Northern Lights (His Dark Materials)

My first memorable encounter with this series was surprisingly at university. At the time, this was on Basil’s reading list as part of one of her courses. On our walks to campus in the early mornings, I used to demand for there to be conversation (much to Basil’s exasperation). So naturally we discussed Northern Lights (amongst other topics such as Boethius). Let’s just say that whilst she could appreciate certain elements, Basil did not exactly hold a favourable opinion of the book as a whole. Therefore, I wasn’t particularly inclined to read it and soon after, I had forgotten all about it.

Fast-forward a handful of years, and I was on the prowl for a book after my social plans had fallen through. Funnily enough, someone recommended that I watch the TV show as they had enjoyed it immensely. I finished the first episode and had a load of questions. Which naturally, made me go the book seeing as it was bound to have more detail in it.

I didn’t know what to expect but can say that I was somewhat pleasantly surprised. One aspect that I absolutely loved was the concept of daemons and how they are essentially part of your soul. But it wasn’t just this, it was the fact that so much thought had been put in to this or maybe I’m just reading too much in to it. The way children’s daemons keep changing forms may be reflective of the fact that children are still finding themselves whereas adults are more sure footed in life, which is mirrored by their daemons settling on a single form. When the concept was first introduced, it threw up a hell lot of questions for me and to be fair, bar a couple, all my questions had been answered throughout the story in a simplistic manner.

Lyra wasn’t a particularly likable protagonist but I appreciated her skill, courage and determination. She could be described as manipulative and a liar in some ways, but there’s no denying that she was clever especially when in tight situations. It was heart warming to witness the growing bond between Lyra and Iorek. It was more difficult to get a sense of Pantalaimon but perhaps that was because he was a daemon. By the end, I was questioning all characters to some degree in terms of their morality.

The writing was exceptional and the story telling was beyond words. The plot at times was predictable but at other times completely unpredictable. Emotion had been woven in masterfully and some scenes were truly heart breaking.  The world building was just completely on another level.

“You cannot change who you are, only what you do.”

I felt that this is perhaps one of those rare books that worked as a children’s book as well as one to be enjoyed by adults. It had the elements in it that undoubtedly appealed to a younger audience as well as subtler deeper meanings and messages meant for an older audience.

At a first glance, this is a simple fantasy adventure, however this barely scratches the surface. Thought provoking questions are thrown up as the narrative explores science vs. religion and whether morally the means can justify the ends. Also, the story lightly touches upon the complexities of Christianity. But I expect this will be further delved in to later on in the series.

Overall, there was definitely something intriguing about this story so much so that needless to say, I will be carrying on with the series. Nevertheless, I’m also curious about the TV adaptation so may look in to that first.


P.S. My doctor told me I was going deaf. The news was hard for me to hear 🙂

2 thoughts on “Northern Lights (His Dark Materials)

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