Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

His Dark Materials #1

Northern Lights

Rate this book
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 find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights...

399 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 1995

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Philip Pullman

298 books23.6k followers
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 to explain.

Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the "Once upon a time" business.

Philip Pullman is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He lives in Oxford, England.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
607,358 (40%)
4 stars
474,584 (31%)
3 stars
273,407 (18%)
2 stars
82,674 (5%)
1 star
47,871 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 27,056 reviews
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
April 28, 2020
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 in an Oxford College and has developed a detachment to her guardians. She spends her days enjoying her youth and harassing those that turn out to be some of her greatest allies. For her, this book is a journey of self-discovery: a way of exploring the limits of her character and potential. Her adventure sees her befriend an armoured polar bear and become the wielder of the golden compass. This is initially described as a lie detector but it is apparent that the depths of its power have not been fully explored.

"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 she couldn’t even guess what they meant."


This book retains all the classic elements of fantasy: magic, mythical creatures and supernatural phenomena. The world Pullman has created is physically intertwined with our own; there are references to cities and countries in which his idea has been planted.

Each human has a daemon that is essentially their soul. These take on the form of an animal that is representative of the person, for example someone who is enthusiastic and friendly has a colourful cat whereas as solider has a wolf or a hound. The author does very little to explain this. It is just thing “thing” that we are told about at the start but through the book but we begin to see the significance of it. The fact that children’s daemons change is a subtle hint how children can be influenced and have not found their identity where as adults are secure and confident. In this the author has created an air of mystery as we explore the true meaning of the bond as we read further.

The plot is fantastic. The author manages to surprise the reader on several occasions as he drops several, massive plot turns. This sees the story go into unexpected directions. From the beginning of reading a book, you begin to predict what will happen. Some books are completely predictable and obvious in their direction; this one was not. I physically gasped at some moments as I found myself awed by the author’s storytelling; this is when several characters origins, in relation to Lyra are defined. The book begins as a simple rescue mission but ends as a story that is questioning the morals of all characters involved. The fate of the characters is destined in the mysteriousness of the northern lights; the gateway to beyond.


This is one of those books that is applicable to all ages; it originally appears to be a children’s book, but it can be enjoyed by anyone. Much of the content in here touches on themes that most children would not comprehend fully, never mind be able to philosophise about. The author considers spirituality, religion, morals and the existence of the soul, amongst other things. Most children would not pick up on these references and understand the significance of them; however, they would still adore the book.

The book can be seen as two separate entities existing at the same time; the first, and most obvious, is the one that appeals to children; the saving of innocents from despotic adults with lots of exciting characters. The second is on a deeper scale; the author explores the conflicting powers of science and religion, manipulation and morality in terms of actions being for a greater good. In this the author is a genius, he has wrote a book that can be both a children’s bed time read and an adult’s point of pondering.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,797 followers
November 25, 2015
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 it’s the best way I can think of to articulate my feelings about The Golden Compass.

I don’t LOVE the Beatles, but I recognize their skill and talent and appreciate them for the impact they had on popular music. There are Beatles songs that I enjoy. I think I might have a Beatles album on my iPod (though I’ve never actually played it on my iPod). But, I’m never going to suddenly say to myself, “Geez, I really need to hear a Beatles song RIGHT NOW” and rush off to listen to one. (Side note: I do occasionally get an urge to listen to Yesterday, but just the Boyz II Men version…so perhaps I’m not the most qualified judge of musical quality on the planet.)

Is Philip Pullman a Beatles-level authorial entity? Well, no. But, he is a skilled writer with a gift for storytelling and world building. He’s a talented technician and stylist. But, I don’t love The Golden Compass.

I appreciate that it’s a well-written and well-conceived story, but, as agents revel in saying to me when I pitch them, “I just didn’t connect with the material.” I can see why people (ahem, Kristin) love this series, and I certainly would not dissuade anyone who’s interested in reading it from giving it a go. It’s well done.

Someone asked me, as I was finishing this, if I was going to check out the second book in the series, but I think I’ll Let It Be.
4 reviews4 followers
December 13, 2007
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 solved this problem. i can't continue without utterly spoiling the story for everyone who hasn't read it, so consider yourselves warned...

he made jesus into a little girl. even better, he made jesus into a little girl who doesn't even know she's jesus. now how's that for a new twist on the new testament? the part that's particularly brilliant about it, is that it actually worked. lyra is never really anything like christ... she just follows the path of his narrative. first, she has the absent father. lord asrael is desperately involved in his own ideas, so though he's not actually in heaven, he may as well be.

wait a sec, isn't this just dogma again? sort of, except dogma is really more relevant to catholicism in particular, rather than scriptures. and instead of linda fiorentino who is kind of a mopey christ, we get a 10 year old girl. 10 year old girls are the best focal point for any story. i've been one for years.

