JANE LANGTON NEW YORK TIMES
"The Golden Compass" should probably be classed as high fantasy. As in common or garden-variety fantasy, there is conflict and magic, but in Philip Pullman's novel ... it is more than a few spectacular visual effects and the granting of a wish or two. In this sort of fantasy all nature must be at war, the forces of good must clash with the forces of evil, and the dark might quite possibly win out over the light -- unless a young protagonist, whose coming has been predestined for ages, can save the world, the galaxy, the universe. One might think the responsibility too great a burden for a single child, but young Lyra [Belacqua] is cheeky and mettlesome enough to handle it.
MICHAEL DIRDA WASHINGTON POST
Pullman offers moral complexity as well as heart-stopping adventures. What do you do when people you love turn out to be evil? Do admirable goals ever justify despicable means? What is the proper place of religion and science in civil life? How does one deal with betrayal?
SALLY ESTES BOOKLIST
A totally involving, intricately plotted fantasy that will leave readers clamoring for the sequels.
JOHN ZEAMAN THE RECORD (NEW JERSEY)
Pullman's accomplishment is in having created an unusual fantasy world. No trolls or dragons, space ships or ray guns for him. Imagine instead Victorian England, a Jules Verne setting of aerial balloons and explorers clubs, except in this world all humans have daemons, guardian spirits in the form of animals to which they are intensely and permanently bonded.
NANCY GILSON COLUMBUS DISPATCH (OHIO)
The adventure is thrillingly paced and exotic in its description of English and arctic settings, so similar and so different from their historical counterparts in our world.
WILLIAM MARDEN THE SUN-SENTINAL (FLORIDA)
The ending possesses what in science fiction would be called "a sense of wonder," an awe-inspiring glimpse into worlds beyond our own that makes it stand out even from other very good fantasies.