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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  756,565 ratings  ·  11,746 reviews
It was no ordinary life for a young girl: living among the scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College and tearing unsupervised through Oxford's motley streets on mad quests for adventure. But Lyra's greatest adventure would begin closer to home, the day she heard hushed talk of an extraordinary particle. Microscopic in size, the magical dust -- found only in the vast ...more
Paperback, Del Rey Book with introduction by Terry Books, 351 pages
Published May 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1995)
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Fabiana Rossi The movie was the reason I found out about the book.
Because of movie adaptations such as the Harry Potter movies, I now have a knack for telling…more
The movie was the reason I found out about the book.
Because of movie adaptations such as the Harry Potter movies, I now have a knack for telling "this was based on a book that's probably WAY better". :)
Did the same thing with The Dark is Rising.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bright
Dec 13, 2007 Bright rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
notgettingenough
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
...more
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: http://www.themidnightgarden.net/2014...



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My review:

Wildly imaginative and thrilling, this complex and be
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Bookworm Sean
"It lay heavily in her hands,the crystal face gleaming, the brass body exquisitely machined. It was very much like a clock, or a compass, for there were hands pointing around the dial, but instead of the hours or the points of a compass there were several little pictures with extraordinary precision, as if on ivory with the slenderest sable brush. She turned the dial around to look at them all. There was an anchor; an hourglass surmounted by a skull; a bull, a beehive…..Thirty-six altogether and ...more
j
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
...more
Callum
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
Peter
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
...more
Oceana2602
Oct 22, 2009 Oceana2602 rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Tricia
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
Julia
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
...more
Darren
Dec 03, 2013 Darren rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jonathan

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
...more
Seth
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
...more
Brad
Mar 29, 2008 Brad rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Rebecca
Dec 27, 2007 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
John
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
...more
Bill
May 17, 2007 Bill rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kim

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
...more
Andrew
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
...more
Eleanor
Jan 01, 2008 Eleanor rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Shovelmonkey1
Feb 15, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Zanna
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
...more
Violante
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
...more
Ruth
Jan 31, 2008 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Tiffany
Jun 24, 2008 Tiffany rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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
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
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
...more
Rollie
NOTE:I'm trying not to spoil everybody else with this review

This book was recommended to me by a classmate who I used to call Rukawa because of his anime-like looks. And a goodreads friend told me that this book is Emma Watson’s favorite. Well, since I have crush on her, I expected this to be good—hoping her taste for books would be the same as mine.

My friends were ranting about this book. They were sounded crazy while they were chatting about this book. So I tried to find a copy of this in boo
...more
Morgane
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.
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman 5 19 5 hours, 54 min ago  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman 9 28 Apr 16, 2015 03:12PM  
What would your dæmon be? 395 1578 Jan 27, 2015 04:28AM  
If you had a chance to pick 5 dæmon forms which would they be? 64 250 Jan 21, 2015 05:17PM  
"The Golden Compass" anti-religion? 10 267 Jan 21, 2015 01:27PM  
Which Title Do You Prefer? 23 152 Jan 17, 2015 02:02PM  
Favorite Character(s) in His Dark Materials? 44 163 Jan 12, 2015 07:41AM  
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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)
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)

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“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” 797 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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