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Unimportant Musings

Where an amateur attempts at divining somewhat passable insights.

Currently reading

War and Peace: Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear, Leo Tolstoy
Progress: 112/1273 pages

Book Review: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)

The Golden Compass  - Philip Pullman

Long story short: saw the movie first. I was underwhelmed. Tried reading the book. I was bored. The book became a paperweight. The end.


At least, if not the favorable word of mouth these books keep on encouraging, that would be the end of it. Years later, a few days ago, and with my attention span now slightly improved, I dove again into this world everyone says is so wonderful. What's different this time is I didn't come back up for air till "END OF BOOK ONE" appeared on the next page. To split hairs, I did have to pause for the necessary and annoying things that needed doing like eating and sleeping, though dæmons, alethiometers, and panserbjørnes were never far from my mind. The main character, Lyra Belacqua, never without her shape-shifting companion called Pantalaimon, is funny, likable, and relatable, and I don't want to tear my hair off at her character development. Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, both scary forces of nature, take my breath away for being such well-written and larger-than-life characters that, on their own, are amazing enough to read, but even more so when their stories intertwine and their paths cross Lyra's. If they don't suffice enough as reasons to commit to this series, look no further than Iorek Byrnison, a goddamn renegade armored bear, or the fact that its very existence offends the religious powers-that-be. "So Dust may be strange, and we wonder at it, but we don’t fret and tear things apart to examine it. Leave that to the Church," as said by one of the characters. Books with balls have my hearty applause.

The most sensible thing for me to do now is to stop typing, hook myself to a feeding tube and catheter, and jump immediately into The Subtle Knife, and finally The Amber Spyglass afterwards. Considering The Golden Compass's ending, doing anything else defies reason. But my thoughts need to be gathered, shattered and scattered as they are from having had their fleshy vessel that is my mind blown away time and again by the ideas and revelations Philip Pullman keeps throwing at you. He doesn't do it willy-nilly, either, but coolly places the pieces where they need to be first, allows them to tell his story, and patiently cranks up the mystery, dropping breadcrumbs and feeding you proper at just the right moments to make you happy pages before you would throw your hands up in exasperation. There are teasers, twists, and yet more teasers, every one tantalizing and hinting at something carries into the next two books, something so big and ambitious that what feeble prediction I can make on where everything is heading towards is enough to overwhelm me with goosebumps. Typically, when books do that, you read on, but probably with some resentment, and only to get it over with. This case is the opposite, for I proceed with awe and excitement.