Books I Loathed discussion

Loathed Authors > His Dark Materials - what is the big deal?

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 6 comments Forgive my frankness, but I thought this series was crap. I read it two or three years ago. I found none of the characters likable and thought the plot was too warped to be taken seriously. By the time I got up to the aardvark-like creatures who moved on wheels, I was done. It seemed to me to be nothing more than a atheist's whiny statement about how much he hates Catholics. It was awful, and for the life of me I can't see why the series gets so much praise. Anyone else out there with the same opinion?

message 2: by Summer (new)

Summer | 28 comments Melissa: I read this series about two years ago. I didn't find NONE of the characters likeable and I really liked some of the elements including the warrior polar bears and daemons that change shape when you are young and have a fixed shape later. I don’t think the author comes off as whiney; although, his distate for organized religion comes through loud and clear. That said I didn’t particularly love the series. I liked the first book and then it sort of went downhill. It certainly can’t touch other fantasy children’s series such as those by Lloyd Alexander and Madeline L’Engle. Some people really like it though. I guess some books are just not for everyone.

King: Here you go.
They are more or less a children's fantasy series using themes of fate and Catholic doctrines. Some have condemned them as heretical. A recent movie was based on them starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

message 3: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Boisture I just bought the first one to try out. I figure that I like young adult literature and I'm wary (to put it lightly) of organized religion. Sounds like these books are a great match for me!

message 4: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nlojeda) | 2 comments I recommend reading the book and watching the movie with no less than 3 months in between the two. It's a rental for sure. Spend your $$ on I Am Legend (but beware - supposedly the movie is much different from the book) or Sweeney Todd!

message 5: by Lori (new)

Lori Anderson (lorianderson) I hated them, too. Seems like a lot of people loved them but I just didn't get them. They'd been on my bookshelf for a long time, and I sold them off, and then bought them again when I heard a movie had been made, so I wasted my money twice.

message 6: by Marsha (new)

Marsha | 4 comments Melissa, I agree with you. I read this series about two years ago because I had heard that it criticized religion and God. I wanted to see for myself. The first book was harmless as far as I could tell, but it wasn't very compelling either. I had to force myself to read the second and third, which were equally tedious. To be honest, about halfway through the third one, when it was revealed that God was the bad guy and Satan was the good guy (or something to that affect), I quit reading. What a stupid waste of my time.

message 7: by MM (new)

MM (localwest) | 5 comments I read the trilogy and greatly enjoyed it. But I do understand why people would dislike it.

My main problem with the books seemed to be Pullman's inability to find his audience. It was as though he struggled with himself to create a young adult book with complex themes but crossed over the line into themes that were far too complex for a young audience.

Regarding Marsha's comment, I don't recall a Satan character in the book at all, nor do I remember God being portrayed as a "bad guy." The "bad guys" were the agents of the Authority (being God) such as the Regent and the humans in the various worlds who committed unspeakable evils in the name of God. And, honestly, portraying those guys as evil really doesn't seem so wrong to me.

I think one of the main points Pullman was trying to get across was the ambiguity of good and evil - especially through Asriel and Coulter.

Anyway, I don't expect anyone to change their opinions of the trilogy but I think it is a common misconception that Pullman's problem is with God. He seems to be against religion in an organized and controlled sense, but I found the books to be highly spiritual in nature and not wholly atheistic.

message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily (cosmicvagabond) I enjoyed the series, but perhaps because I'm more of a Sci-Fi buff than a fantasy buff. It's akin to Harry Potter, but with a more technical edge. I never got the religious vibe out of it, but I took it at face value and didn't read into it.

