Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials – Book One Audio

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials – Book One Audio

Philip Pullman
For ages 12 and up
Performed/read by: The author and a full cast
Listening Library, 2004   ISBN: 978-0807204719

Lyra knows that if she gets caught going into the Retiring Room she will be very severely punished, but she doesn't care. She wants to know what goes on in there and the only way she will know is if she does a little spying. What she hears in that room changes her whole life. She sees the Master of Jordan College apparently attempting to poison Lord Asriel, and then she hears this great explorer, her uncle, talking about Dust, a mysterious substance which no seems to really understand.

Then children in Oxford start to disappear. Everyone is sure that the disappearances are the work of the ""Gobblers"" who have been kidnapping children all over England. When one of Lyra's own dear friends is taken and then the son of one of the gyptians disappears, she gets really angry. Something has to be done. Why isn't someone doing something to stop these Gobblers?

Before Lyra has the chance to look for her friend Roger she is taken away from Jordan College by a Mrs. Coulter. At first Lyra is fascinated by the lovely lady but she soon begins to feel uneasy about her. Furthermore Lyra's daemon Pan does not trust Mrs. Coulter either. Before Lyra leaves the college the Master gives her an Alethiometer, a device which looks very much like a compass. Lyra does not know how to use it at first but she is drawn to it. The Master tells her that she must not give the device to anyone, especially Mrs. Coulter.

During one of Mrs. Coulter's many parties, Lyra discovers that Mrs. Coulter is in fact part of the Gobbler organization. She is helping to abduct children and is having them taken North to some place where some kind of experiment is conducted on them. There is only one thing to do. Lyra and Pan run away.

Thankfully they are found and taken in by the gyptians who have lost many children to the Gobblers. It is decided that a group of gyptians will be sent north to retrieve the stolen children and Lyra will go along. With every passing day she gets better and better at using the Alethiometer and her skill will be an asset on such a dangerous journey.

As they get close to their destination the travelers form alliances with a clan of witches and with one lone great white bear whom Lyra frees from bondage. They then find one of the stolen children and they discover what is being done to them in their place of captivity – they are being severed from their daemons. It is so cruel and so terrible that they race on, hoping they are not too late and wondering why anyone would want to do such a thing. They know that somehow this is all related to the mysterious Dust but how?

In this unique fantasy tale Philip Pullman takes his listeners to a world that is like our own in some ways until he startles us by throwing in something that is so alien and new that we have to find a new way of thinking to understand it. For example there is the way in which all humans share a special bond with their daemons, their familiars. It is a fascinating relationship to hear about and to consider. Then there is the Dust, a substance which both fascinates and terrifies people. As in the real world, Lyra makes mistakes, some of which are very costly and which she deeply regrets. She grieves, learns, she evolves, and she does her best to do better next time. She is, in short, very human and very easy to identify with. Listeners will be left wanting to know what is going to happen next. Where is Lyra going to end up?

Wonderfully narrated by the author and by a talented cast of performers, this audio title will quickly captivate the reader and sweep him or her up into Lyra's world.