The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass

Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city sus...

Title:The Golden Compass
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0679879242
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:399 pages

The Golden Compass Reviews

  • Bright

    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

    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

  • notgettingenough

    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

    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

    .

    -------------------------------------------------

    9.30 last night. I’m lying in bed, I’ve been reading this for a couple of hours, thinking I’m going to get it finished before I fall asleep. SMS: ‘Won by 3, be at the pub in ten minutes.’ And I’m so torn. I even think about bringing the book with me. In the end I go to the pub, get drunk, maybe came close to lucky, oh, but imagine the morning...having to play bridge at 9am on a Sunday on account of the time difference between the US and Australia. I didn’t see how it would work. He’d snuggle up and start saying how great the third time we fucked was, and I’d be like – is this Dave? Or Biff? Surely if I’d shagged somebody called Biff last night the name would stick, wouldn’t it? I’m not going to guess, I routinely fail 50%ers, so – sorry, mate (an Australianism will do here) but if you could find your way out, I have to play bridge in ten minutes. What’s that? This is YOUR place? I open my eyes more and take a better look around. Bugger. I have to play bridge in ten minutes and I don’t even know where I am.

    So, I’m half way through my second vodka, completely drunk already, somebody’s saying I have a nice firm bosom – I don’t think it was Dave OR Biff – and I’m wishing, after all, I’d brought my book with me. I don’t really want to get lucky, I want to read my book.

    And even though I haven’t finished it, I wanted to get something about it down.

    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.

  • Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads

    Once again, I didn't dislike this book for the usual reasons, and being the kind of person I am:

    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.

    BUT.

    I feel this book crosses a line for its intended audience. There is not a single good adult role model--without exception, they are all selfish, devious, or outright villains.

    You can draw a straight lin

    Once again, I didn't dislike this book for the usual reasons, and being the kind of person I am:

    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.

    BUT.

    I feel this book crosses a line for its intended audience. There is not a single good adult role model--without exception, they are all selfish, devious, or outright villains.

    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.

    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. But this is definitely one to screen yourself before passing along to young, impressionable minds.

    That is all.

  • James

    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?

  • Antonio

    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

    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

    me encanto, con los

    (en este mundo el alma no está dentro del cuerpo sino en el exterior y toma forma de animales),

    y lo que más me gusto fueron las

    …espero que estas sean profundizadas en los libros siguientes;

    lo que hace la historia mucho más interesante y que el final sea tan impactante

    Me sorprende que en la película lo omitieran y cambiaran tanto...

    Y ahora se viene la serie de televisión, veremos que tal la hacen

    Para mas de mis reseñas sobre los libros de La Materia Oscura pueden ver los siguientes enlaces:

  • Bookdragon Sean

    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

    and

    : 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 i

    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

    and

    : 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.

    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

    . 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.

  • Cait • A Page with a View

    I hadn't read this since elementary school and am so glad I took the time to come back to it! I don't know that it would be a full 5 stars if I just picked it up today, but we're going with 5 out of nostalgia.

    Lyra was one of my favorite characters as a kid and is still just as fierce & wonderful as I remember. Actually, I'm surprised by how well I remember the whole story. Maybe it's because the characters and world are so strong, or maybe it's because the movie follows the book SO well. Se

    I hadn't read this since elementary school and am so glad I took the time to come back to it! I don't know that it would be a full 5 stars if I just picked it up today, but we're going with 5 out of nostalgia.

    Lyra was one of my favorite characters as a kid and is still just as fierce & wonderful as I remember. Actually, I'm surprised by how well I remember the whole story. Maybe it's because the characters and world are so strong, or maybe it's because the movie follows the book SO well. Seriously, the movie is the same story all the way up until... that whole new ending it wrote to be kid-friendly and shut the story down.

    I don't know if I adored this book as a kid because of the polar bears and snowy world or if that's actually what led to my love for those types of settings, but it's completely gorgeous. Ok, wait... I'm starting to question the origins of a lot of things I love right now. I genuinely think this story started my obsession with Oxford, too.

    Anyways, the whole concept with Dust is so creative and I LOVE every single character. This is one of those stories any age can appreciate! I'm not sure how much Catholics would love the thinly-veiled comments on the Church here, but I still don't think it's too mature for kids.

  • Sean Gibson

    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

    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,

    ) 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.


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