The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

By (author) Philip Pullman


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"Superb...Wonder-filled." -- "The Washington Post Book World" 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 witches, gypsies, 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 . . . "Very grand indeed...Scene after scene of power and beauty." -- "The New York Times" "A rousing, page-turning adventure that promises to please fantasy readers of all ages." -- "Library Journal" (starred review) "Powerful...sparkles with childlike wonder." -- "The Boston Sunday Globe"

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  • Hardback | 399 pages
  • 149.86 x 213.36 x 35.56mm | 657.71g
  • 01 Dec 1996
  • Alfred A. Knopf
  • New York
  • English
  • 0679879242
  • 9780679879244
  • 537,412

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Author Information

Philip Pullman has won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for "The Golden Compass" (and the reader-voted "Carnegie of Carnegies" for the best children's book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award for "The Amber Spyglass"; a Booker Prize long-list nomination ("The Amber Spyglass"); Parents' Choice Gold Awards ("The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass"); and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Philip Pullman is the author of many books for young readers, including two volumes related to the His Dark Materials trilogy: "Lyra's Oxford" and "Once Upon a Time in the North." He lives in Oxford, England. To learn more, please visit and

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Review quote

"Extraordinary storytelling at its very best." "--The Detroit Free Press" "Superb . . . all-stops-out thrilling." "--The Washington Post" "Very grand indeed." "--The New York Times" "Powerful [...] a fantasy adventure that sparkles with childlike wonder." "--The Boston Sunday Globe" "Marvelous [...] the writing is elegant and challenging." "--The New Yorker" "Arguably the best juvenile fantasy novel of the past twenty years [...] If ["The Subtle Knife"] is as good as "The Golden Compass, " we'll be two thirds of the way to the completion of a modern fantasy classic." "--The Washington Post Book World" "Pullman is quite possibly a genius...using the lineaments of fantasy to tell the truth about the universal experience of growing up." --"Newsweek" "Masterful storytelling [...] with a cast of instantly beguiling characters." "--The Dallas Morning News" "The most magnificent fantasy series since Lord of the Rings." --"The Oregonian " "Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century. An astounding achievement." --"The Cincinnati Enquirer " "Once in a lifetime a children's author emerges who is so extraordinary that the imagination of generations is altered. Lewis Carroll, E. Nesbit, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien were all of this cast. So, too, is Philip Pullman, whose Dark Materials trilogy will be devoured by anyone between eight and eighty. The most ambitious work since The Lord of the Rings, it is as intellectually thrilling as it is magnificently written." "-- New Statesman" "Thrillingly paced and exotic [...] breathtaking." "-- Columbus Dispatch" "[...] a rare few have minds capacious enough to engage in vast cosmos-making, imagining realms and inventing universes. I am thinking of Dante and Milton and Blake. We may now add Philip Pullman.""" "--Parents Choice (online)" ""The Golden Compass" is one of the best fantasy/adventure stories that I have read in years. This is a book no one should miss." --Terry Brooks, author of "The Sword of Shannara" "As always, Pullman is a master at combining impeccable characterizations and seamless plotting, maintaining a crackling pace to create scene upon scene of almost unbearable tension. This glittering gem will leave readers of all ages eagerly awaiting the next installment of Lyra's adventures." "--Publishers Weekly," Starred Review "This first fantastic installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy propels readers along with horror and high adventure, a shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe." "- Kirkus Reviews, " Starred Review "This first fantastic installment propels readers along with horror and high adventure [...] A shattering tale that begins with a promise and delivers an entire universe." "--Kirkus Reviews," Starred "The characters of Lord Asriel, Mrs. Coutler, and Iorek Byrnison and the cold and beautiful Northern setting are captivating; the constantly twisting plot and escalating suspense are riveting; and Lyra and Pantalaimon are among the gutsiest and wiliest of adventurers. Touching, exciting, and mysterious by turns, this is a splendid work." --"The Horn Book Magazine, " Starred "Glorious. And what an ending -- simply operatic." --"School Library Journal, " Top 100 Children's Novels (#28) "This is a captivating fantasy, filled with excitement, suspense, and unusual characters." "--School Library Journal" "A totally involving, intricately plotted fantasy that will leave readers clamoring for the sequels." "--Booklist, Starred review" "Glorious. . . . "The Golden Compass "is one of those lyrical suspensions like "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Lord of the Rings" that crosses all age lines and intertwines mythologies and legends with seamless beauty." --"BookPage "

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Flap copy

In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, "nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing--victims of so-called "Gobblers"--and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

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