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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  917,609 Ratings  ·  13,535 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)
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Paroma Fun fact: This book was actually written as the antithesis to the Chronicles of Narnia, which are very Christian. These books are quite antireligious,…moreFun fact: This book was actually written as the antithesis to the Chronicles of Narnia, which are very Christian. These books are quite antireligious, but you could still enjoy them regardless of your faith. The Golden Compass does not deal as much with religion, but the second and third books really delve into the topic.(less)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 13, 2007 Bright rated it really liked it
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
Sean Gibson
Nov 25, 2015 Sean Gibson rated it liked it
Recommended to Sean by: Kristin
I don’t love the Beatles.

*Ducks as he is castigated by the seething masses*

I also don’t love green vegetables, punches to the face, or going to the dentist, though I don’t think those revelatory disclosures will elicit much in the way of rage-fueled attempts to slit my throat with the jagged edge of a broken CD (compact disc, kiddos—look it up).

So, why risk a severed jugular on the day before I’m going to stuff myself so full of turkey that I’ll have a snood coming out of my ear? Well, because
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
Once again, I didn't dislike this book for the usual reasons, and being the kind of person I am:


You MUST know I'm a advocate for free thought, for going against the grain, for individuality vs. hive mentality . . .

I believe it's important to teach children to question, to think for themselves.


I feel this book crosses a line for its intended audience. There is not a single good adult role model--without exception, they are all selfish, devious, or outright villains.

You can draw a straight lin
May 21, 2010 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
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

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
Darth J
Nov 09, 2015 Darth J rated it liked it
Shelves: series

I never added a review of this but I'm going to now. I'll admit that this one was a bit slow for me at parts (especially compared to the sequels) but what kept me reading was the fascination with the daemons. I liken them to the patronuses (patronii?) from the Harry Potter series in that they are the animal totem of a character, and can change until someone is "set in their ways". How many other people have held conversations about what their daemon or patronus animal is, and then changed it fre
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
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
It had been like 12 years since I read this book and I'd been meaning to re-read it for ages––so I finally got around to it, and I fell in love with it all over again. I was kind of surprised by how well I remembered the story/characters despite having not read it since I was 11 years old––apparently it's just that memorable!

There's so much I love about The Golden Compass. The world-building is so vivid and fascinating; I feel so drawn into the settings, I love the dæmons, I love the armored bea
Sep 26, 2007 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middlegrade, 2007, aal, knopf
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
mark monday
May 09, 2015 mark monday rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 did not like it
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
Diamond Cowboy
Aug 10, 2016 Diamond Cowboy rated it really liked it
This book was a really fun read. It was replete with witches, iron bears and all sorts of mythical creatures. The plot was fun and moved a long at a good pace. It was a real page turner. I would recommend this book to all who love Young Adult/Fantacy.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.

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 really liked it
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
Xime García
Jan 09, 2016 Xime García rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Xime by: Antonio
Shelves: reseñados
Reseña de "La Daga" (La Materia Oscura 2)
Reseña de "El Catalejo Lacado" (La Materia Oscura 3)

Me gustó mucho, no me lo esperaba. Había visto la película hace años pero no me acordaba de su argumento, así que el libro trajo muchas sorpresas - originales, raras, pero buenas al fin.

Sin embargo, antes de empezar con la reseña...

*abre el libro en la primera página*
*busca un nombre*

Traducción: Roser Berdagué.

Ah, mirá qué nombrecito. Ok.

Roser Berdagué...


Bueno, continuemos con la reseña.

El libro fu
Mar 29, 2008 Brad rated it really liked it
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 liked it
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
Jan 21, 2008 Seth rated it liked it
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
Nov 14, 2015 Maxwell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2015
I never read this book as a child, and I sort of feel like not having that nostalgia behind it while reading it as an adult kept me from fully appreciating it. The story is fantastical and highly enjoyable. Lyra is a precocious, intelligent and wonderful protagonist. I only wish she had used the darn alethiometer more! So many questions could've been answered, so many issues resolved, with that device. And it was a bit preachy, though I can't imagine children fully grasping the theological and e ...more
Dec 01, 2009 John rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
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
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Read until 51% and then skim read the rest. This was SOOOO disappointing. I was looking forward to it so much because the premise sounded incredible and I was excited to hear Pullman's atheism woven into his work, but everything about this book was bland. It was so slow moving and the characters were all so unlikable, I was honestly shocked that I was reading the same book that everyone else loved? Maybe it's because it lacked the nostalgia that a lot of people have with the series because I nev ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Zanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 27, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, ya-fiction

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
May 17, 2007 Bill rated it liked it
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
Jan 30, 2008 Andrew rated it it was ok
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 it was ok
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
Dec 23, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still as good now as when I first read it sixteen years ago!
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The Not a Book Cl...: TGC: Part Three (Chapters 18 - End) 12 8 Sep 22, 2016 05:30PM  
The Not a Book Cl...: TGC: Part Two (Chapters 10 - 17) 2 5 Sep 19, 2016 06:19PM  
The Not a Book Cl...: TGC: Part One (Chapters 1 - 9) 3 6 Sep 17, 2016 08:53AM  
The Not a Book Cl...: TGC: General Discussion (No Spoilers) 12 12 Sep 16, 2016 02:10AM  
City of Heavenly ...: Part 3 3 4 Aug 05, 2016 06:45AM  
City of Heavenly ...: Part 2 3 4 Aug 04, 2016 08:05AM  
City of Heavenly ...: Part 1 3 5 Aug 04, 2016 01:22AM  
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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)

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“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” 961 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.”
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