Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  778,772 ratings  ·  11,995 reviews
Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city sus ...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published April 16th 1996 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 1995)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Golden Compass, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Aqsa Azam Yes! Of Course! It would be good for a book club. Everyone has different tastes to different books but I love this book! It is a very different…moreYes! Of Course! It would be good for a book club. Everyone has different tastes to different books but I love this book! It is a very different fantasy book than others. I would recommend this to your book club and every reader MUST read this trilogy. Its fantastic!!!!(less)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanTwilight by Stephenie MeyerDivergent by Veronica Roth
Best Young Adult Books
16th out of 9,717 books — 64,345 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTwilight by Stephenie MeyerPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Best Books Ever
92nd out of 39,354 books — 146,454 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Dec 13, 2007 Bright rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: digested
the golden compass trilogy seems like a natural progression in christian literature. yes, it is christian literature, the same way the chronicles of narnia are. aslan is only a lion when the reader is about 10 or so in the united states. after a point, he unrepentantly becomes jesus. and the four children are like, the gospels or something. and the story is somewhat ruined then, because as an adult, you can't just shoehorn jesus into a lion outfit without snickering a little.

pullman however, has
Bookworm Sean
This novel is an absolute work of pure genius, and is in my top ten reads of all time. Before I go into the depths of character and plot, let me start by saying this book is up there with other fantasy hard hitters: by this I mean books like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia: the books that define the genre. This is high praise indeed, and this novel is worthy of it.

The protagonist of the book is Lyra, a young girl, who is parentless and seemingly friendless. She has grown up i
Later....A friend said to me today that if you read this book properly, it should make you a better person. I'd just earlier in the day been thinking pretty much the same thing. When I asked S. in what way was he made better, he said he couldn't say, just that it had. Exactly. I think you have a sense as you read this book that Lyra's goodness has rubbed off on you, she's made you better in an entirely non-specific way.

M. then said that she didn't think a book, to be special, necessarily had to
Wendy Darling
Hello friends! We're reading THE GOLDEN COMPASS together throughout the next few weeks as part of our goal to read more classic YA/MG books this year.

Please join us if you can!

-- Discussion on blog: February 28th
-- Hashtag #tmgreadalong if you'd like to discuss as you read on Twitter.

More details on the blog:


My review:

Wildly imaginative and thrilling, this complex and be
I really liked this book! I think it is easily among the best of the crop of Potter-era YA lit (even though it actually came out first!).

The movie was just ok. I thought the lead kid did a good job playing Lyra, and Nicole Kidman made a very menacing Ann Coulter. But my very favorites were Daniel Craig as the zealot Lord Asriel and Eva Green as badass witch Serafina Pekkala.

Serafina Pekkala is one of my favorite witches in literature: she's grounded in her connection to the earth, she's beautif

De alguna forma este libro empezó como una producción de Disney, en la segunda parte parecía más como de Nick o TNT y ya en la tercera parte ¡Wow! Esto se transformo en HBO.

No sé si este libro debe calificarse como infantil, si bien es cierto que la protagonista Lyra nos va dando una perspectiva bastante inocente de su mundo, los temas que se tratan en el libro no lo son tanto, el centro de la historia es, al parecer, el misterio que existe del porque están robándose a los niños de todas partes
I find that The Golden Compass is a generally misunderstood work of fiction. Too oft do I see people regard this as a work of atheist propaganda. However, how can a work whose central concept affirms the existence of heaven and god honestly be called atheist (be it speculative or fantasy [and of course, disregarding Philip Pullman's personal belief]). It does not parody, contend or subvert the norm of faith and belief, but rather evokes the unbiased point of view of Lucifer's insubordination und ...more
I am highly opposed to authors who use children's literature as a way to promote their agenda/ideals/beliefs when they do it in a secretive and deceptive way. The fact that Pullman is an atheist is not my complaint. The fact that he wrote a trilogy about killing God, wrote it specifically for children, and hid his agenda until the third book is something that I find despicable. I would find it despicable even if his agenda were something I agreed with. Children (and their parents) should have a ...more
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman, picks up where the Harry Potter series leaves off. As in Rowling's series, the hero of The Golden Compass--Lyra, a pre-teen girl in Oxford, England--is plucked from her mundane existence to become supremely important to the fate of the living world.