and this is a perfect choice, because she really never takes time to mope. she doesn't miss her faith or wrestle with it... she doesn't believe at all. and therein lies the genius of pullman's work, that has all the christians in a snit; she's also the antichrist.

why would he do that?

because the bible does. if you really take a look at the word antichrist, it does not mean "evil". khristos, from which christ is derived, means "anointed". so what does antichrist really mean? unanointed, or that which is against the anointed. there's a bunch of baggage on top of that meaning, which is how we got those omen movies, but at the heart of it, it just means smeared with fat. actually, it means recognized by the divine... but in ancient times, we did that by smearing the recognized thing with the fat of a sacrificed animal or person. and that, is why we celebrate the crucifixion. it was the point of christ's birth. as if it wasn't obvious enough, it's why he's referred to as the lamb.

wow. so this is heavy... pullman has gone all the way back to the origins of the judeo-christian faith and said, this important guy, was just the carrier of this magical stuff that we're obsessed with, that we don't even use anymore. it's like we're infected or poisoned by this idea. we need an antidote. we need an antichrist, to show us how far we've wandered from the truth, which had nothing to do with trooping along after some guy.

and this explains why christians are so antagonized by the books. they've been following the beast for years without recognizing it. the golden compass referred to in the book, is the bible we've all forgotten how to read. and in its stead, we've rallied around the church which claims to help us understand the symbols. but in reality, it is the beast referred to. the one which rose from rome, with many heads that change over time. so what really, is the golden compass about? it's about how to be human again. how to regain an understanding of the world, that doesn't rely on our fragile expectations for good and evil. all it requires, is that you give up everything, in order to discover what is important again. and i don't know how christians could have missed that primary message.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book936 followers
May 3, 2021
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 (Huxley’s Brave New World is a utopia cum grano salis), dystopias (Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s Handmaid's Tale), uchronias (Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle), fantasy worlds or, if you will, alternate Middle Ages (Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Martin’s Game of Thrones).

Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights is an ambitious combination of all of the above. The protagonist, young Lyra Belacqua, lives in an alternate England. Her world is, in general, similar to ours, but everything is a little bit misaligned. It’s a world where a puritanical Church rules over everything, where Scandinavian culture is pervasive, where people travel mostly by boat and zeppelin (steampunk-style), where each person has an accompanying dæmon — a sort of sentient cuddly pet, shamanistic animal spirit, or Freudian Id, perhaps —, where one can meet witches and armoured bears, and own strange objects that look like a pocket watch but tell the truth instead of the time… At all events, Pullman has built one the richest, weirdest, most fascinating and consistent fictional worlds in contemporary literature. He also has succeeded in creating a magnificent gallery of supporting characters: Lord Asriel, John Faa, Iorek Byrnison, Serafina Pekkala — all are endearing and colourful. Pullman’s prose is exquisite, and the scope of his story is staggering. For all that — possibly because this was meant to be a children’s book —, the plot is surprisingly lively and easy to follow — some of the scenes are memorable indeed, like the attempted poisoning at the start (ch. 1) or Lyra’s slyness with the bear-king (ch. 19).

I find it surprising that Pullman���s book was not received with at least as much acclaim as, say, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The fact that Northern Lights contains some anticlerical ideas and gave the god-botherers a queasy stomach is beside the point. However, it is possible that Pullman’s novel introduces too many ideas at the same time without developing them fully and does not quite provide a clear sense of closure and of what it is all about by the end of this long first part. It left me with a downbeat sensation, asking myself while closing the book, “eventually, why should I care about all that picaresque and slightly fantastical adventure?”. The 2007 film adaptation (with Nicole Kidman, Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, and Christopher Lee) tried to compress Pullman’s novel even further but only managed to highlight the plot’s flaws. At any rate, I am sure that the next part, The Subtle Knife, will compensate for these slight inconveniences.

Edit: Watched the first season of the BBC/HBO His Dark Materials TV series. It is much better than the 2007 movie, probably because a TV series provides ample space to develop the storyline, while a 120 minutes movie was like a bed of Procrustes, compressing and sabotaging Pullman’s narrative. The TV show seems to be taking the exact opposite direction and expands on the plot and characters beyond the limits of the novel. The result is still somewhat confusing, but the slower pace provides a sense of danger and darkness that is quite gripping. Dafne Keen and Ruth Wilson, who play the two female protagonists, are both fabulous.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
June 25, 2019
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, regardless, i have no idea how i was able to read and enjoy this because i highly doubt i really understood what was going on half the time. so it was an interesting experience to read this with an adult perspective. i still enjoyed it, but it was a completely different reading experience than when i was a kid, understandably.

