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The Golden Compass

His Dark Materials, Book 1
Narrated by: Philip Pullman, full cast
Series: His Dark Materials, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13,330 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

***Coming soon! A new HBO series, His Dark Materials, based on Pullman's Books***

The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time”. 

Philip Pullman takes listeners to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach.

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.

A Number One New York Times Best Seller

Winner of the Guardian Prize for Children's Fiction

Published in 40 Countries

"Arguably the best juvenile fantasy novel of the past 20 years." (The Washington Post)

"Very grand indeed." (The New York Times)

"Pullman is quite possibly a genius." (Newsweek)

Listen to the rest of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series.
©1995 Philip Pullman (P)1999 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Superb...Wonder-filled." (Washington Post Book World)
"Very grand indeed...Scene after scene of power and beauty." (The New York Times)
"A rousing, page-turning adventure that promises to please fantasy readers of all ages." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Terrific Book

My entire family has gotten hooked on this book, to the extent that we look for reasons to get in the car and drive with it. I was so enthralled that we ran out of gas. Imaginitive premise, interesting and well-developed characters, and many plot twists. I thought you could not top Jim Dale reading the Harry Potter stories, but this is right up there.
A word of advice: With different actors playing different characters, this did not play back well on level 2, and we almost gave up on it. Load it at the highest resolution you can play. If it seems a little slow at the start, hang in there. The characters keep getting more imaginitive, and the plot more suspensful.

42 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Best Audio Book I've ever Heard

I've been listening to audio books for quite some time and this one by far is the best. Performed by a full cast where each actor assumes the role of one of the characters, the listener is transported into Pullman's world.

Set in the fictional past of early 20th century England, every human has what is called a "demon". As children these demons can assume any animal form, often changing depending on the mood of their child. Demons are animal representations of human souls, and no one is complete without one. After puberty, the demons assume one form and stay that way for life. Demons seem to take on the type of animal the person is in life, for example servants tend to have dogs as demons, loyal and obedient. Scholars have birds such as ravens, intelligent and far-seeing. One sailor has a dolphin or some such creature as a demon, thereby tying him forever to the ocean. Humans and their demons are mentally connected. What one feels, the other feels. They can talk to each other and cannot be away from each other, even at close distances or they feel great pain and anxiety.

Lyra, an orphaned pre-teen girl, and her demon Pan (yet to assume one form) find themselves in the middle of a political conspiracy. Unsure of who to trust and who their true allies are, their life was changed forever when they witnessed the Master of the college where they had spent all their years as a ward, attempt to poison Lyra's estranged uncle.

Her uncle, involved in some strange discoveries and experiments has returned to the college to ask for money to continue his work, investigating the origin of subatomic particles referred to as "dust". For some reason the scholars of the college are suprised to learn that this mysterious "dust" does not cling to children. After he receives the money and thwarts an attempt to poison him, he returns to his work.

What is dust? And why are children all over England disappearing? Lyra soon embarks on a journey to seek these answers.

111 of 123 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Baelabog
  • NEWPORT NEWS, VA, United States
  • 10-21-17

Good story, okay reading

my only issue with this audio book is the difference in volume from the narrator and the characters. narrator is very quiet while character voices are loud and often yelling about something. as a night listener, this is very off-putting. I enjoy the story, but won't be investing in the rest of the books due to this.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bev
  • Alton, IL, USA
  • 08-28-07

More for adults than kids...

While I don't think this is a book for children, I do think this book is amazing - the narriator is very good as well. I loved these books when I read them - and I loved them just as much while listening. You won't be disappointed.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • Queen Creek, AZ, USA
  • 09-08-08

Thoroughly enjoyable

If you like Harry Potter you will enjoy this story of a little girl
and her journey in a world like ours, but a little different. It's
not magical like Harry but the supernatural is there, and so
is the suspense and adventure. Great characters that you
learn to love and hate. So much better than the movie.
Read the book!

I've already order the rest of the series and am busy reading
them all!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant fantasy!

Although aimed at younger readers, like the Harry Potter books, The Golden Compass trilogy is very entertaining to adults, as well. The story follows young Lyra and her daemon Pan through adventures in an alternate universe, where magic is common and each person's soul takes on the external form of his or her daemon. Pullman's writing is brilliant and very dynamic, and this is much more than a simple children's book. While great for listeners of any age, younger children may need a little guidance, though shouldn't have too much trouble following the story. Highly recommended!

41 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Better read than heard

In my opinion novels read by the authors are generally inferior to those read by actors, and this is a case in point. To make matters worse, the dialogue is read by actors but the editing is so poor that there is a jarring abruptness each time there is a transition from non-dialogue to dialogue, as in there is no pause at all between the two. This is a fabulous book and I recommend it highly, but this audio rendering leaves a lot to be desired.

40 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


This was hard to start listening to. The voice of Lyra was sort of manic, but she grew on me. And once "knowing" her, I realized that it is her character, not just bad direction.
The plot completely drew me in, until I was at the point of not wanting to turn off my Ipod. The story, along with the full cast really made you feel the intensity of their situations.
Now for the "anti-God" thing...umm...I didn't think that it was that bad. Especially since the world that Lyra lives in is basically a "parallel" world. Yes, the Church has done some incredibly horrific things in the past. So why is it such a stretch for someone to put it into a fictional story? And for the whole thing about "killing God"??? A bit over-hyped...but that is the fundamentalist way.
Young children wouldn't understand this story very well, and some parts would scare them. Older kids I think should read/listen to it. They should recieve more credit than many are willing to give.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Luke
  • Woodridge, IL, USA
  • 02-18-08

Highly Recommended

Fantastic audio and a great story--highly recommended.

I saw the movie, and I thought it was great. However, as with any great film adaptation there is still much to be said about the unabridged book. There was a great deal left out of the movie that I experienced through this novel.

I only wish I had discovered this unabridged audiobook before I saw the movie so I could compare my imagination to the director's take.

Again, the audio quality and imaginative story make for a thoroughly entertaining listen--I highly recommend it.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lois
  • Parlin, NJ, USA
  • 04-01-07

I Just Didn't Get It

The characters are all there. There were interesting plot twists and I appreciated the full cast of character voices. But the characters are very 2 deminsional. There are some gaps in logical character movement. I had a very hard time caring about the main character and the ending was just plain annoying. The question of What is Dust is something that keeps coming up in the book but it's never answered. I guess that's what the next book in the series is for, but at this point I don't care.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful