Just finished reading - well, listening to it, actually. I gotta say, even with all the great things I heard about His Dark Materials and having liked the movie, the book still impressed and even shocked me at some points. I had no idea they had left so much stuff out! Some of the best stuff, I might add. The most touching, frightening and revealing moments were all left out or toned down. They made a kids movie out of a book that was definitely not for kids. Not kids of particularly religious parents, anyway.
The Golden Compass really blew my mind away. Now I've started The Subtle Knife, and it has very high expectations to meet... But I'm confident that it will.