His Dark Materials, Book 1

Pullman - The Golden CompassThe Golden Compass Philip Pullman
351 pages; published 1995
"We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not, or die of despair...death will sweep through all the worlds; it will be the triumph of despair, forever. The universes will all become nothing more than interlocking machines, blind and empty of thought, feeling, life..."

The roofs and roads of Oxford are Lyra's home; she has scaled their heights in adventurous play, and mapped their length in bitter warfare against the town’s children. It is a life both endearingly simple and unendingly complex, but it is Lyra's own, and she loves it.
But, just as Lyra cannot stay a child forever, her days of raucous freedom must too come to an end. Forced to leave behind her days of dodging the educating attempts of scholars, Lyra is thrown headfirst into a world he barely recognises. A world where no one can be trusted and nothing is safe - not even a child's soul.
Lyra travels with the Gyptians over land and sea in her attempt to rescue her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel, but is stopped at every turn by Gobblers, clockwork beetles and armoured bears.
The Golden Compass (originally/also titled Northern Lights) is a book that doesn't diminish, but rather improves with each reading. Lyra's world is such a richly detailed one that each read surfaces something new and delightful.
It is a wonderful blend of fantasy and science fiction (a good example of steampunk for those so inclined - something the film visually represents remarkably well), using a good balance of both to establish the series.
Intended as a children's book (middle grade/YA), it is, nevertheless, one that should appeal to all ages, child and adult alike. Followed by The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy is a must read. (5/5)


Trisha said...

I absolutely loved this series and seeing this review just makes me want to read it all over again.

Dawn said...

I have several friends who absolutely loved this read. However, for some reason, I just..."couldn't get into it." I guess the book just 'wasn't my type.' I am sure, however, that it is a wonderful novel for young adults, and is a great tale of adventure.

wendy elizabeth said...

Like Dawn i had trouble getting into this book but i would suggest, Dawn, that you have another go... I found it drags a bit after the excting opening but once passed the necessary exposition you'll find it picks up speed and virtually zooms to the end - it's worth a second attepmt to find out why everyone else loves it so much!

Jenners said...

I think I want to try this one someday...perhaps I'll wait to check it out with my son.

Jenny Girl said...

I enjoyed this book also. Quite a bit actually. And I thought the actors in the movie were dead on. The Subtle Knife fell a little flat for me, but I still have to read Spyglass.