Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

First in the "His Dark Materials" series, followed by The Amber Spyglass and The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. I've read the series before, but during college. I think that my brain was distracted as I am reading more things into the book than before. Or it could be the experience in knowing how it ends and the symbolism of Dust. The Amber Spyglass is sitting on my shelf to be read. I never purchased The Subtle Knife and it is books-to-purchase list. The first installment follows Lyra, a girl left in the care of the Scholar from Oxford College. Except Oxford isn't the Oxford you and I could visit. Instead it is Oxford in a parallel universe where people have daemons, an animal companion that is with them constantly. The deeper, under-lying connection between a daemon and its human is difficult to explain. The best word I have for it is an embodied soul, but even that doesn't really convey it. Lyra's world is carefree until one summer when the Gobblers come to Oxford. Their arrival coincides with Lyra's discovery of her parentage and a gift more precious than any other she has known. Armed only with the friendship of the Gypies, the alethiometer and her daemon, Lyra begins the journey that will change the world as everyone knows it. Interesting note: This volume was released with a different title in the UK -- The Golden Compass and Northern Lights are the same book.

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