Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)
AKA: Northern Lights
Author: Philip Pullman
Publication date: April 16, 1996
Page count: 399
“That’s the duty of the old,” said the Librarian, “to be anxious on behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.”
The Golden Compass follows a young female protagonist named Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon, Pantalaimon. The story starts off following her around inside the Jordan College where her uncle, Lord Asriel, comes back and tells all the scholars about the North. He mentions a severed child and this peculiar thing they call Dust. Unfortunate events happen and Lyra ends up getting herself involved in the mess. There are experiments on children and their dæmons, armored bears, and many battles. It’s definitely a story you will never get bored with.
I enjoyed all the characters in the sense that Pullman did a good job with developing all the different personalities. An example would be Lee Scoresby, an aeronaut from Texas. The dialect he uses differentiated him from any other character in the book. He was also one of my favorite characters along with Fardar Coram, a gyptian elder. There were also armored bears and witches that I didn’t expect to be in the book. I enjoyed reading how much they helped Lyra in her journey. There were plenty of people working against her and it was nice to run into someone who was fighting with her.
Lyra is one of the few female protagonists that I liked reading about. Most of the time I find the protagonists a bit annoying and pretty selfish. I usually love reading about the supporting characters in a novel. Lyra was always thinking of others even when she was in need. She even made sure that her dæmon was safe which is necessary considering the characters aren’t allowed to stray far from their dæmons without it physically hurting them. With that said, I really enjoyed her journey and I’m still enjoying it in, The Subtle Knife.
This book makes sense to be called Northern Lights because it does deal a lot with the Northern lights. It’s actually one of the main pieces of plot.
I enjoyed how creative the story was. I’ve never read anything like it before. It’s considered a Young Adult book and I don’t even think I could have read it when I was younger. I could see some of it being difficult to understand and I’m in my 20’s. Pullman did a great job in describing everything, but sometimes I felt like some parts of the novel needed more plot or more dialogue. It all depended on what was happening. That being said I loved the one on one conversation between Serafina Pekkala and Lee Scoresby. It was towards the end of the novel and they discussed what it was like being a witch (Serafina) and an aeronaut (Scoresby). They talked about choice and what it meant to them and it was just very interesting to read. In all honestly, it made me think about what choice means to me.
This is definitely a novel that will make you wonder what you would have done in a certain situation. Maybe you could have done it better or maybe they did it better than you could thought of. There are so many difficult situations the characters are put in and all you can feel is sorry for them. It’s exhausting to read because of everything that happens and all you have to do is move your eyes back and forth and flip the page.
I would recommend this book to any age. There is nothing provocative or weird. There is a battle between two bears that gets a little brutal but that’s about it. It’s a really fun read and it took me almost a week to read it but that’s because I had to work. If work didn’t exist I would have read it in two days. It also helps if you listen to the audio book. It’s a full cast and it’s so good!
I will also be doing reviews on the two other books part of this trilogy as well as Pullman’s new book, The Book of Dust. Keep your eye open for those.
Let me know if you have read this book before and what you thought about it. Remember, be respectful and happy reading!