Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 17

In the seventeenth chapter of The Golden Compass, Lyra finally has a much-needed confrontation with Mrs. Coulter, the results of which send Bolvangar into chaos. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Golden Compass.

Over on Mark Watches, I’ve been using the word “convergence” often to explain how dual (and sometimes triple) plots come together over the span of a twenty-four minute episode. I’m going to bring that term here because this might be the most chaotic and suspenseful convergence I’ve come across in a long time. And I really think chaos is a good word for this, because so much happens at the exact same moment that it was almost hard to follow along.

god this chapter. this chapter.


Just…how awful is it that Mrs. Coulter is the one to save Lyra? I cannot get over how Lyra just faced the worst experience of her life and she is immediately dropped into something that could be so much worse. Lyra and Pantalaimon are both aware of this immediately, and while they both do their best to comfort one another after the horrific ordeal of nearly being separated permanently, they know that they cannot trust Mrs. Coulter at all.

What makes Mrs. Coulter so frightening before she even speaks a word (and even worse once she does) is that she is a woman who is consumed with lies. She uses her sickly sweet temperament in a way that preys on a person’s natural desire for affection, but at this point, we (and Lyra and Pantalaiamon) know the truth, and that makes her act all the more revolting.

As Mrs. Coulter prepares some sort of drink, Lyra starts her transformation back into that mischievous young girl in Jordan College, the bratty child who could concoct elaborate lies in order to get what she wanted, only the context now is abject survival.

Pantalaimon played the same game: fool them, fool them.

And that game is one that will keep them alive. Good lord, it it is one tense game at that, and it’s one where every line seems to drip with a hidden subtext from both parties. Mrs. Coulter starts it off with one hell of a lie, pretending that she doesn’t know why Lyra disappeared from her possession:

“Lyra, darling,” Mrs. Coulter murmured, stroking her hair. “I thought we’d lost you forever! What happened? Did you get lost? Did someone take you out of the flat?”

While I think that, chronologically, given that one of the spy-flies returned, I don’t think Mrs. Coulter knows the precise details of Lyra’s escape from London, this question is certainly not a genuine inquiry. She has to know that Lyra did this on purpose and I’d bet that her dæmon provided some of that information. But this is a delicate process: both parties know the other isn’t being entirely truthful.

Bless Lyra, though, who begins to fulfill the role of the bashful, frightened child, and she does it beautifully. She crafts a story of kidnap, and the fiction gives her a “strength,” as Pullman describes, that brings her back to her recent past, that gives her confidence she didn’t think she’d find. As she recounts this glorious tale, I didn’t know how much of this Mrs. Coulter would actually believe. A part of me, though, believed that she didn’t really care, but that all doesn’t matter because Lyra flat out surprises me: She breaks the story upon the point of reaching Bolvangar and directly tells Mrs. Coulter that she knows they cut dæmons away from children up here.

WHY. Could Lyra simply not resist the thought? Did she think it would help her story? I suppose that also doesn’t matter, either, because Lyra is fierce as hell. Even when Mrs. Coulter insists that this procedure will never happen to Lyra, she just can’t stop herself.

“But they do it to other children! Why?”

I get the sense that even if this fits Lyra’s plan of trying to fool Mrs. Coulter, this is both a way for her to get some accountability from her mother (GOD I HATE TYPING THAT) and to piss her off. It completely sets the woman at ease and she then can’t resist asking her if it’s related to Dust as well. Lyra YOU HAVE MY HEART.

And then Mrs. Coulter explains it and I am inclined to believe it and this is horrifying:

“But the doctors do it for the children’s own good, my love. Dust is something bad, something wrong, something evil and wicked. Grownups and their dæmons are infected with Dust so deeply that it’s too late for them. They can’t be helped..But a quick operation on children means they’re safe from it. Dust just won’t stick to them ever again.”

There must be a million things I want to say about this. Firstly, I think this is the first sign of the commentary that Pullman will use concerning the Church and while I won’t comment much of anything yet because I don’t know the full story, I will say that I am mostly ridiculously excited about this. In the meantime, though, this is a huge bit of dæmon/Dust mythology to drop in our laps. It’s the absolute confirmation of why the Oblation Board is so concerned with Dust: The Church’s official position is that Dust is evil and since dæmons are full of the stuff, then it is only logical for them to be cut away.

holy shit.

