The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series #1)

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series #1)

by Philip Pullman

Hardcover(Large Print Edition)

$25.95 View All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

HIS DARK MATERIALS IS NOW AN HBO ORIGINAL SERIES STARRING DAFNE KEEN, RUTH WILSON, JAMES McAVOY, AND LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA!

The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time.” Philip Pullman takes readers to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach.


Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steall—including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.

But what Lyra doesn't know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other...

A masterwork of storytelling and suspense, Philip Pullman's award-winning The Golden Compass is the first in the His Dark Materials series, which continues with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

A #1 New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Guardian Prize for Children's Fiction
Published in 40 Countries

"Arguably the best juvenile fantasy novel of the past twenty years."  —The Washington Post

"Very grand indeed." —The New York Times

"Pullman is quite possibly a genius." —Newsweek

Don't miss Philip Pullman's epic new trilogy set in the world of His Dark Materials!
** THE BOOK OF DUST **
La Belle Sauvage
The Secret Commonwealth

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786241231
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 08/28/2002
Series: His Dark Materials Series
Edition description: Large Print Edition
Pages: 550
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been named one of the top 100 books of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. Pullman was knighted for his services to literature in the 2019 New Years Honours.

The Book of Dust, Pullman’s eagerly anticipated return to the world of His Dark Materials, will also be a book in three parts. It began with La Belle Sauvage and continues with The Secret Commonwealth.

Philip Pullman is the author of many other beloved novels. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!, Count Karlstein, Two Crafty Criminals!, Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess), The White Mercedes, and The Broken Bridge. He has written a magnificent collection, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and his essays and lectures on writing and storytelling have been gathered in a volume called Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling.

Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England.

Hometown:

Oxford, England

Date of Birth:

October 19, 1946

Place of Birth:

Norwich, England

Education:

Exeter College, Oxford University

Read an Excerpt

One

THE DECANTER OF TOKAY

Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen. The three great tables that ran the length of the hall were laid already, the silver and the glass catching what little light there was, and the long benches were pulled out ready for the guests. Portraits of former Masters hung high up in the gloom along the walls. Lyra reached the dais and looked back at the open kitchen door, and, seeing no one, stepped up beside the high table. The places here were laid with gold, not silver, and the fourteen seats were not oak benches but mahogany chairs with velvet cushions.

Lyra stopped beside the Master's chair and flicked the biggest glass gently with a fingernail. The sound rang clearly through the hall.

"You're not taking this seriously," whispered her daemon. "Behave yourself."

Her daemon's name was Pantalaimon, and he was currently in the form of a moth, a dark brown one so as not to show up in the darkness of the hall.

"They're making too much noise to hear from the kitchen," Lyra whispered back. "And the Steward doesn't come in till the first bell. Stop fussing."

But she put her palm over the ringing crystal anyway, and Pantalaimon fluttered ahead and through the slightly open door of the Retiring Room at the other end of the dais. After a moment he appeared again.

"There's no one there," he whispered. "But we must be quick."

Crouching behind the high table, Lyra darted along and through the door into the Retiring Room, where she stood up and looked around. The only light in here came from the fireplace, where a bright blaze of logs settled slightly as she looked, sending a fountain of sparks up into the chimney. She had lived most of her life in the College, but had never seen the Retiring Room before: only Scholars and their guests were allowed in here, and never females. Even the maid-servants didn't clean in here. That was the Butler's job alone.

Pantalaimon settled on her shoulder.

"Happy now? Can we go?" he whispered.

"Don't be silly! I want to look around!"

It was a large room, with an oval table of polished rosewood on which stood various decanters and glasses, and a silver smoking stand with a rack of pipes. On a sideboard nearby there was a little chafing dish and a basket of poppy heads.

"They do themselves well, don't they, Pan?" she said under her breath.

She sat in one of the green leather armchairs. It was so deep she found herself nearly lying down, but she sat up again and tucked her legs under her to look at the portraits on the walls. More old Scholars, probably; robed, bearded, and gloomy, they stared out of their frames in solemn disapproval.

"What d'you think they talk about?" Lyra said, or began to say, because before she'd finished the question she heard voices outside the door.

"Behind the chair—quick!" whispered Pantalaimon, and in a flash Lyra was out of the armchair and crouching behind it. It wasn't the best one for hiding behind: she'd chosen one in the very center of the room, and unless she kept very quiet...

