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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Epic Trilogy in one Epic Volume
Philip Pullman's trilogy is a spectacular achievement, and you only have to look at the hundreds of reviews around the Internet to get a flavour of the positive feeling towards these stories. From my point of view, they are probably the best stories I have ever read, and fill your mind with the most amazing pictures, the most intense emotions and the most spectacular...
Published on 1 Feb. 2008 by Robbie Swale

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3.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, great characters, disliked underlying message.
saw the movie, The Golden Compass, when it came out and totally loved it. Because they never made the sequels I decided to get the books so I could find out how the story ended (it was driving me a bit nuts not knowing) and this is where it got complicated (for me). A few bits of the storyline in the first book made me want to find out a little bit about the author and...
Published 13 months ago by LisaF


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 16 April 2008
His Dark Materials is a fantastic series of books. Plenty has already been said in these reviews about the subject matter and writing brilliance. However many people have referred to these as "children's" books, which I slightly disagree with. Young children (8+) will enjoy these if they are read to them - although the subject and language is likely to require further explanation at this age. For sole readers an age of 12+ is more suitable; plus many, many adults (including myself) have enjoyed reading these too.

From my personal experience I didn't enjoy the second book in the series as much as either the first or third as I felt it wasn't as fast-paced and intricate. That said I do not mean that I `didn't enjoy it at all' just that I `preferred' the others.

Other reviews have mentioned that the religious/church bashing may offend, which is perhaps true for deeply/strictly religious folk. However for non-believers I think the books may have the opposite effect, i.e. it may open their minds to the possibility there may be more to life than what we see, in a kind of spiritual sense.

However, a word of warning. After reading this series I purchased Lyra's Oxford which was a big mistake. It adds nothing to this story and took no longer than 15 minutes to read. In fact it left me rather miffed with the author that my feel-good factor from reading the trilogy was then tainted by feeling I'd been ripped off with LO.

In short - the trilogy is a very good buy but give the subsequent books based on this same story a big miss.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Dark Materials trilogy, Phillip Pullman, 6 Oct. 2005
By 
D. Gwynne "David Gwynne" (Leicester UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It is difficult to say anything new about this work, but here goes...
His Dark Materials is potentially incredibly powerful, making the reader probe deeply into their own thoughts and fears. It tackles some very big issues - the history of the Catholic church being the obvious example. But most of all, above all, this trilogy has to be the most readable story I have ever encountered, and I know that many of my friends, and many people in general find this also.

At first, I must admit that I was a little concerned that Pullman was on something of a crusade to 'pull a finger' at the Church... and that this may unfairly influence the thoughts of some younger readers. But upon consideration, I think that the book is written so masterly that these things will only matter to those people who already have the seed of that thought in their minds, and in my case at least, generally agree with Pullman's point of view.

In any case, I think any excuse to highlight the atrocities of the Catholic church is probably a good thing, given that to my mind such lessons are seldom taught in the school system...! (not that they have ONLY committed attrocities!!)

Perhaps the most impressive of all Pullman's achievments is the world he creates in the books - a world full of the most amazing, imaginative characters, places, phenomena (the Northern Lights), peoples... but almost all of which have their grounding in our world. This transports the reader effortlessly into the heart of these worlds, so much so that after reading for a sustained period, one would hardly be suprised to read of 'Gobblers' in the day's papers!

All in all, this is a work of a true Master of writing, a story which I'm sure will endure for a long, long time, and can be appreciated by all ages.

