Posted in Reviews

Review: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Recommended: yep!
For a cold magical adventure, for children who are cleverer and braver than adults, for surprising philosophical discussions, for a really masterful balance of chaos and calm to keep you pulling effortlessly through the pages


Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.

Edit: the above blurb does not do this book justice. That is the absolute bare bones of it all, and I’m astonished that such a long-lived and excellent novel has such a lackluster blurb. I guess they figure it doesn’t need any help at this point…? But trust: it’s a wonderful and exciting story!


This is one of those books that I thought I missed the boat on because it came out when I was too young to read it. Technically it came out when I wasn’t even 1 year old, so definitely not on my radar at that point. Kind of like with Harry Potter, I figured that even if it was a good book it wouldn’t have the same impact on me as it might have at that time. Essentially, my expectations were kind of low going into this. I didn’t think it would be a bad book, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be the target age or audience at this point.

Having just finished it today, I’m not sure what the target audience is! This is one of those books that has a main character who is a child and yet it’s extremely entertaining and accessible for an adult. I assume there’s a lot in it that a child would like as well, such as adults being terrible, magic bears, shape-shifting demons, and children outwitting adults. Frankly, three out of four of those are things I enjoy as well at my age. And enjoy it I did!

I was quite impressed with this one! I liked it very much actually, and it had a steady rhythm that made it easy to continue along. There was a period to set everything up, there was some excitement, there was a moment of calm, then more excitement, calm, excitement, calm, excitement! And I believe that is the entire rhythm of the book that I have just summed up for you. It wasn’t until I got to the moments of calm and relaxed that I realized how tense I had been during the chaos and fear. My god, there was some really intense moments!

There was also a surprising amount of philosophical discussion in this, what was the question of dust and other worlds and creatures trying to be something they are not. It was pretty accessible, which makes sense if this was intended to be more of a book for children, but it felt lofty nonetheless in that kind of way that made me feel smart for reading it. 😅

Overall, yeah, I get it. I’ll definitely be continuing this, and I think there was a TV series made? So maybe I’ll give that a go as well because I think that the visuals would be absolutely stunning.


Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

13 thoughts on “Review: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman

  1. Great review! I think this is a book that I need to re-read and probably give better attention to while reading because I do remember enjoying it but I also felt like maybe I missed the point (rather than feeling smart, I honestly felt a little dumb, haha)! 😂 Definitely in the cards for a re-read before continuing on with the rest of the series. And before I watch the series which I’ve heard is really good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could totally see that lol. At the end it starts mentioning stuff about the Bible and I was like oh okay that’s not the direction I thought this would go. I’ll probably watch the show now as well since I’ve read the book! Maybe you and me and Nicole can do guest reviews or compare notes or something. 🙂


  2. I definitely hold an unpopular opinion here, but I did not like this series. At all. I did finish reading this first book and was interested enough to continue, but I DNFed book two. I just wasn’t caught up in the world enough to continue. I don’t even remember now what I disliked about it. Oh well. I’m okay being in the minority on this one! I am curious about the TV series (which has Lin Manuel Miranda in it) but I don’t know that I’ll ever get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m honestly not surprised to hear that, because I felt like I could go either way for the majority of the book. It wasn’t until the last quarter where I was like okay yeah I definitely enjoyed this.

      I just wanted to read a wintry adventure magic story and my boyfriend had recently mentioned that there was a show called The Golden compass and I was like oh I bet that’s based on the book! So when I thought of cold adventure this book was at the forefront and I was like yeah you know what I’ll get around to it.

      We should compare notes after! I’m a little worried I’m going to hate the TV show because it might be childish and, like shadow and bone was on Netflix. We’ll see!


  3. This is one of my favorite series of all time, so I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed it. The TV series on HBO is ABSOLUTELY worth a watch, and while it’s a tad different from the books, it really captures the feel wonderfully. Please keep reading! I hope you enjoy the others just as much. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s great to hear about the show! I don’t usually mind if it’s a bit different than the book if the spirit of it is the same. The setup for book two sounds like a big change from book one so I’m super curious where it’ll go! Have you read his other books that are set in this world? I saw them mentioned at the end of the book.

      Liked by 1 person

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