The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials 1 Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials 1

Lyra is a servant at Jordan college in Oxford. When her adventurous uncle, Lord Asriel comes to visit, she uncovers a plot by the headmaster to poison Lord Asriel. Lord Asriel evades this sinister plot, and after he leaves the headmaster, he gives Lyra a strange object, an alethiometer, which can predict the future.
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She accepts it, but very soon the charming Mrs. Coulter appears. She states that she is Lyra's legal guardian, and she takes Lyra to live with her. She soon discovers not only that her uncle is imprisoned on the isle of Svalbard, but that Mrs. Coulter is the head of a religious organization which is responsible for the disappearance of hundreds of children.

She escapes Mrs. Coulter's clutches and joins a band of gyptians, or boat-gypsies. She tells them she wants them to help her rescue her uncle and the vanished children, and since many of the children who had disappeared are of their ranks, they agree to help.

Lyra goes with them to the far north where they make acquaintances with a Texan aeronaut and an armored bear, who help them stage a daring assault on the laboratory where the children have apparently disappeared to, and after this is completed, They go to the castle where Lord Asriel is imprisoned and attempt to free him.
The review of this Book prepared by Steve Arthur

Lyra Belacqua has lived a fairly care-free 11 years at Oxford, climbing and playing. One day, in hiding, she overhears her powerful uncle, Lord Asriel, tell of a city in the sky, in the Aurora Borealis, and of Dust that travels between the city and earth. He mounts an investigatory expedition and disappears into the far north, into Lapland. Meanwhile, "Gobblers" have been stealing children -- rich and poor, educated and nomadic -- and Lyra is sent to London to study under the beautiful and myterious Mrs. Coulter. Her caretaker at Oxford, the Master, gives her a golden compass called an alethiometer and tells Lyra she must learn how to read it. Eventually, she will join a team of warriors who will ship north to Lapland to find and rescue the stolen children. Pullman's 1995 novel creates an entire world filled with magic and intrigue.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

The Golden Compass is a great book in which a girl named Lyra, who has lived at Jordan College in Oxford most of her life, goes to live with her mother, who she doesn't know is her mother, not to mention she isn't supposed to be with her. She runs away after she finds out this "nice" lady is really a gobbler! Her and her daemon, Pan, find a 'gyptian family from Oxford, and they stay with them. Because of the powerfull alethiometer John Farr, the leader of the western 'gyptians, reluctantly decides to take her "North" to free the children taken by the gobblers and her uncle that is really her father, Lord Asriel. There are many chases, hidings, and mistake encounters, but the ending is terrific, Lord Asriel and all.
The review of this Book prepared by Maya Pisel

At the age of eleven, Lyra, who assumes herself to be an oprhan taken in by the scholars in an alternate version of Oxford learns of her infulential parents and is drawn by her destiny into the mysterious and cruel actions of the church. With the help of friends, she fights against these people, and crosses into alternate worlds to learn more about Dust, a sentient subatomic particle which the church calls original sin and seeks to destroy.
The review of this Book prepared by Rigel

Lyra Belacqua has spent most of her 12 years in Oxford, but a different Oxford than our own. In her world, the dons study magic. Even more unusual, in her world, human beings have daemons, which are manifestations of their souls in a form that shifts when the humans are children, but fixes as a particular animal when they grow up. When Lyra eavesdrops on a meeting of the dons of the college where she lives, she learns secrets that send her on the run. She must stand opposed to both her power-hungry father and her sinister mother, who is part of a plot to deprive children of their daemons. A complex, rewarding book that is marketed as YA fiction but is at least as appealing and interesting to adults.
The review of this Book prepared by Ivy

Chapter Analysis of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials 1

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 20%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 30% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   part earth & part fantasy world Spying & Investigations    -   Yes What is main char. doing?    -   rescue mission/escape from confinement Political plotlets    -   factions fight within govt for control Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Kid's book (ages 7-14)

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a kid If magical mental powers:    -   clairvoyant


Terrain    -   Water    -   Mountains Earth setting:    -   20th century    -   19th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Philip Pullman Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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