How-To Discover New Worlds Pullman Style

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is my favorite fantasy trilogy of all time. It consists of three books: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Northern Lights was first published 1995 and trilogy was finished in 2000.


In first book, we meet Lyra and her dæmon Pantalaimon. We are introduced to a whole new world: one that has been stuck in England’s Victorian era, one that is dominated by Magisterium and most importantly one with dæmons, people’s souls in animal companions. The book is thrilling. It has so many elements that are completely new in fantasy & also characters from around the world. Personally, I was fascinated by the witch with Finnish family name: Serafina Pekkala.
What I disliked was
Lyra. And is not too good if you dislike the main character? She keeps poking her nose into stuff that is none of her business and she also is super irresponsible. Yet she has the talent to read the compass of truth: alethiometer and everyone seems to like her….Alright then. Sure she has her moments.

In the second book, we meet Will.  Who is from our world. Who’s father has left long time ago and who’s mother is lunatic. Will is (among) my favorite protagonist in His Dark Materials. He is everything Lyra is not. When they meet, I hoped that she will learn something from him.
WP_20140306_16_09_19_Pro20140306161402 Will meets two rebellious angels. What sort of surprised me was that book had so fast pace in comparison with the previous book. It was also quite short.In the final third book, what is unexpected maybe that it is the size of first two books combined. I liked how it was mostly focused on Iorek Byrnison, Will and angel Balthamos. I liked how Pullman described the underworld, the land of the death, where Lyra and Will go to find Lyra’s friend. In many movies that I know the place where the dead are is often quite scary. In Pullman’s work, yes it was of course frightening but all they wanted was to touch and hear stories of the sun and wind. I think The Amber Spyglass closed nicely the trilogy even though the ending, in my opinion, was not quite what I expected.
The Mulefa are adorable!
Yay, we meet Kirjava! Mottled in Finnish ;)

I’d give this trilogy 9/10

Your guide on How- To Read His Dark Materials

1. It is a beautiful trilogy but every book can also be read as stand-alone. You should get ones with the drawings in the beginning of the chapters and “Lantern Slides”.
2. You will want your own dæmon (not demon!) If not, you can ask yourself “what is wrong with me” until you will want one.
3. The writer Philip Pullman has been called most unspoken atheist of all time, so be prepared for that if you are more religious or have strong beliefs. It is kind of weird that the series also carry message to adults even if ment for children.
4. It’s better to read His Dark Materials the younger you are. So if you are parent, make your children read this. The awards and nominations this series has is big.
5. It is a bit confusing at times if you don’t read it with passion.
6. Pullman was inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost. You may find it interesting.
7. Do not be fooled by thinking “oh what a great book, I’ll watch the movie too”. The movie is inaccurate (and it sucks).

If someone remembers, in 2007, there was this beautiful test where you could find you own daemon on Golden Compass’ website. Sadly closed now. Those who took the test, or take it now, what was/is your daemon?


Buy His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass on Amazon

12 thoughts on “How-To Discover New Worlds Pullman Style

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  1. Hi!
    I couldn’t wait to find you in my Android reader, which enables me to comment from my tablet’s app, much better than the laptop☺
    And especially because of your post on Pullman’s HDMs. Since I’ve read HDMs, this masterpiece of contemporary thought, with a mind feverishly seeking transcendence for half a century now, it freed me to freely think.
    Of course, as you can read in my first two articles about it at , Pullman’s worlds have become at least for me, the gateways to a better understanding of what we’ve lost on religion’s altars, and what we can gain if we have the courage to walk all the way to the end of a road where we know well our beliefs must face the truth.
    For me, probably given my academic background, HDMs are decoloping into a study subject of the intricate textures intersecting each other at points where psychology, spirituality, theology, quantum physics and relativity are becoming doors into worlds sometimes we should have, sometimes we shouldn’t ever have open.
    I’ll be following your blog, gladly interacting☺

  2. Hello! :)
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for following my blog! :) I checked your posts and you are have very good points in those. I hadn’t even thought about the metaphorical meanings that deeply before reading those. Like the meanings of Belacqua and Alethiometer.
    Pullman has incredible mind to make it so fascinating for both children’s and adult readers. I think I have to keep re-reading HDMs now.
    Nah, Doors are always meant to be opened.

  3. Given the subtext and the deconstruction of religious authority present, I’d say these books are just as good if not better as an adult. Like the Narnia Chronicle, there’s more than just the plot going on here.

    But like you, I find these to be some of the best out there, and my appreciation for them has only gone up as I’ve aged.

  4. I wish I had a daemon too, and I agree with you that Lyra is so nosy! I read these books as a teenager and loved them, however I re-read them as part of my studies and could not get over how anti-church the whole book was. The whole concept of ‘killing God’ was very refreshing but there was balance, no redeeming member of the clergy. All of this obviously went over my head when I read them as a fourteen year old!

    1. Thanks for commenting! :) Daemons are awesome! I think anti-church isn’t too obvious in the trilogy when you are young but later it is. I don’t think it’s too bad thing, just refreshing. And “killing” God…what kind of a god… I think I even wrote Philip Pullman fan letter about it when I was 14 or so haha, never received an answer though.

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