4 stars
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews31 followers
January 14, 2022
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 fantasy novel by Philip Pullman, published in 1995. A children’s tale with one child (Lyra) going on a quest to save other children.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم آگوست سال2008میلادی

عنوان: نیروی اهریمنی اش - کتاب اول - سپیده ی شمالی در دو جلد؛ نویسنده: فلیپ پولمن؛ مترجم: فرزاد فرید؛ تهران، کتاب پنجره، سال1384 تا سال1385، در پنج جلد؛ شابک دوره پنج جلدی9647822146؛ چاپ سوم سال1387؛ شابک دوره9789647822145؛ چاپ چهارم سال1388؛ موضوع: داستانهای کودکان و نوجوانان از نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده20م

عنوان ک‍ت‍اب‌ نخست از سه گانه ی: «نیروی اهریمنیش»، شامل دو جلد ب‍خ‍ش‌ اول‌ و دوم: «س‍پ‍ی‍ده‌ ی‌ ش‍م‍ال‍ی‌»؛ عنوان جلد سوم یا ک‍ت‍اب‌ دوم‌: «خ‍ن‍ج‍ر ظری‍ف‌»؛ و عنوان دو جلد چهارم و پنجم یا کتاب سوم: «دورب‍ی‍ن‌ ک‍ه‍رب‍ای‍ی‌» است؛ «نیروی اهریمنی‌ اش»؛ عنوان سه‌ گانه ای از داستانهای خیال انگیز است، که «فیلیپ پولمن» آنها را نگاشته اند؛ کتاب‌ها به ترتیب: «سپیده شمالی (سال1995میلادی، در آمریکای شمالی، با عنوان: قطب نمای طلایی)»، «خنجر ظریف (سال1997میلادی)» و «دوربین کهربایی (سال2000میلادی)» منتشر شده اند؛ داستان کتابها در مورد دو نوجوان به نام‌های: «لایرا بلاکوا»، و «ویل پری» است؛ که در دو دنیای موازی زندگی می‌کنند، و وارد ماجراهایی حماسی می‌شوند؛ کتاب سوم از سری «نیروی اهریمنی‌ اش» در سال2001میلادی برنده ی جایزه کتاب سال «وایت برید» در «انگلستان» شد، که یک جایزه ی معتبر ادبی به شمار می‌رود؛ روزنامه ی «آبزرور» از این سه گانه به عنوان یکصد رمان پرفروش دنیا یاد می‌کند؛

در کتاب نخست: «لایرا» به یاری دوستش رفته تا او را که «شفن»ها دزدیده اند، نجات دهد، ولی در پایان درمییابد که...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for ~Calliope~.
238 reviews373 followers
January 31, 2023
“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.”

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
September 8, 2017

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 on my character and work ethic.

I'm not some conservative religious zealot who think books with magic are sending our children straight to hell. I don't have children. I'm not a Christian.

I do, however, have four nephews, all under eight years old that I have already given HARRY POTTER and many, many other similar books, THE GOLDEN COMPASS not among them.

3. In regards to my perceived lack of faith in a child's intelligence, I'm baffled that you think that's the only issue. "Children aren't stupid. They have good instincts. Shame on you."

Are you going to tell me that children also have excellent impulse control? That they're always rational? That they aren't capable of making bad decisions when overwrought?

And am I also to assume that you all strictly adhered to the suggested age requirements on books? None of you were specifically informed that you read several grade levels ahead of your peers?

This isn't the simple issue some of you are trying to make it.


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. The two adults Lyra should be most dependent on are villains, and whether or not there are good role models among the secondary cast of characters, they are SECONDARY, ultimately insignificant roles as evidenced when dollface takes off on her own b/c her parents cannot be trusted, and she knows better than they do.

The fact that it's true in her scenario is exactly what concerns me.

You can draw a straight line through all the steps on the path to a child's inevitable conclusion that Adults are the Enemy, and to do good, to do right, you cannot trust or obey them.

I think that's a very dangerous, potentially harmful thing to teach a child.

You don't have to agree with me. In fact, the whole reason I'm writing this, years after I read the book, is b/c I didn't want to be that person who essentially outlines their own (possibly contradictory) review on someone else's post.

B/c those people suck. FYI. <------read between the lines.

I don't recommend this book for readers not in their teens. Yes, some children mature faster than others, and, especially, if the child in question is your own, you're the best judge of what is appropriate--I would never tell anyone what to do with their children. I am merely voicing a concern and suggesting that one might consider personally screening THE GOLDEN COMPASS before passing along to young, impressionable minds.

This is my opinion. If you are violently opposed to it, I invite you to WRITE AND POST YOUR OWN REVIEW.
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,722 followers
December 23, 2018
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?
Profile Image for Lea.
119 reviews446 followers
December 13, 2021
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman

I tried reading Northern Lights as a child when it was enthusiastically recommended to me by librarian knowing I adore fantasy, but I didn't connect to it then and I can't remember ever finishing the trilogy. As an adult in stressful times looking for a comforting winter fantasy read, I decided to revisit this classic of the genre, and this time I liked it immensely, so much it got me out of my reading slump. This is a book that reminds you why you love reading. Pullman is a tremendously talented writer and storyteller. The flow and plot of the novel are unique, creative, and massively engaging. There is not one moment of boredom in the whole novel, it is action-packed, but most thoughtfully, creating one magical story, one that you cannot easily forget.

