I rather liked the movie, so when do we get to see what happens next?
It is extremely unlikely that any sequels would ever get made. The Golden Compass cost a bundle to make (rumours have it as high as $220 million) and market ($50 million according to some sources) and it underperformed at the box office. In contrast to the Lord of the Rings movies which were filmed all at once, the plan for Golden Compass from the start was to see how the first movie performs money-wise before filming the other two books in children’s author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy.

So I have to read the books to see what happens next?
Yup. All the books in the series are: The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in the UK, Pullman apparently preferred the US title), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Phew! So one doesn’t need to wait for the writer to finish all the books then?
Nope. The last book in the series was published in 2000. So you can read them all as one book, which we suggest you do.

I’ve seen the movie. Can I skip the first book and go straight on to The Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass then?
Afraid not. Although the movie adaptation of Golden Compass is quite true to the first book in the series, it does however leave out the last few chapters. Those are the bits deemed “too controversial” for a big budgeted Hollywood epic and were thus omitted. The cliff-hanger ending in the movie version is also very different to the one in the book and you’d be lost if you’ve only seen the movie and decide to skip right ahead to the second book in the series.

So I’ll have to read Golden Compass even though I’ve seen the movie then?!
Yes. But don’t worry: the book contains all kinds of important plot details left out by the movie. Also, the action in the first book is shuffled about for the movie. And the final chapters deal with all the religious controversy stuff everybody thought would be in the movie, but wasn’t . . .

Speaking of which, what’s all this “armies being raised to kill God” stuff all about? Is it true?
Yes, we cannot tell a lie. Author Philip Pullman is an outspoken and vocal atheist. Are the books an attack on organised religion? Yes. But they’re also great page-turners. How offended you’ll be depends on how thin-skinned you are when it comes to religious issues. Put it this way: if the Harry Potter books offended you, these ones will flip you out completely . . . (Click here for more info.)

Can I have my kids read them?
Sure. They are great, intelligent reads. What bothered this particular reviewer more than the religious subtexts are the fact that the books are often quite gruesome. They’re definitely gorier than the Potter books. But kids
particularly boys of a certain age love that sort of thing. Adults will also enjoy them, even though there is a lot of breathless “Lyra over listening the villains’ plans” stuff in them.

I like science fiction but don’t like Fantasy will I still enjoy the books?
The His Dark Materials trilogy has lots of sci-fi type stuff in it. Besides, it breaks away from your standard Lord of the Rings / quest / dwarves / magicians template followed closely in books such as Eragon.

Is the religious stuff more explicit in the books?
Oh yes, it is particularly explicit in the last two books. How Hollywood planned to film these books without any religious content in them to offend Middle America is a complete mystery. Guess none of the money bosses were readers . . .

The Golden Compass will be released on Region 1 DVD on April 29, 2008


His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) [BOX SET] (Paperback)
by Philip Pullman

Reading level: Young Adult
Laurel Leaf (September 23, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440238609
ISBN-13: 978-0440238607




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