The His Dark Materials series is set in an alternate world, separate from ours, yet quite similar. The story starts in a part of Oxford, England, but a different Oxford than the one in our world. Overall it’s similar to the Oxford of our world’s Victorian Era, but slightly more technologically advanced, and in a different way. Other places in the world bear a resemblance to ours, but some have different names, and are quite different, such as the country of Texas.

Not only is the world different, but the people are too, in a way. They have dæmons that follow them around, a sort or talking creature in animal form that is closely linked to the people. They are explained to be a sort of external soul.

In the first book, The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in UK), introduces us to Lyra Belacqua, the central character of the series, and kicks the storyline off. It’s my favorite of the series, and stands alone well without its sequels. It’s filled with action, mystery, and prophecy. The characters are good, the world is lifelike and interesting. One of my favorite parts, and the centerpoint of the series is the Aletheometer, a.k.a. The Golden Compass. The device will answer any question asked to it truthfully. The only catch is you must know how to read it, a talent Lyra certainly has a knack for.

The second two books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, move between worlds frequently, spending a bit of time in ours, Lyras, and a couple others. They arguably go off in a bit of a different direction than the first book, and I didn’t like them quite as much, but they were still good.

Overall I enjoyed the series, especially the first book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Harry Potter series.