It’s an Alethiometer. It tells the truth.


Becky and I just got back from watching The Golden Compass. Oddly enough, given the genre, Becky liked it and I didn’t. Having not read the book, I felt a bit confused and was never really able to get into the movie. When the climactic battle began to unfold, I found myself thinking, “Is this it? Really? Who are these people again, and what exactly are they fighting over?”

Don’t get me wrong — the movie explained many of the individual plot details well, but I felt they never adequately explained why it all matters, in the big picture. They sort of missed the forest for the trees. There was no equivalent of the scene early in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf sits down with Frodo and explains that “Sauron needs only this Ring to cover all the land in a second darkness,” leaving no doubt in the viewer’s mind what the events of the next ten-plus hours will really be all about.

(Some vague spoilers after the jump.)

In Golden Compass, we know the Magisterium is bad, but what’s their motivation, what exactly are they up to, and why? It’s got something to do with “dust” and free will, but it’s all a bit jumbled. For all its (at times overly blatant) exposition, the overarching story arc is too fuzzy. With Sauron, by contrast, we knew very quickly what he was up to, and I don’t think I’m just saying that because I’d read the books before watching the movie. Peter Jackson and his screenwriters really did an excellent job from the get-go of making us realize that the animating force of their film was Sauron’s “cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life.” The animating force of this film is less clear. I guess it’s the Magisterium’s… um… desire to kidnap little kids and kill their furry souls? But why? Because of dust? Huh? (As Las Vegas Weekly‘s review says: “You leave the theater not wondering what might happen next, but pondering just what the hell Dust was supposed to be, exactly.”)

Admittedly, few movies will measure up to the Lord of the Rings in a head-to-head comparison, but given New Line’s marketing strategy, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to compare the two, and it’s inevitable that people will. I almost couldn’t help myself. And particularly in the area of character development, Compass fell woefully sort of Fellowship. Whereas Peter Jackson let us linger in The Shire for the better part of an hour, giving us a real sense of the hobbits’ personalities and allowing us to drink in their innocence and joy and childlike wonder (thus causing us to care when they subsequently lose those things), the character development in this movie seemed rushed, pushed aside in favor of obvious yet ineffective exposition and the relentless forward motion of a plot that seemed oddly devoid of context.

The only character I really felt attached to was the bear, and that’s probably mostly because Ian McKellen is awesome. I also liked Sam Elliott’s character, the guy in the cowboy hat, but even at the end of the movie, I still didn’t know what his deal was. I think he’s sort of like a Strider figure, but I’m not really sure. I realize it’s Part 1 of a trilogy, and I don’t mind the cliffhanger at the end, but I feel like I should at least have a general idea what the main characters are all about by the end of the movie. Yet I’ve still got no clue what’s up with the witch (or who the witches are generally), I don’t know what the cowboy’s role is, and I’m totally confused about the, uh, Gypsies or whatever they’re called. Not to mention, Daniel Craig’s character had so little screen time, and his relationship with Lyra was so poorly developed, that I find myself not particularly caring about what happens to him. (Becky feels differently, but that’s just because she thinks Daniel Craig is hot. :)

In any event, it’s not a bad movie — I mean, it’s no Eragon, certainly — but I don’t think it’s terribly good, either. Maybe people who’ve read the book, and thus can fill in the gaps where things don’t make sense to me, will think it rocks; maybe it’s a good adaptation. I don’t know. But as a movie, standing on its own, I don’t think it really measures up.

P.S. Another gripe: you can’t give me Christopher Lee, a.k.a. Darth Saruman, for like 20 seconds, and then never show him again for the rest of the movie! Christopher Lee is awesome! Send more Chuck Berry Christopher Lee!! ;)

P.P.S. And another thing. Who are the “scholars”? What is their deal? Is there only one university in Parallel Universe Land? Again, huh?

UPDATE: Most of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes don’t like it, either. I think my favorite review so far is, perhaps surprisingly, the one from Christianity Today. Mind you, I don’t really care about some Christians’ gripes about the film and book being anti-religion, and for the most part, the reviewer doesn’t focus on that, either. He just does a really good job explaining how things felt rushed and crucial elements of the movie suffered as a result.

