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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials Paperback – May 22 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,093 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Dgs edition (May 22 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440418321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440418320
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 1,093 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Some books improve with age--the age of the reader, that is. Such is certainly the case with Philip Pullman's heroic, at times heart-wrenching novel, The Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal dæmon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied:

As for what experimental theology was, Lyra had no more idea than the urchins. She had formed the notion that it was concerned with magic, with the movements of the stars and planets, with tiny particles of matter, but that was guesswork, really. Probably the stars had dæmons just as humans did, and experimental theology involved talking to them.
Not that Lyra spends much time worrying about it; what she likes best is "clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." But Lyra's carefree existence changes forever when she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey dæmon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from "gyptians" to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

In The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman has written a masterpiece that transcends genre. It is a children's book that will appeal to adults, a fantasy novel that will charm even the most hardened realist. Best of all, the author doesn't speak down to his audience, nor does he pull his punches; there is genuine terror in this book, and heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. There is also love, loyalty, and an abiding morality that infuses the story but never overwhelms it. This is one of those rare novels that one wishes would never end. Fortunately, its sequel, The Subtle Knife, will help put off that inevitability for a while longer. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Pullman's masterfully rendered fantasy-adventure, the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy, captivates from the start on this vibrant audio production. As narrator, the British author is swift and sure, inviting young listeners along for a most intriguing story. Young Lyra Belacqua and her daemon companion Pantalaimon leave their sheltered life among the scholars and caretakers at Oxford University to find Lyra's best friend, Roger, who has been kidnapped. Lyra's quest leads her to the Far North where she encounters battle-ready witches, talking polar bears and a team of evil scientists who plan to perform a hideous experiment on Roger and the other children they have captured. But worst of all, Lyra learns that her fearsome Uncle Asriel and the mysterious Mrs. Coulter (who had tried to befriend and kidnap Lyra) are at the center of the child-demon investigations. With the help of the kind Gyptians, Lyra is able to outsmart her enemies and rescue Roger. The cast of actors enact a breadth of characters, from headstrong Lyra and her excitable, impatient daemon to the superior and sharp-sounding Lord Asriel. The villains, dramatic voyages and fantastic creatures are certain to hold listeners' attention throughout the hefty recording. The production is also available in trade packaging, in three separate installments. Ages 9-up. (May)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
This is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy (before The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass).
Set at the turn of the twentieth century in an alternate Europe where everyone is inseparable from their animal daemons, shape-changers that only settle at puberty, this is the story of Lyra Belacqua (and her daemon Pantalaimon), a teenage orphan girl living in Oxford College in charge of her powerful uncle, Lord Asriel.
Being a curious little girl, Lyra hears lots of gossip in the old halls. Some, about Dust, as well as pictures of a mysterious floating city in the aurora, make her dream of travelling North on one of her uncle's expeditions. But soon she also hears rumours of children, mainly from Gyptian families, who have started to mysteriously disappear, lured and captured by what people call the "Gobblers".
And when her playmate Roger the kitchen boy is kidnapped, she's desperate. But at the same time arrives Mrs. Coulter, an elegant and fascinatingly intelligent woman, who wants to take Lyra to her school in London. Believing that she'll learn more about Dust and maybe travel North with her, she soon becomes Mrs. Coulter's protégée. Until she realizes that the woman is none other than the head of the General Oblation Board of London, in other words the "Gobblers", and runs away.
The rest of the story tells how Lyra finally travels to Lapland, setting out in search of Roger and the other missing children with the help of the Gyptians, with whom she first takes refuge, of Panserborne (armoured bears) and witch-queens, and of the alethiometer, a strange compass-like device that reveals the truth to anyone who can read it, which the Master of Oxford College secretly gave her just before she left.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy (before The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass).
Set at the turn of the twentieth century in an alternate Europe where everyone is inseparable from their animal daemons, shape-changers that only settle at puberty, this is the story of Lyra Belacqua (and her daemon Pantalaimon), a teenage orphan girl living in Oxford College in charge of her powerful uncle, Lord Asriel.
Being a curious little girl, Lyra hears lots of gossip in the old halls. Some, about Dust, as well as pictures of a mysterious floating city in the aurora, make her dream of travelling North on one of her uncle's expeditions. But soon she also hears rumours of children, mainly from Gyptian families, who have started to mysteriously disappear, lured and captured by what people call the "Gobblers".
And when her playmate Roger the kitchen boy is kidnapped, she's desperate. But at the same time arrives Mrs. Coulter, an elegant and fascinatingly intelligent woman, who wants to take Lyra to her school in London. Believing that she'll learn more about Dust and maybe travel North with her, she soon becomes Mrs. Coulter's protégée. Until she realizes that the woman is none other than the head of the General Oblation Board of London, in other words the "Gobblers", and runs away.
The rest of the story tells how Lyra finally travels to Lapland, setting out in search of Roger and the other missing children with the help of the Gyptians, with whom she first takes refuge, of Panserborne (armoured bears) and witch-queens, and of the alethiometer, a strange compass-like device that reveals the truth to anyone who can read it, which the Master of Oxford College secretly gave her just before she left.
Read more ›
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