March 2, 2010

The Golden Compass - by Phillip Pullman

I just realized that I've never written a review of one of my all-time favorite children's books, The Golden Compass!  This is the first in a darkly named trilogy called His Dark Materials, the meaning of which won't be entirely clear until you've finished the third book.  This is a series which has attracted controversy for the anti-religion overtones some read into it, and for its author's rebellion against the overly religious Chronicles of Narnia series.  Mister K, however, is able to read past those things, and enjoy books for their literary splendor.

This is the amazing story of Lyra, a young girl whose parents have left her in the care of the scholars at Oxford University in a slightly re-imagined historical England.  This curious and courageous heroine is kept constant company by her daemon, a small critter named Pan.  As she sets off on a course of action that includes saving her uncle's life, escaping the dreaded Gobblers, joining the mysterious Gyptians, and raiding a secret facility in the far Arctic north, Lyra encounters an incredible cast of characters.  There is a Texas balloon pilot, a frustrated but brave polar bear, a nasty lady with ties to Lyra's past, and many more curious and fascinating people and creatures.

This is a rollicking, imaginative adventure, one of the best I've ever read!  Mr. Pullman is simply brilliant.  If you're up for a challenge and want to experience an unforgettable read, this is one of my top recommendations.

Special Notes:  Skip the movie, know that the sequels get progressively stranger, and check out the audio recording of this book, which will help with your pronunciation of places and names, and which features a FULL CAST, something very unusual and wonderful indeed!

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