UPDATE 2: Welcome, InstaPundit readers! I believe this is the first time the Blogfather has linked to a movie review on my blog. :)

42 Responses to “It’s an Alethiometer. It tells the truth.”

  1. Andrew says:

    Not having read the books nor seen the movie, nevertheless I surmise that the plot weakness you’ve identified is in large part tied to the movie producers’ desire to mask and hide the trilogy author’s blatant goal of writing an elaborate, allegorical, anti-Church bromide for the purpose of attracting the widest possible audience.

  2. David K. says:

    Looks like Gandalf has been putting on the weight, spending too much time with those hobbits i think…

  3. Vicki from NJ says:

    Brendan, you basically read my mind on this movie. I saw it today with my mom and she liked it much more than I did, but even she felt it was weirdly paced and had both too much and too little exposition.

    Another thing that really annoyed me was the lack of blood in a movie that was as violent as this was. There was just a ton of violence and not a drop of blood, which leads me to believe that the people who made this movie just had no clue what audience they were going after. My mother thought that the blood thing was obvious but not that bothersome, but it really upset me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The only character I really felt attached to was the bear

    You didn’t feel any attachment to Lyra? I thought she was actually a really well defined character and I thought the actress playing her (Dakota Blue Richards) was charming. I also appreciate that she’s a clever girl who isn’t a reluctant hero, but an eager one.

  5. Vicki from NJ says:

    That last comment was me, forgot I don’t have the Remember personal info. thingy checked. :)

  6. David K. says:

    My mother thought that the blood thing was obvious but not that bothersome, but it really upset me.

    Note to self, Vicki is blood thirsty…

  7. 4-7 says:

    I am avoiding this one like the good intolerant conservative that I am because I don’t want to line Pullman’s pocket, even if the movie toned down the anti-religious theme. For those who doubt that the book qualifies as Pullman’s “answer to Narnia” and don’t care about spoiling the ending, I invite you to review the plot synopsis on wikipedia.

    Nevertheless, I think the idea of contracting with a bear is totally awesome and it’s too bad the book had to be an anti-Narnia because if it was more like a pre-Dumbledoreisgay harry potter I would have definitely been up for it. Indeed, I was excited when I saw the trailer at first but then realized it was Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. Blegh. My “Authority” is quite Loving and Beautiful, thank you, and I would keep him. But damn, why couldn’t Tolkien have had a polar bear that you can hire out. Damn.

  8. 4-7 says:

    Mind you, four seven is actually out in the cold on this one because the US Conf. of Catholic Bishops gave the movie, at least, a pleasant review. So not all intolerant religious conservatives are shunning the movie, just me. Incidentally, I am shooting my own movie about a young boy-formerlawstudent who hires out a bear (CGI effect of cotton balls and glue) and has a journey across Post-Earth (my apartment living room). At the end I find a bible and realize the only thing worth living for is God. I call it, Pullman-and-Hitchens-can-eat-a-bean-for-all-I-care: The Movie.

  9. Angrier and Angrier says:

    “Not having read the books nor seen the movie, nevertheless I surmise that the plot weakness you’ve identified is in large part tied to the movie producers’ desire to mask and hide the trilogy author’s blatant goal of writing an elaborate, allegorical, anti-Church bromide for the purpose of attracting the widest possible audience.”

    By your “not having read the books nor seen the movie” I surmise you are talking out your ass. You are a smart guy, Andrew. You can do better than that.

  10. calm down christians says:

    first of all.

    i love the books. i havent seen the movie yet, but i plan on doing so soon.

    OK, heres my problem.

    I never ever, in both my initial reading of the book or my re-read in anticipation of the movie ever had a “oh, this book is trying to make christians look bad.”

    Maybe its just me. I don’t ever (unless forced to do so in a literature class) look for connections in this type of book and real life groups. I mean, its FANTASY.

  11. 4-7 says:

    I don’t know that anyone said the book purports to make Christians look bad but to paint Christianity, as belief, as a colossal “mistake.” Mind you, not “Christians are mistaken” but “Christianity is a mistake”. Also the antagonist is the God Christians purport to worship so it is taken a little personal. In Tolkien the bad guys included orcs. I would expect actual orcs to be offended.

  12. anon says:

    1. “calm down christians” is one of the most ignorant readers in history

    2. he hasn’t read the third book

    3. 1 and 2

  13. Anonymous says:

    By your “not having read the books nor seen the movie” I surmise you are talking out your ass. You are a smart guy, Andrew. You can do better than that.

    I don’t usually defend andrew but numerous reviews and interviews about this movie have basically upheld his point, it WAS watered down intentionally.

