The Golden Compass Page by Page
Chapter 11 - Armor

Pullman’s writing sometimes reminds me of the FMV (full motion video) cut-scenes in video games like Final Fantasy VII on the original Sony Playstation. In Final Fantasy VII during occasional scenes important to the storyline, the gameplay would be suspended and substituted with high resolution video footage showing the scene in greater detail than the regular gameplay graphics made possible.

I feel this because most of the time Pullman doesn't seem to try to put a whole lot of detail into the scenes and actions that aren’t necessary, he basically just says who the characters are, where they are, and what they are doing, leaving most other things else to be very effectively filled in by the reader.

The two large paragraphs Pullman dedicates to describing the Aurora are a break from this, and remind me of one of those scenes in Final Fantasy VII where the game goes from the real-time graphics, which are for the most part simple and blocky, to the more detailed, vivid FMV visuals used to depict short sequences that the real-time graphics would have been inadequate for.
I can almost imagine His Dark Materials as a Final Fantasy like game. Unfortunately the film based on The Golden Compass was an inadequate mess rushed to be released alongside the film. What a pity.

After the meeting with Kaisa, Lyra meets the previously alluded to Lee Scoresby.

He was a tall, lean man… She felt strongly about him at once,
but she wasn’t sure whether it was liking she felt, or dislike.(HDM 1, ch. 11, pg. 169, para. 2)

After reading this description, I feel a huge pang of appreciation for Chris Weitz’ scriptwriting of this scene in the film adaptation along with Sam Elliot’s performance as Lee, because knowing absolutely nothing about The Golden Compass the first time I saw the movie, the second I first saw Lee, I felt exactly the same unsure feeling about him as Pullman describes Lyra having here.

As far as the audio book is concerned, Garrick Hagon does a surprisingly convincing Texan voice for Lee. I really didn’t know what to expect because I don’t have a whole lot of exposure to British attempts at impersonating an American accent, but Hagon does a very good job. Not a good a job as Hugh Laurie does on House (who for years I didn’t even realize was British), but more than decent. I actually feared for months that I would  cringe every time I heard Lee’s voice in the audiobook, but now I can finally rest easy.

I feel sort of silly to admit that I was really confused by the “Pan pulling at Lyra” scene on my first reading, because somehow I thought that Pan had literally pulled her through the fence as though through some extra dimension by which she could pass through matter. It made no sense to me at the time then either.

I was probably too distracted by trying to comprehend all these alien, dæmon related sensations and emotions to consider how the fence and the sledge depot are laid out. I ended up re-reading this moment several times, in part to figure out what was actually happening, and also because it was so heartrending and emotional.

It was such a strange tormenting feeling when your dæmon was pulling at the link between you...(HDM 1, ch. 11, pg. 170, para. 6)

Pullman’s use of the word “you” directly involves the reader directly in experiencing what Lyra is going through and lures the reader into trying to recall those feelings in their own memory as though they were something everyone should know all about.

I think Iorek explaining his connection with his armor is the first time a dæmon is explicitly described as being their person’s soul. Funny seeing how most readers are quick to describe dæmons as being “your soul embodied as an animal” yet dæmons are never actually described as being souls until literally half way through the book.

This chapter reenforces the intense love people in Lyra’s world have for their dæmons and what a horrible thing it would be if it were somehow possible for someone to lose their dæmon forever and still continue living as half a being.

Even if you read this book for the first time knowing absolutely nothing about it (not even the dust jacket summary), I can’t imagine anyone smart enough to pick up the book not having figured out by now what it is the Oblation Board is doing to the kids it’s kidnapping, especially by this point. The real mystery is in "how" and "why" this is being done.

Page 175 is the exact halfway point of my edition and the chapter ends on Page 178, so Chapter 11 is the halfway point of The Golden Compass, though it still means the end of many large corporations.

Thus I end my analysis of the first half of this book with a bad pun about bankruptcy.  

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