Book Reviews of The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials)

The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials)
The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition - His Dark Materials
Author: Philip Pullman
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ISBN-13: 9780739337042
ISBN-10: 0739337041
Publication Date: 10/24/2006
Edition: Unabridged
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 5

3.4 stars, based on 5 ratings
Publisher: Listening Library (Audio)
Book Type: Audio CD
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

128 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on
Helpful Score: 13
I can't speak highly enough of this book. It's the first book in the His Dark Materials series. Read it if you can get your hands on a copy of the book. It's an amazing story that's set in an alternate Earth much like our own but different in ways that are untterly captivating. This is not a book just for young tweens. Adults will enjoy the tale as well. If you enjoy sci-fi or fantasy or good story, you should read this book. This book is being made into a film so now would be a good time to read the tale.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
I have learned long ago that I enjoy books for the quality of the material and that I shouldn't discriminate based on the intended audience of the book. His Dark Materials
Book One-The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman is an excellent example of a fantasy novel created for young adults that transcends that category. In my opinion this Young Adult category, in its best sense, means that foul language and sexual content have been eliminated from the story. Although I enjoy a little foul language every once in a while I notice no lack in a novel when it is absent.
This novel follows a young scamp of a girl through a world that is very similar to our nineteenth century world. Lyra resides, as an orphan, at Oxford and is thrust, through her own intense curiosity, into a religious and metaphysical maze of treachery. Gradually she is able to piece together answers to a number of strange occurrences that include disappearing children and a beautiful woman with a golden monkey. You see, there is at least one big difference in this world. People have physical representations of their souls, called deamons. While children have deamons that are able to change form at their whim, adults have deamons in a fixed form. This is at the heart the novel and allows Lyra to finally begin to uncover what a mysterious substance, called Dust, really is.
Philip Pullman pulls the reader into this piece through a fantastic portrayal and adventure of a young girl that one can easily relate to amidst the strange world that she lives. I was enthralled throughout the whole book as I could never begin to guess what would happen next. The flaws in each character give this story something to sink your teeth into and allow you to truly engross yourself in this tantalizing world. One thing that intrigued me was the idea of a physical soul. Each character seems to have a deep and affectionate bond with their deamons, but I can't help but wonder what would happen to a person filled with self-loathing.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I purchased this book prior to all the controversy about it in the media. My husband read it and enjoyed it, and I was planning to read it as well. I debated about reading it when I heard about the author. After much debate, I decided to go ahead and read it. I read this book partly as a teacher and partly as a parent. Knowing I would have students who would read or wish to read the book, I wanted to be able to give them an honest perspective. Many of my students' parents have neither the time nor the inclination to preview a book before allowing their child to read it. That being said, this is not a children's book. It lists the reading level as 5.6 (grade level), but I would not give it to someone younger than 15 or 16. It deals with some very adult themes, including the killing of children. I did not sense huge atheistic undertones in this book, but my husband says they are much stronger in the 2nd and 3rd books. I did enjoy the story and am curious as to how it continues. I will most likely eventually finish the trilogy. If you are confidant about what you believe in and decide to read this book just for the sake of entertainment, then you will probably not have a problem with it, but it is much too mature for children.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on
Helpful Score: 8
I read this book in the sixth grade and I loved it to pieces. I gave it to everyone I knew and they loved it as well. It's magical, it's deep, and it builds vocabulary in young ones. It's science fiction for people who don't really like science fiction. It asks a number of questions and pulls readers in quickly-- a trait any good novel should have. It's great-- read it!
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Helpful Score: 8
Probably one of the best young adult series novels I have ever read, this is much better writing than that of Frank (Wizard of Oz) Baum or JK (Harry Potter) Rowling. Get it now and read it before the film comes out. Like LOTR, I fear this may be a scenario where the book series outshines any film presentation. This is great reading for adults --- our teenagers today are much too busy at the mall, but if ever we could pull them into this series, our poor shopkeeps may be sitting idle for quite a while. The concept of having a live animal that talks as your 'conscience' is fascinating --- what would your "daemon" be?
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on
Helpful Score: 5
This is an interesting story. The movie, "The Golden Compass," came out in December 2007 and is much less nuanced. After reading the story, the movie feels rushed, it does recreate Pullman's world to good effect. After reading the entire trilogy, I feel this first book is the most enjoyable because it's tightly written and well paced.

