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From: Jesper Svedberg <jesper.svedberg@mailbox.swipnet.se>
Subject: (urth) The Golden Compass
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2001 23:24:38 +0200

From: "Alice Turner" <pei047@attglobal.net>

> Said Dan'l re =The Golden Compass=:

> I think it just might be the best juvenile, and even the best fantasy of
> the 20th century. Contenders, please? (Single books, only.)

Well, I haven't read _The Amber Spyglass_ yet, but I have to say that I
thought the series that far was good, perhaps very good, but not as
earth shattering as some seem to have found it. There are at least two
authors of juveniles that I would rate higher than Pullman, Diana Wynne
Jones and the brilliant, but sadly forgotten Geraldine Harris. Jones has
writtens lots of books and naturally not everything is as good, but she
has written a couple of novels that are great, most notably _Archer's
Goon_, _Howl's Moving Castle_ and my own favourite, _The Lives of
Christopher Chant_ (which resembles _The Golden Compass_ quite a bit,
I've always wondered if it's been an influence on Pullman). Nothing
she's written is quite as ambitious as His Dark Material, but I think
she is a superior craftsman. Harris wrote a wonderful series called The
Seven Citadels, starting with _Prince of the Godborn_. Another writer
who seems to get a lot of respect for his juveniles is Alan Garner, but
I haven't read any of his books.
If we're talking of fantasy in general, I don't think that _The Golden
Compass_ would stand up very well. I'd take any of Jack Vance's
fantasies over it any day and the same goes for the Gormenghast Trilogy,
_Tigana_ and _The Lions of Al-Rassan_ by Guy Gavriel Kay, _The Anubis
Gates_ by Tim Powers and anything by Lord Dunsany (and if we're
stretching the definition of fantasy a bit, a lot of the work of Borges
or Calvino).

I saw that _Peace_ is going to be reprinted in the UK by Gollancz next
year, probably in the Fantasy Masterworks series (a really good list if
you're looking for contenders for the title of best fantasy of the 20th
century, and if we're going by their definition of fantasy, BotNS is
another novel that beats _The Golden Compass_) along with a collection
of Clark Ashton Smith stories, Vance's _Sultrun's Garden_ (finally) and
John M. Ford's _The Dragon Waiting_.

  // Jesper Svedberg

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