This book also got me interested in Philip Pullman as a person, as well as his worldview, philosophy and perspective on spirituality and religion. What we see in this novel is an inversion of moral values. The Church is very important in the world of Dark Materials, it is the force that controls society and patrols the matter of reason, science, and development, in a really negative way. Science is also painted as negative, the discipline that makes innocent suffer in order to achieve progress. Religion and science do not have good connotations, and the true morals and correct way of being have to be discovered and found by and in individuals. Our protagonist Lyra, is opposing the overruling forces of society, assisted by outlaws on the margins of society as Iorek, witches and sailors Gyptians. The book grapples with many profound questions and the intricate relationship of philosophy, science and religion. It criticizes authoritarianism, and religious authority, which leaves little room for dissent or pluralism of views, and diminishes the freedom of the individual to discover personal and unique standpoint. Lyra's parents are also villains, and the positive foundation, usually found in the figures of authority (kings, priests, headmasters and parents) is absent. It is evident that Pullman has strong distrust in the figures of authority, at least ones that don’t allow any scope for argument or dissent.

Without any solid foundations, trust, or stability of authority figures, our protagonist is not able to create the inner compass of detecting right or wrong, the conscience or the superego, as everybody who ought to be good in her world is deceptive, and those who ought to be evil are good. The moral inversion is present - the evil does not come from outside, from monsters, but from the inside, society and figures of authority, those who claim to be righteous, and the help and salvation come from the outside, ones that are found the be useless or undesirable by the majority. Lyra, therefore, has a magical compass - an extension of ego, an item representing only stability, that helps her to find the right perspective, the truth that is so hard to grasp in this confusing world. Lyra's special power is to see value in things and those who seem to be invaluable, and also, to expose the deceitfulness of those who claim to be good, but are evil, being a trickster character, driven by curiosity and critical intelligence.

The concept of dæmon is also brilliant. Dæmons are animals that are an external physical manifestation of a person's "inner-self", with changing appearance in children and fixed appearance in adults, a brilliant literary tool for exploring characters naturally within the text. Animals that help and follow their hero companions are an ancient concept seen in myths and fairy tales. Animals often solve quests that heroes are not capable of resolving themselves, representing the primitive instincts, animal urges and primal energy of the psyche put in the useful concrete function. Also, the choice of words for these accompanying animals in Pullman world is interesting and was off-putting for me as a child, obviously alluding to the word demon that usually has a negative connotation of spiritual destructive evil forces, but here represents the person soul. In the name Pullman is consistent with his moral inversion that is present thorough his world-building. Similarly, the word Gyptians also alludes to Gypsies, folk that often symbolically represents human shadow in stories, people in which civilized society projects the repressed traits. Gyptians are outcasts and the positive figures that enable Lyra to progress in her quest. Also, Lyra, in order to succeed, has to use lies, distort reality, and even use truth as a deception to reach the goals, not a usual thing for heroin to use for victory, as these traits are usually utilised by villains. Determinism and free will are also touched upon interestingly, as Lyra has a fixed destiny, that can only be achieved if she is not aware of it, and thinks she is making free choices.

“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.”

Pullman critiqued Tokien's and C.S. Lewis's works, oftentimes unjustly, due to their Christian beliefs that left more or less subtle marks on their world and characters. They are my favorite writers, one of the most influential ones in my reading life, and I like the classical fantasy story of a hero fighting dark forces and monsters, one where the good and evil are much more split and well defined, put in the more predictable categories than in Pullman world. I think that a fantasy writer's worldview has a massive impact on the kind of world he is creating. For instance, I could not connect to R.R. Martin's writing, because I could not find a sense of meaning in his storylines, his world being saturated with nihilism and random suffering, without a clear vision or moral lesson, or a metaphor of psychological development that more classic hero story has, all things I quite like in fantasy genre. For exploring absurdism and nihilism I prefer literary fiction and stories put in reality, not in the imaginative world. But with years I found I like morally gray characters as in Abercrombie's writing and made space for the imaginative world of unordinary Pullman. Pullman is not a king of nihilism, but fantasy moral inversion as good and evil in his world are unpredictable and unordinary, as they oftentimes in life are. It is often said that he created an atheistic world, but I think that is a far too simplistic way of thinking. R.R.Martin created atheistic, but Pullman created a gnostic world, and some call Dark Materials as a retelling of Milton's Paradise Lost. Pullman beliefs in multiple worlds and spiritual realms, not a binary good and evil model. Pullman is passionate to reinvent and redefine, asking provocative questions and exposing hypocrisy, the trickster of the fantasy genre.