And then this chapter just skyrockets to intensity forever when Lyra thinks of poor Tony Makarios, which causes her to throw up, and she releases a vicious and gloriously snarky tirade at Mrs. Coulter:

“You don’t have to do that to us,” she said. “You could just leave us. I bet Lord Asriel wouldn’t let anyone do that if he knew what was going on. If he’s got Dust and you’ve got Dust, and the Master of Jordan and every other grownup’s got Dust, it must be all right. When I get out I’m going to tell all the kids in the world about this. Anyway, if it was so good, why’d you stop them doing it to me? If it was good, you should’ve let them do it. You should have been glad.”

It’s a sign of how much Lyra believes this that she says it without the slightest hesitation or indication of fear. It feels like it’s simply imperative that this comes out of her mouth, and of everything I feel towards this masterful statement, I just respect Lyra. That took unbelievable amounts of courage to say to someone as powerful as Mrs. Coulter.

And just when I feel good, Mrs. Coulter ruins this. Horribly.

“But it doesn’t mean your dæmon is taken away from you. He’s still there! Goodness me, a lot of the grownups here have had the operation. The nurses seem happy enough, don’t they?”

Lyra blinked. Suddenly she understood their strange blank incuriosity, the way their little trotting dæmons seemed to be sleepwalking.




WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!! Oh my god they are like ZOMBIE DÆMONS.

hold me forever

“Darling, no one would ever dream of performing an operation on a child without testing it first.”


“And no one in a thousand years would take a child’s dæmon away altogether!”


“All that happens is a little cut, and then everything’s peaceful. Forever!”


“You see, your dæmon’s a wonderful friend and companion when you’re young, but at the age we call puberty, the age you’re coming to very soon, darling, dæmons bring all sort of troublesome thoughts and feelings, and that’s what lets Dust in. A quick little operation before that, and you’re never troubled again. And your dæmon stays with you, only…just not connected. Like a…like a wonderful pet, if you like. The best pet in the world! Wouldn’t you like that?”

I would like you to not LIVE IN A GLASS CASE LIES.

How fascinating is this, though? Now we’re talking about a Church mandating what a child can and can not feel when they get older. We are getting to the real shit. But I still don’t quite understand what Dust is. I still feel I’m missing that last big piece that will make me go, “OOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

oh god this book this book

“There’s no need to go back and share a dormitory with other girls, not now I’ve got my little assistant back. My favorite! The best assistant in the world.”

crawling in my skin

these words they will not heal

someone seriously just like hold my hand while I read this because from this point on….my god MY GOD. Pullman makes these pages drip with the sort of alarming plotting that gives me goosebumps and turn my stomachs. Now, it becomes Mrs. Coulter’s turn to take control of the conversation: She flat out asks Lyra for the alethiometer, trying to convince her that it’s not meant for her to have it, that it must absolutely stay out of Lord Asriel’s hands because “he’s got something dangerous and wicked in mind.” There’s that logic yet again: Lord Asriel is evil for pursing his idea of what Dust is and whatever his “plan” is for it and how it relates to that other world.

Lyra wondered how she had ever, ever, ever found this woman to be so fascinating and clever.


Mrs. Coulter proceeds to be SO CREEPY THAT I WANT TO JUST RUN AWAY FROM THIS BOOK. She actually has the gall to reach over and REMOVE THE BELT AND POUCH THAT SHE IS WEARING. Except…I’d forgotten a very small detail from a couple chapters ago. Lyra had hidden the alethiometer in the ceiling amongst her clothes. To my horror, Mrs. Coulter pulls out Iorek Byrnison’s tin, the one made to hide the very spy-fly that Coulter had sent for Lyra, and thinking she’s got exactly what she needs, she OPENS THE TIN.

Chaos. Welcome to The Golden Compass.

My brain goes to a few things: the opening of the arena in The Hunger Games. The Battle of Hogwarts is an even better example. Actually, I hesitate to compare this next section to that battle because that one is seven novels worth of emotional fury, but perhaps you get what I’m saying. When Mrs. Coulter releases her own spy-fly (OH THE IRONY), the narrative is relentless. Unforgiving. Lyra has to take her chance and she does and the escape plan, however flimsy it is at this point, must be acted out.