Pullman creates a first-class alternate fantasy universe that both older children and adults should enjoy exploring. This first book is not a total cliffhanger but it does leave much for the next two books to explain. Items of religious controversy mostly come out in the third and concluding book.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This is a wonderful book for children and adults alike. Small children aren't going to understand the so-called Atheist viewpoints-the will just enjoy the story. And older children will enjoy the story as well. However, I'm not sure any child will be sitting there trying to nitpick every "non-Christian" sentence and storyline in the series. We'll leave that one to the ignorant parents. ;)
All sarcasm aside, this is a wonderful series and I encourage everyone to read it for themselves and decide whether or not they enjoy it... rather than let someone else's review scare them off.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
While I think the book started off slow, I was very pleased to find myself reading the book in a few days, anticipating each turn of the page and the adventure it brought!

Lyra is a girl, but no ordinary girl. Her adventures start at Jordan college when she witnesses something she should have not seen. From that point forward she is in a whirlwind adventure with her daemon, gyptions, witches and an armoured bear.

Children and their daemons are suddenly vanishing. People know the Gobblers are taking them, but are not sure why. When they do find out why they are terrified!

Lyra sets out to save the lost children with help and I will leave off here before I give up too many details.

A great read.

The tale continues with the other books in "His Dark Materials" - the Subtle Knife is Books 2.

Pick it up and sit back and enjoy the ride (on cloud-pine branches if you have them).
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on
Helpful Score: 4
An excellent start to the Dark Materials trilogy of books ("The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass" being the others). The world of the Golden Compass is remarkable and believable. A must read for anyone who loves fantasy.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 190 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A lavish fantasy, this book is the first one in a series, and is a recommended reading for some school systems, but its certainly on a pretty adult level (think Chronicles of Narnia).

This book is said to have been the one that should have hit big - the "next Harry Potter". I have to say, I don't agree with that exalted review, but I did still like the book. A bit complex for very young readers, but a good prospect for pre-teens to adults. Now a major motion picture.

From the BACK COVER: It was no ordinary life for a young girl: living among scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College and tearing unsupervised through Oxford's motley streets on mad quests for adventure. But Lyra's greatest adventure would begin closer to home, the day she heard hushed talk of an extraordinary particle. Microscopic in size, the magical dust - found only in the vast Arctic expanse of the North - was rumored to possess profound properties that could unite whole universes. But there were those who feared the particle and would stop at nothing to destroy it. Catapulted into the heart of a terrible struggle, Lyra was forced to seek aid from clans, gyptians, and formidable armored bears. and as she journeyed into unbelievable danger, she had not the faintest clue that she alone was destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle."
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Helpful Score: 4
Very good series, listed for young adults, but should be enjoyable to many ages.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
There's something about the golden age of scifi that really appeals to me, and this story hearkens back to that era. There's a romance to it. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but the strength and stubbornness of the central character, the child Lyra, finally sucked me in. I'm told this volume is much better than the other two, but I'm more than willing to find out for myself. It's been awhile since I've had a book keep me up past my bedtime.
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Helpful Score: 3
This is a wonderful novel, although a bit slow in the beginning. Not for young children, except as pure fantasy, but the secondary levels really make the reader think about what is good, what is evil, and can power for power's sake ever be good? At the end, it is obvious that even good intentions taken to extremes don't necessarily result in good endings. It left me definitely wanting to read the rest of the story.
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Helpful Score: 3
The second and third books in the series, more than this book, are written for people whose spirtual journey is not yet over. If you are absolutely sure you have all the answers, then why bother reading anything? In my interpretation, Pullman is not "killing God." In actuality (in a subsequent book in the series), God dies, or rather dissolves, from old age and irrelevancy. But Pullman's God is part of his constructed fantasy world. Some will find that offensive. I didn't; but then my journey is still ongoing.
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Helpful Score: 3
Amazon.com
Some books improve with age--the age of the reader, that is. Such is certainly the case with Philip Pullman's heroic, at times heart-wrenching novel, The Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied:

As for what experimental theology was, Lyra had no more idea than the urchins. She had formed the notion that it was concerned with magic, with the movements of the stars and planets, with tiny particles of matter, but that was guesswork, really. Probably the stars had daemons just as humans did, and experimental theology involved talking to them.

