the golden compass

title: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials Book 1

author: Philip Pullman

genre: Fiction, fantasy, dæmons

suggested by: Joey N. (seconded by Jessica L.)

dates read: October 11th – October 13th

review: 4 out of 5 stars

summary: Lyra has spent all her remembered life at Jordan College where she and her dæmon Pantalaimon explore and play with the other children.  One night she sneaks into a room that’s technically forbidden and ends up helping her Uncle Asriel spy on a meeting after she keeps him from ingesting a poisoned drink.  She becomes intrigued by the work her uncle is doing in the Arctic.  Soon the disappearances of children captures her attention, especially when one of her friends suddenly disappears.  Determined to find him and bring him home, she begins a journey that changes everything.

personal thoughts: So this time I waited to read the Goodreads reviews until after I finished.  And it left me confused.  Some people say it portrays religion negatively while others say it supports it.  I actually don’t have a strong opinion either way.  In fact, I kind of liked his take on sin and the soul.  I didn’t especially like Lyra as she was described as a liar and seemed a little contradictory.  In some senses she was really unintelligent, the way she spoke (which I suppose could be due to the children she hung out with, but she was raised in a university setting soyeah) and her impulsiveness (yes, I know she was pre-pubescent); in other senses she was very intelligent, figuring out how to read the compass (which, I still don’t really understand.  I think I might need to watch the movie to get a better idea of this, it seemed like the answers were really detailed for something that only had so many factors to it), and she uses the word “recompense” (for some reason this really stuck out to me).  Also, she is described as being unimaginative but I feel like she proves herself to be imaginative time and time again.  All this said, I really liked all the dæmons and the other characters in the book and I was really intrigued by the story.  Fantasy is sometimes a difficult genre for me to understand and I think that happened a lot here.  I was confused during most of the book by the dæmons and wanted to know their origins and get their “back story.”  After reading more about the book after finishing it (thank you, Wikipedia), I understood them more and it made a lot of things click into place.

favorite quotes:
“‘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.'” p. 30

“The evening sky was awash with peach, apricot, cream: tender little ice-cream clouds in a wide orange sky.” p. 59

“The idea hovered and shimmered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly in case it burst.  But she was familiar with the way of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else.” p. 330

“with every twitch and shiver, new miracles of light danced across the sky.” p. 386


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