I mean…shit, how the hell do you recap this? It’s one thing after another, one rush and race to escape followed by bouts of terror and surprise, and after chapter sixteen, the threat of real, tangible harm rests on top of everything. And perhaps that is something that sets The Golden Compass apart so much for me, and why I am growing to adore it. Pullman is not sugarcoating this at all. He is not avoiding the difficulty Lyra will face in this journey. He is not avoiding the inherent violence of it all. He is not avoiding being uncomfortable. And as frustrating and difficult as this escape is to read, it’s simultaneously exhilarating. It’s thrilling. It’s just good storytelling.

I said it yesterday, but it bears repeating yet again: Even amidst trying to save herself, Lyra cannot resist doing what she can to save all of the imprisoned children. Yes, she came here to do that, but she did not anticipate the terror she’d face. Still, that is exactly what she enacts here, setting up the fire near the kitchen after hitting the fire alarm while still taking a moment to grab her alethiometer from the dormitory she was staying in. As explosions begin to destroy the building, the children from the Experimental Station rush out into the freezing air. Part of the fear in this scene rests on the fact that Pullman sets this all at the North Pole and now I wonder if he planned this long before he ever sat down to write this book. RIGHT. Like hey i should set a climactic battle in the FREEZING TUNDRA that shit would be cool. And it really, really is!

But a frozen tundra is not enough! Let’s throw some WOLF DÆMONS IN THE MIX. I didn’t comment on it before, but I suppose I didn’t realize it was a literal thing, but all of the Tartars only have wolf dæmons. How is that possible? Well, don’t answer that, but my guess is that it’s almost willing the dæmon into their final form based on who they are and what their culture is.

The wolf dæmons and then the Tartar guards present the first major adversary as the children try desperately to escape Bolvangar and I was genuinely surprised that none of the children were harmed by them, given how unfair the power differential is. But it’s also just perfect that a childish game that Lyra and other kids played is what provides them with the ability to shift the scales in the opposite direction, too, and that’s the magic of the story: it’s not dependent on age. I need to say it again, but LYRA IS ELEVEN YEARS OLD. Ok, I was eleven throughout 1994 and 1995. (LOL SOME OF YOU WHERE JUST BARELY TODDLERS oh my god). What was I doing? Listening to Nirvana and Black Flag and Quicksand and Green Day and discovering ska and being beat up in sixth grade by kids who thought my pants were too tight and being mostly concerned with how I was going to explain a new bruise to my mother or why my clothes were dirty that day. I WAS NOT RIDING POLAR BEARS AND FIGHTING THE OBLATION BOARD OR TRAVELING WITH GYPTIANS.

Someone get me a TARDIS, I need to do some time traveling shit and CORRECT MYSELF.

Well, wait. Before I commit to that, maybe I’d want to skip this particular battle. Remember how I said that Pullman didn’t ignore the harsh reality of this? Well, even after all of this, I did not expect the death that Pullman brings to this fight, and even reading this section again, I’m shocked that there are real, bloody, and violent deaths as the witches descend upon the Tartars at Bolvangar. Was this series intended for young children? I suppose I don’t care one way or another because this is so good, but that might have been deeply traumatizing to me. WAIT, what am I saying? I was reading Poe and Lovecraft at the time, and I read The Stand when I was ten and there was far more disturbing shit in those.

I learned another interesting fact here: If you kill a dæmon, the human dies too, apparently. The glorious Iorek Byrnison arrives just in time to bring his mighty power to the defense of the Bolvangar children:

A wolf dæmon leaped at him: he slashed at her in midair, and bright fire spilled out of her as she fell to the snow, where she hissed and howled before vanishing. Her human died at once.

Well, that just raised the stakes on everything, didn’t it? I only thought it was in one direction, but if a person can die if their dæmon does….well, I imagine Pullman has some shit in store for me. And yes, specifically for me. As in he clearly wrote this knowing I would read it in 2011.

It’s 11:15pm. I’m losing it.

There’s not much in the way of commentary to provide for how ridiculous this all is. (That’s a compliment.) The entrance of the witches and Iorek Byrnison just upped the Badass Quotient by at least 335% (pure science, btw), and the small, tiny sensation of hope has now morphed into comfort. Lyra’s going to be ok. Iorek is here. The witches are here. The children will escape.