Not that Lyra spends much time worrying about it; what she likes best is "clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." But Lyra's carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from "gyptians" to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

In The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman has written a masterpiece that transcends genre. It is a children's book that will appeal to adults, a fantasy novel that will charm even the most hardened realist. Best of all, the author doesn't speak down to his audience, nor does he pull his punches; there is genuine terror in this book, and heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. There is also love, loyalty, and an abiding morality that infuses the story but never overwhelms it. This is one of those rare novels that one wishes would never end. Fortunately, its sequel, The Subtle Knife, will help put off that inevitability for a while longer.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
A strong opening into a new world and story. This book is listed as YA, but it is one of those rare fantasy stories that will capture readers both young and old on several levels.
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Helpful Score: 2
I actually only picked this up to see what has the fundamentalist censor-y population in an uproar. Read it in one day, it was completely engrossing. I really enjoyed it and recommend it if you want a fun, colorful fantasy read. I'll definitely read the entire trilogy. If you like this genre, read it and be happily entitled to your own opinion on any religious references. Books are not dangerous, people (especially censors) are.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was an intelligently-written book with adventure, suspense, love, and sinister deeds. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot served dual purposes, one cursory (adventure) and one deep (Church suppression of knowledge); I respected both of them and found myself enthralled with the story, itself.

My favorite parts involved the Armoured Bears, who I adored, with their dedication and loyalty and honor. Pullman was very inventive in how he discussed ordinarily-known creatures in different ways - witches, bears, etc. Pullman's language and naming of things reminded me of Neal Stephenson.

I will definitely read the next two books, as I feel compelled to follow little Lyra on her journey. I'd previously seen the movie, but this book was so much better.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a great book! It is very intricate and you have to pay attention to understand everything. I find it rather amusing that the evil party in this book is "The Church." Personally, I don't mind that. I think that the author being against the Christian idea of God is GREAT! Some people, like Christians, think this book is perverted. I think all the Christians are perverted.
Don't pay any attention to any of the Christian comments and just read the book and then come to your own conclusions.
I believe in the freedom to read whatever is out there and then come to your own conclusions. I believe in the freedom to write whatever one wants without being criticized by one group of people. Don't just be a sheep and follow what someone else has to say.
Also read about how the Christians, in the past, have tortured and killed many peoples and made daemons in to what they are thought of now. I also think it's rather amusing that the author has named the helpers daemons.
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Helpful Score: 1
A very interesting book - with all the controversy surrounding it, I suppose I expected it to be a little more up-front with the themes that so many accused it of endorsing, most especially the anti-religion front.

But I didn't really get that feel from reading it - it is a very well-crafted book for young adults, beautifully written and descriptive and overall a good, engrossing read. Lyra is a strong young female character, which is so nice to see, and the story is full of action. The alternate world where Lyra lives is full of parallels to ours, but intriguing and different. This is truly a well-written fantasy that I really enjoyed reading.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is purely spectacular. Philip Pullman is a brilliant writer: he challenges younger readers with complex vocabulary, while keeping them reading with plot twists and action. Simultaneously, he writes a story that can be loved by people of all ages. It is a book that isn't at all fluffy, but instead very substantial for its genre. I read it when I was younger and loved it then. I still love it now.
This book does get a lot of criticism for being anti-religious, and to be honest, it is. It is quite blatantly anti-Christian. But it is still a great book, and, in my opinion, a must read.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The biggest problem people will have with this series is its attacks on Christianity.

