Book Review: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials Trilogy)


Hello, Hello, Hello! I know it’s been a while but I’ve been swamped by uni work and other miscellaneous chores! Today however I’m here to tell you a few things I’ve learnt about no: 1 in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, also known at ‘Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman. I’ve always had a little conundrum with this series, I’ve had it sitting on my shelves since I was 7 years old, but never gotten round to reading them. In fact, on many occasions I’ve actually lied to people and told them I’ve read them because I feel like they are the staple classic YA fantasy. To not have read them as a massive fantasy fan, I feel like I have betrayed myself. So I decided to correct the situation and get them read….and boy was I not disappointed.

Number 1 in this trilogy revolves around a young girl named Lyra Belacqua who lives in a world parallel to ours. In her world there are many wonderful things such as talking polar bears, witches and animal soul mates called ‘daemons’. However, their’s severe unrest between her Uncle Asriel and the rest of the world over a strange substance that holds all the worlds together, commonly known as ‘Dust’. When Lyra learns about this magical substance, and the parallel worlds, she is drawn into a dark and life changing prophecy. A prophecy wherein she will single-handedly save the world or doom it, but along the way she is swallowed by many other sinister plots, of which she is yet to know are all connected. She must save missing children from the frightful ‘Gobblers’. She must fight side by side an armored bear and win him back his legacy. But most importantly, she must learn to read her ‘Alethiometer’, a golden compass that tells the truth in a world that lives on lies.

Truth be told, I watched the film ‘The Golden Compass’ before I read this and I have to say, I’m impressed by how similar the book and film are. The majority of the main bits are in the film, in a slightly different order perhaps, but they’re still there. All except for the last couple of chapters which holds the truth you are waiting to learn the whole way through the novel. In those chapters, we learn the meaning of the prophecy surrounding Lyra, her uncles true ambitions and what Dust actually means for her world.

Of course I need to comment on the elephant in the room, so to speak. The so-called blasphemy within the book. Truth be told there are so many different religious meanings you could take away from the novel, and not all blasphemic. It’s true that theirs strong anti-religious sentiment within the novel which you don’t really understand until the very end, but in my opinion their’s also a lot of bits that suggest God is good and worth saving. Although many might read it and think simply that it is all anti-god, I personally think it questions some beliefs but only to help you yourself think about them thoroughly, to help you come to your own conclusion. I don’t think anyone should take part in something without thoroughly knowing it’s the right thing for them, and this novel encourages one to think about it properly, to make an informed decision. It highlights the consequences of people following things blindly. Which I can’t say is a bad thing and I myself am religious.

Overall, a genius piece of work that has me gasping for more. I can’t wait to finish the second one so that I can inform you more! Exciting!




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