Friday, 30 March 2018

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman Review

The Golden Compass, also known as The Northern Lights is the first book from the trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Before I start, a little back story. I read this book about 5 years ago for the first time and despised it, for reasons I will never understand I did not enjoy it. Luckily I'm always happy to take another stab at reading a book I read so long ago and damn, I'm glad I did.
Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pantalaimon follows the Gobblers to the North, they have been taking children and Lyra is determined to get them back. In the North she meets cold she has never experienced before, Witches and Armored Bears that rule, but due to the fact that her friend Rodger was taken by the Gobblers nothing will stop her from trying to save the children.

I believe my issue with this book previously was the complexity of the writing, when I was younger I didn't read nearly as much I do know, not until I moved and essentially used the books as my new friends. But back to Pullman's writing; I enjoyed it this time round. I will accept that I listened to the audiobook (Narrated by Pullman) so I may have had a different experience than I would have if I'd read it but I found the way Pullman wrote The Golden Compass much easier to understand. I also found the story much more enjoyable, a young girl ran off to save her friend and explore the wider world - every adventurous girls dream.
Lyra was smart and sly, and I really liked her character and as she made more discoveries about dust, daemons and the ulterior motives of people she knew she used the knowledge smartly and sensibly. Lyra is very young (11 I think), children have a very practical mind I've found and because of that she handled the North in ways that adults wouldn't have been able to. The daemons in this story I believe are a form of conscience like Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, and Pan (Pantalaimon) did not disappoint, he often talked Lyra through difficult situations. I noticed that although Lyra was young, children daemons in this story seemed to almost be adults, thinking in a way that children rarely do. I believe that links to the daemons being in a way a conscience for their other half.
Pullman wrote some characters extremely well including Lorek Byrnison and John Faa, both of whom protected Lyra dearly almost as fathers would, as very early on we discover Lyra to be an orphan and never had parents of any sort.
I did find that at some points in the traveling the story seemed to drag a bit, but then again if the whole book was constant excitement then it may just get very dull. I also wasn't quite ready for how descriptive a certain fight in Chapter 20 would be, not that I can't handle gore, just wasn't quite ready for it.

Overall however I enjoyed this and although my sister loved it at a younger age I am glad I read it again at 18 as i think in some ways I understood the themes that were spoken about a lot more.
Would highly recommend.

First Published July 1995

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