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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials #01)

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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials #01) Cover

 

 

Excerpt

One
THE DECANTER OF TOKAY

Lyra 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.

Copyright © 2001 by Philip Pullman

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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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(10 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
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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
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
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Young Adult » General

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials #01) Used Mass Market
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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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