The classical white and black world is maybe more suitable to the child due to the fact that children are not completely able to integrate good and evil traits into one object, so the negative traits of mothers are more easily comprehended expressed in evil witches or a dragon. But, adults should be aware that a fixed unexamined worldview of good and evil figures is harmful and that oftentimes the things are not as they seem. In Nietzsche's notion, in adulthood, a person is called to reexamine and discard the integrated false and destructive beliefs of their parents, authority figures, and society, the ones that are a threat to integrity, authenticity and individuality, that were advertised as useful and good. And that is why I salute Pullman, this intelligent genre provocateur that exposes what happens when people dogmatically follow abstractions.

That being said, the person has to be smart in the process and not discard the parts of tradition and integrated beliefs that are useful and valuable. That is my only critique of Pullman, that he could become far more reductionistic and discard something as complex as human religion or authoritative figures and characterize them as completely wrong. There is a phase in psychotherapy when a person becomes aware of the negative traits of their parents and completely demonizes them. But, that is only a stop in the journey, not a destination. As always, maturity lies in tolerating the ambiguity of one object, being aware of its both good and bad traits, discarding the bad, and keeping the good. There lies a profound balance of life.

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
― Philip Pullman
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews984 followers
September 10, 2021
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 the story plays with the trope about a sub-reality inhabited by the young having to interact, with the arrogance and at times unpleasantness of the adult world. The fantasy perspective is fully realised with not just the daemons, but a number of other sentient non-human races; and finally there's Dust. What's Dust? Read the book!

On the verge of being a well deserved modern classic. 8 out of 12.
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,034 reviews1,186 followers
August 22, 2018
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 have a moral impact, it could give you other terribly important things. For her to read the first Harry Potter was to be given back magic. And yes, an author, if he can return to you something you had lost and not even realised you had, has done something equally to be treasured.

I have promised to read HP soon. I find it difficult to believe I'm going to get anything out of it, but, then, thus had I felt about Northern Lights.


I really didn’t want to read this. It’s fantasy, it has made-up words, it is a trilogy – WHY!!!!! Why can’t somebody write a fantasy book that stops at a decent time???? There is an explanation of how to pronounce ‘daemon’ before the book even starts and that’s enough to make my heart sink. So why am I reading it? Because I’ve been backed into a corner by a friend and I can’t figure out another way of getting out. Here it is then. A grumpy person reading a type of book they don’t want to read and are opening it up for all the wrong reasons.

And then…straight away, within a page or two: what a heart-thumper, what a brilliant unputdownable ripsnorter. Impossible not to compare with Larsson’s books, and comes out so far ahead on all counts I don’t know if I’ll be able to read the last Girl-Tattoo book after all.

This guy writes well, Larsson doesn’t. He has a plot that is worthy of the name for the entire book. When I wanted to stop reading the first Larsson after 140 pages and was told that it got good soon, well, honestly, I stuck with it and the advice was correct, but still. That’s a lot of wasted pages.

Larsson’s female character is a pastiche of current fashion:

(1) Anti-social
(2) Metal in odd places
(3) Punk rocker
(4) Shags girls, heterosexual male fantasy
(5) Shags much old men, ditto
(6) Boob job
(7) Computer whizz

Larsson gets away with this, even though this amalgam feels fake. Lyra needs nothing. She is just a girl with nothing special about her at all and she is fabulous. Already I’m wondering if this series is going to get spoiled by her growing up and sex coming into play. One of the things this book demonstrates is how utterly irrelevant and tedious the sex is in books like Larsson’s. It is just there to titillate, it has no intrinsic purpose whatsoever.

I’m gobsmacked by how much more believable this book is than Larsson’s. Daemons, talking bears, witches, universes coming out of universes – I’m half expecting a string theorist to pop into the story, but as long as that doesn’t happen I can’t imagine anything could spoil the rest of it. I’m trying to picture who wouldn’t enjoy this, and I’m coming up with a complete prune of a person. If I enjoy this, honestly, anybody would.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m even going to give the rest of the series a go.


Finished! The last forty pages or so, after the duel of the bears, lost me. Maybe because they weren't really about the story, they are about setting the scene for the next book...I don't know. But I have to say that after 350 pages where every sentence made my heart beat too fast, I feel rather churlish saying that.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
March 19, 2020
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 Pullman Himself reading the narration and beautifully, with a cast of fine actors taking various parts. The first of a trilogy entitled His Dark Materials, which is a great fantasy story supposedly appropriate for grade 6 (American schools) but is really all ages, and like Wrinkle in Time, has dimensions in it which you will discover at any age. It IS a kid's book, in so many ways, with a strong girl main character, Lyra, 11, who is set on freeing her friend and other children from the north, with the help of Gyptions, an armored polar bear, witches, a Texan aeronaut balloonist, among others. This first volume is wonderful fun, focused as it is on Lyra and adventure. Lyra is a pretty unforgettable young girl character, who really grows over the trilogy, and though others also come to take the stage, in this book she is up there front and center.

