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His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass Hardcover – December 6, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 11,439 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been named one of the top 100 books of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. Pullman was knighted for his services to literature in the 2019 New Year Honours.

The Book of Dust, Pullman’s eagerly anticipated return to the world of His Dark Materials, will also be a book in three parts. It began with La Belle Sauvage and continues with The Secret Commonwealth.

Philip Pullman is the author of many other beloved novels. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!, Count Karlstein, Two Crafty Criminals!, Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess), The White Mercedes, and The Broken Bridge. He has written a magnificent collection, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and his essays and lectures on writing and storytelling have been gathered in a volume called Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling.

Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Preface

I began to write this novel with little sense of the plot, even less notion of the theme, and only the vaguest idea of the characters. I'm convinced that that's the way to do it. I tried to work out the plan of a novel once, when I was young, ahead of writing it. It was an excellent plan. It took me months and covered page after page, and in the end I was so fed up with the damn thing I threw it away and started a quite different novel with no preparation at all, which came out much better. I suppose these things are partly temperamental; I know that some excellent writers make a great thing of planning every book before they write it; but it doesn't work for me.

One thing such a technique prevents is what I think every long book must have if I'm not to go mad writing it, and that's the element of surprise. I had no idea what Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear, would say when Lyra first came face to face with him. His vulnerability to strong drink was a huge surprise. I knew there was going to be a boy called Will, but his reason for running away and thus meeting Lyra was a complete mystery to me until it happened. As for Lee Scoresby, I was as ignorant of his existence as the gyptians themselves the sentence before he turned up. These surprises are pleasant and exciting; they feel like a kind of reward. If I knew they were coming I wouldn't enjoy them at all.

In the first sentence above, I mentioned something I called the theme. By that I mean what the book is about, in some fundamental sense. I've heard that some writers decide on a theme first, and then make up some characters and a plot to exemplify it. They seem to get on all right, but again, it wouldn't work for me. A book, especially a long book like His Dark Materials, has to have some sort of theme, or else you'll be working for a long time (this story took me seven years) in a moral vacuum. But that doesn't mean you have to decide what the theme is. If you're working as seriously as you know how to, for a matter of years, then a theme will emerge whether you want it to or not. It'll be something you think very important. It might be the most important thing you know. Once you know what it is, you can shape the story more precisely to help it show up, but it's a mistake to rely on the theme to lead the story for you. I think I did that in a couple of places in this book, and it's the worse for it. But there we are, we're never too old to learn. Next time I shall remember: the story should lead, and the theme will emerge in its own time and its own way. Besides, if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku. Anything longer is bound to have a few passages that don't work as well as they might.

So here is a story that was the best I could do at the time, written with all the power and all the love I had, about the things I think most important in the world. I think it was worth writing. I hope you think it's worth reading.

Philip Pullman

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Everyman's Library (December 6, 2011)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 1144 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0307957837
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0307957832
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 12 years
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.15 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.1 x 2 x 8.2 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 11,439 ratings

About the author

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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
11,439 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on December 9, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on December 5, 2017
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4.0 out of 5 stars You could be here wanting to know how good the book was
By Nina Willow on December 5, 2017
Books are tricky to rate. You could be here wanting to know how good the book is, or you might want to know if you should buy this particular format. I do not like this format. The book is very small, and the pages are almost as thin as those of The Bible. The story is a different matter.
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117 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on December 4, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great edition of a great series!
By Amazon Customer on December 4, 2018
The Golden Compass is a great book! I have yet to read the other two volumes in the series, which is why I bought this particular edition. It’s thick, but compact. Came with a ribbon marker and dust jacket. Seems like it will hold up well, also. If you want all three books, this is the one to get. I saw some complaints that the print is small, but it looks about average in comparison to the size of the book. I would buy again and highly recommend!
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44 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2019
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stains on book - not handled with care
By Amazon Customer on October 28, 2019
Ordered this book and was super excited to add it to my permanent library. I'm giving it three stars because the book itself came dirty. Once you took the book jacket off there were black marks and stains all over it. SO I ordered a replacement, which ALSO came dirty. There were sticky greasy stains on the back of the book jacket and black marks on the bottom edge of the pages. I know its weird to worry about cosmetic things but I've had books since I was in middle school that are in better condition than what I bought new. If I'm buying a brand new book, I expect it to look and feel brand new. Pictures are attached (with and without flash).

Ordering one more time and hoping that it will come in good condition.
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17 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

P. G. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise won
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2018
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ClockworkSatan
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful... Just... Wonderful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2019
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S7
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book set - all three together - DO NOT READ THE FOREWORD THOUGH - it has huge spoilers in it.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2016
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SusannahB
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Trilogy Combined in One Paperback Edition
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 16, 2019
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T. Emanuel
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2019
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