  14. David K. says:

    Above was me.

    Maybe its just me. I don’t ever (unless forced to do so in a literature class) look for connections in this type of book and real life groups. I mean, its FANTASY.

    And given that the author is an avowed atheist who has admitted for years that it was written as an anti-Narnia (a book written to highlight Christianity and promote Christian values) i think its a safe conclusion that the book was written for a reason and has INTENTIONAL meaning and an INTENTIONAL motive.

  15. Derek says:

    To address a couple of points, the film was intentionally watered down, and the books are explicitly anti-religious (I mean, the chief villain is called the “Magisterium”–it doesn’t get much more obvious than that). Of many, many sources discussing this, the top Google result is this one.

  16. Andrew says:

    A&A, what you fail to consider in your calculations is that I am unusually brilliant at talking out of my ass. I could do better, but why bother doing the actual homework of reading the book and seeing the movie when I was already right the first time?

  17. Brendan Loy says:

    Vicki, I liked Lyra okay — she would be next on my list after the bear and the cowboy-hatted airman — but even with her, I thought they could have included more character development. The actress was great, but I thought the writing didn’t give her enough to do that wasn’t directly related to the moving parts of the plot. Again making the LOTR comparison, if Lyra is this movie’s Frodo, I certainly don’t think we got anywhere near as much of a sense for her character as we did for Frodo’s in Fellowship of the Ring. Of course, this movie was like half the length of that one, so that probably has something to do with it. :) But I mean, I think of that scene in Moria where the hobbits come face-to-face with Orcs for the first time, and the looks on all of their faces is like, “HOLY SHIT!!!” — you really get a sense for how these people have been plucked out of their normal lives and thrown into a massive world war thingy. Lyra is in basically the same boat, but we don’t really get to see her human reaction to that massive upheaval. I take your point about her not being a “reluctant” hero (which Frodo definitely is), and I don’t have a problem with that per se, but I’d still have liked to see more dimension to her character in the script.

  18. Angrier and Angrier says:

    “I don’t usually defend andrew but numerous reviews and interviews about this movie have basically upheld his point, it WAS watered down intentionally.”

    The reviews and interviews you are referring to are part of the efforts of the Catholic League to boycott the movie. You are seeing so many stories about it because one media savvy group is out there bitching about it.

    “I could do better, but why bother doing the actual homework of reading the book and seeing the movie when I was already right the first time?”

    Spoken like a true Bush supporter. Read any NIEs lately?

  19. David K. says:

    No Angrier, YOU are an idiot, I’m talking about interviews with the damn director of the film, and reviews in MAJOR newspapers. You can blame big bad religion all you want for a smear campaign (not true) but the basic facts are the movie WAS watered down to attract a wider audience for financial reasons. No conspiracy, just you being dumb.

  20. Marty West says:

    I love these books and recently reread His Dark Materials in preparation for this movie. The movie took too many shortcuts and left a lot out in the open.

    Lyra is a much better character in the books. I was pissed they didn’t include all the Gyptian history that Pullman went into huge detail in during the books.

    They did show Iorek rip Iofur’s bottom jaw out. Again anyone who has read the books knows just how awesome the bear fight scene really is.


  21. Angrier and Angrier says:

    David K-

    Seems to me the criticisms about the movie are about a lack of character development. Frankly, many good movies have been adapted from subject matter that is controversial. It might simply be a case that the producers did a lackluster adaptation which has nothing to do with them de-emphasizing anti-Religion messages in the books (please note how The Passion of the Christ did not suffer from Mel Gibson’s editing efforts to remove specific lines deemed overly offensive to Jews).

    As for your remarks about “big bad religion,” I am being critical of the Catholic League, not Catholics. In reality, the two have as much in common as the 700 Club and Protestants. As for “big bad religion,” I assume that includes the Council of Catholic Bishops, which gave a good review to the movie?

  22. Vicki from NJ says:

    David, I am incredibly blood thirsty! ;) I love me some CGI blood, heck, that’s the reason I saw Beowulf in 3D (it’s also about the only reason to see Beowulf at all).

    Brendan, I get what you’re saying about Lyra’s development and I agree that there could/should have been more there. I guess it just didn’t stick out as much to me because she was a richly defined character compared to everyone else in the movie (save, maybe, Iorek).

