Since its release in 1995, there has been a movie adaptation and a TV adaptation of The Golden Compass (originally titled Northern Lights outside of North America), so I’m guessing that we all have a general understanding of the plot, but here is a brief overview. Lyra is a brash, headstrong, and fearless girl. She and her daemon Pan (a physical manifestation of the soul in the world Lyra is from) live at Jordan College in Oxford under the care of the Scholars of the college where she comes to possess an alethiometer, a device that always tells the truth. Across the country, children are being snatched up by Gobblers, a nefarious group of people led by Mrs. Coulter, a cold and power-hungry woman who will stop at nothing to achieve greatness. The Gobblers are a part of the Magisterium, a collective that includes the Church that runs nearly every aspect of the country. With the help of many different people from all walks of life and, Lyra sets out to free the children that have been kidnapped and get answers about the one thing that seems to scare all the adults: Dust.
Maybe it’s because I have already read The Golden Compass a few times, or because I have seen all of the adaptations, or a combination of these factors, but I found the plot tiring in this read through. So much happens. Between Jordan College with Roger, London with Mrs. Coulter, the Fens with the Gyptians, Bolvanger by way of the Tartars and Gobblers, Svalbard with Iorek the armored bear, the air with witches and Lee, and then the far north with Lord Asriel, it was just a lot! Too much!
Pullman obviously has a clear vision for this parallel world that he’s created. Whereas I think he provided too much information about the world’s people and geography by way of plot, I did really appreciate the treatment of daemons throughout the book: what they are, why they do the things they can do, what the connection between daemon and human is, and what is common etiquette regarding daemons. In this regard, the detail that Pullman provides is wonderful and playful. Every knew piece of information regarding daemons made their existence more exciting.
I have read the entire series before but not nearly as many times as I have read The Golden Compass, so I am excited to continue reading. I do not remember nearly the same amount of detail regarding The Subtle Knife and definitely not The Amber Spyglass, so I’m excited to continue this journey with Lyra Silvertongue.