A great idea, I thought. I rate them higher than the Harry Potter books.

message 9: by Marsha (new)

Marsha | 4 comments Michelle, you are probably right and I am remembering incorrectly--I can't remember too much about it. I could have just been looking for an excuse to quit reading a series that wasn't that interesting to me in the first place. But I did distinctly feel that religion and God were definitely the antagonists, leaving those who were fighting against them the protagonists (maybe I automatically included Satan in this group because of my religious background).

message 10: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn | 29 comments I loved the series. i thought it was interesting and well written. I'm sick of all the religious tirades about this series and frankly about Harry Potter as well. I think the series had some religious aspects, mainly the third book, but many books have religious themes and ideas. Here's a novel idea, if you're religious don't read books with themes that may be anti-religious.

message 11: by Letitia (new)

Letitia I have to completely disagree with you, Bronwyn. If people are religious, they should DEFINITELY read these books. What good is an uninformed and isolated faith, where you don't even understand the criticisms that are hurled at you? My biggest beef with this controversy has been that many religious people are not reading the book or seeing the movie. How do they know what all the hoopla is about in that case? They haven't educated themselves.

That said, I was slightly disappointed by Golden Compass myself, but only at the very end. I found it very difficult to define why, however. Good writing, good characters, fun story...but missing an element that I can only call complex simplicity, which Chronicles of Narnia had. Since PUllman called this his "anti-Narnia," I was unfortunately comparing them.

message 12: by Ani (new)

Ani | 3 comments Melissa, I didn't really care much for the books either. The anti-religious message really turned me off, I admit, although other than that it wasn't terribly compelling for me anyway. I am not into sci-fi, though, maybe that was why?

I read it b/c I read in the NYT that it was supposed to be the next Harry Potter, but I thought it wasn't even close.

message 13: by Lori (new)

Lori Anderson (lorianderson) I had no idea the series even had a religious theme until I was reading them. I try not to read reviews about books before reading them, so as not to spoil them. And while I have strong religious beliefs, that doesn't stop me from keeping an open mind. I just hated the series for a huge range of reasons.

message 14: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn | 29 comments Letitia, I might have spoken rashly and was not entirely clear on my point. I could not agree with you more on having an educated opinion as opposed to blind hatred of something. Let me reword my statement.

What I have a problem with is trashing books that think outside of religious political correctness and deeming them not worthwhile. Now if you hated these books because you couldn't relate to the material, didn't like the writing style...etc. That's fine, everyone's entitled to an opinion.

I'm simply tired of hearing people trash books because they might disagree with their religious views.

message 15: by Lauren (new)

Lauren thank you, thank you, thank you! i've recently felt like i was the only one who didn't like this series. it's good to not feel alone anymore.

that said, i am in a similar boat as lori... i had heard a lot about these books being evil and anti-god, etc. but i don't want to be one of those people who buy into what others say without really checking into it. so, i read the first book of the series. while i know some would disagree, i found it well-written and captivating. but it left a bad taste in my mouth. i just couldn't handle the experiments on kids and many of the characters seemed lacking. so now i can freely say that i don't recommend the books, but for very different reasons than many i know.

and bronwyn, i think you are totally right about being sick of people trashing books that disagree with their views. i feel that if a faith can't stand up to a differing perspective (especially in a fiction book!!), then you should really question why you have that faith in the first place.

message 16: by Merrin (new)

Merrin | 9 comments It feels like the same argument people had against the Da Vinci Code, and I think you're exactly right, Lauren. If your faith can't stand up to scrutiny or a differing opinion, it isn't much of anything at all.

I read the first book back in college when one of my classmates found out that I had just read Lord of the Rings and loved them. He said these books were JUST LIKE THAT and that I would adore them, read them noooow! So I read the first and hated Lyra's character so much I couldn't go through the rest. I thought the whole thing lacked heart, if that makes sense at all. I still haven't read the second two books.

