Sunday, November 12, 2000

Book Report: The Golden Compass

Book Report...!!!
The Golden Compass ( His Dark Materials )
By Philip Pullman

All the Reviews at; Except One, seemed to love this book.
i am in agreement with the lone dissenter...!
This review will disclose numerous plot twists and details without remorse,

because i would urge you not to read this book...
It is very boring and tedious and i have no idea why it is as popular as it is...???

First of all; There is NO Golden Compass...!!!
There is nothing like a Golden Compass mentioned anywhere in the book...!!!
The closest approximation to a compass, Is something whose functionality is nothing like a compass, and only superficially resembles one.
It is The Alethiometer.
It tells the truth.
Lyra Belacqua/Asriel is given this device under the most mysterious circumstances, and with only the most cursory introduction to it's complicated ( VERY COMPLICATED ) operational parameters, quickly masters it,

Because; As we are told repeatedly, ( Hit over the head repeatedly )
That She is The Chosen One that will save The Whole Freaken Continuum of Universes...!!!
AND-- She can't ever know this...!!! Shhhhhhh...!!!
With a Subtitle like 'His Dark Materials' you might think that this Series of books ( A trilogy with only 3 books...!!! ) is somehow within the same genré as 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' or as it is often compared to 'Harry Potter'...
This resembles neither of these books in the least, and May be something like The Lord of The Rings... But i haven't read any of those books...
The Golden Compass Universe is an Alternative one with numerous 'Magickal' elements,

But no one ever does much magick...
Even the Witches can only fly tree branches... NOT BROOMS....!!!
And their weapon of choice...
Given that they're WITCHES...!!!
Magicak Witches...
With Magickal Powers...!!!
Bows and Arrows.
Magickal Bows and Arrows...???
NO! Just plain old Ordinary Bows and Arrows, and they don't even hit everything they shoot at...!!!
In Fact; The Witches NEVER do anything even remotely Witch like...!!!
The Bears are substantially more Magickal than the Witches...!!!
Plot Holes:
While i was reading this book ( Volume One ) i was VERY FORGIVING...!!!
i kept thinking; this will be tied up soon,
everything will be explained...
The first two thirds of the book are VERY BORING...!!!

One thing about The Harry Potter Books that may explain why they are so Popular, is that there is something Kooky or Clever going on; on nearly every page, or every other page, or at least every third page; As in The Series of Unfortunate Events Books...
But with this book... Something Clever was happening... Once or Twice in The Whole Dang Book...!!!
It is like a SOAP OPERA, but the last third picks up a little bit with Bear Fights, and Witches, Boring Witches... and Tartars... ( ??? Another element that is never really expounded upon...??? ) and Freudian/Greek Tragedies and Gigantic Plot Holes...!!!
So Lyra ( The Chosen One ) has this device called an Alethiometer that can ANSWER ANY FREAK'EN QUESTION THAT SHE WANTS TO ASK...!!! And the entire book is leading towards the solution of Two Central Questions;

Why is Lyra's mother tearing children away from their Dæmons? ( note: æ )
( This relationship that both Children and Adults have with their 'Familiars' is never even suggested at... But i suspect that it's something like the Egyptian distinction between the Ba and Ka... Soul and Spirit... Which in this book; they are physically separated as The Host & The Host's Familiar... An Animal Totem that is like a very dumb spirit guide...??? )

The Second Question is; What is Dust?
Why doesn't she just ask The Dang Alethiometer...!!! ( !!! ) [ !!! ] { ??? }
HUH...!!! ???
Then at The VERY End of the book; The two ARCH RIVALS...!!! ...Lyra's Evil Mother and her Indifferent Father are reunited and FALL DEEPLY IN LOVE... or they've always been in love, even though The Alethiometer told Lyra in no uncertain terms that Her Evil Mother was coming to Kill her Indifferent Father...???
So The Indifferent Father turns out to be just as Evil as The Evil Mother...
Who may have been trying to save the children by killing them...???

And then--
The Mother; who followed Lyra up the mountain and somehow leaped over a wide Ice Chasm that Lyra's Magickal Bear could not get over... Appears and then Disappears, and her Father; suddenly Disappears as Well... and then she unceremoniously abandons Roger; The boy that she's been trying to Save for Nine Tenths of the Dang Book...!!!
The Good Bear's name is Iorek, and the Bad Bear, the one that killed his own Father and may have married his own Mother... ( ??? ) ... is called Iofur.
Do you think that they could have possibly had names that were a little easier to keep separate in your head...???
Then there's the Anbaric Lights, and Anbaric Socks, and Anbaric Chocolate, and Anbaric Nose Hair Clippers...
Never-- Anywhere in this book is it EVEN HINTED AT, What the Significance or Meaning of Anbaric is.
Lyra's Dæmon is called Pantalaimon.
OK-- No one knew how pronounce Hermione until the third Harry Potter book, but would it be so impossible to add a footnote occasionally to indicate the correct pronunciation of these character's names...???
Another is Panserbjørne.
And Several Place names...
Is it ever really explained why 'The Master' tried to kill Lyra's Indifferent Father...???
No; it is not.
One thing that struck me-- As i was thinking of this book in comparison to The Harry Potter & A Series of Unfortunate Event's books...

This one is very, very, very rarely clever.
The Alethiometer and it's description is marginally interesting...

[ One annoying aspect concerning the Alethiometer, is: That when it is introduced, it's made clear that along with it, there is supposed to be an extensive Owners Manual, and the only one that anyone knows about is in some other country... So the gist of that, is that; Lyra has to Figure it out, pretty much, on her own... OK ...So i would be willing to allow that she is a 'Natural' for this device, and is able to Intuitively Guess what many of the Symbols mean, and futher, what the SubMeanings might mean... BUT--!!! When she is explaining how she derived a particular message, at one point; She says that the indicator Needle 'Paused' at a particular symbol 12 ( ? ) times before stopping there...!!! Meaning that the intended meaning for The Solution, referred to The Twelfth SubMeaning...!!! Without the Owners Manual... How could she Know what this Twelfth Meaning Is...??? Even if she was very cleverly Guessing what The Symbols Meant... How could she guess what their Sequencial Order Is...??? ]
But the Witches, and Gypsies and Technology is really, really, really BLAND...!
Very Taste Free.
There's no clever dialogue, no clever situations ( except possibly when Lyra tricks the Evil Bear into Fighting the Good Bear... and this was done AFTER... After several pages dedicated specifically to why this couldn't be done...!!! Arguably; i suppose, it was included so that we would think that Lyra could do the impossible... But if this were so; then there should have been some more Foreshadowing that this was one of her talents... and it was not. It was just Sprung on us...??? )

There's nothing clever about the witches, or the gypsies, or even the bears...
Armored, talking bears.
Then there is Foreshadowing that is Not played out...???
The Twig of The Clan Leaders branch...??? The reference to Sky Metal...???

Whatever happened to all the disconnected dæmons that the Good Witches Swan saved...???
They just all flew off, never to be heard from again...??? ( !!! )
Are these going to be expounded upon in the next two books...???
i will never know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should read the next 2 books to find out.