Normally my book reviews are "I've just finished reading..." but unfortunately (see previous post...) I've had a few computer problems over the last couple of weeks and, well, I just haven't got round to writing this review on the other computers I've managed to borrow time at during my period of PClessness. But better late than never, as they [sometimes] say.
Quite understandably many reviewers fall into the trap of comparing the His Dark Materials trilogy with certain other popular young persons' books inhabited by one Mr H Potter, Esquire. You will, of course, have realised that by mentioning HP I too have already fallen into said trap. However, I only intend to linger in the presence of Joe Rowling's lucrative creation long enough to say that Northern Lights is miles better. I was somewhat disappointed when I reached the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - not so with Northern Lights.
Northern Lights (published occasionally as The Golden Compass) is the first of the three His Dark Materials trilogy written by Philip Pullman. In the opening book we are drawn into the world of Lyra who, at the start of the narrative, lives in a college in Oxford in a world similar to ours in so many ways but different from ours in other ways. Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, are pitched headlong into an adventure which takes them first to London and then to the frozen North where armoured bears roam and witches fly in the icy black sky.
Pullman creates characters we can truly believe in, ones we can really care for. The maturity of the writing shines through every paragraph of every page, and as such we can picture the 'different' world that Lyra inhabits as clearly as we can see our own. So if anyone is sitting there desparately waiting for Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Idea to be published (Darn! That's the second time I've mentioned him) you can do no worse than buy Northern Lights. Highly recommended.