I went to see the movie for curiosity's sake and found myself more confused than anything. I mean, clearly there was an attack on a religious institution, but it doesn't look like any religious institution I'm familiar with.

message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie | 2 comments Took me a LOOOOOONNNNGGGGG time to get into this series, but once I perservered I actually enjoyed it. Not too fussed about the film though - too much hype.

message 18: by Charles (new)

Charles I think these books are wonderful, an enormous imaginative achievement. They're inventive, profound, utterly gripping, heart-wrenchingly moving; the last volume had me in tears for days. In one sense, I'm sorry that Pullman has allowed them to be filmed because obvious compromises have been made with the basic theme of the trilogy, but if it attracts new readers to the books -which are what matters - I'm happy. And it seems utterly misleading to compare them with the Harry Potter novels, which, for all their charm and readability, make no claim at all to possess the seriousness of Pullman's work. His title invites comparison with Milton, and in terms of moral complexity and imaginative force I think the comparison's fair.

message 19: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 6 comments I haaaated Lyra. That was one of the big reasons I couldn't enjoy the series. There was nothing she had to do to earn the love of other characters; everyone just fell in love with her blindly and was ready to give up their lives for her in a second, and I felt that she had done nothing nor possessed any qualities that merited that kind of devotion. The way I was annoyed by her is comparable to the way people are generally annoyed by the sound of nails scratching a chalkboard.

I agree with you that the series lacked heart. There was no emotional pull. It had no soul, nothing to rank it as a literary classic...very unlike Lord of the Rings (I think your friend is crazy for saying they're so alike).

At the time I read the series, I had no faith whatsoever (in fact I was especially against Catholicism at the time - I grew up around a lot of Catholics I didn't like), and I still felt that the statement was so brutally clear that it made me feel the whole series was just whiny. Subtlety is key. Less is more.

message 20: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 6 comments Well...the fact that it's fiction doesn't really mean anything. It's still one person's rather enormous statement against Catholics. I'm not Catholic, but I do think that Catholics have a right to be offended by the series.

message 21: by Cameron (new)

Cameron | 7 comments I read the series about a year ago and found myself alternately enjoying, loving and hating it. I did like the first book and went into book #2 with headlong abandon. It didn't hold my attention well as I felt it was quite convoluted. However, the story behind all that was still a good one. By the time I reached book #3 I truly struggled. There was poor connection from one thought to the next and the characters were all over the place. However, since I'd already read the first two, I was not going to give up when there was a light at the end of the tunnel (pun intended).

I didn't see this as a book against the Catholic church so much as a struggle between good and evil. And like life, trying to figure out which is which can be confusing. I do understand why it would offend (read scare) some, but think if you are going to have an opinion, it needs to be based on more than what others have said. I have taken my son to see the movie and if when he chooses to read the book will support his doing so. How is he to know what he believes and thinks if he isn't allowed to experience more of the world than what is under our roof?

message 22: by Poppy (last edited Jan 04, 2008 09:58AM) (new)

Poppy | 21 comments I was offended by the book, but not scared. I was primarily offended by Pullman's borrowings from Milton.

It's one to thing to borrow as a kind of homage--Milton did it himself, basing the epic form of Paradise Lost on Classical epic. But to use Milton's trappings to argue that Milton's cosmology-- and therefore, Judeo-Christian cosmology--is wrong is hack work at its worst.

The images Pullman borrowed (angels, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, "the Ancient of Days") resonate powerfully with people. To use that power to convince people that Judaism and Christianity are based on a lie is at the very least, irresponsible.

message 23: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 1 comments I just started the first book in this series, and I'm having a hard time getting through it for some reason. It's just not holding my interest. I decided to start this series because I thought it would captivate me like the Harry Potter books, but I don't think these books will even come close. What are people's feelings on the second and third books? Are they worth reading if I really don't care for the first book? I'm only about half way through the first book, so maybe it will get better.

message 24: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 55 comments I may have to put this on my list of books to read just to see for myself what all the controversy is all about.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Do Catholics have the right to be offended by Pullman’s work? Of course. We all have the right to our feelings. Non-Christians can be offended that C.S. Lewis laced his Narnia books with his Christian beliefs. Jews can be offended that Gollum in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings can be taken as lightly veiled anti-Semitism. It is terribly easy to be offended.

But is that offence correct? No. For me, it’s not enough to be offended simply because someone else doesn’t believe what you do, or even if they take umbrage with part of your worldview.

Partly, I suppose this is because I find that people are often only offended when it’s their religious, (or political, social, etc.) views are being challenged, but rarely do they think of other’s offence. There is an obvious amount of hypocrisy in not wanting others to shove their views down your throat, while ignoring the places where you do it yourself.