BUT NOT IF YOU ARE PHILIP PULLMAN! No, this is surely not enough!!! Instead, after the children manage to run away from the lights of Bolvangar (which is actually a genuinely powerful image for me if you consider that “light” is supposed to mean goodness and running into the “darkness” is generally bad and this is literally the exact opposite of that), Pullman decides to let them SUFFER IN THE ARCTIC SNOW. And I really want to applaud how realistic this is: Lyra planned to get them out of the Experimental Station rather brilliantly, but now, in hindsight, she mentioned nothing about what they were supposed to do once they did escape. She was most likely planning to rely on the arrival of the gyptians, I suspect, but her escape had to come much earlier than she would have liked. So here those children sit, in the cold, having witnessed witches and an armored bear descend on Tartar guards, forced to face the reality that the people at that place where severing dæmons away from their owners, and now they’re trudging through the snow, poorly dressed, with absolutely no help in sight.

You are an evil man, Philip Pullman. Brilliant, but this is the stuff of nightmares.

Thankfully, despite that I initially believed Pullman had set this up so the children would face yet another foe, the group sees a set of lights coming towards them, and the gyptians surround them and everything feels right and my heart is warming with joy and–


And the arrow sped in and halfway out at the back, and the man’s wolf dæmon vanished in midleap even before he hit the ground.


But honestly, that’s what this feels like. I feel like shouting constantly while reading this and overreacting to everything and making ubiquitous cries of all-caps bliss. Has The Golden Compass turned me into this? I’m kind of ok with it, to be quite honest.

Safe in Lee Scoresby’s balloon with Roger and Iorek inside with her, Lyra is relieved that her friends had come to her defense and awe-inspired by the view that Lee’s balloon provides her of the land below her:

Above and ahead of them the Aurora was blazing, with more brilliance and grandeur than she had ever seen. It was all around, or nearly, and they were nearly part of it. Great swathes of incandescence trembled and parted like angels’ wings beating; cascades of luminescent glory tumbled down invisible crags to lie in swirling pools or hang like vast waterfalls.

So Lyra gasped at that, and then she looked below, and saw a sight almost more wondrous.

As far as the eye could see, to the very horizon in all directions, a tumbled sea of white extended without a break. Soft peaks and vaporous chasms rose or opened here and there, but mostly it looked like a solid mass of ice.

I cannot forget that amongst all the horror, Pullman can still remind us of the inherent beauty of this place. Or of SERAFINA PEKKALA. And Lyra’s first conversation with that witch is also loaded with much weirdness and hints towards even more of the story I haven’t reached. We learned twenty-two Tartars and nine staff at Bolvangar were killed. (!!!!!! THAT IS A HIGH BODY COUNT !!!!!!) The children are safe, and while it appears the gyptians are returning all of the children home, Lee, Iorek, Roger, Lyra, and the witches are headed to Svalbard to free Lord Asriel.

“I think there are things I need to tell you,” said Serafina Pekkala.

And then Pullman is like LOL MARK NO YOU HAVE TO WAIT.

The balloon moves to the north and as I finally relax, I have to remember: I am only three-fourths done with this book. What I just read WAS NOT EVEN THE BOOK’S CLIMAX.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. oh my god I am not even remotely prepared.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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274 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 17

  1. crimsongirl says:

    In regards to your questions "How is this a children's book?!"

    It's not.

    From what I've read, over in the UK it was rightly marketed as a book for adults, but once it came overseas to us someone decided to make it a kids series. What the heck is up with that???

    All I can say is: YOU AREN'T PREPARED, because you are NEVER PREPARED MARK, EVER, EVER, EVER!!!

    And that revelations about the nurses puts Lyra's whole stay there in an entirely new and creepy context. Like /ugh/ have they been doing that for years then, and that is what Tony would've been like ten years from now? Or did they do it recently, when they were adults?

    • _Sparkie_ says:

      Well in bookshops I've been to (in the UK), it's in young adult sections, so marketed for teens really. And I second the preparedness comment! 🙂

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      Nope. It was marketed as a book for older children and published by a children's book publisher (Scholastic). It was only after Harry Potter started being published in two different editions (one aimed at adults) that they also did adult editions of these books.

      But it isn't really much different to books aimed at older children since the seventies at least and even Doctor Who has a similar attitude to what children can handle.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      I think someone said that Bolvangar has only been in operation for around ten years, so unless they're all in their early twenties it was probably done to the nurses recently as adults, which would probably also explain why they aren't as damaged by it as Tony was.