  23. David K. says:

    A&A at what point did I say it was bein criticized for the watering down of the anti-religious stuff? All I said is that it had been admitted and observed that it had been DONE. So yes before you go off on a rant, read what is written first.

  24. Medina says:

    Compass is very entertaining. I’m in the minority, but I found LOTR slow. Heck, I read the book in less time than watching it. Compass had a crisp movie pace, not a book pace.

    Nicole Kidman is HOT, so no need to develop her character. I’d rather watch her than old grey-beard wizards (sorry Sir Ian).

    The little girl, Lyra, was annoying, but less annoying than Elijah Wood’s creepy blue eyes. Plus, Lyra’s daemon was a ferret/cat! Awesome.

    Sam Elliot, clearly the same role he’s played for the last 150 years no need to develop. Steak, it’s what’s for dinner.

    The bear – ROCKED! But I’d still give Gollum the nod here.

    There is no Samwise equivalent, but it doesn’t matter, because I’d rather watch anything other than the homoerotic fawnings of Rudy toward Frodo.

    Also, no cheesy elves in Compass (Orlando Bloom???? Please.).

    Finally, score one for the Freethinkers!

    For the foregoing reasons, Golden Compass was better than LOTR.

  25. Mike says:

    I also saw the movie today, after having recently reread the books. Some of what you’re confused about, Brendan, you’re supposed to be: at the end of the first book, Lyra has basically no idea what Dust is, and why the Magisterium doesn’t like it, and why they’re trying to do what they’re trying to do with the children. The witches are very mysterious to basically all non-witches, and while we know that there’s a prophecy they have about Lyra, we don’t know what that prophecy is until later. There are a few parts I feel could have benefited from some additional treatment–for instance, the thing with Iorek (the bear we like) and Iofur (the bear we hate) was rather more important than it was made out to be, and the reasons for Iorek’s exile were rather different–but I felt that they kept largely true to the spirit of the book even if the plot was changed considerably. However, I still say the books are better. At least for the case of the first book versus this first movie. If nothing else, the first book has something which is much more of an ending than this first movie did.

  26. jlr says:

    I saw the movie last night. Joanna and I, having not read the books, felt the same thing: we knew we were missing something, but we couldn’t put our fingers on it.

    For those who have read the books, I think that the movie would have made sense. It (hopefully) would have discussed Dust and Daemons, as well as giving us some background on the political/social situation the characters find themselves in. A book can give background that a movie just doesn’t have time to.

    I still say the books are better.

    Mike has a point: I have yet to find a single book made into a movie where I like the movie better. Golden Compass is actually one of the few movies made out of books where I haven’t read the book first. (Come to think of it, I still haven’t read any of the Narnia books, but I intend to change that before the next movie comes out.)

    In any case, as a movie, I left Golden Compass feeling a little confused, a little disappointed, and firm in my resolve to actually read the books before the next one comes out.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I read the book (a while ago) and saw the movie. the biggest problem with the movie was that it felt rushed. In particular, they cut the last chapter. The removal of the anti-religious stuff (which itself was left relatively vague in the first book compared to the last one) was probably a problem as well, in that a lot of the things that seemed to make less sense for the non-readers in the audience would have made more sense. This is probably especially true of Mrs. Coulter’s Adam and Eve speech which was watered down a great deal.

  28. Gary Rosen says:

    Two bears have a bloody fight to the death. Didn’t Michael Vick get into a lot of trouble for something like that?

  29. Jason says:

    Having read the books (but not having seen the movie), I have to say that I find this bickering over the anti-Religious content to be quite silly. While Pullman *is* an avowed Atheist, and while his stated intent in writing the books was to invert Milton’s Paradise Lost, neither of those has any bearing whatsoever on the literary merit of the story itself.

    I really can’t imagine any non-Christian ever claiming that Paradise Lost should not be considered classic literature simply because it is overtly Christian. Paradise Lost is classic literature because the story stands on its own; conversely, there are plenty of overtly Christian works which are not, and do not.

    Likewise, Pullman’s trilogy should be read on its own merits; the fact that the Church in his story plays the role of antagonist should be taken as a premise of the story itself, and should be accepted as such. Indeed, as the trilogy is a work of fantasy, the reader is already being asked to accept, without explanation, far greater stretches of imagination than that one.

    Granted, His Dark Material’s is no Paradise Lost; it is, however, a pretty darned good work of fantasy.

