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Northern Lights

(His Dark Materials #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,378,671 ratings  ·  24,336 reviews
When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to
Paperback, 399 pages
Published October 23rd 1998 by Scholastic Point (first published July 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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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  1,378,671 ratings  ·  24,336 reviews

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Sean Barrs
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
(B+) 78% | Good
Notes: A solid story and well written, but very much a children's tale with one child going on a quest to save other children.
Sean Gibson
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Leonard Gaya
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before quantum mechanics and Schrödinger’s cat’s paradox, alternate universes were inherently accessible post-mortem, either Heaven or Hell: that whole “other side” business had a strong moral and religious bias. However, contemporary science fiction has introduced new possibilities of experimenting with alternate realities, e.g. travelling through time (Wells’ Time Machine) or through space (Stapledon’s Star Maker). More interestingly, it introduced the possibility of parallel worlds: utopias ( ...more
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
I never read this as a kid and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had, but it was just okay for me!
Dec 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i first read this when i was like 10 or 11 and i remember really liking it. i recently came across an online thread about this book/series and the message(s) the author was intending to convey, and i was taken aback. i honestly really didnt remember anything except for talking bears that wear armour. lol.

after the reread, i am suprised that i read this as a child. this is definitely a ‘childrens book’ that is not meant for children, in my opinion. the deeper meanings are pretty subtle but, rega
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.”

“So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky.”

I enjoyed the premise and theme of the book. Pullman created well thought out and memorable characters. It was a little too technical for me in regard to the depths of fantasy, i.e. I had to go back and look up the meaning of some of the made up words in the book to stay focused on what was actually happening. But great imagery. I'm not sure if I will read book 2 or 3 of the series yet... thoughts? ...more
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁

1. I cleared my rating. If that doesn't sufficiently refute the claim that I "just wanted" to give THE GOLDEN COMPASS 1.0 star, then you're irrational, and further discussion is pointless.

2. I am a BOOK REVIEW BLOGGER. That's what I do. If you want to make cracks about being a trophy wife, go right ahead, but to insinuate that I would "skim" a book to have the minimum knowledge required to give the appearance of having read it so that I can give it a bad review b/c reasons, is an attack
Ahmad Sharabiani
Northern Lights = The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1), Philip Pullman

Northern Lights (known as The Golden Compass in North America and some other countries) is the first book of "His Dark Materials" trilogy.

Set in a parallel universe, it features the journey of Lyra Belacqua to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as "Dust".

Northern Lights is a young-adult
Caz (littlebookowl)
Rating: 3.5 stars

Listened to this on audio, which was a lot of fun!
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Pullman sets this story up almost perfectly presenting un-parented wild-child 12-year old Lyra, who living in, and playing round, Jordan College in this alternate reality, where every human has a daemon, a sort of additional living and breathing soul-like part of themselves shaped in the form of an animal.

A delightfully (and I really mean that) interesting and multi layered, yet easy to digest adventure ensues and expands this universe. To top that off the main protagonist is a young girl, and t
Dave Schaafsma
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, fantasy
March 2020: Looking at this again as we begin to see the tv series of His Dark Materials, which looks very good. I really liked the 2007 movie with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, wish that it had continued, heard the Catholic Church denouncing Pullman was part of it, dunno. We are continuing to read in this house the second trilogy.

This is a second reading of Pullman's classic, accomplished on vacation in a car, with the family, by listening to the 9 cd audio collection, with Phillip
Jul 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  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
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
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
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I struggled with this one. I felt the story was very slow and I understand that it's the first in a trilogy and the author had to do some world building, but even so I felt there were details that were left unexplained, details that needed explaining.

I'm having a problem understanding why this is considered a children's book. I can't imagine a child fully understanding all the political banter that takes place in the first section of the book. Also there are things like Daemons that aren't full
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned, ya
I'm not sure if I've ever changed my mind so much about a book before. When I first read this back in late 2015, I listened to the full cast audiobook. It has great production and is really entertaining, but I didn't connect with the story. As a child, I never read this book, so in my head it was in the same realm of Narnia or Harry Potter, where readers have a special attachment to it for nostalgia's sake. I didn't have that, and because I also realized I don't get on well with fiction in audio ...more
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, childrns, re-read
When a film was made of this book, they did the book a real disservice. This book is amazing. Lyra is the feisty protagonist, an inveterate liar, clever, passionate and loyal. She achieves the impossible, rescues an armoured bear, befriends the witches, and rescues children from a fate worse than death- literally. Pullman does a great job realising this alternate world where everyone has a daemon- like the other half of your soul - and these creatures stay with you through your life. As adults t ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this case is the new tv show his dark materials on hbo better then the book and would 100% recommend the show than the book but still the show did follow the book so it is a good book and lyra is a great child with realy bad parents and I love iorek , the best bear character in the book and show and would love to see more of lord asriel and ms. Coulter because they are realy intresting, and the ending is realy good , 3⭐⭐⭐
Shawna :)
Update: I'm a firm believer in giving honest reviews for the books that I read regardless of the author, but I want to make people aware of the author's prejudice and racism. Read this tweet and his responses: I do not support this author's beliefs and though I still own two more books of his, after I read those two, he will be an author I steer completely clear of because I can't support a man like this. I will not be changing my star rating but it feels ...more
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
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middlegrade, knopf, 2007, aal
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
Charlotte May
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read when I was younger (about 8 years ago I reckon) didn't really think much of it and only made it half way through book 2. Reckon I would like to try it again if that day ever arrives....... ...more
Darth J
Apr 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Re-read, 11/4/19:

I think I might have been a bit unfair to the book in my original review. Or maybe I was a bit disgruntled with YA literature in general at the time. Or maybe I was getting tired of the whole chosen one with the miraculous oracle bit driving the plot forward.

But let's back up a bit here. In the particulars, I liked running around like an urchin. I did like all the Daemons. I liked growing up among all the academics. I liked running around and being a very English nuisance and g
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Lucy Langford
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing

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

So begins the story of a fantastic invention of a parallel world to the one we live in and the adventures of a brave-hearted young girl.

Lyra is bound to stay in Oxford to learn and play with her friends, however, when talk of Gobblers arise with children disappearing, and with her close friend Roger being one of those children, Lyra, along with her daemon, Pantalaimon, set out and are determined to find his whereabouts.
Their quest leads
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As a passionate believer in the democracy of reading, I don't think it's the task of the author of a book to tell the reader what it means.

The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going

Other books in the series

His Dark Materials (3 books)
  • The Subtle Knife (His dark materials, #2)
  • The Amber Spyglass

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