The first part of Philip Pulman’s epic fantasy trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ has been adapted as a graphic novel – the other two stories are to follow. The story of Northern Lights was recreated in the film The Golden Compass, so it may already be familiar to its intended audience.
Philip Pullman was an enthusiastic supporter of the project, which will introduce a new generation of readers to his work. It tells the story of Lyra Belacqua, a half wild child who lives with her daemon among the scholars of the fictional Jordan College, Oxford. In this story her uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her into a terrible conflict involving Gobblers, kidnapped children and a substance known as Dust which Lyra should know nothing.
The graphic novel loses none of the original story and is a timely reminder of Pullman’s supreme skill as a storyteller. The complexities of character and plot which appealed to adult and child readers alike are also there. As a graphic novel, it should appeal to a younger audience than the original narrative novel. Yet I cannot but grieve for the loss of Pullman’s skilfully crafted narrative and richness of language, which is lost in this translation to a graphic novel. That said, it’s a good read for anyone for whom the original version was not definitive.