However, unlike the Potter series, The Golden Compass, immerses us immediately in political, religious, and cultural conflict as well. While the central character is indeed a child, which lands this title in the
Oct 22, 2009 Oceana2602 rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
This book was recommended to me somewhere in fandom as a children's book that is also interesting to adults. I admit that I wasn't particularly impressed with it, and I can't see it as something that I would give my kids to read. My main complaint is the "means to an end" style the author uses. A bit like in a computer game, our main character Lyra runs from one wise man to another in her quest to find some missing children. This is practical, because except for one scene in the beginning, she d ...more
mark monday
fantastic. pullman introduces readers to his sophisticated world view slowly, and this first novel in the trilogy has an ideal narrative focal point in the mean little liar who is the protagonist. i have never seen lying in children portrayed so explicitly as a positive thing, and after this novel, i'm all for it! the settings are wonderfully strange and surreal yet rooted in an eventually understandable reality, and the supporting characters are oblique and enigmatic without being tiresome. the ...more
I really like that the Iorek Byronison, the bear, is always referred to by full name. When I'm Bear King, I definitely want to be on a full-name-all-the-time basis. Then I will battle challengers to mortal combat, tearing through armor, swiping off heads with my massive paws, slicing open chests and devouring hearts. And as I gorge myself on bear blood, I will cry out "Bears! Who is your King?" And my name will roar from a thousand bear throats.
it's going to be awesome.
(My name has got that sam

This is a largely ironic novel. I say ironic due to the way in which in aiming to parody another work of fiction, it falls victim to the same problems it accuses the other work of. By parody I mean the claim, verified in some sources by Philip Pullman, that due to the author's dislike of The Chronicles of Narnia, he aimed to write a more atheistically leaning version of those children's books. Which in itself is an acknowledgement that The Chronicles of Narnia are true classics of children's fic
Dec 03, 2013 Darren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Though billed as a children's book, I dug it, and I'm a 38 year old dude; good for fans of fantasy
The story in brief: The book is a fantasy novel set in a strangely familiar pseudo-Victorian/steampunk parallel Earth. The protagonist is a young ophaned girl who's been raised at Oxford by the attending scholars. The story concerns kidnapped children, hidden mysteries of the Church, wandering gypsies, proud Arctic warrior bears, long-lived flying witches, and the possibility of a rift that could exist between different worlds.

Daemons: Each human being in this world has a constant animal compani
Although it's 3 physical books for publishing reasons, His Dark Materials (HDM)is one continuous story (well... see below), so I'm reviewing the whole set. It isn't useful to review one part alone.

HDM is a decent read with many great elements. On Orson Scott Card's "MICE" scale--Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event--it's mostly a Milieu story, so expect a tour of the world(s), focusing on the strangeness therein and the history thereof. It's a great setting with many fabulous ideas underlying the
Mar 29, 2008 Brad rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brad by: China Mieville
Shelves: fantasy
After all the talk about Pullman's supposed anti-Catholicism or anti-Christianity or atheism or whatever one wants to label it, I approached The Golden Compass (known originally as Northern Lights) with an open mind and found something other than what I'd been told to expect.

I found elements that questioned Christianity and Catholicism and the nature of God and its works, but I also found elements that questioned parental authority, the ethical and practical roles of Science, and the nature of
Dec 27, 2007 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
This book started off strong, but by the end of the story, I felt that Pullman had sacrificed logic and direction for drama and suspense. He did a good job of gradually making Lyra less of an ignorant brat and more of a noble little savage girl. Overall, I liked this book well enough to want to read the second one in the trilogy, but I had several problems with it:

-There was no comic relief or even any funny moments in this book. It took itself extremely seriously and was rarely light-hearted or
His Dark Materials is a three volume adolescent adventure tale occurring in a pseudo-Victorian universe parallel to our own. In this “steam-punk” environment religion and science are alloyed in clever and interesting ways. For example, a mechanical bug is a flying machine with a trapped evil spirit as its energy source, and physics is called experimental theology.

The protagonist of this trilogy is a pre-adolescent named Lyra Belacque. Lyra is a girl with a destiny, a feisty, clever child who li
May 17, 2007 Bill rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nonbelieving Narnia fans
Shelves: novels
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy has acquired the reputation of being a sort of Narnia for Atheists. This reputation is, at least by the end of The Golden Compass, largely unearned. Though the religious beliefs depicted in Pullman's fantasy universe throw their real-world parallels into an interesting light, there is nothing that compares to the explicitly Christian message in C.S. Lewis' classic children's books.

His Dark Materials is set in the Edwardian England of a parallel univers

Allowing myself to be turned off fantasy when I was ten years old was a big mistake. If I could take myself back to that point in my life, I'd make sure that I didn't find The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe quite so scary, or else I'd make myself believe that being scared by a book is A Good Thing. Returning to fantasy over forty years later*, via books such as this one - the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy - has been a revelation. I've realised all over again just how much good
The first book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass, is a well crafted story awash with a new sense of morality, adventure and some annoying narrative flaws. While they don’t hamper the experience too heavily, they do detract from an excellent story and a thoughtful approach to the still powerful, if not more openly mocked, position of religion in people’s lives.
First, the up sides. Much like most modern popular fiction, the element of story has received most of th
Jan 01, 2008 Eleanor rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adultescents who dig fantasy
What a waste, I should have followed my instincts and not bothered finishing. The entire story hinges on the opening scene which is mildly dramatic, and from there the characters gain not an inch more depth. Lyra the protagonist was somewhat likable and probably easier for young readers to identify with, and perhaps if the adult characters were more thoughtful and complex I could have liked this book, maybe even the series. I gave this more than one star because the world in which this book is s ...more
Feb 15, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the young at heart and those who like a flight of fantasy
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: daniel craig made a film. sold!
Sometimes you encounter a life versus literature tragedy. Frankly the fact that I never read this book when I was a child/teenager strikes me as one of these tragedies. I'd have loved to read this when it was first published. Sadly though, this was published in 1995 by which time I had already progressed from sweet childhood to moody teenage posturing, smoking, drinking and reading Nabokov and Kundera whilst attempting to be generally louche without really understanding what louche is.