    As regards the movie – I will probably wind up seeing it soon, but I don’t have particularly high expectations. I generally find that I detest movies made from books that I like. The only exception to the rule that comes to mind is LoTR.

  30. Jason says:

    I should probably post a disclaimer to my statement above:

    My own religious views fall somewhere between agnostic and deist.

  31. Bill Peschel says:

    Jlr wrote “Mike has a point: I have yet to find a single book made into a movie where I like the movie better.”

    If you liked “Legally Blonde,” check out the novel it was based on. The movie is much, much better. Of course, they only published the novel after the movie came out, and there was a reason for that.

    No argument here about GC (I haven’t seen it), just pointing out one exception.

  32. Andrew says:

    Jason, I don’t think the bickering has been about any argument that the trilogy’s anti-Christian flavor reduces its artistic worth. I think the debate has been about whether the movie’s plot and its anti-Christian themes were watered down in an attempt to make it more attractive to American audiences that otherwise wouldn’t take so kindly to their faith being mocked and derided as a scourge. 90% of the reviews I’ve read make it clear that’s exactly what happened, and the feeling seems to be by most who have seen the film that this has left some vagaries and holes in the story and character development.

  33. Patrick says:

    You know, I must admit – As far as the confusion about who these characters were, what Dust was, and why we should care…

    If that’s there, then it accurately reflects the book. The Golden Compass (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve read the trilogy) is a stirringly beautiful book, but it’s more than a touch vague and confusing.

    At least at my young age (I read it as a pre-teen, I think? When it came out, and it’s been a few years now), I didn’t feel like I really understood a lot of different pieces of it.. But it was beautiful and charming and had depth to it, so I was happy with that.

    Now to dip my feet in to the larger controversy here… I didn’t find the first book particularly anti-religious (anti-Christian). I’m fairly deeply religious and while I can see some criticism in there, it’s mostly of what I see as the difficult-to-argue sort (the church really was opposed to certain kinds of science and exploration, and that’s what I saw reflected in the first book).

    Not having seen the movie (going tonight, or if not, soon) yet, but having read the descriptions here, I’d say IF the movie was watered down, that’s probably STILL not why the plot holes are there: Almost all of the serious anti-religious stuff is in the third book, with a solid dollop in the second.

    But it’s not at all integral to the plot of the first one and the plot holes (or, better said, the thin points) are, I expect, just.. thin, in the story itself. It wasn’t a perfect book, just a beautiful one.

    I think it suffered, more so with each volume, from the authors attempt to make it in to a social criticism: That part of the story comes out a bit hacked together and painful.

  34. jdgjtr says:

    I haven’t seen the movie but I may. I am a conservative Christian and while I read the book after finding out it was supposed to be an “anti Narnia”, I still loved it for the most part. It has a dark and depressing beauty of its own. When I read the third book, I was disappointed. It was as if the author had waited to jam all his views into that one instead of advancing the story. It has many fantastic concepts and much to say about honor and loyalty that is commendable but the ending, to me as Christian, was unsatisfying. I can separate fiction from fact, so I don’t let the author’s views affect my world view as a Christian.

  35. luagha says:

    Spoiler alert, read not on:

    The Dust is ‘sin.’ Original sin, perhaps, or the accepting of the concept of sin and sinfulness.

  36. narciso says:

    First of all, Pullman’s ambition is to wants to kill God; or at least the monotheistic version seen in this victorian

    world; where the Magisterium is much like like the Church of England; not the Catholic Church. They (Catholics) haven’t had any great influence since the late 1500s; in a predominantly Protestant country. Second, Marx, Freud & Darwin, did much of the demolition of the sectarian

    underpinings of the 19th century world. Pullman is a poor second on that score. One of the consequences of this is that Britons are likely to believe any strong

    philosophy; be it Islamism or extreme secularism. The Dust is not so much Sin

    as Guilt and Shame. And that has gone by

    the wayside in the late 20th and early 21st century.

  37. jlr says:

    Bill–my whole point is that the movie should be based on the book. Every instance where I’ve seen books based on movies, the movie is better–and the book barely qualifies to be defined as a book.

  38. Mike says:

    Well, one instance I can come up with where I’m not positive the book was better than the movie, even though I loved the book at a kid. There was a 2003 TV version of A Wrinkle in Time that I actually liked somewhat better than the book. A relatively large percentage of the plot was changed, but the essence of the book was still there. The change I actually felt made the movie better than the book was that instead of portraying Meg as whiny, she was instead disliked by her principal because she was a smart aleck. That just seemed to fit better, to me at least, because even when I first read the book as a kid I thought Meg needed to stop whining.

