The Golden Compass and the series, “His Dark Materials” as a whole is set in a world very much like our own in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. However, even though Pullman’s location makes itself familiar with us, he adds to our imagination by creating these magnificent settlements and palaces deep in the Arctic. As the story begins, we are given the story solely through one character, Lyra. She embodies the innocence that comes with youth, however many times she exploits this to her benefit as she possesses a much deeper understanding of the world due to the fact she has spent her entire young life with some of the greatest minds in the world at the University of Oxford. One last thing I noticed about the universe in this book as a whole was that the majority of peoples in this world hold a secular religious view, and that it paints the Church organization as corrupt and evil. The plot so far is set up to end up in a war over religion, with Lyra being the so-called “savior”, who will prevent the world from collapsing on itself.
One reason I like this book so much is because of it staying largely true to reality by history, as well as logic. At the turn of the Industrial Revolution in our world, it was noticeable that the Church was much diminished in power. Much comparison can be drawn between religion in our world and Pullman’s world, and he hit spot on the corruptive nature that the Church at this time displayed. It can be argued that this book might criticize Christians, which it without a doubt does, but it’s still a work of literature that everybody has free choice whether to read or not.
Anyways, I mainly hit on the upsides to the religious preferences in the book, but there’s much more complexity to why I thought this book was so good. Our main character, Lyra, without a doubt has undergone drastic character progression, and the reality of what is happening in her world really gets us involved. Also, the protagonists aren’t all the goody-two-shoes folk we are used to, but rather a rough, family-driven band that fight for their loves, whatever they may be. And the villains in this book are memorable and have inhuman qualities to them that make them less than human, which in turn serves to make them more compelling and interesting. Overall, the plot flows well together, with the only minor flaws being how the narration seems to be choppy in the action sequences slowing then starting up again. However, I would give this book a solid 9/10 and it’s definitely worth the read