The Golden Compass
Lyra is the main character in The Golden Compass, the one we root for through thick and thin. As we find out, she is a part of a prophesy about the fate of mankind. As we from other books like the Harry Potter series and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, this is a big deal. She's also the only character who can read the alethiometer. Part of the reason we like Lyra, though, is because she's flawed. She has a tendency to exaggerate, for one thing. She also sometimes misjudges situations and people big-time (ahem, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel). But she also has a big heart. Over the course of this first book, we watch Lyra grow, mature, and rise to a number of challenges.