I just finished reading Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Oh man. So good. So, so good. Everything that Narnia was to me as a child, this was too. An amazingly crafted series, with intelligent, respectful treatment of children (and perhaps most impressively) children’s experience of emotion. An interesting take on religion (no wonder The Church doesn’t like this book), and a fully-fleshed out fantastic world (or, rather, word-system, there being more than one). I even had to look up a word in the dictionary, which is quite the rarity for me, and moreso, considering the target audience for these books (young readers — my best guess would be 10–14 year olds).
One fun fact. The dæmon artifice embodies what I used to wish for as a child: something to express my emotions for me (I’ve never been terribly good at it). And the honesty of it (although clearly, dæmons can lie too, to some degree): want to know what I’m thinking or feeling? See what my dæmon’s doing.
As a note, there are several editions in print. I read the recently released Knopf edition, and it’s quite nicely typeset, etc. In order, the books are (handily linked to Amazon.com (rather than .ca, because this edition isn’t available there)):