Evoking c
I found this in my school library and devoured its crystalline atmosphere, rich language, shadowy, redolent world and refreshing refusal to patronise young readers. It was booktopia to me at thirteen; it was easily my favourite book. Lyra is one of my favourite literary characters; lonely, loyal, fiercely intelligent and independent, she is never the passive vehicle of her magical ability, but always an agent, resisting and fighting injustice as she sees it in her own way.

My two favourite things
Jun 24, 2008 Tiffany rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any Harry Potter fans or people interested in religious (or anti-religious) allegory
Alternate universes, strong female heroes and anti-heroes, graphic death scenes, talking polar bears, religious controversey...What's not to like about this book?

Incidentally, I'm working at a Catholic publishing house right now run by the Daughters of St. Paul. Here's what one of the sisters, who's written a lot books for our Faith and Culture line, said in the Huffington Post about the movie:

Sister Rose Paccate, director of the Pauline Center of Media Studies in Culver City, Calif., said the
Alex Telander
THE GOLDEN COMPASS, HIS DARK MATERIALS BOOK 1 BY PHILIP PULLMAN: Originally published as Northern Lights in 1995, this is the story of a young girl who doesn’t know what to do or what is going to happen with her life, but soon discovers that she is on a specific course of destiny that she is unable to avoid. While The Golden Compass is considered a children’s book, like the Harry Potter series, it is written with an adult voice in an adult language, with adult themes. It seems that British autho ...more
Reading challenge 2015: #3 Un libro convertido en película.

Tenía muchas ganas de leer este libro, adoro la película y mi mejor amiga ama la trilogía. Me lo compré sin pensarlo, obviamente iba a gustarme. Nunca más pienso dar por supuesto nada. Qué decepción me llevé.

La historia deja mucho que desear. Para empezar, odié profundamente la narración, repetitiva, de vagos detalles sobre el entorno y el aspecto de los personajes, de diálogos inverosímiles, explayándose en explicaciones no necesarias
Ksenia Anske
As magnificent as aurora borealis, as majestic as the starry night, this story left me in awe. When it seems like every possible fantasy has been written, comes a book that makes you a child again, full of wonder, making you turn page after page, not daring to breathe, so fragile and beautiful is the story.

Alone. The fear of being alone. Imagine if you could never be alone. As a child. Imagine you could have a daemon, you were born with a daemon. An animal of any kind. A polecat. A mouse. A squ
Jan 31, 2008 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Parents should read first
Shelves: fiction
Okay. I know there is a huge controversy about this book in the Christian community. I think I have received a forward about this book/movie from about 10 different people, warning about the athiest undertones and asking people to boycott the movie. Of course, curiosity got the better of me and I had to see if it was really up to all the hype.

The Golden Compass is the first of three books in the trilogy titled His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. In case any of you are going to read it or see t
Growing up, this was one of my favorite books. Recently I decided to reread it, out of curiosity. I was worried it would not have withstood the test of time but turns out this book is THE BOMB.

Honestly, I have to wonder if this book completely influenced who I am today. Everything in it interests me: the animal dæmons, the Aurora, the exploration, the Victorian vibe, the gyptians, the witches, Lee Scoresby's Texan drawl, the North, Lyra herself. I want to BE Lyra. She's such a great protagonist.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3)
  • In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness, #2)
  • Predator's Gold (The Hungry City Chronicles, #2)
  • The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2)
  • Juniper (Doran, #2)
  • Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards, #2)
  • Firesong (Wind On Fire, #3)
  • The Time Garden (Tales of Magic, #4)
  • The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30; Tiffany Aching, #1)
  • The High King (The Chronicles of Prydain #5)
  • Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4)
  • Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner, #2)
In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards ...more
More about Philip Pullman...

Other Books in the Series

His Dark Materials (3 books)
  • The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)
  • The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2) The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3) His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3) Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart, #1)

Share This Book

“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” 825 likes
“That's the duty of the old,' said the Librarian, 'to be anxious on the behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.'

They sat for a while longer, and then parted, for it was late, and they were old and anxious.”
More quotes…