Titles / Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass
Author / Philip Pullman
Publication date / 1995, 1996, 2000 (first published)
Overall star rating / ★★★★★
In the first book, we meet Lyra Belacqua – a young orphan child, whose life at Oxford’s Jordan Collage is shattered by the arrival of two powerful people. All the while children are disappearing across the country and when Lyra’s good friend Roger disappears she vows to get him back from the hands of the Gobblers’. Along the way we meet an array of characters as Lyra begins the path to her destiny. It is a coming of age story of Lyra, and later Will – who we meet in book 2. In this trilogy each person has a daemon. An animal companion that can shift between different animals until the age of puberty where it settles to one animal. A daemon is essentially a person’s soul – the form of your daemon is representative of the person, and so it shows that as children have yet to fully find themselves and be secure in who they are, their daemons are forever shifting between animals. A daemon is also a representation of your sexuality – a straight person would have their daemon as the opposite sex, but if you are gay then your daemon is the same sex as you. Obviously this is quite simplistic representation of sexuality, especially in this day and age, as their are now many different types of sexuality. As a child I loved the idea of a daemon, and as I have grown I have found the idea of a daemon extremely interesting.
The plot is engaging throughout the trilogy and has so many layers that you can read it many times and see/learn something new with each reading. Although originally published as kids books (I think) this trilogy can be enjoyed by a variety of ages. I first read it when I was younger and have reread it a few times since – I will continue to reread it in the future. Much of the content of the books touches on topics that children won’t fully understand, for example as a child I did not fully understand description of someone touching Pan (Lyra’s daemon) – its description is akin to rape, but obviously as a child you understand the horror but don’t quite understand it as a whole.
“It was as if an alien hand had reached right inside where no hand had a right to be, and wrenched at something deep and precious. She felt faint, dizzy, sick, disgusted, limp with shock. One of the men was holding Pantalaimon”