The Golden Compass


Philip Pullman

Number of Pages: 


Minimum grade level: 


Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. The author tells us that The Golden Compass takes place "in a universe like ours, but different in many ways." How do you think Lyra's universe relates to ours?
  2. What is a daemon? What function do they serve? Would you like one? What form do you think it would most often take?
  3. Lyra's friend the sea captain says, "when your daemon settles, you'll know what sort of person you are." (147). What do you think the daemon settling represents?
  4. Some readers say that this book is hard to get into. What was your experience? Do you like reading about alternative worlds in which you need to learn the "rules" before you understand the action of the story?
  5. Describe Lyra. What kind of person is she? Do you think you would like her? What are her faults?
  6. In what ways is Lyra's world different from our own?
  7. What do you think "Dust" is? What purpose does it serve?
  8. How would you describe the process of "cutting"? What do they hope it will achieve?
  9. Think about the following characters. What role do they play in Lyra's journey?
    • Lord Asriel - a relative of Lyra's
    • The Master - Head of Jordan College
    • Roger Parslow - Lyra's friend, the kitchen boy
    • The alethiometer - the "golden compass", item that tells the truth
    • Mrs. Coulter - an elegant Lady
    • Ma Costa - a gyptian matron
    • John Faa - Lord of the western gyptians
    • Farder Coram - a wise old gyptian man
    • Iorek Byrnison - an armored polar bear, Lyra's friend
    • Serafina Pekkala - a Lapland witch
    • Lee Scoresby - a Texan aeronaut or balloonist
    • Iorek Byrnison - King of the bears, an unbearlike bear
  10. In what ways are Iorek and Lord Asriel alike?
  11. Did the ending surprise you? Did it leave you satisfied? Are you going to read the second book in the series?


Design your own daemon using collage, computer illustrating programs, or other materials.

Portions of this discussion guide are credited to the Random House Reading Group Guide

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.