After reading only one of Philip Pullman’s books, I do believe he has quickly become one of my favourite authors. He had me hooked from line one of The Golden Compass, “Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.” It turns out a daemon is an animal that is the soul of their human companion. Every human has a daemon. That is, every human has a soul. The Golden Compass is book 1 of a 3 book trilogy called His Dark Materials.
What Pullman is very good at it is giving out just enough information to keep the reader interested. Like a daemon’s for example. I do believe it wasn’t until the latter half of the book that we finally found out exactly all of what a daemon is and their capabilities. Something else I found done really well was his description of the protagonist, Lyra. Pullman didn’t exactly describe her: what she looks like, what she likes to eat, etc. He described her through her actions and how she interacted and communicated with others. He didn’t even tell us her age until the middle of the book, which we later find out is a lie, but we can reasonably guess it from the things she does.
There were a bit of philosophical discussions in this book. As mentioned earlier, all humans have souls. Bears do not have daemons and cannot be tricked, unless they try to act like humans. Dust, or the original sin, is only attracted to pre-pubescent people. Alternate worlds exist because of probabilities and other possible outcomes. One of the simplified examples the author uses is a coin. If you flip a coin it either turns up heads or tails. If the coin turned out tails, then the probability of it coming up heads has become 0. So in this world the coin became heads, but there exists a world where the coin turned up tails. There are billions of these alternative worlds because there are billions of possibilities in this world.