One thing such critics will fail to remember, however, is that this is a BOOK. It is open to interpretation, and of course, the right wingers will feel that their religion is attacked by this book. They will label it with works like "blasphemy," "heresy," and "lies," forgetting that it's fiction.

The author is an atheist. His views no doubt influence the book's plot, and the book as a result was obviously meant to ruffle some feathers.

However, I can choose to waste energy being horrified and offended by a BOOK, or I can enjoy the well-written story, the interesting fiction and the unique concepts brought into light by Philip Pullman.

My advice for this book's readers? If you're a Christian of any sort, please don't let the 'implications' ruin your enjoyment of a well-written series. Remember that at the end of the day, you have control over your thoughts and beliefs.
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Great book. Easy read. Interesting and different story. I can see this being the next Lord of the Rings type movie. Hard to believe its Young Adult (ahem..in my 40s)...more sophisticated than the Harry Potter books.
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I read and loved this book when I was younger, I think reading it at an early age influenced my imagination to this day. Something about the idea of having a shape-shifting little animal that follows me around every where one goes is captivating for most all younger readers, and is still appealing now, to be honest. It's for ideas like this that I like reading adventure stories for younger readers, as most adventure books aimed at older audiences tend to get too serious.

This book improves with the age of the reader, though I wonder if I would like it as much if I hadn't read it when I was younger. The details are consistent, something I always look for in fantasy stories. Action scenes are described well, paced decently and engaging. Characters are, indeed, consistent, convincing, varied, and, most important, lovable.

I would recommend this book to any young reader or any adult reader in want of something fun and less complicated.

Now I remember why I named my childhood pet guinea pigs Lyra and Pan.
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Young adult and wonderful-- first of a triology of power and strange magic.
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Amazing beginning to a soon-to-be childrens classic. This series is better for teens and adults even - as it deals with some topics in a more adult manner. My husband and I were hooked on these from the first page onwards.
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I really liked the "His Dark Materials" series!!! SO much better than the movie they attempted to make that's for sure. The Golden Compass is a wonderfully exciting and imaginative story! It's action-packed, intense, fun, and very exciting! If you are a fan of fantasy, you should definitely read this!
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A wonderful fantasy! Very clever. The movie follows closely to the book, so I thought I might find the book boring. Just the opposite - I couldn't put it down! A good read for the hammock in the summer.
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Well written and a good story. This volume of the series would be fine for younger readers, but I suggest that parents read the rest before allowing children to read them. It deals with some adult subject matter and has violent children. I like them personally, but my children won't read them til they are in their late teens.
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I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, but I did greatly enjoy the movie, too. Honestly, I thought the movie was a very good adaptation of the book with things that weren't all that majorly changed.
The whole religious controversy wasn't that profound until the end of the book and even then, so far, it didn't seem all that much more blasphemous than most other fantasy series. I mostly wanted to read this to find out what happens next, so I'm very glad that I'm read them consecutively in one volume. And I wanted to know what shape Pan ends up!
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This is one of the best books I have ever come accross
full of wonder, adventure, and hints of real danger
it goes far beyond the movie, and gives a glimps in more
detail of the main actors in the play.
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While the genre of this series usually says teenager, I disagree completely. It is a great series, thoroughly absorbing, but aimed at an adult reader.
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The first of the Dark Materials fantasy trilogy, this volume presents the beginnings of the cosmic adventure in which a young girl from Oxford, Lyra, takes on the forces of evil and their desire to capture the souls of the very young. The three books have been controversial, and Pullman accused of all kinds of blasphemy, but they are fascinating explorations of the presence of evil in the universe and ultimately how love is the answer.
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Great book- my 12 yo daughter and I both enjoyed it.
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Intriguing. Artfully told.
reviewed The Golden Compass Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials) on
Own the original story that is now in movie theaters everywhere!

