The Golden Compass

Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass Cover

The Golden Compass


After seeing "The Golden Compass" movie I just had to read the books that were the source for this wonderful movie. A friend had said to me a couple of years ago, when they started filming the movie, that these were her favorite books, and now I really had to read them. Another thing that attracted me to this trilogy (consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) is the contrast between C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia (which feature a heavy pro-Christian imagery) and this trilogy (which is pretty anti-religion/church).

As said before, this book contains all three books in one hefty volume. The first book, The Golden Compass, features Lyra Belacqua's journey to the north to save her friend. She lives in a paralel universe, whose world reminds us of our own (she lives in Oxford for example) but is very different too. The most important difference is the fact that people in her world have a daemon, a companion animal that is part of that person. With children the animals can change (from bird to dog to cat to moth), with adults the animals are settled in a form that gives away the character of the person (dogs belong to servants for example). Anyway, the big issue is Dust, a form of energy that according to the 'church' has to do with original sin.

Not to give to much of the story away, but Lyra has many adventures in many strange lands where she meets nice and nasty people. One of the paralel worlds she visits is ours, and Pullman explains many mysteries of our own world in this story. The descriptions of the worlds, people and objects are very detailled and fantastic. The ideas in the book might be a bit far fetched, but hey, that's why it's fantasy. It is pretty anti-church, but then again, it is mostly anti-church in the way the church is handled, faith in and of itself isn't condemned.

I loved the book and the stories, even though sometimes I did have the feeling that too many bad things were happening to Lyra and her friend Will. It does have a semi-happy ending, and for all the fantastic lands and ideas I give the book thumbs up!