Some Thoughts on The Golden Compass
“Being a practiced liar doesn't mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it's that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.” - Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass (a.k.a Northern Lights)
I read The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife when I was much younger. I cannot pinpoint the exact date or age, which is odd for me (I tend to have a pretty precise and detailed memory). However, I must have been fairly young because I thing some of the subtleties (see what I did there) were lost on me during my first reading.
I decided to read this series again because:
1) Philip Pullman announced that there will be new books out related to this series called The Book of Dust, which is set to debut this Fall.
2) With all this talk about new books from Pullman I realized I never finished the series.
3) I vaguely remembered the plot line. So, I decided I should read the originally series thoroughly so I could decide if I want to pick up the new book later this year.
As I said above, I was a kid when I read these. Wow. I totally missed references to religion, Original Sin, Dust somewhat equating with dark matter, as well as references to places and peoples like the Tartars, Gyptians (a.k.a. Roma), or where Lapland is (a.k.a. Finland). Now that I am reading the series with much more knowledge about the world and history, I think The Golden Compass's alternate world is rather interesting. That being said some of the world building aspects are still rather fuzzy. I suppose more of this will be explained in the next two books.
Interestingly, I read the whole book and still don't have a strong attachment to any of the characters. I wonder if that is deliberate on Pullman's part since the series is suppose to be an allusion to John Milton's Paradise Lost, which *gasp* I haven't read, rather I only know the premise. Although, I will say that there are some evil adult characters in this book! Goodness, Mrs. Coulter is up there with Dolores Umbridge for my most disliked villains.
Something I'm still wrapping my head around is the abrupt end of the story! Certain things are unresolved. But not in the cliff-hanger sort of way. Characters that take up a lot of the first third of the book are seemingly forgotten! Again, perhaps I'm judging too quickly and these issues will be resolved in the next two books.