The door opened, and the light changed in the room; one of the incomers was carrying a lamp, which he put down on the sideboard. Lyra could see his legs, in their dark green trousers and shiny black shoes. It was a servant.

Then a deep voice said, "Has Lord Asriel arrived yet?"

It was the Master. As Lyra held her breath, she saw the servant's daemon (a dog, like all servants' daemons) trot in and sit quietly at his feet, and then the Master's feet became visible too, in the shabby black shoes he always wore.

"No, Master," said the Butler. "No word from the aerodock, either."

"I expect he'll be hungry when he arrives. Show him straight into Hall, will you?"

"Very good, Master."

"And you've decanted some of the special Tokay for him?"

"Yes, Master. The 1898, as you ordered. His Lordship is very partial to that, I remember."

"Good. Now leave me, please."

"Do you need the lamp, Master?"

"Yes, leave that too. Look in during dinner to trim it, will you?"

The Butler bowed slightly and turned to leave, his daemon trotting obediently after him. From her not-much-of-a-hiding place Lyra watched as the Master went to a large oak wardrobe in the corner of the room, took his gown from a hanger, and pulled it laboriously on. The Master had been a powerful man, but he was well over seventy now, and his movements were stiff and slow. The Master's daemon had the form of a raven, and as soon as his robe was on, she jumped down from the wardrobe and settled in her accustomed place on his right shoulder.

Lyra could feel Pantalaimon bristling with anxiety, though he made no sound. For herself, she was pleasantly excited. The visitor mentioned by the Master, Lord Asriel, was her uncle, a man whom she admired and feared greatly. He was said to be involved in high politics, in secret exploration, in distant warfare, and she never knew when he was going to appear. He was fierce: if he caught her in here she'd be severely punished, but she could put up with that.

What she saw next, however, changed things completely.

The Master took from his pocket a folded paper and laid it on the table beside the wine. He took the stopper out of the mouth of a decanter containing a rich golden wine, unfolded the paper, and poured a thin stream of white powder into the decanter before crumpling the paper and throwing it into the fire. Then he took a pencil from his pocket, stirred the wine until the powder had dissolved, and replaced the stopper.

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of The Golden Compass. We hope that this guide will help you to navigate - alongside the story's young protagonist, Lyra Belacqua - Philip Pullman's richly imagined universe, populated by armored bears, gyptians, witches, and human beings, whose dæmons are never far from their side.
Dæmons are one of the most striking, charming, and powerful images in The Golden Compass. These spirit-creatures, which seem like physical representations of the human soul, can change form to reflect the myriad of emotional states their humans go through as children. But in adulthood, each dæmon settles into the animal form that best reflects the inner nature of its human counterpart. It is in this unusual and imaginative creation that Pullman turns his sharpest mirror back onto his readers, helping us to imagine our own souls as precious, living extensions of ourselves that we can love, challenge, or even betray.
The Golden Compass is a complex story that turns on a simple word: "Dust." This Dust does not gather in the unswept corners of Jordan College, Lyra's Oxford home. Rather, this Dust seems to reveal - or perhaps contain - the thing that makes each human being a unique creature. The concept of Dust provokes fear in some; others realize that mastery over Dust could be the source of great power. Although she does not quite realize it, Lyra - along with her dæmon Pantalaimon - finds her life inextricably entangled with the exploration of Dust. And as her understanding of Dust and her mastery over a mysterious tool called the alethiometer increases, the dangerous journey that she seems destined to make takes some astounding twists and turns.

1. The author tells us that The Golden Compass takes place "in a universe like ours, but different in many ways." How do you think Lyra's universe relates to ours?

2. What is a dæmon? How do they make humans different from other creatures? Why do you think servants' dæmons are always dogs? What sort of dæmons might your friends, relatives, classmates, or coworkers have? Describe your own dæmon.

3. The world of The Golden Compass is ruled by the Church. However, the nature of its power is unclear. What power do you think the Church holds over its people?

4. On pages 89-90, the General Oblation Board is explained in reference to the historical sacrifice of children to cloistered life. "Oblation" refers to the act of making a religious offering. What offering does the General Oblation Board make and to whom?

5. Human knowledge and experience are made physical in Dust. What other psychological, intellectual, or spiritual activities does the author physicalize?

6. What is the relationship between "severing" and death? Is the author using this fantasy to explore the notion of psychic or moral death?

