"Northern Lights", the first part of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I have had this book recommended to me many times, and I love Pullman's writing, ever since "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ", but I've only just got down to actually reading it. Pullman creates a strangely alien-yet-familiar universe in which people have daemons, animaliform companions, roughly analogous to a soul - a core part of their being. The book was made into a movie, "The Golden Compass", which although it apparently did OK at the box office, wasn't supposed to have been great.
Anyway, forget the movie - just read the book. It is absolutely fantastic, as Lyra Belacqua (the wild-child heroine) and her daemon Pantalaimon race across an alternative Northern Europe to confront an enormous evil and to uncover the mysteries of Dust. I'm just about to start the sequel, "The Subtle Knife", and am looking forward to it enormously. It's all there - loyalty, intrigue, betrayal, philosophy, religion, heresy. A real gem.
We've done it again! This time we biked from Petra in Jordan up to Nazareth in Israel, to raise money for the Nazareth Hospital CT Scanner appeal. Nazareth is the largest Arab town in Israel, but they still don't have a dedicated Stroke Unit to cope with this devastating condition and major cause of death. Click here to find out more, and please help this fantastic cause. Thanks!