Friday, September 14, 2007

The Golden Compass

The movie looked so good that I had to read the book before I went to see the movie. I'm really glad I did. The modern classic is one that I had missed, until now.

Lyra is a castoff child growing up surrounded by Scholars in an Oxford-like setting on a world that is similiar, yet different, than the one you and I live in. She's a healthy, inquisitive tomboy who has a wealthy uncle that she seldom sees and a great city-wide collection of friends. Then one of her friends disappears - a victim of the Gobblers. Lyra, being headstrong, decides to travel to where all the knowledge she can get her fairly devious hands on points to where all of the taken children are being transported to. They are in the Artic and terrible things are being done to them. She gets help from every unexpected point one can imagine. Her don gives her an aleithiometer, a truth machine that, when used properly can divulge the absolute truth about anyone or anything. Through her friends and the aliethiomter, she discovers that the 2 most powerful people of her world - her uncle and Mrs. Coulter - are her parents. And they are each following dangerous and incredibly destructive plans that each may destroy the Worlds. Through the Church, children are being experimented on in order to protect them from Dust. The Church has decided that these particles are the remnants of original sin, since children are immune to it, but adults absorb it constantly. Lyra's travels involve the Gyptians (a kind of sea-going gypsies), a Texan aeronaut, the witches and an armored bear. What can possibly be more adventuresome than that?

This is a good book. Its a little slow getting started, but once it gets going it races to the finish. Be warned - This is the first of a series of three books and it will hook you. Don't start it until you're ready to read all three (I'm almost finished with the second). But, whatever you do, read it. The heroes will surprise you, the villains are quite despicable but understandable - which makes it worse, really. While it falls just short of my Top Ten, its right up there.

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