Northern Lights is the first in a trilogy of books, set in a parallel universe to Earth, by Philip Pullman. In this world, people have a physical representation of their souls in the form of a talking animal with them constantly. These are called daemons. In children, daemons can change shape at will, though once they reach puberty the form of their daemon is fixed. The book follows Lyra Belacqua, an orphaned girl who runs riot in her uncle, Lord Asriel’s, large estate whilst he’s away on research. Here she has a close friend named Robert who is a servant. She is a hugely cheeky, outspoken, unladylike girl with massive quantities of curiosity and bravery inside of her – qualities rather necessary for the journey she goes on throughout the book.
To begin with, we see Lyra hiding in a closet in wait for her unlce’s meeting with the College professors, when she observes the Master of the college putting a powder in her uncle’s wine decanter! He leaves, and when her uncle arrives and goes to drink the wine she bursts out of the closet and saves him from being poisoned! She is ushered back into the closet before anyone sees her and she gets to watch his appeal for money for his research. Lord Asriel is researching Dust. Dust is a type of elemental particle which is more attracted to adults than children, and is thought to be something to do with why adult’s daemons are fixed. Asriel wants to travel to the Arctic where he believes he can study Dust in larger quantities and he shows images of parallel universes seen through the Northern lights!
Successful in his plee, Asriel leaves for the North soon after, leaving Lyra alone again. Around this time there are stories of Gobbler’s stealing children in her area and it becomes more dangerous to be out alone. At this point also, Ms Coulter appears at the College, a beautiful, kindly, wordly women, who offers to let Lyra move in with her and go on an Artic trip with her. Lyra agrees immediately. In the time before she leaves, Roger is taken by the Gobblers and the Master takes Lyra over to one side and gives her an alethiometer, or golden compass, which services as a truth teller. She is told she must keep it a complete secret from Ms Coulter and she does.
Lyra’s weeks with Ms Coulter start as pleasant, though Lyra becomes incredibly anxious to go on her trip to the North. Lyra begins to get suspicious and, after some snooping, discovers that Ms Coulter is head of the Gobblers! She runs away and is rescued by the Gyptians, who tell Lyra a lot about her parents that she didn’t know, and vow to take her to the North with them in search of Roger and many of their children who have also been taken by the Gobblers. It is here that Lyra learns how to use her Golden Compass and the real adventure begins!
This is a fantastical book filled with plot twists and mysteries, polar bears and daemons, hot air balloons and whole new universes waiting at the other side of the Northern Lights. You will get lost in the adventure of it all and hooked on the entire series! I know I did! Enjoy!