      • mr_bobby says:

        Except… "Grownups and their dæmons are infected with Dust so deeply that it’s too late for them. They can’t be helped… But a quick operation on children means they’re safe from it." Isn't it therefore crucial to this operation (as far as we know at this point) that it's done before puberty? Seems a bit pointless that it would be done to adults… BUT I DON'T KNOW.

        Also I don't think it would be any less damaging to adults to undergo intercision… The difference between them and Tony seems to me to be that they're allowed to keep the separated daemons with them, whereas Ratter and the other kids' daemons were taken away and imprisoned in cages. And maybe if it was done to them as children or young teenagers, they seem less traumatised because they've had a lot more time to "recover", as much as recovery from this is possible.

    • dbmacp says:

      Don't hate, though, because I definitely read this book when I was eleven or twelve, and I wasn't traumatized. This series became and remains one of my favorites (along with HP and the Depford Mice, which LOL IS SO NOT FOR CHILDREN).

      • pica_scribit says:

        If pressed, I might put this book n the 12-15 age range, but I have a feeling a lot of the religious/philosophical stuff would go right over the heads of the vast majority of kids even of that age. Just because a child can read something and not be traumatised by it doesn't mean they will completely understand it.

        • Danika the Lesbrarian says:

          But that's what I think is so great about books like this: there are enough layers that even when you're missing things, you don't feel like you're missing out. It's still enjoyable. I read Animal Farm when I was really young and had no idea about the deeper meanings, but I still loved it. I think that's when you can tell an allegory is well done, when it works on both levels.

        • FlameRaven says:

          I read these books at 11-12 years old (Book 2 came out in 1997, when I was 11) and while I was enthralled by the books and horrified by the details of what we see at Bolvangar, I understood what was going on. Now books 2 and 3 DID shock me and a lot of the philosophy was way over my head. It took multiple readings for me to really wrap my mind around the ideas presented. However, one of the things I'm enjoying most about rereading them now is how much more straightforward things seem.

    • pica_scribit says:

      It annoys me when people think that having a child for a protagonist makes a book for children. I just want to smack them over the head with this series (and with Prince Ombra, one of my other favourite books, which has a nine-year-old protagonist).

      • mal612 says:

        "children's book" or "young adult book" refers to a Point of View, not Age Appropriateness. This is a children's book, because it's Lyra's story, and she is a child.

        • notemily says:

          It just refers to marketing. There's no actual distinction you can make that sorts all books into a category like that. Some books written from the PoV of a teenager are not young adult books, and some books written from the PoV of an adult ARE young adult books (Briar Rose by Jane Yolen comes to mind).

    • Marie says:

      Uhhhh, I'm not sure what's wrong with it being a children's book? I read it at ten, my friends read it at ten, it didn't seem any different from the other books we read, and we certainly understood it just fine.

      • Bloop says:

        Thank you! It seriously irritates me when people underestimate children. Like somehow their fragile little minds can't handle stories like this. :/

        • hazelwillow says:

          Me too. And it irritates me when people think "children's literature" means it's "lesser" in some way.

    • Chash says:

      No, it was for children in England too. My mother bought the first book for me when I was eleven and we were living in England, and my copy advertises itself as Winner of the Carnegie Medal and Guardian Children's Fiction Award, which are both awards for children and young adult novels, and which it won in 1995-96, right after it was published. She got it for me on the recommendation of the same bookstore which gave her Harry Potter for my age range.

    • evocativecomma says:

      It absolutely is a children's book. I mean, not for *five year olds*, but I teach YA fiction, and I've recommended it for kids 10 and up. (The fact that it's so fascinating means that they really want to keep reading, so it helps them improve their reading skills and vocabulary.)

      When I was a child, I grew up reading books this unsettling and frightening. Adults seriously underestimate kids. Remember, what we consider fairy tales are *severely* watered-down versions of what they originally were, and kids read those.

  2. redheadedgirl says:

    And then Pullman is like LOL MARK NO YOU HAVE TO WAIT.

    AHAHAHA you are being trolled BY PULLMAN.

    I think my favorite little bit in this chapter is on the march to the gyptians, Lyra beg, bullies belittle, hits, cajoles taunts, tempts and generally does what she needs to to keep the kids moving. And it works because Pan can tell her, based on each kid's daemon, what approach will work.

