Top critical review
Some find this a fantasic read but I think it rather slow!
on May 11, 2004
Northern Lights is quite well written however the reader is lost in a weak begining which begins in the action. I don't really like this book.
This essay was written in the classroom.
In Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman, readers meet for the first time 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 entwined.
Northern Lights is set in a world that parallels ours in many ways, yet very different. In this world lives Lyra, a girl left to be raised amongst the staff and scholars of Jordan College in Oxford, a sprawling mass of gothic buildings, great halls, subterranean passages and secret crypts. Pg 47 'Ancient stone arches rose above them supported by pillars as thick as ten trees...'
What makes Lyra and her kind different and alien to us is that she carries with her a lifelong companion. The companion is the person's daemon, something like a human soul but instead of being unseen it is alive and vibrant, sharing and responding to moods and feelings. Pg 16 "... and Lyra felt the force of his glance almost as if it had physical form, as if it were an arrow or a spear." As a child, Lyra's dæmon Pantalaimon still has not settled to one constant form, and so he changes to suit her mood, desire or situation. Pg 73 "...though Patalaimon wouldn't settle...when he became a hedgehog out of pique.' As she grows up, Lyra's true personality will become apparent, and it is only at this point that Pantalaimon will take on his true form in reflection of this development.
The study of science, theology and magic are very important to these people. The church still holds much of the power, dictating what is and what is not a valid course of scientific study. In doing so, boards are set up to perform scientific research. People who get in the way of the church will be prosecuted. The level of scientific knowledge is similar to ours but more advanced in the spiritual/magical realm.
Overall this book was ok- good enough to read the triology.