Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Review by Amanda White
Northern Lights is the first part of Philip Pullman's acclaimed Dark Materials trilogy. The book was first published in 1995, a year in which the book also claimed the Carnegie Award.
Imagine a world that is as alike as it is disimilar to our own. Where huge zeppelins litter the skyline and a persons' soul is a living breathing animal companion or 'daemon'. This is the world of Lyra Belacqua, orphan and carefree child who lives with the musty old scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. Together with her daemon Pantalaimon, Lyra's uncomplicated life is about to be turned upside down with an amazing and sometimes terrifying chain of events beginning with her uncle Lord Asriel's visit to the College to plan an expidition to the Northern Lights. His goal is to find the source of 'Dust'and a possible gateway to another world. Soon after is the appearance of Mrs Coulter, a cool and charasmatic woman who decides that Lyra should be versed in the etiquette of becoming a young woman and decides to take Lyra away from Jordan College but whom Lyra soons suspects has, together with her golden monkey daemon, an ulterior motive. With a strange golden compass, known as an 'alethiometer' in her possesion, given to her by the Master of the College and the terrible disappearance of many local children at the hands of the 'Gobblers', it is the disappearance of her own best friend Roger and the one too many obsticles put in her way to find out more about 'Dust' that makes Lyra more sure than ever that these events are all linked somehow and the only way to find out more, and her friend, is to travel to the Northern Lights.
Chapter 2: Northern Lights
Written as a childrens book but equally absorbing to any adult reader, I would not hesitate in recommending this first book in the Philip Pullman 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. It is wonderfully enthralling from the first page and paints a world that you long to visit. There are enough twists and turns to keep the pace of the plot zooming along rather nicely and many interesting characters along the way. There aren't many books that can boast daemons, witches, armoured polar bears and possible other worlds; quite a head-full to keep your imagination ticking over. On another level, which younger children may not pick up on but will by no means spoil their enjoyment, is the anti-church theme represented by the controlling Magisterium and a smattering of quantum physics and chaos theory thrown in for good measure. It is in fact this mix of science, theology and magic, a theme that continues throughout the trilogy that ensures this book stands out from the rest. There are some parts of this book that, even for an adult can be quite upsetting; there are instances of death and grief that some might feel are subjects they do not wish their child to read about, however, I believe that such subjects are part of life and Philip Pullman's decision to include these and not to gloss over such subjects shows a real respect for the age group this book was written for. It is no small wonder that the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy has been met with critical acclaim. An unforgettable read that will ensure you read the second book 'The Subtle Knife' without pausing for breath inbetween.
Chapter 16: Northern Lights
From from From
A wonderful tale, if only because its sequels are so great! Only one warning: if you're not one for sad endings, this series may not be for you. Nevertheless, a full-hearted 10/10!!
Kaylee from Candyland
Amazing book. I loved it soooooo much!! It takes you away from ordinary, boring old life to a magical place! I envy anyone who is reading it for the first time. I couldn't stop reading it and my mum got annoyed because I didn't come to dinner xP
Rachel from Unknown
6/10 I liked it but didn't love it.
Dianah from Jamacia
I give it 6/10. It was a fantastic story but they overdone it with all the fantasy. Though I have to say the book did not disappoint.
Sarah from England
Northern Lights was originally written as a children’s book but is equally absorbing to any adult reader. I would not hesitate in recommending this wonderfully enthralling book which paints a world that you will long to visit. There are many twists and turns throughout to keep the pace of the pot racing along as well as enough interesting characters along the way. There are very few books which can boast about daemons, witches, armoured polar bears and which keep your head full of imagination. It is no small wonder that the Dark Materials trilogy has been met with an unforgettable read that will unsure you read the second book The Subtle Knife without pausing for a breath in between.
Tanika from Hammons
This book seems to be a little over rated...
Abbie Newton from Stanford Essex UK
An excellent fast-paced book involving childish wit yet a somewhat sophisticated air. I could not put it down and would recommend it to any book, or fantasy lover. One of the most imaginative books in some time with just the right amount of suspense towards the end. 9/10.
Anais from Adelaide
A well-written, fast-paced book. It was witty and filled with action, although sometimes it may have moved slightly fast, without much description. With a slow start, and a tedious and confusing middle, the ending was more convincing and exciting. A great book, though not something I would recommend!
Milan Panchia from New Zealand
Overall I think this book is amazing, it's suspenseful and exciting and the ideas are very, very witty and original. I have grown to love Lyra and her friends and am looking forward to reading The Amber Spyglass.
Andy from Reading
I read this trilogy a number of years ago and couldn't put it down. The depth of emotion conveyed in these books and the manner in which it is done is simply enthralling. The writing is magnificent and the story brilliant, I felt myself being fully pulled into these books. I have noted that there are comments that books such as Ruby and the Smoke were better, I think these earlier books showed how Mr Pullman developed his characters, scenes and story lines, they certainly are not as good as His Dark Materials. I think I also like this trilogy because it has a dig at the Catholic Church, however that is a small bonus.
Chris from Preston, UK
Am I the only person who was really disappointed by this book? I loved Pullman's 'The Ruby in the Smoke', and yet when I read 'Northern Lights' it was a big downer for me, 5/10 is being highly generous. Maybe I built up so much hype and anticipation for it in my head that it was inevitably always going to be a downer?
Gary from Vancouver, BC
A fantasy book out of comprehension. Philip Pullman clearly writes with creativity and raw intensity. His characters are as interesting as they are believable. The story is complex, yet easy to follow and there are clearly moments that are well thought out. The Golden Compass is not the archetypical fantasy novel, it's a genuine masterpiece.
Barbara from Basildon Essex UK
A wonderful, magical journey. It is fast paced and takes you away from the mundane and ordinary to the wonderful and extraordinary. I could not put it down.
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