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The Big ReadNorthern Lights

Philip Pullman

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Scholastic

Published : 1995

Copyright : Philip Pullman 1995

ISBN-10 : PB 0-590-66054-3
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-590-66054-9

Publisher's Write-Up

The first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy

When Lyra's friend Roger disappear, she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights…

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (180207) Rating (9/10)
Review by Chrissi (171103) Rating (9/10)

Review by Nadine
Book Source: Purchased
Rating 9/10
See Nadine's review for Northern Lights as part of His Dark Materials.

Nadine (18th Febraury 2007)

Review by Chrissi
Book Source: Purchased
Rating 9/10
I have to say that I am so glad that this series got into the Big Read Top 21, and this definitely has my vote. I started this while on holiday, and rapidly became completely entranced. I had heard about it from somewhere and when I saw it, just had to have a copy, so we picked all three up in WHSmiths, (albeit different shops), and I got started.

The first thing that I noticed is the daemons that people have, almost an extension of themselves, either their soul or conscience. These daemons have a form, flexible animal forms when the children are young, becoming fixed at some point later in life around puberty. These creatures are able to speak and act independently but are unable to travel far from their person. Lyra is the central character of this story and her daemon is called Pantalaimon (or Pan for short).

Lyra and Pan live in Jordan College, Oxford, running wild with other children and suffering little discipline from the College masters. Lyra is a daring child, poking her nose into areas where it really does not belong, and it gets her into various kinds of trouble. She and Pan creep into the Retiring Room, which only Masters and guests are supposed to go into, intending to poke about and then escape before anyone realises, but she is trapped when the Master comes into the room. Lyra sees him put a powder into some wine being prepared for the visit of Lord Asriel, Lyra's uncle, and having seen this, Lyra tells Lord Asriel when he is left alone with her in the room.

From this point the story develops, with religious boards of control, missing children and a wonderful instrument called an alethiometer which tells the answers to questions. Lyra is entrusted with the alethiometer, and she teaches herself to use it, asking multifaceted questions, and seeing down the meanings of the symbols depicted on the instrument. So much of this story is about a thing called Dust, but quite what it is other than that it congregates around people and that the Church is afraid of it, we don't really know.

Lyra's friend Roger, a boy from the college goes missing and Lyra sets out to try to find him, what she finds in the far north is monstrous, and she sets about trying to right the wrongs with the help of witches and a man in a balloon called Lee Scoresby. The journey, which she undertakes is incredible, so wonderfully described that you are just carried along with her.

Lyra finds out that Lord Asriel is being held in the far north and she goes to free him, in doing so she helps the great bear Iorek Byrnison to retrieve his crown. Once free Asriel travels towards the Northern Lights, closely followed by Lyra. His aim is to to visit the other worlds briefly glimpsed within the shimmering lights, and he has figured out a way to blast through the curtain between the worlds and Lyra has to follow to find out what he is doing.

I can see why this deserves to be in the Top 21 of the Big Read and I do feel that in time it will attain a status similar to the of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in childrens literature, but it is more than that, a flight of imagination equal to the of Clive Barker's Weaveworld, it makes you feel that anything is possible, and whether it was written for children or not, I loved it.
Chrissi (17th November 2003)

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