Publishers: Knopf Books
Lyra, Iorek Brynison, Lord Asriel, Mrs Coulter
Based in a magical alternative reality, Northern Lights tells the tale of Lyra Belacqua and her animal-daemon Pantalaimon. ‘Pan’ (as he’s known to Lyra) is a magical embodiment of Lyra’s soul and accompanies her in many different animal forms wherever she goes. The two best friends live in the oldest and dustiest part of Jordan College in Oxford. Lyra is like any child living in an old and prestigious college. She loves to investigate and play in the ancient buildings and get up to no good. However, one day her mischief directs her down a path that has been long preordained for her, as she witnesses the attempted murder of her Uncle; Lord Asriel. As a sort of thank you, Asriel lets Lyra secretly watch his presentation to the scholars of Oxford and introduces her to the secretive and fascinating world of Dust.
What Lyra doesn’t know is that the revelation has long been foreseen and many people are looking to her to help guide and protect them. However, for the prophecy to come true Lyra must walk this path alone and discover the meaning of Dust all by herself, without any direct help from other people. Of course, there are also people who want to harm her; chief among these is Mrs Coulter. The beautiful woman with the silky voice and scary monkey daemon is stealing children from families in England to do experiments on them in the far North. When Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped by Mrs Coulter’s group, she takes it as her personal mission to go North and find him. With the help of the magical alethiometer, Lyra travels North to the lands of the Aurora and fighting ice-bears. But what she finds there is way beyond her comprehension and she will need the help of her new found friends to overcome the adversity there and discover the secrets of Dust.
Golden Compass Trailer
This book really surprised me because at first I thought I wasn’t going to like it! I’ve seen the movie The Golden Compass which is based on Pullman’s novel and thought it was awful! So awful, I’m pretty sure the movie franchise was dropped as the first installment did so badly. So after reading about twenty pages of The Northern Lights I can happily say that I was hooked! This was because of the world Pullman creates in this novel. Like I said, it is an alternative reality because the book is based in England and the Arctic, but they are very different to the countries we know and love.
The first big difference in this world is daemons. They show a physical embodiment of a person’s soul and you can tell a lot about a person from the form of their daemon. Pan can change form anytime he wants because Lyra is not yet an adult and therefore has not fully matured into the person she is going to be. I really liked this feature as it added a dimension to the protagonist which is not that common. It gave the main character two personalities as Lyra and Pan were the same person but with different views and thoughts. I also liked trying to guess what type of person a new character was going to be, by reading about their daemons and trying to guess if they were a goody or a bady!
In addition, I thought the steam-punk world was very cool and it gave a very scientific and industrial feel to the novel without having to base the world in a modern era. The idea of Zeppelins flying around and huge clockwork machines also gave the world a great atmosphere, as it made me think of 19th Century England with smog in the air and whole cities being covered in coal dust.
This was a great novel and came at a good time for me because I have been looking for something different to read for ages and this series really fits the bill! I can’t wait to check out the next novel in the series; The Subtle Knife! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of fantasy novels like The Name of the Wind or The Promise of Blood.
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