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His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

4.3 125
by Philip Pullman

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The only hardcover omnibus of the best-selling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, in a Contemporary Classics edition.
Philip Pullman's trilogy is a masterpiece that transcends genre and appeals to readers of all ages. His heroine, Lyra, is an orphan living in a parallel universe in which science, theology, and magic are entwined. The epic story that


The only hardcover omnibus of the best-selling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, in a Contemporary Classics edition.
Philip Pullman's trilogy is a masterpiece that transcends genre and appeals to readers of all ages. His heroine, Lyra, is an orphan living in a parallel universe in which science, theology, and magic are entwined. The epic story that takes us through the three novels is not only a spellbinding adventure featuring armored polar bears, magical devices, witches, and daemons, it is also an audacious and profound reimagining of Milton's Paradise Lost that has already inspired a number of serious books of literary criticism. Like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis before him, Pullman has invented a richly detailed and marvelously imagined world, complex and thought-provoking enough to enthrall adults as well as younger readers. An utterly entrancing blend of metaphysical speculation and bravura storytelling, His Dark Materials is a monumental and enduring achievement.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
His Dark Materials Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 9.11(h) x 2.04(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


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

Meet the Author

PHILIP PULLMAN was born in England in 1946. The author of numerous books, he was included by The Times (London) on its 2008 list of the fifty greatest British writers since 1945.

Brief Biography

Oxford, England
Date of Birth:
October 19, 1946
Place of Birth:
Norwich, England
Exeter College, Oxford University