PS this is NOT just a kid's book, if you own a bookshop, take note!! ;oD
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, 24 Jan. 2004
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Paperback)
I read this trilogy after seeing it plugged on the BBC's Big Read. Well what can I say. It is quite simply breathtaking. Reading His Dark Materials really takes you off to the world with Lyra and it's hard to come back. It is witout a doubt the best read I have had for as long as I can remember.
The most wonderful thing about it is it's relevance to the real world mixed with such fantastical storytelling with it's twists and turns. You won't be able to put it down!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most awesome experience awaits, 30 July 2010
By 
F. Tibbitt (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I envy those people who haven't yet read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. It is the best imaginative work written for the last I don't know how many years. Truly original, compelling, moving, stunning series of novels I've ever read. I don't know how to begin describing it, but you will love Lyra, her daemon Pantalaimon (I want Pantalaimon to be my daemon), Iorik Byrinson, Lee Scoresby and Hester. You will fear Mrs Coulter and her monkey. You will want to travel to the North with the Gyptians, and to be able to work the alethiometer. I want to read it all over again now!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 28 Oct. 2003
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
I never even knew of philip pullman until i saw the northern lights glint in my eye. I have never looked back. I read all three amazing books in succession and colud not bare to put the book down. This is no childrens book but a sophisticated book which unravels its meaning as you step through its pages. one to buy and read over and over again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are the Greatest books i HAVE EVER READ!, 20 July 2006
By 
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
I won't go into to detail about the plot lines or the story, but quite simply, thes are the greatest set of books i have ever read. I am an avid reader and 29 years old, so i've been round the block but nothing comes close to these titles.

If you want to read, go see Dan Brown, if you want to be engrossed and mesmerised, then start here!

Bear with the first three chapters of northern lights, after these it realy takes off! definatley not a childrens triology!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The kind of books that you simply must read if you are a science fiction fan,or if you just like well-written books..., 30 April 2007
By 
B. Alcat (Hanoi, Vietnam) - See all my reviews
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
Phillip Pullman's "Dark Materials" triology are the kind of books that you simply must read if you are a science fiction fan, or if you just like well-written books... You don't have to be a teenager to enjoy them, but you need to have a big imagination in order to thoroughly enjoy them. If that is the case, go on reading this review...

The "Dark Materials" triology takes place in a world similar to our own, that is at the same time very different. In that world, each person's soul can be seen, is called a "daemon" and takes the form of an animal. The daemons of children change their appearance constantly, but once the children become adults, their daemons choose only one form. Pullman's alternate world has other differences, too, for example the fact that it has different kinds of magic, and that witches and armored bears coexist with human beings. The result is that the world he builds is exotic, strange but at the same time familiar.

On the negative side, the writer also plays with an institution we are familiar with, the Church, using its name but leaving behind its essence, in order to talk about a world ruled by tyrannical ecclesiastical authorities. I didn't like that, and probably you won't like it either, but keep in mind that this is a work of fiction, and as such, its purpose is to entertain, not to be taken seriously. All the same, if you think your sensibilities will be offended, or that you won't be able to separate reality from fiction, don't buy this book. You will be losing a lot, though.

Regarding the plot of these books, the main character is an orphan girl named Lyra, that lives in the Jordan College of Oxford. Her life involves no more responsabilities than playing in the grounds (and roofs!) of the College, and making mischief with her friend Roger and her daemon, Pantalaimon. But all changes when Lyra hides in a closet and hears her uncle, Lord Asriel, talk about some weird things that are happening in the North Pole to some scholars. Lyra wants to go there with him, but is not allowed to do so. However, soon afterwards her dear friend Roger and many other children disappear, and when all clues point out to the North Pole, Lyra will start a journey to rescue them. That journey will take her to many places, allow her to meet lots of different people, and help her to discover new things about herself and others. If you want to share all that with Lyra and Pantalaimon, just read this book :)

After reading "Northern lights", I thought that the triology was promising. However, it was only when I finished the last book in the "Dark Materials" series that I realized why this triology has such a reputation as a masterpiece of science fiction. On the whole, I think that this box set is a treat teenagers and adults will enjoy, but I believe it may be too complicated and somber at times for young children. Provided you take that opinion and my previous comments into account, recommended...