Excerpt from back of book: "It was no ordinary life for a young girl: living among scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College and tearing unsupervised through Oxford's motley streets on mad quests for adventure...Captured into the heart of a terrible struggle, Lyra was forced to seek aid from clans, gyptians, and formidable armored bears. And as she journeyed into unbelievable danger, she had not the faintest clue that she alone was destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle..."
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This is a great first book in the His Dark Dark Materials Trilogy! It is adventerous and full of fantasy and wonderful characters.
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I'm willing to admit that when it comes to books and movies I sometimes "don't get it". I "got it" in this one, but I don't really understand what all the controversy was about. Everyone acted like it was some big deal with all the anti-religion, but I didn't really see that in here at all. It was a "just okay" book. I have the other two to read one day, but they are going down the list a bit. While parts of the book were very fast paced and fun, some of it was just "eh".
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Until recently, this series had somehow flown under my radar. It wasnt until I saw the trailer for the upcoming The Golden Compass movie that I was introduced to Lyras world. The trailer made the movie look AMAZING, so naturally (as I always do), I thoughtI MUST read this book!.

His Dark Materials creates a beautiful, vibrant world with characters as deep as if you had known them your whole life. The books themselves deal with heavy subjects. Nuclear Physics, Parallel Worlds, Quantum Particles and Theology snuggle right up against equally introspective looks at Love, Friendship, Loyalty, Family and Honor. Quite frequently, I found myself looking at the cover of these books again and again to ensure that I was indeed reading a childrens novel. When did this genre get so deep? I dont remember reading anything this remarkable when I was younger. No offense to you, Encyclopedia Brown, my dear friend.

While I hesitate to compare to Potter, I want to point out one main difference which I think is very important to anyone thinking about purchasing this series for their intrepid young reader.while HP deals with the strong ideals of good vs. evil, HDM leans heavily into the actual concepts of both, dissecting each, questioning the origins, challenging the pedestals each stand on. In HP, evil is simply evil. HDM doesnt assume any such nonsense. If there is evil, it forces the reader to consider why they think that something is evil. Is it really? Or are you just looking at it from a different perspective? Also.for those who thought the HP series was too religious, reader beware of the HDM series. Pullman isnt vague. He labels his players in the battle of good vs. evil calling the church, the creator and religions out by name. Note this example: In book three, this sentence appears: The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all. Again I wondered if this was merely an adult book cloaked in childs clothing (as I lapped up every word).

I thought that the struggles between the Church, The Authority, the Creator, Dust, The Council etc. were deep but thoroughly engrossing. I embraced how Pullman questioned the very beginnings of organized religion and of the creator himself. He turned everything on its ear: Ghosts, Angels, Witches and even Death. He is essentially challenging every reader, regardless of age, to look at the world around you. Why do we trust, why do we believe, what is faith, what is truth? Maybe things are different than what they seem. Perhaps there is more out there than our extremely limited view of physics, theology and cosmology is currently telling us. Maybe the world isnt round after all. Maybe its infinitely layered and unbearably more beautiful than we ever knew.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The tone was a nice blend of fantasy and critical thinking. I think it's important for children and young adults to question the world around them. Yay for Pullman! I look forward to finishing this series.