    I know a few people were wondering what "coal-silk" meant, and I think that talking about it being made in labs and the interior of the big puffy coats being filled with fibers means something along the lines of nylon.

    ADND MY QUESTION ABOUT WARTIME TACTICS IS ANSWERED: Kill a human, you kill it's daemon, kill the daemon, you kill the human. innnnnnnteresting.

    • cait0716 says:

      I think it's interesting that the Taboo doesn't apply to Iorek Byrnison. He gets attacked by humans and daemons like, and can attack back. So he has to fight twice as many enemies, but he also actually kills two for every one he strikes down. The dynamics are so cool to think about.

      • redheadedgirl says:

        I think that makes sense, since he is neither human nor daemon, he isn't bound by the taboos of either.

        • Araniapriime says:

          I think that there's no time for the inherent revulsion that comes with someone touching your daemon, because he's not just touching it, he's KILLING it, so it's not like there's TIME to be revolted. It's like, OMG he's touching my — AAAHRRRGGHLLL *thud*

    • Oh Gods I just had a thought.

      Severed armies.

      If Bolvanger were allowed to go on, if its practices got to be further studied and extended, you could have whole armies of people whose daemons are not linked to their people, either half fighting on after the other had been slain. I imagine this would be as horrifying in Lyra's world as any number of our myths involving dead soldiers rising up to fight again.

      On the other hand, intercission seems to create sleepwalking daemons and incurious humans, so maybe the victims of the process would be incapable of the passion and beserker fury needed for hand-to-hand combat.

      • Noybusiness says:

        "I imagine this would be as horrifying in Lyra's world as any number of our myths involving dead soldiers rising up to fight again. "

        Spot on.

      • _Sparkie_ says:

        It would be pretty terrifying, however both human and daemon would still die if one was killed, I mean Tony died and his cage (and others) was empty implying that his daemon had died too, in spite of the intercision.

        • evocativecomma says:

          As horrific as the result of intercision is, I have to say that if one of them (human or daemon) died, and the other survived, that would be unbearable in a way I can't even fathom. If I lived in Pullman's world and that happened to me, I think I would commit suicide.

      • redheadedgirl says:

        On the other hand, intercission seems to create sleepwalking daemons and incurious humans, so maybe the victims of the process would be incapable of the passion and beserker fury needed for hand-to-hand combat.

        We know the Skraelings do a form of intercission, and have for centuries, but we don't know why or how those people are chosen (or it it is everyone) or what happens to the people that are severed (or torn) after the process is done. Are they warriors? Are they religious figures? I HAVE QUESTIONS.

    • Danielle says:

      "I know a few people were wondering what "coal-silk" meant, and I think that talking about it being made in labs and the interior of the big puffy coats being filled with fibers means something along the lines of nylon."

      I had such an "Oh, duh!" moment when I read this. "Coal silk" just means synthetic fabric HOW DID I NOT FIGURE THIS OUT BEFORE. And I think they mention something about mineral oil being called "liquid coal" or something, don't they? So it totally makes sense for them to name the fabric after coal as well. OMG WORLDBUILDING FTW.

      • redheadedgirl says:

        RIGHT? For the first like, five times I read TGC, I was picturing like, dark grey actual silk. The advantage of reading this way is it forces me to sloooooooooow dooooooooown.

      • notemily says:

        They mention "coal spirit," which I think is petroleum. Which makes sense that they would use "coal silk," because fossil fuels are used to make nylon, right?

  3. Sophi says:

    Haha, Mark, I was being born in 1994. And apparently I was the most mercenary child ever born. I was being bribed with chocolate not to cry, basically.

    But–but–but–argh. Basically, argh. Sometimes the spoiler thing becomes unbearable. I am not commenting for a while because I just know I will blurt something out horribly. So so so so so excited!

    • redheadedgirl says:

      My god, I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL IN 1994

      I am so oooooooold.

      • Sophi says:

        Haha just think of me as puny and obnoxiously young. I bow down to your superior knowledge and life experience, for I am just a zygote in comparison.

      • elusivebreath says:

        I graduated in 1993, so yeah…

        • Graduated 1994, me, and started college.

          I love what a wide age range these books appeal to. And the following for Mark Reads is this awesome cross-section of that, a large enough population to be really impressive, but small enough that great conversations happen across generations and half-generations.

          • theanagrace says:

            I was 7, and it seems like I'm the only one in between the two age groups, lol.

