Consider this: stories are a vital component of being human; without them, we would merely reproduce and die. That said, if the library of the world were on fire, and I had time to rush in and save only a handful of stories, this would be one of the first I would grab. I've been a lifelong reader and have a degree in Literature--I've read more than my share of stories. Philip Pullman has done an incredible thing by bringing these books into being. The story, though fantastical in many ways, speaks volumes about human experience: innocence, guilt, love, loss, and hope. The creativity is boundless; ideas about god, souls, consciousness, evolution and even contemporary physics are sculpted into a brilliant narrative. The underlying themes include a critique of dominant religious paradigms, which of course raises major antipathy in some readers (see other reviews). But I fail to see how a story that espouses freethinking can be anything but positive. Besides, the story is greatly concerned with--to oversimplify--love and responsibility; how can that be a bad thing? Above these undercurrents, though, the story is exciting, complex, and touching. There are moments that bring tears, goosebumps, and exhilharation. Pullman proves just how entertaining a profound story can be. If none of that entices you, Pullman has also invented one of the most fascinating ideas ever with his concept of daemons: animal-like companions that embody a person's soul. After finishing these books, you'll wish more than anything that you had one. I will read these books again and again, send them to my friends, leave copies lying in cafes, and read them over and over to my children. There are precious few stories that can compare with His Dark Materials. I only hope they eventually receive the widespread attention they deserve; if they were as widely-read as Harry Potter, the world would be the better for it.