Audiobook Review: His Dark Materials | The Golden Compass

          The Golden Compass taught me what it was to embrace the weird. It's a lesson that I don't think truly sunk in until I came back to this series a decade after I first read the books. Before we get started, for you normies out there, here's the premise:

Do y'all see my Bearman of Bearson?
Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal--including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.
Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want--but what Lyra doesn't know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.
A masterwork of storytelling and suspense, Philip Pullman's award-winning The Golden Compass is the first in the His Dark Materials series, which continues with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

         This book, this entire series, never ceases to draw me in and encaptivate me. I've grown up with Lyra Belaqua and His Dark Materials. We started reading these back in about 2004 or 2005 when I was between the ages of 6-8. It's up there with Harry Potter, the Princess Diaries, and the Dear America series in terms of helping to shape a portion of my childhood. However, unlike the three series I mentioned above, I feel that His Dark Materials became lost for a while.
Lyra Belaqua - by pigsarecute
          Lyra and all her adventures were always there in the back of my head, turning and bubbling, just waiting for me to rediscover them. This past May I did just that. And I was far from being disappointed. The instant Philip Pullman's voice comes on the rug has been pulled out from under you and you're soaring onto a new adventure.
         Questions are running amuck and bouncing all over your head. 'Whats a dæmon?' 'Whos's Lyra?' 'Who's Pan?', all from the first couple of sentences.
          Which quite honestly threw me. Having grown up with this series, I kinda always knew the story. There isn't a time I remember first hearing about Lyra or I didn't know what a dæmon was. So coming back to this story about a decade later with a vague remembrance of plots and characters I was beyond thrilled.
           It was like coming home after waking up from a coma. You remember a lot of how things were before you were in your coma. You remember that the cats scratched up the left leg of your mother's favorite lazy boy. You remember the smell of Saturday morning coffee wafting through the house.
           But something's different.
          You're different.
          How could you not be, you just woke up from a bloody coma!
          You're different, but it's still your home. You still have those memories and you can make new memories. That's what it was like coming back to The Golden Compass after all these years. I'm home, but I'm different. I'm not that 6-8-year-old girl anymore. I'm a 20-year-old woman. That's a bit of a difference.
Marisa Coulter and Daiamon- by larkabella
          The way I looked at the plot was different. For starters, I could actually identify the plot! The way I looked at all of the characters was different. Especially Lyra. I was always younger than Lyra so she was a girl I looked up to. Now I was suddenly not just older than Lyra but years older than her. I found myself being impressed by the naive way she thought and processed things. I could relate to her loving the feminine company of Mrs. Coulter. (Y'know, before everything went to hell with that.) I could appreciate Lyra's quick wit all the more seeing as at that age, I could only wish to get away with half of what she did.
          Most shockingly is that I could finally appreciate how great the antagonist in this novel was. I could truly grasp and understand where Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter were both coming from. Though I really, really, really, really, don't agree with them on just about everything in this novel, I could still see where they were coming from and how, to an extent, they got to that conclusion of 'Yeah we should torture children, that's a great idea!'
           I mentioned this in my video review, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel's type of villainry has seeped into my subconscious and I ended up being unknowingly inspired by Pullman's characters when coming up with my own antagonist in Buzzcut Season. That's how much this book stayed with me! I don't read it for 5+ years and I end up basing one of my villains on his characters! He is such a phenomenal storyteller.
           I forgot how wonderful Ulrik Bjornson (aka Bearman Bearson) is. He is one of my favorite characters of His Dark Materials. This whole time I thought it was Lyra, but now it's a giant armored polar bear who gets drunk to numb the pain. #relatable. In all seriousness, for some reason this go around with the story I truly appreciated Bearman and everything he did for Lyra and co. he really just bear-ed his way into the story and kicked some other bear ass!
          Another thing I forgot was how graphic this novel was! There was a lot of gore imagery which was fun to think about in the middle of North Dakota where everything is dark and you can't see a single thing but thank GOD we have blood and guts everywhere!
         Another point (I know I'm just incoherently babbling by this point of the 'review' but still) is that the witches have such lonely lives. Like every male they come across just...Dies. And that's life. They get to watch their lovers just... Die. They're sons just... Die. I mean, no amount of magic I could wield could help me overcome that kind of pain and sorrow, good LORD!
Serafina Pekkala by ALEXAst
        In conclusion, because I'm rambling like rolling rock down an abandoned quarry, I'm glad I got to come home to Lyra Belaqua once again.
        Hopefully, she'll be waiting for me soon in The Subtle Knife. 

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been such a long time since I read this book and-- Wow!
It's so fast-paced and intriguingly entertaining. As a child when I read first read His Dark Materials a lot went over my head but coming back to it now as an adult was such a wonderful experience. It was like coming back to an old friend and you two can still relate to one another even if one of you has changed/grown up. All the characters were memorable, unique, and Pullman captures who they are even if they're only on-page for a couple of paragraphs. I absolutely adore Lyra's quick wits and smarts for being such a young girl in this first one. Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter still scare the hell out of me but now I'm looking at them outside of just being the antagonist of the story and seeing them as an adult sees other adults and not how children see evil villains. If that makes any sense?
Can't wait to read The Subtle Knife next and see how I view that now that I'm older and somewhat wiser.

Highly, highly recommend.
20/10 Alethiometors

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