Book Review: 001


Book: His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass

Author: Philip Pullman

Summary: In the first book of Pullman’s trilogy, The Golden Compass, introduces us to the main characters Lyra Belacqua and her “dæmon”, Pantalaimon. We are also introduced to a world that in many ways is still our own but has elements of fantasy well placed. Lyra’s world is drastically changed when she feeds into her natural curiosity and stole away in a wardrobe and spies the Master of the college where she is a ward, poisoning her uncle, Lord Asriel. After successfully saving his life she thrust into an unknown world, where many children are going missing everyday. Rumors are flying all over the place about a horrible group of people labeled, “The Gobblers” , but to Lyra it’s just another game to play while being safe in the walls of Jordan College. Until one day a kid she knows goes missing, now Lyra is over playing games. But she is sidetracked by the beautiful woman, known only as Mrs. Coulter and her golden monkey “dæmon”. Mrs. Coulter promises to take Lyra to the North to be her assistant, which makes Lyra happy because the rumors say that the kids are being taken North.

When it becomes obvious that Mrs. Coulter is not going to take her to the North she because suspicious and later finds out that Mrs. Coulter is with the Gobblers, a board created by the Magisterium, an organization based on the Church. It all comes down to an unknown thing called, ‘Dust’. The Church and Mrs. Coulter are obsessive with the Dust and its effect on humans and how they could change this. The kids who are getting kidnapped are being taking to a station in the North to be separated from their “dæmon”, which is a painful and never done thing. Some kids are dying because of the operation and others are being left a shell of a human. She manages to run away to the safety of the Gyptians. Who after a while takes her to the North, where she meets a Texan, aeronaut and an outcast armor bear king. She meets a clan of witches after successfully rescuing the kidnapped kids and finding out that Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are her parents.

Her adventures in the North are not over she still has to find her father, who is being kept prisoner in the far North. But at last the welcome she receives from her father is not what she expected. After a tense confrontation she goes to lay down only to be awoken by the servant of her father, telling him that her father has taken her friend Roger, who she had come all the way to the North to save. As it turns out his father is just as obsess with ‘Dust” as the Church and Mrs. Coulter. Except he believes that the dust is the result of the original sin, committed by Adam and Eve. And if he could find the source of the Dust he could end the one thing all man fear, death. He has discovered that within the Aurora Lights, there is a gateway to different worlds that can be entered through a bridge. But the thing is he needs a child who he could harness the energy that is created when separating the kid and their “dæmon” to power the bridge. Lyra is too late to save her friend, but her and Pantalaimon decide that since the adults believe the Dust is bad it must be good, and that it’s their duty to stop her father from destroying the source of the Dust. Both she and Pantalaimon follow her father through the gateway to another world, unsure of their future but convinced that nothing but pain and death was their past.

My Thoughts: As far as a teenage aimed book this is a well written story. There are many themes and details that are in the story that the author pays close attention to and helps create the world in which he has created in a way. The main character, Lyra, is relate-able and well research. Pullman draws you into her world and mind and makes you wanna know what happens to her. The plot flowed well and although the pacing of the story is not even and a bit chaotic in a way. There are some places and ties that are left dangling in my opinion and I hope they are addressed in the following books but I’m not sure. This book is indeed meant for older teens and adults, for I’m not sure a child of eight would truly be able to grasp the book and its themes. For there are some themes that are too dark that this book would not make a good bedtime story for kids under 15.

Recommend: I would and am recommending this book to anyone who has seen the movie or want to see the movie. I think as always there is a lot left out of the movie that is crucial to the story. I found myself wanting to continuously read on after I got to the end of a chapter. The chapters are relatively shorter than a normal adult aimed book, which makes it seem like it goes a bit faster but makes it easy to read in small doses.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

  • Great plot,
  • Great idea,
  • Well written,
  • Relate-able characters.
  • Uneven pacing
  • Unfinished ideas


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