Book Review: The Golden Compass

Book Review: The Golden CompassThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #1
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 399

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 alethiometer. 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.



The Golden Compass was my gateway book into fantasy. I remember stalking bookstores and looking for the sequels to come out (a time before Amazon and Goodreads). Set in an alternate London, Lyra is an orphan and warded with one of Oxford’s colleges. Her uncle is the esteemed and frightening Lord Asriel – who has discovered “Dust” – a particle that he suspects will lead to the discovery of an alternate universe. She ends up in the care of Mrs. Coulter, who seems like a mother but in a cold way. When Lyra finds out that her best friend Roger has disappeared, she runs away to look for him. She finds the alethiometer – which takes her a while to decode, but helps her on her journey. She finds that more kids have disappeared and she knows if she finds the reason, she will find her friend.

A twisty and fantastic adventure, The Golden Compass is full of real danger and amazing landscapes. There are armored polar bears and gypsies and witches. There are daemon’s – what is thought to be an extension of one’s soul that takes shape of an animal – which can shift until adulthood, when they become one creature alongside the human. They can only be separated so far. Growing up, I wanted to be Lyra, go on her adventures, from her fun games on the streets of London to meeting armored polar bears and trying to find and save her best friend.


Pullman’s world is magical and full of mystery. I am very much looking forward to the newest book, The Book of Dust, which comes out this fall and is set in this world.


Thank you Random House Children’s Books for inviting me on this blog tour!


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One response to “Book Review: The Golden Compass

  1. I loved re-reading this one this summer. It’s such a wonderful book and the world-building is amazing. Can’t wait to re-read the second one, and finally get around the reading the final book before getting to the new books! Great review 😀

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