The His Dark Materials book series is a trilogy of fantasy novels written by Philip Pullman that centres around two children – Lyra and Will – as they grow into adults while facing witches, spectres, giant polar bears and the ever mysterious Dust.
If you haven’t read the three books it’s perfect for fans of Harry Potter and any of the Game of Thrones books. For those of you who have read the books you might be interested in these 10 facts about the series:
1. The books daemons were inspired by a Leonardo da Vinci painting.
Within some of the book’s worlds characters have daemons, an animal form of that person’s soul who can speak. Philip Pullman was inspired to create these daemons after seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Lady With an Ermine.
2. Religious critics slammed the series as being propaganda for children.
Philip Pullman’s first novel in the series, Northern Lights (or the Golden Compass for those in America) was described as being atheism for children. Various religious groups boycotted both the books and the film as they felt it was anti-religious.
3. There was a stage adaptation!
It must have been very hard to do, but the entire His Dark Materials series was brought to the stage by director Nicholas Hytner. It had two parts and was 6 hours long and used special effects to show people’s daemons. It was even able to show a two armored bears fighting. The show was very popular when it ran.
4. The movie wasn’t so well received…
You would think a movie that was based on Philip Pullman’s amazing Northern Lights and with an impressive cast that included Daniel Craig would be a hit. It wasn’t… Mainly due to the fact it dampened down the book’s themes to try and keep religious groups happy. Suffice to say there is no plans to adapt the second and third books.
5. The former Archbishop of Canterbury praised the books.
Not all religious leaders were against the Philip Pullman books, the former Archbishop of Canterbury actually endorsed the books. He felt that the books symbolised the destruction of a false god and upheld true Christian values.
6. The books are a retelling of the story Paradise Lost.
Philip Pullman based the His Dark Materials Series on a 17th Century poem by Milton called Paradise Lost. The poem follows Adam and Eve and Satan’s fall from Heaven. When he was a teenager Pullman read the poem and adored it. He decided to turn the story on it’s head when he created his trilogy.
7. The first book should never have been called The Golden Compass
When Philip Pullman first wrote the series of book he named then the Golden Compasses after a line in Milton’s poem. However, when Pullman submitted the book to his American publishers they mistook the name as the Golden Compass which they thought was after the alethiometer in the novel. The publishers wanted to go with this title despite Pullman saying that the book would be named Northern Lights everywhere else.
8. Pullman didn’t shy from the book’s critics.
Whereas some writers would shy away from their critics, Pullman disagreed with his. He gave many speeches explaining what he meant the books to symbolise – dangers of rigid theological doctrine – rather than the books being anti-religion.
9. Philip Pullman doesn’t like his books being likened to other fantasy novels.
People have often likened Philip Pullman’s novels to other fantasy novels such as The Chronicles of Narnia or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. However Pullman is not happy with this. He believes that the Narnia novels were racists and degrading to woman while LOTR doesn’t show how adults communicate effectively.
10. There’s another book in the series!
Philip Pullman is currently writing the next book in the series called The Book of Dust. It will feature Lyra as the protagonist and could be released as early as next year.