            • cait0716 says:

              I was 8. You're not alone!

            • stellaaaaakris says:

              I was 5 or 6. (My math skills have gone down the drain since I graduated high school. I literally had to pull out a pen and paper and go "From 1988-1989, I was 0. From 1989-1990, I was 1…." Gosh, I hope my math was right; this could be really embarrassing.)

              • theanagrace says:

                Lol, okay, how about I was born in 1987? That makes me approx 1 year older than you, assuming you were also born in the spring. 😀

                • stellaaaaakris says:

                  Ahh, a year, that's something I can handle. I was born in the summer though (it's actually going to be my birthday next weekend!).

      • pica_scribit says:

        Me too….

      • evocativecomma says:

        I graduated from Northwestern University in 1991.

        SUCK IT.

      • bradycardia says:

        Yeah, I started secondary school in 1994. For translation purposes, I was 12 at the time!

    • Meow says:

      I wasn't even born until 1995, guys. I wasn't Lyra's age until 2006.

    • notemily says:

      I was eleven in 1994! Like Mark! WE COULD HAVE BEEN BEST FRIENDS. If, you know, we were anywhere near each other.

      • sapphiremage says:

        Haha, 1983 was a great year! I was eleven then as well–my birthday is October 23. Too bad we weren't all at the same junior high, we could have all grouped up together and not gotten bullied. x_X

  4. Jenny_M says:

    For as much as the movie got totally wrong, having Eva Green playing Serafina Pekkala was SPOT ON. I always picture her now.

    • evocativecomma says:

      :nod: I thought the casting was spot-on. Too bad the movie sucked pureed donkey balls through a twisty straw.

    • sabra_n says:

      Hm, not me. I have nothing against Green per se; I just didn't really connect to her as Serafina. But that could be because the movie generally did a terrible job with the non-vanilla-mortal characters, completely failing to depict their alienness the way Pullman did so well. Iorek and Serafina both got screwed hard by that.

      I have to say, though, Sam Elliot as Lee? AMAZING. I could not possibly adore him more.

    • mal612 says:

      This is how I feel about Sam Elliott. I mean the man IS Lee Scoresby. Casting perfection.

  5. Mauve_Avenger says:

    "crawling in my skin
    these words they will not heal"

    I never thought that I'd be in a position to correct Linkin Park lyrics on this site, but Mark, I'm pretty sure it's "these wounds, they will not heal."

    You mentioned the daemon death = human death thing (which I thought was sort of implied by Farder Coram's saying he wouldn't have shot the bird-daemon pursuing Serafina if he had known), but there actually another interesting tidbit about daemons in this chapter. I think it's been implied before now, but here it's explicitly stated:

    "By this time she was near the kitchen, and Pantalaimon flashed a thought through her mind, and she darted in."

    That's right. A daemon-human pair can communicate ideas (as opposed to just sensory information) telepathically, and yet up to this point pretty much everyone around Lyra has been whispering back and forth with their daemon like chumps, just waiting for other people to overhear their ~supersecret~ information.

    And since you mentioned the TARDIS…

    "The basket was much bigger than she'd thought. Ranged around the edges were racks of philosophical instruments, and there were piles of furs, and bottled air, and a variety of other things too small or confusing to make out in the thick mist they were ascending through."

    So…when Lyra was looking at the balloon from the outside, it seemed like it would be rather small and possibly cramped, but when she got inside it was…bigger? And it had a lot of complicated and confusing stuff inside of it?

    Lee wouldn't just happen to have a fob watch, would he?
    <img src=""&gt;
    (I've only just started making gifs for this episode. I tried to turn the infostamp-weapon colors green and red like the Aurora, but it was fail.)

    • cait0716 says:

      Yeah, what sort of hot air balloon can comfortably fit three people and a polar bear? Lee Scoresby clearly had an in with the Time Lords

    • oh my god this gif


    • arctic_hare says:

      this gif is like the best thing ever <3 <3 <3

    • theanagrace says:

      See, I would think that just because we know everyone typically speaks aloud to their daemon that only very simple thoughts would be transmitted. For instance, Pan thinking they should go in the kitchen might have been more of an impulse thought rather than "we should go in here and totes start a real fire, yo". We know emotions and physical feeling tansmit along the connection, but I don't think we've seen evidence of full-fledged complex thoughts telepathically transmitted.
      (I just used transmit 3 times, ugh. I guess I could teach Pullman a thing about repeated words.)

