His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials is a trilogy by British writer Philip Pullman, including the books Northern Lights (retitled The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.
The plot involves an object called an alethiometer (an object that can read the future), and its resemblance to a compass led North American publishers Random House to retitle the first book The Golden Compass for its release in Canada and the United States.
The paperback edition in the United States was published by Ballantine Books/Del Rey, divisions of Random House. The 1997 Box set edition from Del Rey contains an introduction by Terry Brooks.
All of the humans in the story have a dæmon (pronounced like the English word 'demon'), a sort of animal companion that represents part of their soul. Injuring a dæmon will cause pain in its human, and dæmons can't go far away from their humans.
There is a deep seated taboo against touching or injuring another person's dæmon, though dæmons may fight each other. Childrens' dæmons may change shape freely, while adults' daemons have a fixed form. Dæmons generally have powers similar to their form but may use human speech.
They are greatly feared in combat, and while they can talk, their behavior is more like bears than humans. The difference between bear and human behavior is a major plot point.
- His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass at the IMDB