  39. PlutosDad says:

    The first book as well doesn’t tell you what’s going on or why, but there are some hints. It’s not until about 1/3 of the way into the 2nd book where he comes out and says what’s going on. So in one way it’s not really all that watered down, it pretty much follows the books.

    And even in the books the Magestrium was not the church, maybe it represented it, but the book described it as a separate political entity. Sort of like an intelligence service that grew too big and decided to take over.

    As far as the anti-church theme goes, I just tend to roll my eyes at the latest wave of revisionist history. Just like the DaVinci Code, it’s simply not worth getting upset over. The way I see it, people did and do horrible things to each other, the excuse they use really doesn’t mean much. We STILL stifle science via government funding (and rejection of funding) for hot button issues like climate research, etc. So we haven’t really advanced that much.

  40. Fred says:

    “I have yet to find a single book made into a movie where I like the movie better.”

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a much better movie than the book it was (supposedly) based on. Of course about the only thing the two had in common was the the name Roger Rabbit but there you go…

  41. Sean says:

    Have read the trilogy; haven’t seen the movie. Apparently spoilers are acceptable, so I’ll take it a bit farther. If you don’t want to know, don’t read.

    God is the villain of the trilogy. No doubt about it. But he’s in a coma, so really Metatron is the Big Bad. The Magisterium plays the role of villain because they are his agents on this particular earth.

    Dust is not sin. The second and third books are incredibly clear. Dust is intelligence. It runs the alethiometer, it gives sentience, and it gives humanity the ability to reason. If anything, the books are about how religion hates intelligence and even, as you see here, calls it a sin. Why did Adam and Eve get thrown out of Eden? They gained knowledge.

    Lord Azriel isn’t as important as Lyra. He’s leading a giant rebellion across the Multiverse against God, but that’s all background. It’s more about Lyra and how she deals with it all. A lot of scenes involve adults dying left and right all around her, but it concentrates on how Lyra handles it. If she escapes the battle, then we don’t see the battle’s resolution because the story of Lyra is more important.

    I liked the trilogy as a whole, fully aware that Golden Compass is the weakest. As I tell many of my friends, “I liked it. You might not.” I think I enjoyed it more for the Gyptians and daemons and panserbjorne (armored bears, in case they don’t use that word in the movie) than the message. And there’s one scene in, I think it’s Amber Spyglass, that makes the whole trilogy worth watching: they remake the afterlife from one of suffering and drudgery to one where you must tell stories about your life to cross to the other side (affirmation of life, baby!), which is now a Paradise.

    I understand why it would be offensive and turn good people away from an otherwise good story. I don’t think religious people are evil; I just think you guys are wrong. Maybe if you think of it as a fight for humanity to keep reason and wisdom rather than a fight against God or the Church?

    I know. Didactic stories can be obnoxious. It’s why I don’t like Narnia so much, and why I’d probably like His Dark Materials more if it were about two different philosophies among humans, one that likes freedom of thought, one that sees any questioning of the world as evil and something that must be destroyed, leaving God’s giant flying mountain-palace out of the whole thing. It’s why Ayn Rand’s dialogue and sex scenes suck. It’s why Terry Goodkind post-9/11 sucks. It’s why Jurassic Park and Congo and Sphere are infinitely better than State of Fear and Prey. It’s why I didn’t actually like Uncle Tom’s Cabin that much. And it’s why nobody remembers that the Wizard of Oz is an allegory about the gold standard. Doesn’t matter if you agree or not. (I like the messages of Atlas Shrugged and Uncle Tom’s Cabin and His Dark Materials and Oz and Terry Goodkind’s Faith of the Fallen, if not the rest of the series after that.)

    Any book will show an author’s bias, but I guess the trick is to concentrate more on a good story. If a message happens – Tolkien’s pastoralism and anti-industrialism or Terry Pratchett’s jokes at the expense of socialism and warmongering, say – then let it happen, but don’t concentrate on it more than the story and the characters.

    Though I must say that I love Brendan’s characterization of daemons as “furry souls.” :-)

  42. Sean says:

    Wait. I meant Next, not Prey. Prey is awesome.