cover image The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Philip Pullman, adapted by Stéphane Melchior-Durand, trans. from the French by Annie Eaton, illus. by Clément Oubrerie. Knopf, $18.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-553-52371-3

Pullman’s His Dark Materials ranks with the work of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, and this graphic adaptation is the first of three books from a French team that will cover the events of The Golden Compass. It introduces the fierce and canny Lyra Belacqua, whose quest is set in a steampunk Europe where the Magesterium, a church government of Orwellian dimensions, plots to deprive its subjects of free will. Oubrerie’s characters are, at first glance, rougher and shaggier than Pullman’s polished work might suggest, but readers are quickly drawn into the dreaming spires of Jordan College, the magnificence of Lyra’s nemesis Mrs. Coulter’s mansion, and the fens of the water-dwelling gyptians, all presented in a fast-paced series of compressed, closely-worked panels. The story’s signature fantasies—the daemons, animal companions possessed by every person in this alternate universe; the armored mercenary polar bears called panserbjorne; and the alethiometer, Lyra’s truth diviner—are realized with compelling force (and, in the case of the daemons, humor). Skillfully translated back into English, Melchior-Durand and Oubrerie’s retelling will bring Pullman’s work new fans and give previous readers new pleasure. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)