I enjoyed Pullman’s books, because they were fantastical and thoughtful and imaginative. Do I think that the Magisterium is a reference to the Catholic Church and it’s hierarchy? Probably. But, he isn’t necessarily attacking a set of spiritual beliefs. Indeed, he attacks the impulse of any overseeing group to tell all people how to live their lives, which I think is a valuable humanist point.

message 26: by Summer (new)

Summer | 28 comments Here, here Cheri. Well said.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

And Poppy, it isn’t irresponsible to use an author’s words to disprove his cosmology. If you want to debate someone’s ideas, you do it with what they said. It is more honest and fair that way. It is also the basis of logical argument.

Just because a large group of people may love an idea, is no reason not to point out it shortcomings. Much of the progress that we have made as human beings comes from individuals standing in opposition to conventional thought.

And why should we only pay homage to a writer? When a writer puts his beliefs into his work they are there to be discussed, not revered. Did you stop to think that people in Classical polytheistic times might hardly find their epic form being used to proselytize monotheistic Christianity as an homage?

message 28: by Poppy (new)

Poppy | 21 comments I never said that Pullman's use of Milton's words was an issue. I'm talking about Pullman's use of the entire cosmology that Milton came up with to explain, in modern verse, his religious beliefs. Milton built on the generic conventions of epic verse to, as he put it, "justify God's ways to Man." To borrow Milton's imagery to prove that God doesn't exist is tantamount to using materials from The Iliad to demonstrate why there is no such thing as a Hero (upper case "H" used advisedly.)

It's one thing to argue--clearly, and with no hidden agenda--no sugar-coating your ideas and serving them up as children's fiction--that war is wrong. If you really believe that there is no such thing as a justifiable war, if you really believe that there is nothing on earth worth fighting for, than say so.

But if you write a story book for children to teach them that pacifism is the highest good, expect to get a lot of criticism from, say, military families.

That's all I'm saying.

And as for the Classical polytheists? By the time Milton was writing, they'd all been dead for over 1600 years. So I don't think their feelings enter into it.

message 29: by Charles (new)

Charles Well, James Joyce took the structure of the Odyssey to write Ulysses, which is one of the most anti-heroic novels ever written, and I don't see anything wrong in that.

message 30: by Ann M (new)

Ann M | 39 comments Tolkien's Gollum is taken as anti-Semitic??? I hadn't heard that before. It's just a word, and a great one, at that, as are the rest of Tolkien's word choices. "Golem" made it into the mainstream language well before Tolkien. Gollum in the books starts out as a Hobbit, not as anyone from any identifiable ethnic group.

Whew, you are right. There's no end to taking offense once we get started.

message 31: by Poppy (new)

Poppy | 21 comments Good point. As a modernist, I think that was part of Joyce's plan. Although some people would argue that Molly Bloom was the hero of Ulysses. ;-)

The thing is, Milton was a Renaissance writer. He was using epic form as a kind of homage, and as I said to Cherie, in doing so, he wasn't going to offend a bunch of dead polytheists.

Pullman is going after some of the world's biggest religions. I'm not Catholic, so I didn't even notice the connection with the Magisterium. I did, however, notice the Miltonic imagery ... and I simply couldn't believe it when at the end of the third book, it turned out that Pullman was using that wealth of material simply to prove that God doesn't exist. It just seemed so anticlimatic. Like shooting mice with an elephant gun.

As a friend of mine put it: "Kill God big, or don't kill God at all."

Here's the link to the rest of her review:

message 32: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Horricks | 12 comments Poppy,

By the time Pullman was writing his series Milton will have been dead for over 300 years, so I'm sure he isn't offended either. And authors taking a structure created by another just so they can subvert it and tear it down using its own values is not new, nor is it disrespectful. People borrow from the Bible all the time to tear it down. I don't think Milton should be excluded. In fact, the mere fact that he would be extracting theses images and structures from Milton is a sign of respect, not disrespect. Shows that Milton has enough significance to need to be taken apart. It's not like he took his images from Robert Herrick

message 33: by Poppy (new)

Poppy | 21 comments 1. I am the one who is offended. Not Milton. Mr. Milton, he dead.

