The Golden Compass
The first novel in Pullman’s incomparable trilogy, His Dark Materials, barely hints at the wonders to come and yet is itself a delightful story of childhood adventure. Lev Grossman thinks this is the strongest of the three volumes, an opinion I’ve heard elsewhere but which is really only defensible if you prefer (as some do) the company of children to that of young adults. Grossman exults in “the awesome crystalline perfection of his plotting,” a claim that seems hard to justify, save perhaps in that Pullman’s plotting is better than Rowling’s and we’ve all seen so much Rowling lately. (Grossman also insists he prefers The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.)
The unabridged audiobook , narrated by Pullman with a full cast, is a triumph.