#45 The Golden Compass

07 Jan

The Golden Compass is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.  This novel follows young Lyra as she tries to discover more about the world that she lives in, why things are the way that they are, and who exactly she is.  I was a bit biased coming into this book, having heard that is the “atheist’s Narnia” and such.  To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.  And I’m still not sure!  I picked up the book with the intention of reading it for enjoyment, for the fantasy and characters and great story that I have heard Philip Pullman could write.  I got sucked in in the beginning, loving Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon.  After 100 pages or so, I got a bit confused and bored and put the book down for a bit.  Once I picked it up again, I raced through it, wanting to find out who would triumph in the end.  It wasn’t until I got to the end that I realized there was way more to the story than I had even considered.  After I put the back down, my husband asked me, “What’s wrong?”  I simply replied, “I totally didn’t get it.”

I am not a philosophical thinker.  I understand life and human nature at their basic levels, but I am not one to sit and ponder.  Yes, I understand the spiritual dimension and correlations of the Chronicles of Narnia, but that mostly comes from being raised in the church.  For a series like His Dark Materials, I’m afraid it would take many readings to understand the depth of the world that Pullman has created.  Have any of you, my readers, enjoyed this series?  I would love to hear more about your experience and your insight into these novels.

The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

Originally published in 1995


Posted by on January 7, 2011 in top 100 children's books


4 responses to “#45 The Golden Compass

  1. Amanda

    January 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I read it (actually, I listened to it) a couple of years ago and loved the entire series. I knew nothing about the controversial elements going in and I still don’t even consider them part of the story, though I’ve read articles by Pullman explaining otherwise. I thought the writing and the characters were awesome, though almost a bit too deep for me sometimes, and I did get confused in I think the 2nd book with the weird pod people. That being said, awesome series for characters and creativity. I leave the spiritual thinking out of my mind when reading “secular” books.

    I was not raised in the church and read The Chronicles of Narnia in the 4th grade or so, never realizing there was a “God” aspect whatsoever. Loved them. And love them even more now!

  2. Melissa

    January 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I actually read and enjoyed the HDM series, but I have to be honest that I didn’t read into any of the controversiality. I read it as a creative series with fun characters, but that’s where it stopped for me. I’m a devout Catholic, and I think the book needs to be read at a surface-level, if you know what I mean.

  3. Amanda

    January 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I’m actually really scared to read this book. I’m not really a fantasy person, especially when those fantasies involve talking animals, and I hated Narnia (though take this with a grain of salt – I wasn’t exposed to Narnia until I was 18 and then my teacher read it to the class as if we were 5 – it colored the whole experience and not in a good way!). But I will have to read this one this year. Jason put it on my lovebirds swap list…

  4. Amy Hervey

    January 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I read it because of the controversy and because it’s a book my children would potentially pick up from the library. I am pretty strict about what my kids read because I’m a firm believer that we shouldn’t “put any unclean things before our eyes.” Now, with having said that, my kids do watch and read Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. I found that those books showed the difference between good and evil and that the Golden Compass did not. When we watch/read those things, I’m able to discuss with them how it’s like or unlike Christianity. With the Golden Compass, I didn’t feel like I could do that I guess.


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