I have deeply mixed feelings about The Golden Compass.
The trilogy of which the book is the first part is deeply antithetical to my beliefs — just as author Philip Pullman intended it to be — and to make it worse, the trilogy gets more and more didactic as it goes. But the first book, which takes place in a parallel universe, is extremely well written, and a lot of its mystery and wonder and suspense hinges on a great concept called the “daemon” — i.e., an external animal manifestation of the soul of each human being.
So, while I hesitate to contribute to the publicity for the upcoming movie, I also cannot help but take advantage of a feature on the movie’s official website that invites people to “meet your daemon”. I answered 20 questions, and the website gave me this:
And now, if you answer five questions within the next 12 days, my daemon might change form. (Actually, I already changed it accidentally when I tested the second questionnaire; I answered “neutral” to all questions, but apparently, to the website, that meant my daemon had to change, rather than stay the same. The image below shows what my daemon looked like originally.)
Incidentally, some people have said the movie will tone down the anti-religious aspects of the trilogy — which isn’t saying a whole lot, since in this respect the first book is the least overt of the entire series — but what are we to make of this description of the evil Magisterium, taken from the movie’s website? Click on the image below for a higher-res copy, and note the word “dogma”.