The Golden Compass is a fantasy novel published in 1995 by Philip Pullman and is the first volume of the His Dark Materials trilogy. The unruly main character, Lyra Belacqua, has spent the majority of her life running amok at Jordan College alongside the embodiment of her spirit, a daemon named Pantalaimon. She is an undisciplined young lady, who plays pranks on her peers and has no official schooling. Children’s daemons can change form, but adult’s daemons stabilize as one animal. This is due to a magical particle called “Dust,” which only adults attract (for more information on Dust click here).
Lyra’s guardian, Lord Asriel, suspects he can use Dust to open a bridge to an alternate universe. Dust is a taboo topic, as it is banned by the evil governing body called the Magisterium. While Lord Asriel is conducting his research, Lyra is left in the care of a scholar named Mrs. Coulter. It is not long before Lyra uncovers the frightening truth about her hostess, who is the head of the Gobblers. The Gobblers, otherwise known as the General Oblation Board, is a group that kidnaps children for the Magisterium and takes them north for cruel experimentation. The Magisterium also seeks control of Dust. Lyra’s friend Roger Parslow was kidnapped just before she left Jordan College.
Lyra uses a truth-telling instrument called the alethiometer, or the golden compass, to guide her on her quest to save Roger. Mrs. Coulter knows about the device and wants to steal it to aid the Magisterium’s agenda. It is not until the end of the story that Lord Asriel explains that Dust, which powers the aliethometer, is a physical manifestation of the original sin.
Lord Asriel captures Roger and separates him from his daemon. This generates enough energy to open a passage through the Northern Lights to a new dimension, but Roger must be sacrificed. Lord Asriel continues his journey to collect Dust. Lyra’s new mission is to protect Dust, since the story’s villains want to destroy it.
Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. Random House, 2002.