Synopsis(via Amazon)In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.



My take:

I know I know. I’m late to the party on this one. It seems most people have read this book which I was actually surprised to learn because I have almost never heard it talked about nor has it ever been recommended to me(at least not prior to my buying it. After I mentioned I had it one of my friends suggested I read it) But I guess better late than never, right?

I liked the book. I had trouble concentrating for more than a few pages at a time(though the pages in my version of the book are abnormally large while the type is a normal size and font) I don’t take this as a slam against the book just something I found while reading my way through this.

Golden Compass(U.K. Title: Northern Lights) is the first of a trilogy and it is a fantastic start. The world and the characters are set up so I look forward to seeing what happens now. What worries me, however, is that at the end of the book they are going somewhere wholly new so it’s possible a good deal of Subtle Knife(Book 2 in “His Dark Materials”) will be more set up rather than adventure.


Good pacing. Not a lot happens that doesn’t matter to the overall story.

Interesting, thought provoking story

Incorporation of philosophical elements near the end added a lot of depth to what had come before it.

I like most of the characters, particularly the side story Pullman takes going into the world and the characters of the Armored Bears on Svalbard.

Ending compels me to pick up the second one


I didn’t care at all about the main character.

The main character more or less seemed to be only a vessel for the author to explain his world through rather than a fully realized character with a distinctive personality.

I feel Pullman lingered in areas where he could have skimmed over and skimmed over areas(including characters) that I would have liked to see more of. But that’s just me. I was kind of disappointed by the constant influx of new characters only for them to be left behind and never/rarely spoken of again. BUT it’s not over yet so my analysis might change by the end of book three.

Look for my video review going into more detail about The Golden Compass this weekend!



3 thoughts on “Golden Compass Book Review

  1. Ah yes… Lira. She is an unusual character. For a protagonist, not your typical girl and I get why you didn’t care much about her: she stands on her two feet. The second book was my favourite of the three. There is change of focus for a time (look forward to hear what you though of it) – would say more, but do not want to spoil it for you 🙂

  2. Lyra was so annoying, I agree! Disliked her too. I watched your video on His Dark Materials, it was very nice and unique, a bit confusing though did you like it or did you not like it. And, I disagree that the war came suddenly, I think whole series were preparing us for that. I think you should pick the series from the subtle knife because Northern Lights have Lyra haha. But awesome post, Following 😀

    1. I didn’t give a definitive answer on whether or not I liked it because I still am not sure whether or not I liked it. My overall feelings of the book were “meh” Neither good nor bad. I may, at a later time, attempt to read them again to see what I am missing that everyone loves so much. But for the moment I’m completely indifferent.

      I have read the whole trilogy and I think that Subtle Knife was probably my favorite of the series. I read it a lot faster than the other two at any rate.

      Thanks for the follow!

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