7. Why do you think the author stresses that Lyra is not an imaginative child? Why would "imagination" be dangerous to her? How would it affect her understanding of the alethiometer? Is Lyra a truth-seeker? Who is Lyra Belacqua and/or what does she symbolize?

8. In what ways is gender a significant or stratifying element in the novel? Why do you think all witches are female? Why are dæmons usually the opposite gender of their human counterparts? Is the fact that Lyra is a girl-child relevant to the themes of the story?

9. Alongside human society in The Golden Compass, there exists the community of the armored bears, who have their own hierarchical structure and moral code. In one way Svalbard seems little more than an interesting foil to the human condition, yet the bear kingdom is also a final destination, the site of the story's climactic conclusion. What do you think is the author's purpose in inventing - and exploring - the world of the armored bear?

10. The author has filled this novel with binary imagery: person-dæmon; mother-father; Iorek-Iofur; Lyra's universe-the universe in the Aurora. What other binarisms can you find in the structure, landscape imagery, and vocabulary of this fantasy? How do these dualistic elements affect the novel's larger themes?

11. Discuss Lyra's "betrayal" of Roger in relation to other betrayals that occur in the novel. Has reading The Golden Compass altered your understanding of the act of betrayal?

12. Are Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter in collusion or are they fighting each other? How and in what way?

13. Curiously absent from The Golden Compass are four words that are prevalent in most fantasy adventures: right, wrong, good, and evil. Can these terms be applied to this story? How and why, or why not?

14. On the last page of the book, Lyra and Pantalaimon recognize that they are still "one being; both of us are one." The expression resonates with a phrase from marriage ceremonies. Contrast this moment in the story with the preceding interplay between Lyra's parents.

15. The Golden Compass is the first book in the trilogy His Dark Materials, which gets its name from a passage in John Milton's Paradise Lost, quoted at the beginning of the novel. Philip Pullman has said, "Milton's angels are not seriously meant to be believed - beings with wings and halos and white robes. They are psychological qualities, conceived and pictured as personalities. With them, Milton tells one of the central tales of our world: the story of the temptation and fall of humankind." Discuss the passage from Paradise Lost and this statement from the author in relation to The Golden Compass.

