Saturday, 3 August 2013

Philip Pullman | Northern Lights

The cover shown is the cover I own, as is usually the way unless I have a particularly nasty cover, but one quick Google search will show you the many beautiful covers for this book and the others in the trilogy.

Now let's just go back a bit.

My Dad, sister and I listened to the three books (downloaded from if I remember rightly) quite a few years ago now. Nowadays, I kinda get excited when I hear the word trilogy, not only because it's the perfect number of books to have in a series and it sounds great, but because, I think, of these. I also have a little love affair with the Northern Lights, what with Dad and I both being subscribed to Aurora Watch (even though we both know we'll never see it in the SW of England) and I think also that it stemmed from listening to these books.

Ok, reverie over, I promise. Northern Lights - or The Golden Compass as it is now known (grrrr) - is a mind-blowing combination of awesome plot and fantastic characters. We have 11-year-old Lyra - the most kick-ass protagonist I've ever come across (beating Katniss Everdeen) with her daemon Pantaliamon; Iorick Byrnison the armoured bear who, despite his tough exterior, definitely has a soft spot for Lyra; John Faa and Farder Coram and all the other gyptians who deep down were Lyra's true guardians; Roger, Lyra's companion who she tries to save and unwittingly sacrifices; The Master and Scholars of Jordan who only wanted the best for Lyra. I could go on, and then we come to Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel. If you haven't read this before/are currently reading this, do not continue.

About mid-way through the book, I was sure that Mrs Coulter was the evil Mother, and Lord Asriel the not-brilliant-but-honest Father. By the end, I was quite ready to smack Lord Asriel. See, I could tell that there was something not quite right about Lord Asriel, but in the last two chapters where he runs off with Roger and suddenly seems to prefer Mrs Coulter to Lyra, I hated him. Although Mrs Coulter was the baddie in the book, at least she stayed in the world she was condemned to in a way, to face whatever the future held, which was serious turmoil. Lord Asriel suddenly was a vile madman.

The story follows Lyra and her quest with the Alethiometer, or truth measurer. She believes it is her duty to take it to Lord Asriel who gets captured and imprisoned in the far North. Lyra becomes fond of the term North and the prospect of her travelling there and much of the book is set there. She starts off in Oxford. Do not be fooled though, as this is Brytain and is in a different universe to ours. In fact, if you stare through the Aurora... Anyway, after Lyra is given the Alethiometer by the Master of Jordan College, her destiny is set on a wind-y and indirect course that will end her up walking into another world - that is our world.

The book is quiety - or not so - philosophical, with prominant ideas of Original Sin and alternate universes millimetres away from ours (a prospect that is becoming less and less surreal these days) among other things. This book is brilliant. I really don't have any problems with it and I can't wait to start the next one, The Subtle Knife. If you haven't read it, do so, as it is almost educational and entirely absorbing. I give it 5/5 stars, not to mention how Philip Pulman's voice matches the book perfectly and makes time pass much faster!

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