Books & Magazines The 90s

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights in the UK) is a young-adult fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is the first book in the trilogy His Dark Materials which was written between 1995 and 2000.

The Golden Compass was published in July of 1995. Pullman got the inspiration for the title of the book from Milton’s Paradise Lost. The plot of the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy surrounds the story of Lyra Belacqua. Lyra lives in a world much that is similar to Earth and Pullman calls on familiar geography throughout his novels.  Lyra has up until the beginning of the book, been raised on the grounds of Oxford University. Through a series of events, she must leave her home in the hopes of rescuing her missing friend, Roger Parslow and her imrisoned uncle, Lord Asriel.

The Golden Compass is filled with magic, for example,  people exist outside of their natural form as animals, these spirits are similar to daemons. Lyra’s daemon is Pantalaimon. There are witches, magic dust and animals that can communicate with humans.


The book won the prestigious Carnegie Medal which, each year, recognizes one new outstanding young adult or children’s book. Other winners include Terry Pratchett, J.K Rowling and Neil Gaiman.

The Golden Compass has been translated in more than 40 languages and sold over 15 million copies. The visual language and unique plot let the book to being made into a movie. In 2007, The Golden Compass movie was released. It won an Academy Award for best visual effects.

List of books in His Dark Materials:

  1. The Golden Compass
  2. The Subtle Knife
  3. The Amber Spyglass


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