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335 of 359 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Compass AKA Northern Lights
WARNING
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.
Published on 29 Oct 2003 by mbogle

versus
178 of 206 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Compass
BEWARE BEWARE
I love Philip Pulman books.
So much so I had bought this one already except when I bought it it was called NORTHERN LIGHTS.
Don't get cought out like I was.
Amazon Post a warning this is Northern Lights
Glenn Atherton
Published on 17 Dec 2003 by Glenn Atherton


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335 of 359 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Compass AKA Northern Lights, 29 Oct 2003
By 
mbogle (ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
WARNING
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too gripping to listen to whilst driving!, 17 Jan 2003
Now that Philip Pullman's work is available in several audio versions, you may be wondering what makes each one distinctive, and, considering the large differences in price, which one to chose. This version is a complete and unabridged reading, the author himself is the narrator, but there is also a full cast to give voice to each character.
The plot: briefly, as this title has been thoroughly reviewed in its book form only a few mouse-clicks from where you are now:
In a parallel world to our own, feisty 12-year-old Lyra and her daemon live in a recognisable-yet-different Oxford, where they eavesdrop on a secret meeting of scholars and their charismatic visitor Lord Asriel. She hears mysterious tales of Dust, a city that hangs in the air above the Aurora Borealis, and an expedition that ended in a gruesome murder. Lyra's friend Roger disappears, stolen like many other children by the Gobblers, and then she herself is taken from Oxford to live with the sinister Mrs Coulter. Rescued by gyptians she learns who her true parents are, and that the stories and disappearance of her friend are connected. Travelling with the gyptians to the frozen North, Lyra is drawn into a savage struggle among the armoured bears and witch-clans of the Arctic. At the experimental research station of Bolvangar Lyra finds the lost children, where horrific experiments are being performed upon them. To fulfil a prophecy, Lyra's journey leads her to the ice-forts of Svalbard, the rescue of her father and eventually to the city behind the Northern Lights, but only after she has made a terrible betrayal.
What does this dramatised reading bring to the story? Philip Pullman narrates his own work well. Many of the actors are recognisable from BBC Radio 4 dramas - Sean Barrett (as Lord Asriel & Iorek Byrnison); Garrick Hagon (as Lee Scorseby); Stephen Thorne (as the Master of Jordan College & Farder Coram). Mrs Coulter is voiced by Alison Dowling, best known for playing Radio 4's Elizabeth Archer for many years! She is a revelation here; giving real ice and menace to the part. You almost want to boo and hiss when you hear her incisive, cut-glass accent. If you're not a Radio 4 listener and don't know what I'm talking about: don't worry, these are masters of the medium, with rich, expressive voices that bring the text to life. Even where one actor voices two characters you would *never notice*! As Lyra, Joanna Wyatt's Oxfordshire accent wobbles considerably over time, but this is only a small criticism.
On a technical point, the 9 CDs are badly indexed - the 5 minute intervals are inaudible but don't necessarily coincide with chapter starts, making it hard to find your place after a break. Unforgivably, there is a change from one CD to the next right in the *middle* of the climactic armoured bear fight.
If you aren't inclined to read the book, but don't want to miss out on the full text, this is a fine substitute, although the poor arrangement onto CD may well be irritating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an enigma begins, 18 Feb 2004
By 
mfl (london) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
There is a cunning plot afoot. The increasing trend of marketing children’s books as (neo) adult fiction. Even those esteemed reviewers from the daily press and trusted literary journals are in on the act. It just isn’t clear from some reviews who the target readership is. So it becomes de rigour for adults of all ages to be seen reading the latest kids’ blockbuster. We are eased by the grown-up cover substituted for the more whimsical original to hide any embarrassment. J K Rowling succumbed to the latter, Philip Pullman has not, but still is sure to take the crown of mass appeal.
Leaving cynicism behind for a moment, albeit with some slight misgivings that this is for those of a young age, Northern Lights is a supremely well written, awe-inspiringly imaginative, gripping book. The stuff that not only legends are made of but one that creates its very own special world. A tale of Lyra, twelve years old and borne into a destiny not of her making, setting out on a quest to save the world and her friends from magical parallel universes, hell-bent science benders, witch clans, ghosts, ghouls, ghasts and altogether weird and wonderful, death defying, life affirming adventures.
Pullman has quite amazing skill to bring Lyra’s adventures to life and he often captures the moment with real emotion, wit, jocular sincerity and page turning slash and dash, Northern Lights deserves every “considered” five star review and plaudits shouting from the rooftops.
Yet and with no excuses, Pullman writes for children. Language, plot lines, re-occurring happenstance all point to his art. Many have said this is a story that can be read on many levels – hence the push to adult readers. Sure there are semi-rants and subliminal messages about the relationship of the soul to the physical being, the omnipresent dogma of the Church, the battle of science over religion, the pure innocence of children and the essence of the natural earthy belligerence of animals. Yes it’s all there but it’s not explored, it really isn’t in Northern Lights, at least not enough to truly grip an older reader. It is though a small signpost to engender the younger reader with a little real purpose and an eager starter knowledge to explore.
As for that children’s to adult trend, all of us of course relish a gripping good yarn that is easy on the eye. Northern Lights has an endearing and read on simplicity; sure it tantalises but ultimately prompts no bigger questions and gives no answers. Perhaps the two following books will up the ante; you will be compelled and enraptured to discover with a let’s hope so! This is just a word of warning before you are seduced by the rave reviews announcing the best book of all time.
A great, great book of children’s fiction; maybe a book for those older to spend some time in and enjoy.
Whatever, Philip Pullman is a master of his craft.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Masterpiece, 8 Nov 2001
By A Customer
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Goal Accomplished, 27 Jan 2008
By 
Mr. Ct Kent "clintyK" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Yes, I was secretly looking for a book to fill the gap that Harry Potter had left, I must admit. But it IS unfair to compare Phillip Pullman to JK Rowling - for each have their own inimitable style and creative vision.

