Oh, how I wish I had read His Dark Materials instead of Harry Potter because Robert Pullman is a more adept weaver of fantasy than J.K. Rowling ever will be and, if I had already read the series, I could go see the movie (we have a quirky read-it-before-you-see-it household rule). I did finish The Golden Compass (the first book of the series) this weekend, but now I must wait for Lizzie and Madhubby to read it.
I just loved the book, though, because Pullman's writing isn't adolescent and replete with stupid, annoying characters who have silly names. Pullman's prose is rich and textured; it engages the senses. He isn't afraid to explore the range of human emotion and he isn't afraid to expose children to it either. Deception, death, redemption, loyalty, fear and sorrow are all part and parcel of The Golden Compass. And then, there are the Panserbjørne. They are the best fantasy character I've ever encountered and they alone are reason enough to run to your nearest theater and see this movie. Oh, but, first, read the book!