Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
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Nov 11, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy

This is not a series I would have exposed my children to. If you choose to (and I'm sure many will) that is up to you. There is a deal of indoctrination here, or if you consider the Narnia series indoctrination then maybe you won't use that term in this case. It's all I suppose in the eye of the beholder. So up to the parent, or if we're talking adults then, the reader.

(view spoiler)

As I said, you decide.
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02/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Mike (the Paladin) My kids are grown and if they choose to read these they're still out there. When they were young we read the Hobbit, Willie Wonka and many other books together. When Harry Potter arrived on the scene they sort of introduced me to the books. Of course they were grown before the series completed but we all completed them together.

These...I wasn't so thrilled with. It will be up to each parent.


Becky I read it because my mother-in-law told me not to. I have to say, its definitely for an older YA crowd. As an adult I loved it. If I had children, I'd let them read it, because I think it would help them think deeply about their faith. I've always been of the opinion that a well examined and questioned faith is healthy, a better for a person. I also think it’s important to question churches, as much as any government entity. It’s good for kids to exercise the mental faculty of properly questioning authority (and I don't mean that in the senseless rebelliousness that all teens go through). Again though, that’s all for a much older YA crowd, definitely not for elementary school children.

I think it’s also important to note, and what so many people leave out, that the Church and the State are the same thing in the book. The union of the two is rarely a good thing, which is a very essential American ideal. There were also good people in the Church throughout the book. They aren't demons, but physical extensions of the soul. But I’ve generally found that a lot of the same people (not all, I trust you, wherein I don’t trust my motherinlaw) are the same people that blithely threw out Harry Potter, etc, without having ever read the books.


message 3: by Sath (new)

Sath I'm afraid I have to most respectfully disagree with your opinions on this book/series.

It's been a few years since I read either His Dark Materials or Narnia, but I very much enjoyed both of them, and it wasn't until much later afterwards that I learnt anything about the religious (or not) inclinations of either author. Although I'm sure they gave me things to think about, I merely saw them as fantasy works and enjoyed them as such.

I suppose now I'm less 'naive' than I was when younger, and I'd be more likely to draw meaning and parallels to real life, from a novel. But I dunno, I think its just more about making you think carefully about what could be, as any good book does.

Also the daemons.. definately weren't supposed to be actual demons, 'daemon' was just a term that they chose to use for them. They were actually a physical embodiment of the persons soul (as far as I remember).


Mike (the Paladin) It's a "to each their own" thing I realize going in that people will disagree with me. That said Pullman himself says the books are anti-Christian and I don't think he chose the word "daemon" accidentally. He simply doesn't view the idea of demons or daemons as others do. The reality he paints in the books is the reality he pictures and based on his own "ethos".

As I said, everyone will decide for themselves. Disagreement is fine. I don't care for the books and were my children still small I'd not introduce them to these. They're grown now and the books are still out there if they care to read them.

As noted to each their own it's a free country and that's good. This review is what I think of the books and their world/universal view.


Becky Mike, I know everyone said Pullman was saying they were anti-Christian, but I've never found a direct quote from him saying that once. I mean, he is a self declared agnostic. He said he wrote specifically to be anti-dogmatic, he never once said anti-Christian. I'm Christian, but I'm very anti-dogma, perhaps thats why they appealed to me. I also read Voyage of the Dawn Treader 13 times, so maybe I'm just not that picky.

Not that I'm trying to be argumentative :D As you said, to each their own. I love controversial books, at least it gets people to talk about something that isnt reality TV!


message 6: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Mar 13, 2012 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief. Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the devil's work."
(Wartofsky, Alona: 'The Last Word' in The Washington Post, 19 February 2001)

Look I don't want to be argumentative or disagreeable either. My review is just to inform those who want to know.

Mr. Pullman has been less vocal about his distaste for Christianity (apparently especially Catholicism :""The assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, the infallibility of the Pope - seemed to me such howling nonsense". I'm not a Catholic.) You can easily find statements that he's an atheist rather than an agnostic, and that's fine. I read books by atheists all the time (most I probably don't know are atheist). My only points here are I don't like the books and I wouldn't simply hand these to children to read unsupervised and unguided...unless you are looking to indoctrinate the children into the books viewpoint. Some parents will be.

(view spoiler)

My books are about killing God.”
“I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry [Potter] has said.”
Pullman’s December 13, 2003 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald


Mike (the Paladin) By the way, I like Harry Potter. That was just part of the quote.


Becky That is true. I dont think anyone would have noticed his books if they hadn't been turned into one of the worst "book-to-movie" films ever made.


Mike (the Paladin) Many people do like them and as noted that's fine. You like them and we're friends (we're still friends aren't we?) :).

We'll only be in trouble when "someone" is allowed to decide what books can be available.


Becky Still friends! I like disagreements, they are more challenging then someone blithely agreeing with you about any book.

So true. I try and make a point of celebrating "Banned Book Week." Celebrate and revel in freedom to read the good, the bad, and the ugly :D


message 11: by Sath (new)

Sath I hope I'm included in the 'still friends' category!

But yes there are far worse things than having a minor disagreement on a book, amongst thoughtful individuals.

Speaking of banned books.. there was a school in america (I'd have to look it up but it might have been in jacksonville), where a class was reading 'farenheit 451' and the parents tried to get it banned. If thats not the definition of irony.. rofl.


Mike (the Paladin) True....it also probably shows the parents hadn't read the book.

So far as I know we're all still friends, really, honest........don't hit me.


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