His Dark Materials

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Northern Lights printed as The Golden Compass for North American readers.
Movie poster for The Golden Compass.

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.


The other major point of furry interest is the panserbjørne, or armored bears. This is a race of polar bears with opposable thumbs, which allow them to work metal.

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.


A screen adaptation of the book, The Golden Compass, was filmed and released by New Line Cinema in late 2007.

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