Northern Lights by Philip Pullman Review

‘When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, (pronounced ‘demon’) Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find  something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights…’

I have to say Northern Lights is one of the best opening novel to a series that I have ever read. Its full of mystery, surprises, horrible child catchers known as Gobblers and Daemons. I defy you, after reading this novel, not to want a daemon of your own. Imagine your own animalistic self, that is always by your side. Its a genius idea.

Northern Lights follows Lyra, a tomboy wildchild who hates baths, loves playing rough and is curious about things she shouldn’t be curious about – she overhears about a mysterious thing called Dust (not dust, Dust!) when her uncle Lord Asriel visits and this catupultes her onto an adventure

Lyra is one of my favourite main characters – mainly because I was such a little tomboy when I was younger. I like that she’s brave and loud and she fights and refuses to brush her hair – I don’t think many ‘girl’ characters are presented like this in books. Lyra is also brave, and willing to risk her life to help her friends and I think beneath all the dirt and scratches she is a little girl trying to find herself. Lyra is an orphan (kind of) and has being raised in Jordan College in a Oxford that is similar to the Oxford in England but with a victorian/steampunk feel. But her life of playing make believe with her best friend Roger is gone when he and other children start to go missing.

After being given the Athethiometer (a kind of truth telling instrument) Lyra is spirited away by the charming Mrs Coulter and her golden monkey daemon and at first her new life is great. But then she sees the manipulative and evil side to her new guardian. I have to say, as a villian Mrs Coulter is amazing. I think because she is known as Mrs Coulter and not her christian name it makes her seem more mysterious and dangerous. Pullman also describes both her and her monkey daemon as beautiful, and this is different from other novels aimed at kids – attractive people are normally good and ugly are bad. It is soon implied that Mrs Coulter has some involvement with the Gobblers, who have stolen the children so Lyra runs away to the gypsies and soon finds herself in the North, searching for the missing children. There she finds Iorek, a armoured bear, a ghost child, a horrible science experiment, a witch, her father and a pathway to a new world.

Northern Lights is a fantastic read and is often described as a rebutal to C.S Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, for it’s anti religious spin. I would reccomend this book to avid readers of any age, its a great fantasy novel.

I also read the other two books in the His Dark Materials Trilogy, so expect reviews on those soon! I am currently plowing my way through The Book Thief – which I love!

Laura 🙂

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