As for the audio, this is an excellent production utilizing a full cast. The author is the primary narrator and all of the actors were excellent, especially Joanna Wyatt who portrays Lyra.
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Loved the whole series! Will be a movie soon.
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What an action packed adventure! Lyra is the daughter of two highly ambitious and ruthless parents who are consumed with the mystery of "dust". Believing that she is an orphan watched over by her uncle and scholars, Lyra discovers the truth as her mother seeks to control her while kidnapping children and separating them from their daemons which usually kills both of them. Spawning efforts to rescue the children she makes many friends, all of whom she leaves behind when she follows her father into a parallel world to save "dust", which her father believes is harmful to humans. Lyra has a different idea. She thinks that it is essential to human life and hopes to preserve it, thereby setting the reader up for the sequel. A good read indeed for young and old.
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Maybe I'm just getting harder to impress. Pullman's story seem to drag, Lyra's character didn't appeal to me. Some of his story elements were very unique, which is what kept me reading til the end but I don't think I'll finish the series.
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Excellent book! Provided food for thought as well as an exciting story. Following the exploits of Lyra and watching how she learns to trust others, and when not to trust, provides entertainment for the mature reader while it gives the younger crowd something to identify with and, perhaps, learn from. As happens so often, those who have seen the movie and are now reading the book - the ending is a bit different so no peaking!
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another teen must read
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A great book for older kids and adults-very well written fantasy about a girl and parallel worlds and the conflict it causes.
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read the book, pass on the movie!
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With all of the hype surrounding its message, The Golden Compass did not live up to expectations. The writing is mediocre and doesn't give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the story. For example, recognizing that the book is for young adults, very early in the book, Pullman mentions the Aurora Borealis and gives a definition and description to ensure that the reader understands the reference. However, once the Aurora Borealis is defined, it is not necessary to define it every time it is mentioned. This annoying technique also happens with the panserbjørne, or armored bears. Every time the bears are mentioned, Pullman will call them panserbjørne and then redefine them. This annoying flaw pulls the reader out of the fantasy world that is being created.

In addition to the constant redefinition of words, Pullman also does not satisfactorily bring the book to an end. While the book is the first in a series of three, the ending for this one feels more like an arbitrary plot break rather than a real end to the first third of the story.

Finally, the story is too long considering that there are two more books to read after this one. It's clear what is going to happen in the plot, yet there is so little action and so much repetition that the reader feels like the plot is at a standstill.

Overall, there are a lot of other wonderful fantasy books for both young adults and adults. Read one of them before picking up The Golden Compass.
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This was a great book. I actually read the whole series, and I thought it tailed off toward the end but this book was worth it on its own. Emotional, engaging fiction set in a parallel world.
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I know there is alot of controversy with this book, or the trilogy more so, and I know the point was to make this book tame to rope people in to the whole series, which I have not finished yet. But to be honest, to me it reads like any other fiction story. If you don't know what symbolism the other is trying to get across, then I don't think it really matters. It is a good story.
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excellent for both young adult and adult readers!
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Excellent fantasy book. Not just for children either.
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I really enjoyed reading this book...a great adventure story, even for adults!
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Unique storytelling style. Much more "grown-up" style and themes than Harry Potter but just as much loved by children and adults of all ages. Book 1 of His Dark Materials series.
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A WONDERFUL PIECE OF YOUNG ADULT FANTASY FICTION. A GREAT OPTION FOR OLDER KIDS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING THE COMPLIMENT POTTER.
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Some books improve with age--the age of the reader, that is. Such is certainly the case with Philip Pullman's heroic, at times heart-wrenching novel, The Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied:

As for what experimental theology was, Lyra had no more idea than the urchins. She had formed the notion that it was concerned with magic, with the movements of the stars and planets, with tiny particles of matter, but that was guesswork, really. Probably the stars had daemons just as humans did, and experimental theology involved talking to them.

Not that Lyra spends much time worrying about it; what she likes best is "clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." But Lyra's carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from "gyptians" to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