The series is also a commentary on and critique of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe series, which Pullman, an atheist, found as he finds all Christian theology, too simplistic about the nature of the universe. Pullman once commented that he finds it interesting that he is placed in the category of "fantasy" writer, which he thinks is dismissive and evidence of the narrowness of vision that dominates the planet: fact and fantasy. In other words, Pullman sees the world as multiple, not binary, not just good and evil, Heaven and Hell; he thinks there are multiple worlds, and he thinks science/physics increasingly supports what many people know about the presence of multiple spiritual realms.

Pullman is also widely castigated/denounced as critical of The Holy Roman Catholic Church, which seems to be true in my reading of this book, though I think he is critical of almost all religions that see the world narrowly and are bound up in a view of the world as comprised of Sinners and Saints. Pullman especially finds the notion of Original Sin, which is the very foundation of the Dutch Calvinist Reformed Church in which I grew up, reprehensible, certainly limiting as a foundation for life. I think the Catholic Church, seeing Pullman as an atheist and his work as an exclusively anticlerical tract, may have helped to crush the continuation of the fine film series, which only has one third of the story, focused on this book, produced, though that film was tame compared to the book. But I think the series is more about the nature of True Religion than anti-religion, and Pullman says as much himself.

The series also owes a lot to Milton's Paradise Lost, which will become more evident as the series goes along, though you don't need to have read that work to appreciate the tales. Pullman loves Milton, and also argues with him, too. As with Warner Brothers cartoons, there's a kid level and an adult level on which you can appreciate the wonder of the tales. But it's not just a fantasy adventure! As with all great literature, it's about what is at stake in making meaning. It's a great classic.

But enough about all that theology jazz! Lyra is the hero of this first volume (and ultimately of the whole series). She is a liar (Pullman pronounces her name Lie-rah), a storyteller, fantasist, without which she could literally not survive. We named our daughter after this main character, so you know I am a fan, though we pronounce the name Lee-rah (as in Lyrical).
Profile Image for Oceana2602.
554 reviews139 followers
October 22, 2009
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 doesn't have to find out things herself, since the wise men will always tell her wat to do and what is going on in long, question-answer dialogues which will reveal the next part of the plot. Nothing is ever really set up to lead somewhere, unlike for example in Harry Potter where everything leads to something in the end, everything is happening in dialogue, which sounded so constructed and goal-oriented that it rarely ever convinced me.

The narrator is probably supposed to be an all-knowing narrator (sorry, don't know the english term for that), but he slips into Lyra's POV with no pattern I could discover. And the fact that I even noticed this shows how disturbing it was.

The protagonist is, well, I don't know why anyone writing children's book would invent an "unimaginative" (quote), lying, sometimes even hateful character like Lyra. I started to like her a bit more during the second half of the book, but mostly because I felt sorry for her. Then I discovered that she is supposed to be older than 11, when she makes herself younger by telling someone that she is eleven. Until the I had thought she was maybe 8 or 9. Shortly after that I stopped reading the book.

P.S.: After having read numerous other reviews of this book, I feel the need to point out that I'm an atheist and that no, I didn't give this book a bad review because it "offended my christianity". In fact, I seem to be so much an atheist that I completely missed how the book could be controversial or offensive in that regard. I know it offended me by being a bad book sold with a lot of hype, but that's not Pullman's fault. However, I did read that Pullman called himself an agnostic somewhere, and that explains rather a lot to me.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
January 25, 2014
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 fully explained until the end of the book. I was even confused as to exactly what they were until it was explained.

Towards the end of the story things did start to pick up and I did start enjoying it more, but I'm not sure if I enjoyed it enough to pick up the next book in the trilogy.
Profile Image for Tony Z .
102 reviews
June 13, 2016

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, pero por debajo de eso hay mucho mas, de una manera sutil, se nota que existe una lucha de estos dos grandes titanes, la religión y la ciencia, y ambos buscan poseer la verdad, mostrando toda la crueldad de la que pueden ser capaces.

