His Dark Materials
Part 1 - Northern Lights (Unabridged)

Author: Philip Pullman
Starring: Philip Pullman, Terence Stamp, Emma Fielding, Bill Paterson, Kenneth Cranham and Ray Fearon
BBC Audio
RRP: 45.99
ISBN: 978 1 855 49192 2
Available 05 November 2007

Lyra lives among scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College, tearing through Oxford's streets on mad quests for adventure. But her greatest adventure begins when she hears of an extra ordinary, magical particle of dust that is rumoured to possess profound properties that could unite universes. Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, soon engage in a dangerous quest to protect the particle from fearful destroyers...

This nine CD collection of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights is an unabridged audio presentation of the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. This collection expands the BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation, which is also available separately as a 2-disc abridged collection, by including additional narration that fleshes out the story fully, as in the original book.

Northern Lights tells the story of 12-year-old Lyra and her quest to rescue her friend and find her father. In her quest to hunt down a mysterious dust, Lyra and her daemon travel to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about. Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences that may reach beyond the Northern Lights.

After discovering that the adults around her are not what they seem, Lyra and Pantalaimon - her daemon - join forces with a band of gyptians. Travelling north they encounter witch-queens and armoured bears, before being captured and taken to Bolvangar - where children are being used in terrible and secret experiments.

Northern Lights has an all-star cast including Terence Stamp, Emma Fielding, Bill Paterson, Kenneth Cranham and Ray Fearon, with a linking narration by the author. While the 2-disc collection is incredibly well realised (and a must for all fans of the trilogy), this unabridged collection is even more engaging. The hours will fly by, and once you've listened to it once you'll be itching to buy the other two further collections.

While £46 may seem a lot to spend (and if you are planning on buying all three unabridged tales the full collection will set you back a tidy £146) it does represent almost eleven hours of quality entertainment which vividly brings to life Pullman's story. Fans of the book will find that this is a must buy.

Pete Boomer

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