16. When Lyra walks "into the sky" at the end of Book One, we can presume that she is walking into the world of Book Two of His Dark Materials - "the universe that we know." What do you think will happen to her and Pantalaimon when they cross the bridge?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Golden Compass (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1165 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First off, yes this is sold as a young adult novel. It really isnt though. It is actually a novel... young and old alike will like it. Second... where do i begin in saying how good it is? The world feels fully formed and the writing is breathtakingly good. The character are all well thought out and are multi dimensional. The plot has just the right amount of twists. And the story is incredible. Yes this book was written as "an atheist response to narnia"... but it goes so far beyond that as to become a fully fledged fantasy classic on its own merits. Give it a read - you will not regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Woah, woah, woah. Guess what. The golden compass, is FICTION. Evryone knows what that means, right? It is not real. Its just a story. It has absolutely nothing to do with God. Quit freaking out and saying you hate this book because your religious. If you dont like it because you think it attacks god, that doesnt mean it isnt a good story. Im christian, too, i understand, believe me. But all of you are overreacting. If you dont agree with it, leave it alone. Its not like one series will destroy your entire religion. Its not like its trying to prove god isnt real. Its just a fantasy. And all of you who dislike it because you think that just wont look past your church to see reality. Its obvious. Instead of making a hateful comment like the church tells you not to do, just read something else for god's sake.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Golden Compass is a thrilling book. I highly suggest reading it. This book leaves you hanging and craving for more of Pullmans brillance. Lyra and her deamon,Pan, captivate you in there world and you never want to leave. Pullman manages to suck you up in this book and make you never want to leave the adventure.
Les_Livres More than 1 year ago
"...I definitely stayed up way too late on some nights, just because I didn't want to put the book down, and I was a little sad when I finished it; it ends with a lot of action and mystery, and I look very forward to reading the second book in the trilogy so I can find out what happens next for Lyra and Pan, and see who, if any, of the other characters might also be around. If you've seen the movie, but have not yet read the book - read the book. Seriously. As much as I enjoy the movie, I was pleased to find out that the book has even more action and adventure, and more mystery as well! You're definitely cheating yourself if you haven't read this yet, and I wish I hadn't taken so long to get to it..." For full review, please visit me at Les Livres on Blogger: jaimeliredeslivres dot blogspot dot com
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. Phillip Pullman is incredably original in all of his ideas. In my oppinion at least. I suggest this book to anyone who liked Ender's Game or Harry Potter, though they're not alot alike.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and then passed it on to my niece. A great adventure with great characters. The movie version was a disappointment except that the cast was well chosen. I also thought Pullman's presentation of a different understanding of the interface between religious and scientific understanding quite interesting and worth pondering. Highly recommended no matter at what level you read. I recommend Pullman's other books as well. Great series.
Patfs More than 1 year ago
The Golden Compass is a tangled web that has many problems that make you feel that this book should not have been a Fantasy book for children, but overall Philip Pullman was able to make a book that is able to shine through the problems that it has. The Golden Compass is about a young girl named Lyra and her Daemon Pan, (daemons are animals that are born with there human and there appearances are judged by the persons personality), but because Lyra is so young, Pan has no full form yet. Lyra is a young brunet haired girl who is content to cause problems for the scholars and servants, Lyra lives in a world were churches and scholars rule most of Europe and every person has a Daemon. I can relate to Lyra because she feels that she does not know her own past. Lyra also has a so called uncle called Lord Asriel (a powerful scholar who Lyra fears and respects) Lord Asriel is a powerful man who has many ties with Jordan college. Lord Asriel daemon is a snow lion, Lyra meets a young women named Mrs. Coutler who is a proud scornful women. Her daemon is a golden monkey who also has a short temper. The Golden Compass takes place in a parallel Europe, were the countries are controlled by churches and scholars. People in this world all have animals that are called daemons that are a part of them. This is very important! This story centers around Lyra who is very hyper and begins her quest to save her friend Hennery and find the truth. Unfortunately the author made a mistake with this book that was meant for children. In a later interview Philip Pullman stated that with this book he had killed God, and claims that the gobblers in this story are actually churches in the real world. This did make enjoy the book a little less when I learned of this. Still this book was made to be about truth, love, and courage I also learned from this book that everyone has his/her own problems and must fix them, the conclusion of this book leaves many things open to for the next story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The other reviews pretty much lay out the storyline. But another angle that appeals so much to me is: 'Why do we do what we do?' Entertwined are the themes of family, love, religion, adventure and right/wrong; all presented from the point of view of a wonderfully resourceful heroine, in an amazing setting, described by the author in a way that makes you feel as if you ARE THERE. All ages will relate differently to this book, which I believe makes it destined to be one of the best reads ever. If you enjoy this book AT ALL -- please read the last two books in the trilogy: 'The Subtle Knife' and 'The Amber Spyglass'. AND THEN re-read 'The Goldan Compass' to finish tying up all the ends and thinking about all the intricacies!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I normally "hate" young adult novels due to flat characters, melodrama, and cookie-cutter writing. The Golden Compass is NONE of these things as is just as exciting for adults. The prose is beautiful, the characters are lively and loveable, and it raises many moral questions - not about "God vs Satan" as other reviewers have suggested, but ethical questions about love, choice, morality, freedom, and self responsibility. I was beyond disappointed when I finished this book - and the series - because the adventure was over. This book will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is, at its most basic level, an incredibly rich story. But it is so much more than that; it truly is an intricate fabric woven of threads of philosophy, religion, physics, and fantasy. It is not an athiest's Bible. It merely is a story that calls into question things that should never simply be accepted. Religion is meaningless without some adversity and questioning. True faith is being faced with opposing views and remaining firm in your own. So read this outstanding book and look at it not as an assault on religion, but rather as a way to reaffirm your faith while stretching your mind.
