10 Fantasy Adventure Books To Read While You Wait For 'The Golden Compass' Spin-Off
This is not a drill, people. Golden Compass author Philip Pullman is writing a whole new spin-off series. That means three new books about Lyra's world(s), starting with the first one this fall. That means a whole new generation of online "What's Your Daemon?" quizzes. The new trilogy will be called The Book of Dust, and I'm extremely ready. So if you, like me, cannot possibly wait two whole seasons for the first Book of Dust installment, here are a few books to tide you over while you wait.
His Dark Materials is one of those book series that grows up along with you. When I first read The Golden Compass in fourth grade, I remember liking it... but I'm pretty sure all the critiques of government and organized religion flew right over my head. As far as I was concerned, it was just a terrific adventure about a little girl with a cool pet and a friend who was a bear.
When I reread the books as a teenager, though, it was a completely different series, with a complex exploration of morality and some weird quantum physics nonsense going on. You're never too old to dive back into a nuanced fantasy series. So here are a few fascinating, well-written, and fantastical books to read while you wait for more from Philip Pullman:
1. 'His Dark Materials' by Philip Pullman
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Before The Book of Dust comes out, you're going to want to reread the original trilogy. And then Lyra's Oxford, and all the other spin-off stories that Pullman has penned over the years. And then probably the original trilogy again. There's always something new to glean from Lyra, Pan, and their many universes.
2. 'East' by Edith Pattou
If your favorite part of The Golden Compass was Lyra's friendship with a giant armored polar bear, then East will be right up your alley. It's a retelling of the classic Norwegian fairy tale, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," featuring a tough female protagonist, strange magic, romance, betrayal, and one very enigmatic talking polar bear.
3. 'Sabriel' by Garth Nix
A boarding school girl with special abilities. A missing father. A talking animal sidekick. A whole lot of dead things who don't want to stay dead. Sabriel is set in a radically different world from Lyra's Oxford, but Sabriel and Lyra are two of the most interesting young women out there in the multi-universe. Pick up Sabriel for your next hit of intelligent, dark fantasy.
4. 'The Amulet of Samarkand' by Jonathan Stroud
Looking for another parallel universe take on London that features a snarky shape-shifting demon? The Bartimaeus Trilogy has you covered. And Bartimaeus is a lot more fun than fussy old Pantalaimon Set in a world of magicians and djinn, The Amulet of Samarkand is a perfect blend of comedy and dark magic. It's like if Faust was a buddy comedy, but in the best way.
5. 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle
If kids' books exploring theology and physics are more of your thing, then it's time to read A Wrinkle in Time, along with the rest of the books in L'Engle's Time Quintet. When Meg Murray and her little brother Charles Wallace discover a stranger in their kitchen, they find themselves off on a grand, odd adventure through the fabric of space-time to find their missing scientist father.
6. 'Deep Secret' by Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones has written many books tackling the idea of magic in multiple realities... and of all of those, her Magids series is probably the weirdest and least known. Deep Secret is a strange, lovable story about "magids," multi-universes, centaurs, and conventions. If you're looking for pure, fantastical creativity, then this is the book for you.
7. 'Over Sea, Under Stone' by Susan Cooper
The Dark Is Rising is a classic when it comes to kids' fantasy series that still hold up with adults. It all begins with the three Drew children finding a map in an attic. But this is no ordinary map — it draws them into an ancient search for a certain magical grail. The result is Over Sea, Under Stone, a King-Arthur-meets-Nancy-Drew mystery novel.
8. 'Parable of the Sower' by Octavia Butler
America has fallen into chaos. Following an environmental and economic meltdown, civilization as we know it has collapsed. Young Lauren Olamina, the daughter of a minister, must navigate this fierce new landscape, armed only with her strange gift for feeling other people's pain. Parable of the Sower lives more in the realm of sci-fi than His Dark Materials, but it's still a brilliant exploration of faith and morality, led by a young woman determined to survive.
9. 'Good Omens' by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
So let's say you loved all the parts of His Dark Materials that dealt with angels. You might even be looking for an off-the-wall theological comedy. Well, Good Omens is an utterly wacky, delightfully ridiculous take on the apocalypse, starring one very anxious angel and one very cool demon. Because Judgment Day has come... and someone's misplaced the Antichrist.
10. 'The Wind Singer' by William Nicholson
The Wind Singer is part dystopian novel, part high fantasy, set in the strange and distant city of Aramanth. When young Kestrel and her family are forced into Aramanth's lowest caste, with no way out, she and her brother leave the city walls in hopes of bringing the legendary power of the wind singer back to their people. But of course, that's only the beginning of their otherworldly quest.