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book club > "The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman - general discussion

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message 1: by Donegal, The One True Mod (new)

Donegal | 1523 comments We'll be reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman from January 1st through the end of February.

This thread can be used to give book reviews as well as for a general discussion of the book. Please feel free to start a new discussion in the book club folder if you'd like to focus on specific aspects of or ideas from the book.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman


Hazel | 214 comments damn it, my friends still hasn't given me our copy of Northern Lights (its proper name) back yet...


George King (kinggeorge) | 136 comments Let no one mistake--these are not children's books--unless the children are precocious. This series brought me back to sci-fi/fantasy in a big way. Paradise Lost, multiple universes, the death of God, and the wrath of the Catholic Church--what could be better? The series starts slowly with The Golden Compass, takes off with the introduction of the multiverse in The Subtle Knife, and attains masterwork status in The Amber Spyglass.


Hazel | 214 comments just out of interest, why was the name changed from Northern Lights to The Golden Compass for the american audience? I can't understand why it was changed.


Paul 'Pezski' Perry (Pezter) | 121 comments I had completely forgotten the club was reading this! Hopefully I should be able to fit in a re-read (or a re-listen of the audio, anyway), but even if not will be in on the discussions as I've read it three times before.

As you can infer, I am a fan.


Paul 'Pezski' Perry (Pezter) | 121 comments Xox wrote: "But it is children books because the main characters are children themselves. Mistrusting of adults come with the growing up and thinking for themselves. "

I'd say it's a tough one of argue. Yes, the main characters are adolescents, and it was originally marketed as a children's book, but it's of the type that can be read on many different levels. I admit that I roll my eyes a bit when I see someone reading one of the Harry Potter books with the 'grown ups' covers, but His Dark Materials is a completely different beast. I'd say it is a book that can be read by children and adults, rather than being a children's book.

It reminds me a bit of when I'd first got into Tolkien as a kid. After devouring the Lord of the Rings I went to the main Sheffield library to see if they had The Silmarillion, only to be rather sniffily informed that "that will probably be in the children's library", I assume simply because it is fantasy.


George King (kinggeorge) | 136 comments I ran into some arrogant librarians in my youth as well!


message 9: by Paul 'Pezski' (last edited Jan 17, 2012 09:15AM) (new)

Paul 'Pezski' Perry (Pezter) | 121 comments How are people finding it? I'm listening to the full cast audio, narrated by the author, although I have read the book before.

I had forgotten that it does start quite so much like a kids/younger YA book, I think because it is from Lyra's perspective. There is a simplicity to the language and a tale-telling modulation to the language (especially with Pullman's narration, perhaps) that gives it that feeling. The style reminds me a little of Joan Aiken's wonderful Chronicles, starting with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

The description of the world and the characters just sucks me in, though. And I've just listened to chapters 12 and 13 (view spoiler)


Ellora (words_fall_like_rain) | 1 comments I really loved the setting of the novel. The city within the aurora, crystal clear snow drifts with darkening blue sky, fierce polar bears that fight with the courage of ten men-love.

The themes within the novel were particularly interesting to me. I wasn't sure how think about the novel afterwards...Lord Asriel's crazed actions at the end suggest that Pullman feels science can corrupt a person the same as religion corrupts people( ie. removing the children's daemons due to the belief of dust representing original sin). Lord Asriel is shown to be cruel to Lyra by not giving her any attention or affection and not caring about her best childhood friend Roger. Lord Asriel is so focused on his goal that he does not give his daughter but very little attention and has very unethical actions at the end of the novel.

I was loving the encouragement of science up until the end when lord Asriel's actions made me angry. Loved the depth his character had but science should be encouraged in the eyes of our young people(who are reading this series), I didn't like the way that Pullman made it look like people go crazy and lose their morals to achieve their goals.

I will reserve my judgement of the series until I finish the trilogy.

Please let me know if I am totally missing something guys:)


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Golden Compass (other topics)
The Silmarillion (other topics)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Philip Pullman (other topics)
Joan Aiken (other topics)