Zoesbookreviews More than 1 year ago
The Golden Compass is a great book. I loved it so much because the idea of the compass. I think that sometimes having a daemon would be so cool. I really like Iorek Byrnison he is probably my favorite character. The Golden Compass is a wonderful book about a young girl named Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon or for short Pan. Lyra is put in the care of a wonderful lady named Mrs. Coulter but then she finds the truth with a amored bear named Iorek. Lyra and Iorek must help every kid from a horrible thing. This book is a wonderful fantasy book with great characters, a wonderful plot and a twist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is most def an odd book but once u get into it you cant put it down. Great series.
Peppercat More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic and quite moving by itself, but it also serves as a gateway to the sequels (The Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass) which are by far richer and more complex. After reading this trilogy (quite a few years ago) I started reading other books by Pullman and he is now one of my favourite authors. I recently bought the deluxe version and look forward to reading them again. It's a must!
karann4077 More than 1 year ago
When this book was suggested to me, I was told it was written as a children's book. While I am sure that children would enjoy the story, I am not convinced that they would understand most of depth of the story (the part that makes it so good). For the adult reader, this series is very deep in that it discusses the government/church of Lyra's world and how much we should trust authority organizations. Lyra has to decide who she has to trust--the people who have been in her life forever or the people she meets on her journey whom her gut tells her to trust. You will need to read the other two books to fully appreciate the complexity and brillance of the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this book after the movie (along with all it¿s controversy) came to theaters. What better way to judge a book than to read it for yourself? At first I didn¿t think I was going to like the book. It was okay, but it didn¿t pull me in from the start. I also found the beginning a bit confusing. In one aspect that works with the story as we view the story through Lyra¿s eyes, and she knows very little of the world outside of Oxford where she grew up. However, it took a long time for Pullman to explain what daemons are and the sort of laws or taboos that come with them. When he finally does describe them, we only get small bits at a time, so a complete picture isn¿t created until at least halfway through the book. I really began to enjoy the book from about the time Lyra meets an armored bear, Iorek Byrnison, to the end. That is where I began to feel connected to the characters and that drive to finish just so I could know what happened. That alone makes me want to read the rest of the series. As far as the controversy is concerned (I am aware that most of it stems from the third book), Pullman doesn¿t hide the fact that the Magisterium is essentially a branch of the Catholic Church. The Magisterium also conducts experiments on children which may also be open to controversy. Neither of these things bothered me when I read the book, but it might bother other people, so keep that in mind when deciding to read this book.
SueGL 4 months ago
A distinct voice in Fantasy. Made me ask questions about another possible realm of reality.
WitchyWriter More than 1 year ago
I don’t know how to adequately describe my love for this book, and for Philip Pullman’s writing. The first time I read this, I was 13 years old. It was a formative year for me. I found Paganism, decided I was a writer…and read His Dark Materials. Pullman created a world that was familiar and yet different enough from our own. I wanted a daemon, I wanted to go adventuring like Lyra, I wanted to work hard to be good and right like Will. I’ve probably read this book at least ten times in the ensuing 15 years since that fateful first time. I’ll continue to read it, and listen to the audiobook version (with full voice cast, narrated by Pullman himself—and excellent production quality to boot). I really do not have the words to describe how much this book has influenced everything that I’ve made of myself, everything I aspire to be, every ounce of effort I spend on self-growth. Humanism, and compassion, and the power of stories—these are all things that shape every part of me. This story taught me how to be human. This story taught me how to push myself beyond the boundaries of what I believe I’m capable of. If you haven’t read this book, this trilogy, you should. I laugh, I cry, and I keep coming back for more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the worst book I've ever read!!!! If you know what's right or wrong you won't read this. Find something morally acceptable and good to read like The Lord of the Rings. How is this comparable to the Chronicles of Narnia? This book teaches you to do bad things. Luckily, I stopped reading this before it taught me to. If I were in The Lord of the Rings, this would be the Ring and I would be travelling thousands of miles just to destroy it! Don't read this!
ReadingKnitter01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the movie for the knitting (noew trying to replicate some of the clothing in the movie) and for conveying the feeling of Lyra's world. And I loved Sam Elliott and Yorik. But the movie is a pale and very brief summary of the book-whihc only improves upon re-reading. This is a true classic, addressing the most basic issues of personal freedom and responsibility. And the worlds that Pulllman creates are so ownderful and absorbing.
jfoster_sf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved the book, but didn't like the audio version.
bramon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This unabridged audio adaptation of The Golden Compass is flawless.
hpluver07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. But don't go see the movie. It will spoil it
JeanneZ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to this on CD driving into work. It was one battle after another with no resolution. I could have never read this book.
essa868 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was difficult to get in to, but once you're involved, it's a great fantasy story. The most memorable feature are the daemons (almost like animal spirits) that are attached to each person.
runreadrepeat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what the big deal is all about. This was a pretty good fantasy novel about good vs. evil, but not as good as others I have read. I would recommend Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy before I recommend this novel. However, it is well written, and it may take reading the full series to really get the full effect. The audio is very well done. Especially for a full cast recording.