Belen Alcat

PS: A film based on the first book of this triology is to be released in late 2007. It is directed by Chris Weitz, and stars Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. So... you better start reading now, if you want to read the books before watching the movie :)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosopher's pupil, 27 Dec. 2004
By 
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
I can only give an impression of 'His Dark Materials', the title being a part of John Milton's great epic poem 'Paradise Lost'. And although because of such an austere philosophical and religious influence(s) upon the author, there are a great many references to vast areas of philosophy, theology, alchemy and, of course, the philosophy of science down to theories of quantum physics.
Having said that, 'His Dark Materials' remains a thoroughly readable and enjoyable epic in itself because essentially, beyond but saturated within that mix of history and knowledge, it remains a story about a child and a story for children. Children may not have prior knowledge of philosophical lines of enquiry, nor meaningful knowledge of theological inquiries, nor science. But that is not to say that children have no knowledge at all. What will appeal to kids and indeed, to the kids in us all, is very adventure, nay the very universe that Pullman has created and allowed to evolve it's own adventure and characters and natural laws. We can get lost within the worlds we create in our minds, Pullman has just given us some guidelines to play by.
There are some areas which fall seem 'unrealistic' and without prior cause, but doesn't actually take anything away from the stories at all. I just to keep thinking that it was a book for young adults and a work of fiction and not at all due any judgements of the degree of philosophical-theological-scientific accuracy. He wasn't actually writing his thesis! D'Oh! ^_^
All in all, a great book. Perhaps better than any other fantasy book I have had the wish to read because it bases itself on questions that we ask in the real world, in our everyday lives. Especially at a time when we really do need to ask what it is that we 'believe' and the background to it; because it assists us to make important moral decisions without hypocrisy.
In the end, the trilogy is about a young girl and a young boy, and the importance of love, loyalty, family and friends. Because no matter what adventure we find ourselves upon, whether by choice or by fate, it is ourselves and each other that we really must trust to bring us all through safely, beyond the void of negativity.
Read it for yourself :o)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolkein, Lewis, Peake, Rowling...and Pullman, 26 Jun. 2004
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
HDM succeeds because it works concurrently at many different levels for many different audiences. The ingredients of a vastly inventive fantasy trilogy comparable with but utterly different to the works of Tolkein, Peake, Lewis and Rowling have been drawn together meticulously yet with a light but compeling touch to create a tale of stirring adventure readable to the very last page. My 9-year old daughter is utterly hooked by the use of alternative worlds, an array of mystical creatures and assorted entities (each with very different motivations), some terrific tools (personally I fancied the intention craft!), without needing to appreciate the more subtle and complex ideas underpinning the story. It says a lot that there are a number of bloody deaths in these pages, but never once did it put my daughter off. Nor, surprisingly, did the frightening interlude in the world of the dead, though I suspect this may scare grown-ups more than kids!
In fact, the subtext creates a host of controversies, through creative use of Christian theology and quantum physics. Evangelicals tend to hate Pullman's deconstruction of the tenets of earthly religion and the existence of God in favour of "the republic of heaven", though even they could not fail to enjoy the storyline. In fact, Pullman recognises the difficulties of living without religion, so at one level this can be viewed as an analysis of how members of a secular society come to terms with living free of the shackles of tyrannical but equally mortal religious leaders. Some critics (including Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday) believe the Amber Spyglass is so laden with Pullman's propaganda that the story is a "clunker". I don't know any objective person who shares this point of view. But somehow, HDM wouldn't be the same had it not stirred up such polarised opinions.
It's hugely to Pullman's credit that good versus evil can actually convey a vast array of convergent and divergent facets and emotional shade and tints. Consider the character of Mrs. Coulter, who is portrayed for much of the trilogy as self-serving and evil - in fact, she is much more subtle and complex, to her credit. Also, the ending is deliberately bitter-sweet, where a similar tale written for an American audience may have become twee and schmaltzy. In his own way, Pullman has written one of the great love stories, so it's no accident that love is ultimately the saving grace of all worlds.
You will have your own opinions too. Love or hate these books, you cannot help but be utterly spellbound by Pullman's narrative. Read and reread - these books will live long in the imagination.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science is magic!, 18 Mar. 2002
By A Customer
I have not been so captivated by a book since I first read Lord of the Rings some 25 years ago. This series is enjoyable on so many levels I found myself re-reading huge chunks of it just to savour the use of language and the feelings evoked.
To bring together the mystic side of human nature, the daemons, witches, angels etc. with the objective scientific side of human nature is a tremendous feat - many of the ideas used are described by modern mathematicians like Stephen Hawkings.
All in all, a rollocking good adventure with many, many morals to discuss, the nature of good and evil being just one of them.
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