In The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman has written a masterpiece that transcends genre. It is a children's book that will appeal to adults, a fantasy novel that will charm even the most hardened realist. Best of all, the author doesn't speak down to his audience, nor does he pull his punches; there is genuine terror in this book, and heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. There is also love, loyalty, and an abiding morality that infuses the story but never overwhelms it. This is one of those rare novels that one wishes would never end. Fortunately, its sequel, The Subtle Knife, will help put off that inevitability for a while longer.
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Really beautiful book about a little girl, her daemon, something called Dust and stolen children. First of a trilogy
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This is sincerely one of the best books I have ever read. Philip Pullman is an amazingly talented, imaginative author. I can't wait for the movie adaptation!
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Fascinating scifi fantasy. Need to get book 2
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I know that people really love this book, but I just couldn't get into it. I didn't like the main character and felt that the author laid out his story in a very roundabout way. I just wasn't inspired to get through this book.
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I didn't care too much for this story. I found it long and drawn out. The voice acting on the CD was done well, though the main character (Lyra) had a whining tone to her that got on my nerves after the 10th hour. Maybe the movie will be better. The movie trailer seemed more exciting than this book.
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This book is not as well written as Harry Potter or the Bartimaeus Trilogy, but it was okay. The story line got to be a little much - Lyra just didn't seem to be a believable heroine to me. There is a lot of action that keeps the book moving and is probably engaging for kids, but it isn't the best. I probably will not read the next two books. I would recommend instead: "The Bartimaeus Trilogy" by Jonathan Stroud or "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.
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The first book in a Young Adult trilogy that was really great.
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I thought it was a lovely read and my daughter (11) could hardly put it down.
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This is the best of the Dark Materials books, but I still found it problematic. Character motivations are erratic at best, for example. Perhaps as a kid's book, but I wasn't all that impressed.
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"The Golden Compass" is stunningly original, beautifully crafted, and thrillingly told. It is a masterwork of fantasy and storytelling that heralds the arrival of a classic.
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A literary treat for those who enjoy a little sci-fi/fantasy.
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I saw the movie before I even realized there was a book. And, while I enjoyed the movie, I enjoyed the book much more.
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After watching the movie (which I thought was kind of dull), I tried out reading the books. The first book is better than the movie, by quite a bit, but still at times it felt like it was "work" to read. The second book was even worse and then the third book I skipped most of it. The first book is worth reading the second and third are not.
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The book is well written and certainly grabs the imagination. I'm saving the trilogy for my grandaughters to read.
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If you enjoy young adult fantasy, you will love The Golden Compass. Pullman takes you on a journey that makes you keep turning the pages.
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Fast-paced interesting fantasy book about a brave girl who battles evil. Unlike other reviews that consider this book anti-God, I didn't consider it as being against religion. If it was, it was so subtle it went right over my head! Although this is geared toward young adults, I think many adults will enjoy it,too. I am not a big science fiction or fantasy fan,but I liked it.
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First book in a series, a good young adult reader. Takes a few to orient to the rules of this world, but I enjoy that. This book really has no ending and the three books do not stand alone by any means. That is where the trouble lies... the remaining books are not as good and do a poor job of trying to tear down religion. Not a difficult argument to discount for a critical reader, but those with religious convictions will want to at a minimum make sure that pre-teen readers see the shortcomings in the author's anti-religious stories in the later books.
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A favorite book! Lyra is not your typical protagonist, but she's captivating. The story is thrilling and I picked up the 2nd and 3rd books immediately.

The movie they made of this story was pretty awful - they tried too hard not to offend anyone, so they ended up pleasing no one. Stick to the print; it's got action, adventure, mythology, and philosophy, all rolled into a fantastic story!
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Nice children's story that adults can really read into if they want. If you're an adult looking for something to fill the adventure void Harry Potter has left I'd pick up Pullman's series. It has alot of room for interpritation, debate and speculation, much like Potter.
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this isbn is for the abridged version
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I found the story to be original. The enjoyed how the characters were developed. Most of the supporting characters had stories explaining their relevance and role as part of the main story line. This is the kind of book I can re-read for many years to come.
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Very good book. In ways it reminds me of the Harry Potter series in the fantasty aspect. The story peaked my interest enough to want to read the other two books of the series.
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Overall a decent book, though I don't really like the last chapter or two. Still, it is a book that is easy to read, and flows exceptionally well most of the way throughout. At around 400 pages, it holds its quality most of the way through, but it feels like it is setting up a sequel that doesn't flow directly from the first book. I have not read the second book, so it is hard to describe what I mean about how it sets up the sequel.
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Incredibly clever and creatively inspirational novel; I've read the sequels as well and can't wait for the movie version!
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A fantasy adventure.
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Book one of the famous trilogy, and the best of the three - this is the European edition.
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Good book for middle schooler and above & adults. About a young girl, brought up in a college, in an unknown alternate universe, who discovers that she's the center of a struggle between two factions.
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This is the UK edition of the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy (published as The Golden Compass in the USA).

