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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials #01)

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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials #01) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. 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?

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

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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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
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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(6 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)
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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Product Details

ISBN:
9780440238133
Author:
Pullman, Philip
Publisher:
Laurel Leaf Library
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
Adventure
Subject:
Fantasy - Epic
Subject:
Magick Studies
Subject:
Special Interest - Adventure
Subject:
Children s All Ages - Fiction - Fantasy
Subject:
Action & Adventure - General
Subject:
Missing persons
Subject:
Fantasy
Subject:
Fantasy & Magic
Subject:
Kidnapping
Subject:
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;magic;science fiction;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;pullman;young adult fiction;phi
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;magic;science fiction;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;pullman;young adult fiction;phi
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;adventure;children s;science fiction;magic;novel;children;steampunk;trilogy;children s literature;alternate universe;children s fiction;england;british;juvenile;young adult fiction;20th century;wi
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;pullman;young adult fiction;20t
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;adventure;children s;science fiction;magic;novel;children;steampunk;trilogy;children s literature;alternate universe;children s fiction;england;british;juvenile;young adult fiction;coming of age;w
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Series:
His Dark Materials
Series Volume:
01
Publication Date:
September 9, 2003
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
7.2 x 4.2 x 3 in 1.4375 lb
Age Level:
from 12

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Related Subjects

Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Young Adult » General

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials #01) Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Laurel-Leaf Books - English 9780440238133 Reviews:
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Extraordinary storytelling at its very best."
"Review" by , "Superb...all-stops-out thrilling."
"Review" by , "Fantastic....A shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe."
"Review" by , "Very grand indeed...scene after scene of power and beauty."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , 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.

"Synopsis" by , - 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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