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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials [Paperback]

Philip Pullman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,089 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 22 2001 His Dark Materials (Book 1)
Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

Philip Pullman's award-winning The Golden Compass is a masterwork of storytelling and suspense, critically acclaimed and hailed as a modern fantasy classic.

This Yearling paperback edition includes 15 pages of bonus material: some found letters of Lord Asriel, his scientific notes and other archival documents. This edition also features artwork by Philip Pullman at the opening of each chapter.

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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 daemon, 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 daemons 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 daemon, 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 daemon, 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 the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy now appears in sophisticated trade paperback editions, each title embossed within a runic emblem of antiqued gold. The backdrop of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book I sports a midnight blue map of the cosmos with the zodiacal ram at its center. The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass carry similarly intriguing cover art, and all three titles offer details not seen in the originals: in Compass and Knife, for example, Pullman's stamp-size b&w art introduces each chapter; Spyglass chapters open with literary quotes from Blake, the Bible, Dickinson and more.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By Andres Consumer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I remember reading these books as a kid. I still remember every bit of my journey through the universes and how Crushed I was when I flipped the last page of the Amber Spyglass. The Golden Compass is the introduction to that series.

These books will take you on a fantastical journey through magical worlds with incredible object and even better characters. The story gets more complex as you move forward and you get more and more invested with the characters and story.
This is one of those series that we should all read. They are not a series just for children/teenager etc... They're for everyone.

Pullman wrote these books well and conveyed a solid story that had me trapped in it until I finished. You will feel empty when you're done, but you will have gained a lot in the process.

If you haven't gotten around to reading the series, you should. Now.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Lyrical Fantasy May 12 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is the first of three books by the author. This first effort describes the journey of an 11 year old girl, Lyra Belacqua. Although the story is somewhat typical, in that it is a journey of adventure and self-discovery, I have to give the author great credit for having a unique perspective and highly creative imagination.
This book is well worth the read because it is so well written. It is not another epic fantasy knock-off of J.R.R. Tolkien. I sense that the author has not created anything new, but has eclipsed his peers by the sheer lyricism and quality in the storytelling.
The purpose of this review is not to rehash the story. I could simply put you on notice that there are gypsies, armored bears, witches and the like. However, the much greater thing here is quality. This is why I will read the second book and why you should read the first.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stand alone greatness April 26 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Despite it being the third part of a trilogy, The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) is an amazing book on its own, and it will stand alone as one of the greatest books for scores to come!
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5.0 out of 5 stars In a World All its Own April 20 2004
Format:Hardcover
Though at first glance The Golden Compass, the first of a trilogy, looks like a book made for younger audiences, Philip Pullman manages to interweave the separate worlds of childhood and adulthood in a breath-defying manner. Set in a world similar to the one we all know, but with drastic differences, the novel follows the journey of a young girl, Lyra, as she finds her way through adolescence, all the while trying to make new discoveries. There are twists and turns and jumps and leaps as she learns the story of her life and learns that things are not always what they seem.
Usually marketed to young adult readers, the novel helps bring forth the idea of growing up and finding one's self. One of the elements of the novel that caught my eye was that everyone had what was known as a daemon, which is a physical appearance of a person's soul. The dae-mons are there as consciences; and for young readers, it allows them to begin learning about the psyche of themselves. We learn that daemons are capable of changing forms until the stage of adolescence is reached and as is seen with Lyra's own daemon, Pantalaimon, the forms change to match its owner's mood and thoughts. This helps young adults and even children learn that for a good portion of their lives, they will be a mixture of emotions and nothing is ever set in stone. Only when a person is finally old enough to realize what they were meant to do does life begin to settle, which can begin to happen at an adolescent phase. And that is just one example of the way in which Pullman uses symbolism to appeal to his audience.
However, The Golden Compass also delves deeper for adults who pick up the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a book, but an experience! April 18 2004
Format:Paperback
This is my first review of anything, ever, and I'm proud to write it about one of the most astounding fantasy books that I've ever read!
The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the fact that it seemed so fresh. I avoided reading it for a long time, because I was afraid it would be a cheesy, run-of-the-mill fantasy. I couldn't have been further from the truth. To me, the most important thing about a fantasy book is it's ability to make the characters and world feel absolutely real, as if, perhaps, you were the one living in a fantasy world. Pullman's style plants you into his world as firmly as if you had been born in it. He doesn't fawn over his own creations, but gets down to the nitty-gritty, plunging right into the plot. You don't have time to worry about why humans have daemons, and how the heck bears can have armor. Ok, you do wonder, but it's written so beautifully, that you are swept away with it, allowing these mysteries to drift to the back of your mind, knowing that it will all be explained in good time. This, of course, only works if you are a patient person, like I am!
Pullman's realism extends into character development as well. Emotions are placed openly on the table, available for you to gasp in fear along with the heroine as she is anticipating being separated from a cherished companion, or to holler with joy as she escapes another daunting situation. There are much more complex situations as well, leading to feelings of guilt and confusion. The reader will also feel angry or confused, and sometimes hate the author for what he is doing.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Impressed
Lower class children are disappearing and when Lyra finds that her friend is missing she wants to find him and get him back. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2008 by Nicola Mansfield
3.0 out of 5 stars what's to rave about?
There are many people who liked this book, but I for one am not that impressed. I'm not saying it's horrible because it's not. Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2008 by Momus
3.0 out of 5 stars A clumsy introduction to a great trilogy
While I am just wrapping up book two, I have to say that The Golden Compass was, in itself, the more diluted book. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2008 by Don Eglinski
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the first book in the Dark Materials story.
It is not worth reviewing or reading the reviews of "The Golden Compass" (British title "The Northern Lights") until one has finished the complete story of "Dark Materials" by... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2007 by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book
I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book, even though it's supposed to be part of a children's series. Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2007 by Melanie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books that you simply must read if you are a science...
"The Golden compass" is the first book in Phillip Pullman's "Dark Materials" triology. From my point of view, this is one of those books that you simply must read if you are a... Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2007 by M. B. Alcat
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
I would recommend this book to anyone regardless of age. I felt the story was very original and highly interesting. Read more
Published on July 25 2006 by Lesley Winfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Amazing
This first instalment of the His Dark Materials Trilogy is the best book in the trilogy. The characterization is beautiful, something that is unsual in fantasy novels. Read more
Published on March 11 2006 by luv2read
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen to it...
I listened to this book on tape! It is also available on CD. It was excellent. The author himself narrates (a rare treat) so you know all the names are pronounced correctly, and... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2005 by yvette
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Book!!!!!!!
This is one of my favourite books of all time and I truthfully do not understand half the things people have written about it. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2005
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