I just finished this book and I'm left scratching my head wondering what all the hype is about. To be honest, it was only about 2/3 into the book where I even began to get remotely interested in the story and the characters. Now that I've finished, I'm curious to know what happens to Lyra and Pantameleon (or however you spell it) and thus will probably read the next two books.
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Lyra Belacqua is conent to run wild among the scholard of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle....born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. As she hurtles toward danger in the cold, far North, young Lyra never suspects the shocking truth; she is alone, is destined to win or lose, this more than mortal battle.
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Great book! Only caveat is to have the next in the series on hand LOL
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These books are amazing - of you haven't read them yet, why not?!
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good book. I think it was as good as the movie.
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After hearing and receiving emails regarding this book/movie's anti-Christian contents I decided to read it myself to determine was was causing the hysteria.

This is book 1 of a trilogy. Book 2 is THE SUBTLE KNIFE, which I will review separately.

I did not find THE GOLDEN COMPASS to be anti-Christian. It did, however base a church in the book and that church's followers, on historical activities of the Christian church, in particular the Catholic church of the middle ages. The main character is a young girl that is dropped off at a university by a person she believes is her uncle, but turns out to be her father. She is raised in a haphazard manner by the scholars, but has a good life until children begin disappearing. This is the story of her adventures as she tries to find her best friend, who is one of the children that disappears.

While the story line is interesting, the over all message seems to be that people that should love and care for you will betray you at every turn and that the few good people that do love and care for you will continually be either overcome or out witted by evil people. I also found the main character's pride in being a good liar a problem. As for the part that touches on the the evils of the church and those seeking to overthrow it, by so opposing God, well both groups of people are so horrible that I found the whole book to be depressing. There is no good vs. evil. It seems it is just evil vs. evil.

In addition, most of the book was rather tedious and at times, boring.
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This is the story of Lyra, a little girl for whom things work out just the way she wants. This book is somewhat too perfect for me, things work out a little too well with not many adverse affects. I also don't get the whole philosophical ideals behind Dust and all. The beginning of the book was much better than the end in regards to the fanciful.
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Deals with more issues that might be teenage in nature. Still a very well written book with a fantastic story line.
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First of a trilogy and my favorite of the three. The second is darker and the third, while it does wrap up the details, is VERY anti-religion and seems to be full of the author's "issues". These are not as apparent in the first two books. Just a caveat.
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fun and quick and vivid.
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An amazing start to the His Dark Materials trilogy, which follows the young girl Lyra as she searches for her kidnapped friend and ultimately becomes the center of a cosmic struggle.
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Great adventure for adults or teens.
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How anyone could compare this world to Narnia is beyond me. I found it sad. Pullman seems bitter.
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I think I must have missed something in this book. I never had a profound epiphany, no deeply philosophical thoughts, no life changing moments. It was just a book. And I'm not sure it was even a good book. I was entertained while reading it, but not enough to continue the series. I am curious about the movie though.
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A young girl has an adventure traveling to the mysterious North to rescue her uncle. Slight fantasy. Good moral of faith and friendship.
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Althought this is a children's book, I found it very interesting. It's a wonderful fantasy story.
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His Dark Materials - Book 1
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Pretty boring. This doesn't even begin to compare to Harry Potter at all.
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love this series -- ya fantasty
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My daughter didn't like this book, but it is a verry good one.
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this series of books was a gift for my nephew, I personally have not read it yet.
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a great fantasy
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A awesome fantasy adventure.
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Veru entertaining!
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Being made into a movie!! Out by the holidays!!
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First in Fantasy Trilogy
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Being made into a movie!!!
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This series is pretty dark. Adults seem to be either evil or ambiguous. Also portrays the christian church as bad.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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This book was specifically written to undermine children's Christian World views. He targets children at an age when mature discernment abilities have not yet been reached. His books talk about killing an Angel that states he is God. He takes scripture and twists it into pervertedness. I would not recommend reading this book unless you want to read the book in order to know what is in the book in order to combat his methods of attempting to destroy God in the minds of his readers.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.
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DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.