2. I'll reiterate: if you're going to kill God, do it with a bang, not a whimper.

Pullman's book is like putting the Mona Lisa on a t-shirt.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I know!

The whole thing was a rumor that got around because of three unfortunate things. One, that the name Gollum was so close in spelling to the Golum of Jewish literature. Second, that Gollum’s real name was Sméagol, which sounded vaguely Semitic. And finally, in an early interview that Tolkein said:

"I didn’t intend it, but when you’ve got these people on your hands you’ve got to make them different, haven’t you?" he replied. "The dwarves of course are quite obviously — wouldn’t you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic, obviously, constructed to be Semitic. The Hobbits are just rustic English people."

Which got taken out of context.

It’s unfortunate, because Tolkein actually rebuked the Nazi’s for their race based ideology.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Sorry, that last comment was for Annm!

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

And finally...
So what is your point Poppy? That Milton used the Epic poem as an homage, and that Joyce used it as an homage, but Pullman didn’t. Why? He’s an Exeter College, (Oxford) English grad. Using Milton may well indeed be an homage. As you pointed out, to appreciate the Epic poem, one needn’t believe in Mount Olympus. And to appreciate Milton, one needn’t believe in angels or Adam and Eve.

And I’m sorry, if I write a book which uses the epic form to assert there are no gods and goddesses, it is no different than if I use Dante’s Inferno to assert there is no hell. It’s the same thing, equally effective and valid, the only difference is in the reaction of the people who believe in hell. And that reaction doesn’t make the work a hack job or irresponsible, it just means some people may not like it, (I emphasize some, as I personally know someone who is quite religious, loves Milton and adores these books, and I am sure there are others out there).

There is nothing sacrosanct in Milton’s cosmology. Any writer can use a previous writers words, ideas or cosmology to make a case for their ideas. Shakespeare did it, Joyce (by the way as an adulterous wife, Molly would hardly qualify as an epic Hero either), and Mann. I could go on and on. Pullman is only one in a long line through literary history.

And why does it matter that Pullman wrote his book for children? C. S. Lewis wrote children’s fiction with Judeo-Christian dogma attached, so should Buddhists criticize it? It’s his viewpoint, he wanted to write for children, there is nothing wrong with that. Pullman’s views are just less popular.

And not “Killing God big” may be exactly the point that Pullman wished to make. It’s the institutes surrounding organized religions and the dogmatic repression by those who are believers, that Pullman seems to consider the greatest of evils. Perhaps the implication is that Lyra ridding the world of God is a far less daunting task than ridding the world of the institutions built up around God.

I suppose in the end I disagree with your Mona Lisa on a T-Shirt assessment, because I don’t think Pullman’s point is small or crass. The book does not end with the removal of God. It ends with Lyra’s vision of the Republic of Heaven. Pullman asserts that in a world where there is nothing but the material, immediate world, we will each have to work hard to make our universe a good home. That rather than a Kingdom of Heaven where the people’s lives were controlled or judged by an outside force, be it Magisterium or God, there will now be a Republic where everyone is equal, with all the responsibilities to each other and ourselves that go along with a Republic. Lyra’s vision is that without the excuse of religion or organizations to oppress or denigrate others, we will have to be held accountable for each of our actions. Pullman intimates a world where suicide bombers couldn’t excuse their actions with promises of heaven and where genocide could not be couched in religious fervor. To me, that’s hardly a small thing. It may not be as beautifully written as Milton, assuredly, it’s not, but the ideas stand just as large.

message 37: by Charles (new)

Charles Well said, Cheri!

message 38: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 55 comments Cheri, would you consider running for president?

I would vote for you.

As far as Mona Lisa on a t-shirt, I wonder if there is any money in that... They could put a caption like "what u lookin' at" or something.

message 39: by Poppy (new)

Poppy | 21 comments So Cheri, somehow I'm getting the feeling that you liked Pullman's trilogy.