The story of Lyra hooks you in, right from the start. Though the world she lives in is a different one to ours, half the fun comes from exploring it with her as she begins her adventures.

I Have yet to see the film, but I have a feeling Nicole Kidman as the sinister yet glamourous Mrs Coulter and Daniel Craig as galant Lord Asriel are perfect for the roles - reading the book with them in mind made it all the more enjoyable. (Also I have no doubt that the film will not do the book justice - as is always the case !)

A gripping read - sometimes a bit technical / political in places - yet if you can bear with it, it all makes itself clearer the deeper you go. It is a magical page turner, one you want to read as quickly as you can, but would regret if you did. It would be a shame not savour the exciting journey every page takes you on.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple quite amazing and throught provoking., 8 April 2002
By A Customer
I read this book after reading all the JK Rowling "Harry Potter" books. I was not yet ready to return to the world of adult fiction and so after reading a piece in the Sunday times about new children's authors I decided to give Pullman a try. The insights this book gives about the soul, religion, death, alternate universes are neither restricted nor childlike. It makes you think about everything - from what animal another person's soul would form as, to what you really think about religion, covering a host of subjects inbetween. I read the sequels in the following two weeks and was quite sad to come to the end of the trilogy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This a special edition, 16 Jan 2007
By 
Liam C. "_kerr_avon_" (Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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.

As such, this looks like a nice collector's edition (I just spotted it and don't have it as yet, though I have ordered it) and hopefully similar versions of the other two will appear as their 10-year anniversaries come around.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story for all ages, 4 Aug 2002
This is the compelling story of a young girl, Lyra Belacqua, and her closest companion, her daemon, who embark on a hero's quest to rescue a friend and discover the world without and within. As with all heroes, her odyssey takes her to strange lands and through many perils. She journeys from the staid halls of academe in Oxford to the glittering frozen tundra of the North Pole. Exotic enemies and allies abound. She fights her way through a maze of mystery and lies, with the device of the title as her guide. This is a fairy tale for adults and children alike, which speaks to the heart on many levels. And as with all fairy tales it prompts us to think about what is truly real. You will not want to put it down once you start and you'll be sorry when it is ended. You'll also want a daemon of your own.
READ: ALL of "His dark materials series" and The Price of Immortality, all AWESOME BOOKS!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING START OF A PERFECT TRILOGY!!!, 24 Nov 2003
I first read these books in German, then in English and - as usual - the original version is much better than the translation!
A fascinating story about a girl that has to set out into the wide world and doesn't even know the higher purpose behind it all. All she wants is to save her friend. With her huge heart, her rebellious nature and her cleverness, Lyra is a very lovable protagonist, as is Pantalaimon, her deamon!
The world of this book is very similar to ours and yet so different. For fantasy lovers it is perfect. As is this book as a whole. It is a way of fleeing from your daily routine, an opportunity of exploring exotic places and other worlds, yourself. Lovers of Harry Potter, Lotr, the Narnia Chronicles or Artemis Fowl will embrace this trilogy and read it just as quickly as I did.
Concerning the big question if His Dark Materials is a series of children's books, I would give a "maybe" because the story is simple, children are not stupid, they will understand it. The only thing that I think children would need some education for is the dark material matter. You should know *something* about atoms and materia otherwise you'll be pretty lost - or you'll have to let your imagination make everything up to you.
To sum it up: well educated or in only in elementary school, you will be most likely to love the story of Lyra and the dark and dangerous things going on in her world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As bright as the lights themselves, 3 Aug 2007
I thought I would read "His Dark Materials" books before they start churning the movies out, and I have just finished the first installment.

"Northern Lights" is an original, well written and fairly addictive book. It manages to compensate for the obvious limitations by being a children's book by introducing new ideas and the plot is strong and develops well into the climax. As a story, it is much better written than many other children-adult books like Harry Potter.

Criticisms are that this book was slow to begin with, and required a little effort to get into; I nearly put it down in its early pages because it was a bit slow, but once it gets going, it gathers momentum wonderfully.

Read it.
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