El worldbuilding me encanto, con los Daimonions (en este mundo el alma no está dentro del cuerpo sino en el exterior y toma forma de animales), el aletiometro, los osos polares, los giptanos, el polvo y lo que más me gusto fueron las brujas

Tú eres muy pequeña, Lyra, demasiado pequeña para entender estas cosas, pero a pesar de todo te lo explicaré y llegará el día en que lo entenderás: los hombres pasan delante de nuestros ojos como mariposas, como criaturas de una estación efímera. Los amamos, son valientes, orgullosos, guapos, inteligentes, y se mueren casi en seguida. Se mueren tan pronto que tenemos los corazones continuamente atormentados por la pena. Alumbramos a sus hijos, que si nacen hembras son brujas, y si no se convierten en seres humanos. Y después, en un abrir y cerrar de ojos, desaparecen, caen abatidos, mueren, los perdemos. Y lo mismo sucede con nuestros hijos. Cuando un niño va creciendo se figura que es inmortal. Pero su madre sabe que no lo es. Cada vez se hace más doloroso, hasta que finalmente se te parte el corazón. Puede ser que entonces Yambe—Akka venga a por ti. Yambe—Akka es más vieja que la tundra. Tal vez para ella las vidas de las brujas sean tan breves como lo son para nosotros las vidas de los hombres.

…espero que estas sean profundizadas en los libros siguientes; los personajes son todos matizados de grises, ni buenos, ni malos, lo que hace la historia mucho más interesante y que el final sea tan impactante ¡Qué final! Me sorprende que en la película lo omitieran y cambiaran tanto... esperen dije sorprende… fue una película obviamente destrozaron lo que pudieron del libro. Y ahora se viene la serie de televisión, veremos que tal la hacen tengo malos presentimientos al respecto.

En fin me encanto esta fantástica historia con sus toques épicos, de ciencia ficción y steampunk, es un inicio espectacular, y se ha convertido en una de mis trilogías favoritas

Para mas de mis reseñas sobre los libros de La Materia Oscura pueden ver los siguientes enlaces:
La Daga aquí
EL Catalejo lacado aquí
El Oxford de Lyra aquí
Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
507 reviews327 followers
August 6, 2021
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: https://twitter.com/PhilipPullman/sta... 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 wrong to leave my positive review on here without making others aware of the author's problematic behavior.

This book started off as a dull, boring, and somewhat confusing high fantasy, but as the story progressed, I became captivated with the story and I fell in love with this book.

The characters were the part of the book that stood out to me the most. Iorek was a really interesting character to read about. He was such a big, ferocious beast yet he also had a strong heart and he cared for others. Lyra was definitely my favorite character. She’s one of the best protagonists that I’ve read about. She’s determined, brave, intelligent, and she has strong morals. I admired her a lot.

Warning: the rest of my review has spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

My major issue with this book is that it’s labeled as a children’s book, but I truly wouldn’t want anyone under 12 reading this book.

The gobblers and the separations were very dark. Kidnapping children and then essentially separating them from their best friend and their soul would make lots of kids sad and scared.

The book was also surprisingly gory. There was a whole long, detailed passage about people cutting holes in their heads and the polar bear fight was very graphic. The details of the jaw flying off and then ripping out the polar bear’s heart made me extremely nauseous.

It explained what castration was toward the end of the book, too. Imagine a kid coming up to you and asking more details about castration because they read this book...

I wanted to note that I wasn’t allowed to read this book when I was a kid because it was “anti-Christian.” I am slightly baffled about why it’s considered anti-Christian. The church is to some extent a villain in the book, but it’s also not? And the book even quotes part of the Bible... I just don’t understand what the issue with this book is?

Well, that’s enough of me rambling. Though this book had flaws, I still really enjoyed it and I found it to be a fascinating read. I will definitely be continuing with this series.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,254 followers
May 9, 2015
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 old concept of spirit animals is given a refreshing modern face-lift and, happily, no annoyingly new agey concepts bleed through. neither the writing nor the main character herself ever stoop to easy, sloppy sentiments.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,635 reviews34k followers
August 12, 2016
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 beautiful story follows brave, fierce Lyra Belacqua in her quest to save her childhood friend. The book is filled with dazzling adventure and marvelous inventiveness, as well as many scenes that will fill readers with utter horror and pity.

There are witches, gypsies, daemons, and best of all--armored polar bears! The warrior bears have a spectacular battle scene towards the end that still shakes me to the core when I read it. There aren't words enough to describe what an important work of literature this is, not only for children, but also for thinking, feeling, dreaming adults as well.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,173 reviews8,383 followers
March 1, 2021
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 format, I enjoyed the listen but it didn't blow me away.

Then a couple years later the TV adaptation came out on HBO which I started watching and fell in love with. So I've always been curious about returning to this series, especially now as we wait for the 3rd and final season to arrive. When I stumbled on these books in a used bookstore and a Little Free Library near my home, it felt like fate—time for me to pick them up again. And I'm so glad I did!

I absolutely loved revisiting this fantasy epic. I think for me watching the show actually helped me with the re-read, since I had a visual connection to the world and also was better able to discern the various characters, their motives, and picture it all in my mind as I read it.

Lyra, our hero, is truly one of the great protagonists of children's literature, or really any literature. Her journey is a true coming-of-age tale that is extremely fantastical and yet relatable at the same time. What happens when everything you thought you knew turns out to be false? How can you trust others when the ones you have trusted betray you? These, and many other questions, come up throughout the novel, all while we are taken on a fantastic adventure.

