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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) Mass Market Paperback – 31 May 1997

889 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, 31 May 1997

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf Library (31 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440238137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440238133
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 2.7 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (889 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,291,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19th October 1946. The early part of his life was spent travelling all over the world, because his father and then his stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force. He spent part of his childhood in Australia, where he first met the wonders of comics, and grew to love Superman and Batman in particular. From the age of 11, he lived in North Wales, having moved back to Britain. It was a time when children were allowed to roam anywhere, to play in the streets, to wander over the hills, and he took full advantage of it. His English teacher, Miss Enid Jones, was a big influence on him, and he still sends her copies of his books.

After he left school he went to Exeter College, Oxford, to read English. He did a number of odd jobs for a while, and then moved back to Oxford to become a teacher. He taught at various middle schools for twelve years, and then moved to Westminster College, Oxford, to be a part-time lecturer. He taught courses on the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, and also a course examining how words and pictures fit together. He eventually left teaching in order to write full-time.

His first published novel was for adults, but he began writing for children when he was a teacher. Some of his novels were based on plays he wrote for his school pupils, such as The Ruby In The Smoke. He is best known for the award winning His Dark Materials series, consisting of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Lyra's life is already sufficiently interesting for a novel before she eavesdrops on a presentation by her uncle Lord Asriel to his colleagues in the Jordan College faculty, Oxford. The college, famed for its leadership in experimental theology, is funding Lord Asriel's research into the heretical possibility of the existence of worlds unlike Lyra's own, where everyone is born with a familiar animal companion, magic of a kind works, the Tartars are threatening to overrun Muscovy, and the Pope is a puritanical Protestant. Set in an England familiar and strange, Philip Pullman's lively, taut story is a must-read and re-read for fantasy lovers of all ages. The world-building is outstanding, from the subtle hints of the 1898 Tokay to odd quirks of language to the panserbjorne, while determined, clever Lyra is strongly reminiscent of Joan Aiken's Dido Twite. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"I'm delighted that His Dark Materials is being done on the radio. I've always loved radio drama – it can move from the epic to the intimate in a moment. The sweep of the whole thing seems to have been very well maintained; and the cast is great, especially the two leads, Lulu and Daniel. The makers have used all the resources of my favourite medium to create a vivid and atmospheric production." (Philip Pullman BBC press release) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Northern Lights is an amazing book right down to the snazzy front cover. Philip Pullman is an extremely skilled author and has written this book in such a way that everything is described in great detail and crystal clarity but he still leaves enough out to keep you reading.
This book captivates you and hauls you in to the world of Gyptians, Tartars and shape shifing animals attached to everyone's soul.
I was impressed by his choice of characters and the way he explains their backgrounds, personalties and thier feelings and reactions.
I also liked the way he keeps the story going because you are always meeting a new character or entering a new place.
Something else I was pleased with was the fact that the book doesn't try to dumb itself down for younger or maybe less skilled readers. The friction between the characters and the ever-changing surroundings add to the reading enjoyment and always make you feel that there is something lurking around the next corner (which there very frequently is).
Throughout the story the plot unravels itself into complete disarray then comes together again to make perfect sense.
It is a book that reqires a good imagination and some patience.
This is definitely the best book I have ever read and it took some struggle to pull my mind out of strange world mode and put the book down.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TomCat on 14 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Significantly influenced by a hefty array of "canonical" English Literature (Milton, Marvell, C.S. Lewis, Blake and Byron, among others), this novel is posited in an alternate reality of earth; part Victorian and part steam-punk in its imagery and presentation.

The book casts as its heroine Lyra, a feisty and strong-willed twelve-year-old girl who lives with the scholars of the fictional Jordan College of Oxford University. Her ever-present, shape-shifting companion is Pantalaimon; an anthropomorphised externalisation of her soul. The amazingly strong bond between these two characters is expressed beautifully in Pullman's prose, and is truly unlike any fictional relationship I have ever encountered. The pair journey north through impressively original fantasy landscapes on a quest to reach Lord Asriel, an `experimental theologian' who has some mysterious, inter-dimensional and potentially dangerous research projects to do with the Northern Lights. The characters encountered in this novel are all strikingly memorable, if a tad clichéd in their portrayal; from sky cowboys to talking armoured bears and witches, Pullman draws on the whole fantasy zeitgeist in creating these individuals.

Setting the tone for the later books in the series, this story is deeply concerned with exploring the convergence of ostensibly dichotic ideas and principles: science and religion, youth and adulthood, free will and determinism, body and soul; all clash violently and spectacularly. Don't let the facile label of `children's fiction' put you off, this is as complex or simple a book as you want it to be.
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339 of 365 people found the following review helpful By mbogle VINE VOICE on 29 Oct. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Please be aware that this book was previously sold as 'Northern Lights' and is the first book of the trilogy and NOT a new book. I was very excited when I saw this as I had hoped that it was. I would recommend the trilogy to anyone as it has an easy reading style while at the same time appealing to adults. Something that is rare.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Liam C. on 16 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Just to clarify, yes, as other reviewers have pointed out, The Golden Compass is simply the title under which The Northern Lights (the first part of the His Dark Materials trilogy) was published in America.

And so, yes, this is an American edition of the book. However, assuming you are looking at the product page for the hardback edition marked "Deluxe" (and not one of the paperback editions that this review is also cross-referenced to) it is a rather special edition, published in October 2006 to mark the 10th anniversary of the book's first publication, hence the Deluxe tag, and it includes new material specially created by Philip Pullman.

This description comes from the publisher's website:

"Deluxe Edition

In 2006, THE GOLDEN COMPASS marks its 10th anniversary. Pullman created 16 pages of new materials (archival documents, scientific notes, and found letters of Lord Asriel) just for this edition, whcih has been illustrated and hand-lettered by renowned Bristish artist Ian Beck. The deluxe edition also features a ribbon bookmark, colored endpapers, and Pullman's own chapter-opening spot art. A quality collectible - with the enticement of never-before-seen new material - especially for Pullman fans!"

Amazon won't let me post a link to the publisher's website, but you should be able to google it for more details.

I won't bore you by reviewing the book itself - hopefully the other reviewers have whetted your appetite and you know what a cracking read this and the other two parts of the trilogy (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass)are by now. Suffice it to say that they are infinitely more imaginitive and indeed FAR superior in every way to the over-hyped and highly derivative Harry Potter books.
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