I didn't. I loathed it. So I explained why. Because this is what this thread is about.

I read the book because someone had mentioned the Miltonic overtones, and I was curious about them. I was disappointed to see to what end these overtones were being used.

But the thing that first struck me about The Golden Compass was its heartlessness, and even more, its humorlessness. For me, that's fatal. Humor is why I loved the Harry Potter series, and why I adore Jonathan Stroud's The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Pullman's books reminded me of the forest outside the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West: "Dark. And Creepy."

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

I dunno, doesn't The Amber Spyglass just kind of blow? Sorry to take this to a more (less?) vulgar level here, but I found the scrambling for new characters, worlds, and storylines a bit of a cop out - particularly since Pullman had constructed such a rich and full landscape in the first two books. I didn't want it so cluttered in the last book.
For me, the trilogy did conclude disappointingly for reasons that Poppy addresses. I don't agree with everything she's said - but there is the sort of cheapshot "God does not exist/secular humanism is so great" feel for me. Ending that way invalidated the more complex discussions of religion and spirituality and science explored in The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife. This is writing towards a point, and felt to me a bit forced. Rather than allow the characters and story and the readers the freedom that he so strongly defends, Pullman insists we see things his way, like an angry, foot-stamping Jehovah.
I'll defend this series as thoughtful, complex, and rich - but I'll always add, "it doesn't end well though."

message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

I read the books several years ago and I did enjoy them. But they are children’s books, so I didn’t really spend a whole lot of time thinking about them. This thread actually made me think about them again and ultimately, like the books more than I originally had.

I hope you’re not upset that I took issue with your ideas, that’s what these discussions are for. As the description of the Books I Loathed group says “This is a public forum for people to kvetch (cleanly, please) about books they absolutely hated, and for others to respond”.

If someone doesn’t like the HDM trilogy because it’s anti-religious and they are religious, I think that’s a totally understandable reason to personally loathe it. And if you find it humorless and dreary, that’s another great reason for you to dislike the book. I commented on your post because you said that it was hack work and irresponsible to use Milton in a book which is ultimately against religious organizations. That isn't just about loathing the book anymore. It’s about saying there should be limitations as to what’s fair game for a writer to write about because they don’t agree with you.

message 42: by Poppy (new)

Poppy | 21 comments Cheri, I never get upset when people take issue with my ideas, as long as they know what they are. For example, you said:

I commented on your post because you said that it was hack work and irresponsible to use Milton in a book which is ultimately against religious organizations.

I think you misunderstood me there. Pullman isn't against religious organizations; he's against religion. Pullman has been quoted as saying "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief." (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

Now, I have no objection to anyone taking pot shots at religious hierarchy. I'm a Protestant; that that's what we do.

And thanks to this discussion, I've changed my point of view. I don't think it's irresponsible to rehash Miltonic imagery in a book that denigrates religion. But I do think it's artistically flawed. The tenor is too slight for the vehicle.

(I think I would have liked the books more if I had known when I started reading them that Pullman is an atheist who loathed C. S. Lewis. It's actually easier to like the books if you read them with the idea that they're kind of an anti-Narnia trilogy.)

And now I'll shut up. Maybe.

message 43: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 6 comments Quoting Andre from above: "Rather than allow the characters and story and the readers the freedom that he so strongly defends, Pullman insists we see things his way, like an angry, foot-stamping Jehovah."


message 44: by Tom (new)

Tom I liked the first book, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, a good deal. Fast, imaginative, alive: a good solid read. The series kind of falls apart after that, especially as I felt a sort of weird religious aspect to the series that I couldn't put my finger on, I got suspicious that some LEFT BEHIND type allegory was intended that I was missing.

