The Golden Compass [His Dark Materials #1] by Philip Pullman : A review


Ah! That feeling of reading a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping adventure. 

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Here’s a gist -> In Lyra’s world, Daemons are the soul-projections,in animal forms, of any human being.They are companions of the soul and the separation from their Daemon could even be fatal for that human.Lyra and her Daemon, Pan, are brought up and cared for by the Scholars in Oxford, just as any other child. But she has a bigger destiny to fulfill. Unaware of this, Lyra sets out on a journey, to look for her missing friend, who is one among the many children who were kidnapped by a secret society.The rumor is that the society intends to do horrible things to children, even murder them. Lyra is intent on bringing her friend back. Her adventure takes her to the deep North, where she meets many Supernatural and powerful beings, human and non-human. In her course, Lyra learns about bigger threats her world faces and ends up in the middle of it all. How she escapes danger and fights off evil forces is the story of The Golden Compass.

What splendid narration! Philip Pullman has a way with words, it just draws the reader in. I was instantly connected to the story from the first line. The story has a beautiful flow to it; and I wondered how it would be to hear a vocal rendition of this novel, narrated in a deep baritone. Such was the enchanting narrative of the book.

I liked the premise of the book. It’s complicated but it works as a good baseline to build on. A Destiny that Lyra has to fulfill for the saving the world-as-she-knows it, but, and here’s the complicated part, she has to do it without her own knowing. Nobody can help her, and she can’t know that she is the destined savior of the world. As for the story arc, keeping us readers in the dark for more than a hundred pages was a little unfair. Until then the story only wavers about without any ‘purpose’. The direction of the plot isn’t revealed. But not to worry, it picks up fast from there and slowly the big picture is revealed.

Each of the characters were designed so well. Lyra – what a lyrical name. I loved it! Lyra – like the mythical musical instrument lyre. Lyra is a non-fussy, mature, pragmatic child. She is sensitive to others while being equally outgoing and adventure-seeking.Lord Asriel and Mrs.Coulter and Iorek and John Faa…every character was unique.

Every character has his/her strengths and weaknesses and a charisma. The kind gyptians felt like a cross between wandering, vagabond gypsies and thirsty, sea-wavering pirates. They were truly a clan to be reckoned with. I missed their leader John Faa…after a brief spell, he is suddenly pulled out of the narrative. I didn’t like that he was used so sparingly, like a prop on a stage. 😦

It was not just the characters in the book that had the mystery, but also the object that lends its name to the book, The Golden Compass, was in itself, an enigma. That trance of reading the enigmatic instrument was so realistic that I wanted one too! It was totally engrossing. Philip Pullman has painted a whole new world to be engrossed in.

Hee…heee I find that talking animals was an echo of Narnianism! Not complaining though. Although it was kiddish, I enjoyed the powerful and authoritative Iorek, intimidating though he was, in certain pages.The suspense for final mortal combat between Iorek and Iofur was amazing. The battle for the throne was bloody and raw and animalistic. Just enough gore and action. It left me emotional. I felt Lyra’s fear and anxiety as she helplessly watched her friend Iorek wounded in the combat…. enough spoilers, I’m not going to reveal who defeated whom and who became the King of Armored Bears.


One minor flaw in this story was using the most bizarre and never-heard-of animals for Daemon forms. Apparently this is a chaffinch. Who knewww???

Another major misstep was the clarity. The main plot and the main characters were given due importance; but certain sub-plots and minor characters failed to get enough recognition that their portions seemed a little blurry and unclear. A good storyline gives enough importance to the ancillary characters too. It doesn’t leave the readers guessing. Like for instance, What are cloud pine branches ? There was no background about that. I was left to assume on my own what it could be or google it. I am forced to compare this with Harry Potter. I could’ve written Wikipedia articles on every detail from Harry Potter, like say, the Nimbus 2000. That was missing in this novel. Else it was a really good read.

And as usual here is my Reading Progress…

The Golden Compass Reading Progress

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