's book and is often disregarded due to it's horrible film rendition, The Golden Compass(and the Trilogy as a whole) questions some long held ideas. Readers, both children and adults alike would do well by reading this and having it to discuss for years to come. As I'm 23 and still hold this book in high regard, I can't help but HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK to anyone interested in light, yet philosophical, adventure reading.
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icesk8r, March 10, 2008 (view all comments by icesk8r)
The Golden Compass is amazing it takes you on a journey that changes the way you look at things forever. If you read the first book you just have to read the 2nd and 3rd as well.
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K Bloom, December 24, 2007 (view all comments by K Bloom)
The Golden Compass is stunning - it's full of unique ideas and an incredible landscape. It hardly feels like magic, and science of a sort underlays most of the ideas in the book. But it's thrilling and full of rich, deep, funny characters who continually step out of the page and into three dimensionality. It makes Harry Potter seem positively workaday, but, on more reflection, Potter and Lyra (the star of this book) are two sides of a coin. They're both headstrong, but Harry has to fight his battle against ultimate evil inside a framework. Lyra's world is falling apart and so rules have been broken already - she has to use all means at her quite extensive disposal! I'd also recommend reading Tino Georgiou's bestselling novel--The Fates--if you haven't yet
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thomasn528, November 27, 2007 (view all comments by thomasn528)
Pullman's books have subject to some angry scrutiny by some Christian and other believers, and this is intended to provide an alternative point of view.
Pullman's "Dark Materials" series is, it's true, in part an attack on _organized_ religion -- on the worldly power it wields when it takes a bureaucratized, theocratized, Catholic Church-like form. True, Pullman goes further, arguing essentially that if such organized religions are truly representative of God... well, then there's a problem with God, too.
But much more importantly, the series is a discussion of the consequences of an obsessive focus on eternal life after death rather than on a productive life before it. And they are a discussion of what it means to grow up and understand that. Indeed, Pullman is more ally than antagonist to Christians (and other believers) in one very important way: he doesn't dispute the notion of a "soul" -- rather, he extends and elaborates on it with the daemons accompanying humans in the alternate universe he describes.
But for those who believe the books are necessarily an "attack on Christianity," there's arguably an even more important point about Pullman's books: there is no mention whatsoever of Jesus in any of his discussions of either the Church or its ethereal counterpart, the Authority. Indeed (or instead), the chief protagonists Lyra and Will play a Christ-like role when they make a great but utterly necessary sacrifice at the end of "Amber Spyglass" -- moreover, after essentially "harrowing" Hell, admittedly with a decidedly different goal in mind than Jesus had in the New Testament.
To me, Pullman's books are ultimately not so much an attack on religion as an alternative vision of spirituality: sentience and mature purpose are the great goods of the universe, to be cherished, husbanded, and multiplied. That, it seems to me, is not such an awful vision for a Christian -- even for a conservative Christian -- to contemplate.
Pullman himself has called his books an attempt to kill God, and God's death is indeed ultimately part of the story -- though a strangely lesser part than one might think. But if your faith in God is unshaken by evil in the real world, it ought to be unshaken by a fantasy trilogy as well. Meanwhile, readers of all faiths (or lacks thereof) would do themselves out of a singular feat of the imagination and a powerful challenge to their beliefs about "children's books" -- if nothing else -- if they don't give these books a fair chance.
(adapted from comments at
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by Publishers Weekly (Starred Review),
"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."
by Detroit Free Press,
"Extraordinary storytelling at its very best."
by The Washington Post,
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Fantastic....A shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe."
by The New York Times Book Review,
"Very grand indeed...scene after scene of power and beauty."
Young Lyra's uncle, Lord Asriel, returns from the far North with tales of terrible danger and of a child severed from its daemon familiar. Soon Lyra sets out to save kidnapped children and their familiars from hideous experiments. But an even greater mystery awaits.
Published in 40 countries, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.
The Golden Compass forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set partly in the world we know. The third moves between many worlds.
In The Golden Compass, readers meet 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Jordan College in Oxford, England. It quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own—nor is her world. In Lyra's world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar. This is a world in which science, theology and magic are closely intertwined.
The Subtle Knife is the second part of the trilogy that began with The Golden Compass. That first book was set in a world like ours, but different. This book begins in our own world.
In The Subtle Knife, readers are introduced to Will Parry, a young boy living in modern-day Oxford, England. Will is only twelve years old, but he bears the responsibilities of an adult. Following the disappearance of his explorer-father, John Parry, during an expedition in the North, Will became parent, provider and protector to his frail, confused mother. And it's in protecting her that he becomes a murderer, too: he accidentally kills a man who breaks into their home to steal valuable letters written by John Parry. After placing his mother in the care of a kind friend, Will takes those letters and sets off to discover the truth about his father.
The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heartstopping close, marking the third and final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spy-master to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. And this final volume brings startling revelations, too: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live—and who will die—for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will reveal the secret of Dust.
- Ideal for the fantasy/sci-fi market: new striking, commercial paperback look.- The trilogy has been showered with awards: Whitbread Award, Booker Prize nominee, Carnegie Medal, ALA Notable, Guardian Fiction Prize, Parents Choice Gold Award, Horn Book Fanfare, Booklist Editors' Choice, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year- Over 2 million copies sold in the U.S.alone: Pullman's trilogy is truly a modern classic.
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