I still have good memories of GOLDEN COMPASS. I'll admit it: I fell madly in love with Iorek Byrneson. Damn, I never thought I'd go head over heels for a polar bear.

message 45: by Emma (last edited Aug 26, 2008 09:56PM) (new)

Emma I LOVED The Golden Compass when I first read it, and when I heard a sequel was planned I was so excited. But the second book didn't come out in Canada until I was 14 and by that time my enthusiasm had died down. I enjoyed The Subtle Knife but it didn't excite the same mystery and intrigue that had kept me glued to The Golden Compass at 10. Of course, I had to wait even longer for The Amber Spyglass to come out, and reading it at 16 was even more disappointing than reading its predecessor a few years before.

With The Amber Spyglass, it seems Pullman had been promising some sort of religious and philosophical epiphany so almost any conclusion was bound to disappoint. I remember reading the Old Testament when I was a kid and thinking to myself that God came across as a jealous, totalitarian dictator, while Satan a simple freedom fighter. By today's standards, the Old Testament really doesn't make sense and kids pick up on this without worrying too much about the cultural implications etc... So the simplicity of the message, again, speaks to its target audience: children.

My point is that these are children's books and have to be read from that perspective. I'd recommend the series to anyone 9 to 14 in a heart-beat, but older readers just aren't going to discover in them the same magic; that's a shame, but it's part of growing up.

It's also entirely possible that the second two books just aren't as good as the first. Ha.

message 46: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) I borrowed the omnibus edition from my daughter. She and her husband loved this series. They thought it was great. They're both Christians and thought the Christian outrage against the book was unfounded. I tend to be very open-minded. That said, I only made it to the point where Lyra finds her father. Then, I tossed it. I felt like the whole thing just plodded. I really didn't care what happened next. I didn't like any of the characters, I found them all loathsome. I kept waiting for the book to get exciting and it never did.

What finally made me stop reading is when Lord Asriel starts this huge exposition on Dust, Original Sin and the Catholic Church. He claims to be quoting Genesis from the Bible, but the text is completely wrong. The author clearly does not understand the concept of Original Sin at all. I was flabbergasted that anyone could say that this book was just fantasy and not anti-religion when it had such an overt diatribe about religion. If you think I'm full of it, go re-read the part where Lyra finds her father. It's right around page 260 or so of "The Golden Compass" in the omnibus.

In my opinion, Pullman could have easily conveyed his atheist beliefs and convincingly condemned organized religion more effectively if he had created something that was somewhat recognizable as based on Christianity and/or Catholicism without calling it Catholic. He would have been more effective by inventing a holy text to quote from without calling it Genesis. And, he could have written a story that was a lot more interesting with characters that weren't so flat and boring.

message 47: by Tom (new)

Tom Folks, the Catholicism in THE GOLDEN COMPASS is the Catholicism IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. That's kind of why the Genesis quoted is wrong, because IT IS IN ANOTHER ENTIRELY DIFFERENT UNIVERSE.

Is it that difficult to understand?

message 48: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) Tom, in my opinion, if he's going to make it fictional, then he should have given it a different name. Try reading Dan Simmon's Hyperion/Endymion books. He has mutated Catholicism in there, but it's evolved from real, present-day Catholicism and it works. It's very critical of the church hierarchy, but it works because it's based on the real thing in an educated way. To me, Pullman comes across as ignorant because he's making up something but calling it by the name of something real. The reason the Christian allegory in Narnia and LOTR work is because the authors never once use the word Christian or name a particular denomination or scripture.

I am not a stupid woman. I graduated with honors with a degree in English literature. I know the difference between fiction and non-fiction. I know the difference between fantasy and reality. And, it pisses the hell out of me that when I express my opinion on this book in an articulate manner, people act like an ignoramus.

message 49: by Tom (new)

Tom How is it ignorant of Pullman to call something in a fictional universe by a name used in this one? Were you offended that he used other English words as well? He uses the word "monkey" in the novel, were you offended by that as well? Should he have come up with an entirely different language altogether, to more accurately and less offensively depict life in that alternate universe?

message 50: by Emma (new)

Emma The universe in the Golden Compass is similar to ours, but does have a slightly different history. It's a "what if" universe. Some words are the same as those currently in use and some follow alternative etymologies, which is one of the things I love about the books. Ambaric vs electric, tokay vs wine, natural philosophy vs science.

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