I admit, i'm excessively late to this party but i just read Philip Pullman's His Dark Material's Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; and The Amber Spyglass) and i absolutely loved it! (the non-conformist in me does like that it never quite reached Harrymania status--continuing the party metaphor i think if Dark Materials had been at one of the house parties i went to back in college it would have been in the kitchen "and all the best people/parties were/happened/wound up in the kitchen (maybe that was just me or that crazy Theatre crowd) but i usually wound up in the kitchen, or in other rooms... whole other subject...)
I really liked the first book because it was self-contained. It's just the slightest bit annoying, sometimes, when serial books leave you hanging on those cliffs; and also when books full of action and multiple characters keep switching scenes--when you are just dying to know what is happening in one particular place to one particular character. Still i am not sure i can rave enough about this trilogy, and even though it seems to have picked up numerous accolades in its homeland it doesn't seemed to have garnered quite as much attention here as the ubiquitous Harry, perhaps that's a good thing because i'm sure there are a few people who could find quite a bit to object to in these books.
You won't find these objections here, however, i think Pullman is quite genius in his work and obviously well-versed in biblical as well as Victorian verse. He tells a marvelous yarn of epic proportions and keeps it going oh so well--gives the reader so much to think about. I highly recommend this trilogy.