What is the conflict in "The Golden Compass"?
The conflict in The Golden Compass is simple, it is a battle between good and evil, with the fate of the universe at stake.
"This type of conflict between free-thinking freedom fighters and authoritarian control is common in fantasy and science fantasy stories."
Lyra Belacqua, the young hero, unexpectedly finds herself in a quest for the truth, on the side of good, about a mysterious "dust" that connects all people and parallel universes.
"Lyra sees the Master trying to poison Lord Asriel, warns him, and is then taken into his confidence. However, his comments pique her curiosity about many things such as the church and her own history, which she has heretofore taken for granted. When other children start to disappear into the clutches of the mysterious Oblation Board, she becomes even more curious."
On the side of evil, is the Magisterium, which opposes the mentioning of the dust, they will do anything to keep it from even being mentioned.
There are several important conflicts in "The Golden Compass." What makes this book so great and interesting is the way they interweave—and the way they shift around. There's a conflict between generations (Lyra and the kids/the adults). There's a conflict between self-determination and authority, as happens when the children's daemons are severed from them. There's a conflict between the existing order and change, though that emerges more in the later books. Finally, there's a conflict between heart and head; this happens in several characters. All of these happen amidst an emerging conflict between good and evil.