Monday, April 2, 2012

I Want a Daemon

I broke my series streak when I picked up a bound three book edition of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Philip Pullman has been a polarizing figure for years, with a fever pitch after the movie The Golden Compass came out. The books have been condemned and banned all over the world for being anti-religion. I knew of the controversy before but knew little about the books. So when I found this edition, for a decent price, I picked it up to see what all the fuss was about. I figured I'd just read the first book, as is my usual trend.

But after sitting down and getting twenty pages into the first book, I was intrigued. The concept of other worlds and dust and the church seemed so out there. So odd. I was hooked. I looked up at Jeff and made the understatement of the week. "I'll be in this book for a while". What I meant is that he wasn't to bother me. What I didn't realize is that I was going to read all three books in a little over 48 hours. I read while I ate. I read while I got dressed. I read late into the night. I simply couldn't put the books down. I won't even try to go through the plot here. I could be here for days trying to describe and explain everything that happens in these books. These are plot and character rich books.

And although I loved the characters, the concepts, and the settings, it was the idea of the daemons that drove me to finish. In Lyra's world (the main character) a daemon is a being that is tied to you from the very earliest days of your life until the very end of your life. It is a creature that is constantly with you. It can hear your thoughts and you can hear its. It cannot be separated from you without pain. It's a companion in the closest possible sense. And the bonds between the people and their daemons are emotional at their finest level. The thought of separation between a human and their daemon (something brought up frequently in the book) was enough to make me cry. I broke down on numerous occasions not because a character had died but because of their daemon's reaction to the eminent death. It was heart-wrenching and reduced me to tears.

I loved the books for a number of reasons but the biggest one was to see what would happen to Lyra and her daemon. To share in the bond between them. I found the book mystical and spiritual in a way that made me question all the hype about it. This was not an anti-religious book but an anti-established church book. It was about not giving the church too much power and to see the rest of the spiritualness around you. But for me this was a story about companionship. It made my heart ache to know that I'd never have a daemon. To know those kind of bonds. It hurt me as much as it hurt Lyra to be separated from her daemon. It was a set of books that made me feel more than anything.

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