I am super excited now to keep going in this series. I know some of what happens in book 2 because of the show, but after re-reading book 1 I can tell they kept as much as possible while adding in new elements or bringing plot points from later in the series to earlier episodes which I think was really smart. I think with the way this is going this could turn out to be one of my favorite fantasy series and one that I will re-visit time and time again.
Profile Image for Julia.
54 reviews
September 26, 2007
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 same elegant mysterious beauty. Like a sound you'd expect if you hit a fairy with a shoe.)

Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
January 29, 2019
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.......
Profile Image for Emma.
2,508 reviews853 followers
July 25, 2017
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 they take on a settled form, one which says something about your character, but as children, their form is still unsettled and changes when and as needed.
Lord Asraiel and Mrs Coulter make perfect villains. This book does not really end but segues into the second book.
This was a reread and I listened to it on audio. They did a fantastic job, I have to say, with different actors for all the voices.
Profile Image for Sara.
204 reviews139 followers
January 5, 2020
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⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Joel.
556 reviews1,666 followers
June 21, 2011
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 beautiful, she doesn't have to hover over the cauldron all day to perform her magic, she's immortal (more or less), she can fly and she has awesome archery skills. She is also tragically romantic, because she is cursed with watching the man she loves die, because he's mortal. Pathos! But I think that is in the second book.

Speaking of which, I will say I did NOT like the second movie. It made no sense and did not follow the book at all! For one thing, they changed the name, which I do not get. Maybe it was the British name? (The first book/movie is called Northern Lights over there.) But I don't remember any casinos in the second book. And not only do they have Serafina and Asriel dressed all wrong, they have them get together!!!

That does NOT happen in the books. And then Serafina DIES?! Also Lyra isn't even in it, hello?

Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 14: Book whose main character you want to marry. (Um, Serafina. Not Asriel. Just to be clear.)
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,266 followers
November 9, 2015

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 frequently?

I'll also admit that I don't particularly care for Lyra. I find her too abrasive for my liking as she seems to always have a chip on her shoulder and wants to turn everything into a fight. The titular object (at least in the American version of the book) is an Alethiometer, a clock-like divination device that she can use.

The character who I really liked (and thought we needed much more of) was Serafina Pekkala, Queen of the Witches. Not only was she boss with a bow, but she was always magical flying astride her cloud pine branch.

All in all, 3 stars when compared to the sequels.

Profile Image for Rebecca.
308 reviews170 followers
December 27, 2007
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 playful. It bothers me when epic stories get a little bit too in love with a sense of their own epicness.

-Roger is supposedly the protagonist's best friend and her motivation for doing everything she does in at least half of the book, and his death is supposed to be some significant turning point...yet he's by far the dullest, least developed, and least important character in the book. He says maybe 20 sentences in the entire novel and his longest continuous presence in the book is when he's asleep in a balloon. Time for Lyra to get a better, more interesting, best friend, which I assume happens in book 2.

-The alethiometer is pretty damn hokey. It sounds like something Neville's grandmother would have given him in the HP series. It doesn't tell the truth so much as do the dirty work of plot exposition for Pullman. "What's so-and-so doing?" And then we get several paragraphs of background information and future predictions. Um, isn't that the kind of information that characters are supposed to figure out by being smart or making friends or discovering things on their own? On the other hand, if the alethiometer is indeed something marvelous and great, then why didn't Lyra use it all the time? There were a couple of times when she was wondering about something or needed a crucial bit of information, but she either chose not to consult the alethiometer or forgot about it. I'm sure that was intentional on Pullman's part, because it was a way for him to show Lyra messing up or figuring something out on her own. But if I had an alethiometer at my disposal, I'd be using it all the time, and there was no good reason why Lyra shouldn't have done that, too.

-Lord Asriel's great "betrayal" was completely obvious to anyone paying attention and wouldn't have been very surprising even if you weren't expecting it. The fact is, he never came across as a "good guy" to me from the very beginning, if for no other reason than that he was a bastard to Lyra from the very first chapter. He obviously didn't give a flip about his daughter, so why shouldn't he betray her to get what he needed to satiate his ambition? Lyra was stupid to ever trust him in the first place. I'm hoping she acquires a little bit deeper faculty of character judgment in the next book.

Despite my criticisms, it was an enjoyable book overall, and it's quite refreshing to read a children's fantasy story that still upholds virtues like bravery and sacrifice without resorting to the ideals and symbolism of Christianity. Pullman's writing is what really sold this book to me. The plot itself is nothing special and falls into the cliches/archetypes that most fantasy falls into, but Pullman is obviously more expert at the writer's craft than most children's authors, or even most fantasy authors, for that matter.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 27,056 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.