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His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series was excellent. It has elements that closed minded people will shy away from. It also plays out darker than the movie of The Golden Compass. I have never had a book leave me feeling so deeply sad but glad when I finished it. I look forward to reading it again some day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't believe you're all just proving Christian stereotypes true, If someone isn't preaching Christianity, you don't want to hear it. Stop being so ignorant and intolerant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply a masterpiece of literature. It may be a young adult series but these books are probably some of the best fiction that you will ever read.
Brenda_Garcia More than 1 year ago
My favorite book EVER. I love to lose myself in these parallel universes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When will people realize that this is a fictitious work? It should not be such a huge deal. None of these characters are real, nor are they thrusting their beliefs on you. Much like the Bible, this book is whatever you make it out to be: an interpretation. When will the madness stop? This book is an amazing read and it pulls you in. Is that why you all are so afraid of what it means? Because you enjoyed reading it? Give it a shot and shut your traps.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am Catholic. A coworker of mine was the product of a single parent home. Her mother was refused communion in the Catholic Church because she was divorced. They didn't take into consideration that she divorced a verbally and physically abusive man. I agree with Pullman... if I was God, I would be upset with them! I don't think people read into it enough and GET what Pullman is trying to say. It is not so much killing God, it is putting an end to a very hypocritical and corrupt organization. That being said, I did enjoy the books, but I don't this is a kids book. It is a work of FICTION... We have as much of a chance of encountering an armor clad bear than beaming up on the Star Ship Enterprise! I think it deals with concepts few children under 12 or 13 could grasp. Even an adult with a meager vocabulary might need a dictionary to read this series. From the first chapter, demon is spelled daemon... How many kids would know that it isn't 'day-mon'? Most of the 'kids' I know who have read the books are upwards of 15, which I think is an appropriate age to read this series... That is when they are able to truly start forming their own religious beliefs. In a world of iPods and Playstations, we should be happy that people are actually wanting to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really entertaining series.
The_BibliophileJM More than 1 year ago
As far as books go, His Dark Materials is a well written series that grabs you into the story with a violence. I only caution Christian readers because this book was written with an obvious malicious intent towards God and those woh are sensative to those sortsof things need not to read this series at all!
Pym More than 1 year ago
It was a beautiful and engrossing look at human nature, whether technically human or not, and the power of rightness. Not the rightness someone else has dictated but the kind of rightness that is known instinctively and felt throughout your entire being. That every being in every universe and dimension has the right to be free from oppression and has the right to fight with every fiber of their being to ensure that freedom. It also strips away the facade of organized religion and exposes the atrocities associted with it and the absolute horror of zealotry. Although the story takes place in a world parallel to this one, the words resonate deeply with what has occured throughout time wherever religion is present: murder, torture, theft and subjugation. The replacement of free will with the dictates of religious doctrine. The gleeful torture and murder of individuals who do not agree with that doctrine, simply because that doctrine said it was the right thing to do, overriding the individual's own sense of right and wrong. Although it was published as three seperate books, its true form is one inseperable volume. Each of its parts flow so smoothly into each other that it is more like turning the page on a new chapter rather than a new book. That combined with the massive cliffhangers that leave you dangling from your fingertips make it impossible to not simply turn to that next page. Even the ending of the tale leaves you partially dangling, and hungering for more of a single, emotionally charged plot line left untied. Instead, it stretches into eternity and sets the wheels turning on the possibilities, and leaves you desperately hoping. If rumors play out, that last plot line will finally get tied in a fourth installment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His Dark Materials has an edgy, original twist to fantasy and religion. It has enticing characters and plot. It keeps you guessing and is great to discuss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What astounding novels! The Golden Compass was a slow start but I kept reading and it got better and better. Pullman has a wild imagination! The Subtle Knife was slow...very very slow!!! Still, when Will gained possession of the knife, I was hooked. Maybe it is Pullman's style of writing The Amber Spyglass was...is...well, I can't say because I am half way done but it is absolutely amazing so far. Can't wait for teh ending! The US is so sensitive when it comes to religion, but when we were a new country we were forced into the Church of England, so don't blame them. But it is a book! A BOOK! It isn't like kids are going to say 'Huh, lyra is going to destroy God so I think I won't be religious anymore and pretend I have a daemon!' But just because it only swept 7 million in the US and about 30 million overseas doesnt mean anything. The chronicles of Narnia has some religious themes burried under the plot, and it did not sweep as much hatred as the Golden Compass, what is up with that!?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like another reviewer here, I loved the first book. I labored through the second book in hopes the third would be a good as the first. Unfortunately, the story loses its clarity in the third book. Maybe the messages were too subtle for me, I kept waiting for something to happen that would bring the loose ends together. The Adam and Eve allusion and the temptress seemed to me to have no purpose at all. Even 'what is Dust' wasn't really answered. I love Science Fiction/Fantasy, but this book left me unsatisfied.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the most incredible trilogies I have ever had the distinct pleasure of reading. This trilogy is a cornerstone of my childhood. The intricacy of the worlds which Pullman describes lends these books a level beyond mere fantasy for me, a level that leads into myth or legend (which I suppose I might accredit to the theological aspects of it all). These books were a spellbinding read when I was twelve, and a joy to read again now
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently read the trilogy and was amazed at the world the author created in The Golden Compass. It takes you in and doesn't let go. As I moved on to the second book, the true story of this trilogy comes full force. Controversial as it is, I still had to read on. The second book primarily abandon's Lyra's world into another. The only part that I was very interested in was Lyra's world. Every other world did not fascinate me as much. Now, the third and final book was very disappointing. What was brought up in the second book (the main goal) is never truly satisfied. Though I don't agree with the author's goal of this trilogy, I never really felt that he satsified what he set out to do. Though many may agrue against what I say, I feel that the author left the story empty, even though his goal was accomplished (no spoilers here!) I felt he never truly followed through with his goal. He ends the trilogy not following his controversial 'God killing' theme, but a love story. So, If you want a fantasy, read the first. The other two never truly reach the height of the first only losing my interest, becoming angry at the loss of focus by the end of the trilogy. Not to be an extremist but the last two books really do not convince me of being great. He gets caught up in killing God and really does a poor job at doing it. The events that occur in the last two books are to coincidental and very unlikely in any situation, which goes against his theory of no higher power. It is a great world, but the story lacks reality and his whole goal is never truly satisfied. He ends the trilogy with no great change in the universe, it feels like what Lyra and her friends did was of no importance because the world does not change dramatically. But I cannot get bogged down in the controversy. This trilogy is a great one, very epic and thought provoking. The world the author created was masterfully crafted and very original, if he only worked on the story more...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book you will ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked about half of it. It became distracting to try to understand all of the different realities
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I regret certain institutions succeeded in blocking the movie sequels. But then that only shows to go and reafirm the nature of things brought to light by Mr. Pullmans writing. Read and heed; don't curse the darkness, light a candle and embrace it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No one called it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great piot & well written. There are many distinct and interesting characters and creatures that you meet throughout this book - they make Pullman's imaginary world really come alive
mtsilence More than 1 year ago
The Dark materials series in one easy location, step into a beautiful vibrant world with characters that will se as familiar as only family can be, adventure through physics, parallel worlds quantum particles and theology, even as you explore the values of love, friendship, loyalty, honor, family.. deep reading originally intended for children... lucky children who first stumbled into Lyra's world, luckier still the adult mind that can explore the concepts found within.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not just for children. Escape into it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book for our Nook to share with my daughter. I like the Nook format, and this ebook has had very few errors to the ereader format. All 3 of the Pullman books are together as one and it's been fun to read all of book one and part of book two so far. Some other books I've gotten have had numerous typographical errors but this one is very cleanly transferred to the Nook and has a few illustrations as well.
BPerry1397 More than 1 year ago
The ebook costs MORE than the pb and almost as much a the HC? How does that make sense?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you like this book if not you are really CRAZY.and if you have not read the bookthen you should.and dont be sitting playing games on youre WII or youre XBOX 360, get up and read this book!!!!!!!!!!!!