    • Kelly says:

      I always got the impression that unless a daemon made a specific point to talk to a human other than their own (like when the gyptian spy's daemon had to talk for him because he was so injured) that conversations between daemons and their humans cannot be heard. I mean, surely other people talk to their daemons like Lyra does with Pan, but we never get those conversations even though you'd expect Lyra to hear them if it were possible.

  6. cait0716 says:

    I love how chaotic this chapter is. And I love how long Pullman is able to stretch that chaos out. Seriously, this battle lasts forever and it's so overwhelming. Bravo, Pullman.

    And now we finally meet Serafina Pekkala! I love her name more than most things.

    • It's much better than her original name, Aquafina Arugula.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Every time I see her name, I am reminded of the one lesson in Finnish pronunciation I was given, which is that emphasis goes on the first syllable. PECK-uh-luh, I guess it must be.

      • Danielle says:

        Correct. And her first name is Seh-ruh-FEE-nuh, though I think I read somewhere that that wasn't a Finnish name.

        • evocativecomma says:

          Serafina is an Italian name. You can tell by all of the Italian restaurants around the U.S. called Serafina. 😀

      • @ladylately says:

        Now I'm glad that I have this weird habit of pronouncing 'eka' slightly different from 'ecka' or 'ecca'. Because that means I've been putting the stress on the proper syllable this entire time! Yay!

  7. James says:

    "I didn’t realize it was a literal thing, but all of the Tartars only have wolf dæmons. How is that possible?"

    The Tartars that are guarding Bolvanger are a specific faction. I think it's really interesting that a group of soldiers would have the same type of daemon, given that how they settle represents/reflects your personality.

    This chapter, ahhhh. So amazing and chaotic and just. Fantastic.

  8. @sab39 says:

    Also, THIS was the spot in the movie where they did LUKE, I AM YOUR FATHER LYRA, I AM YOUR MOTHER as a big surprise plot twist reveal…

    • Eh, it makes a sort of solid movie logic. Which is to say, solid, predictable, cowardly movie logic.

      • Tilja says:

        Maybe those in charge of the movie are in fact severed people. They can act so stupid, it's like they don't have that part of the soul that makes you an individual with conscience, will power or intelligence. Just go with the flow others give you.

  9. plunderB says:

    I'm reading along with Mark for the first time, so I may be way off base here, but I have been wondering about Pullman's idea of the soul (embodied in a daemon) and how much it seems to be connected to sexual desire. The whole intercision/castration/circumcision thing is based in preventing passion and daemons are somehow connected to puberty, or the onset of sexual feelings. Witches are very passionate and their daemons are extraordinary. The Bolvanger workers are not interested in anything much and I doubt they have libidos. Also, the Church is very concerned with daemons and dust and sin.

    So my questions after reading these last few chapters are:
    1. Is Dust sexual energy?
    2. Is Pullman arguing that sexual desire is what separates people from zombies?
    3. Soul = sexual desire?
    4. Is the primary mission of the church to suppress sexuality?
    5. Have I taken too many gender studies courses?

    • eleniel says:

      This is what I've been thinking about, and I am seriously intrigued. I am getting the impression Dust doesn't necessarily have to do with JUST sexual desire, though that definitely seems to be part of it. It seems to be about passion in general, with sexual passion being part of that.

    • Sarah says:

      This is interesting! But like… What if you’re asexual? How would that affect your daemon? I don’t think they would be born as these zombies?! And someone was talking about like, people with daemons the same gender as them. Are they gay? What if you’re pansexual?! And if your daemon is always the opposite gender as you what if you are gender queer how does that affect your daemon is that why that characters in the beginning’s was male? ahh daemon rules.
      I guess this sort of thing wouldn’t be explained in these sorts of books though, huh.

      • Noybusiness says:

        Remember a man earlier in the book was said to be one of the rare few that has a daemon the same gender as him? Perhaps such people are people who would be transgendered in our world. That doesn't account for third-gender/gender-neutral people, though, but I doubt Pullman was thinking about that.

        Actually, when asked, he said he put that in there without coming up with a meaning for it, and it could mean homosexuality, second sight, what-have-you. Someone suggested it was homosexuality and he said why not, but I think transgender works better. Homosexuality is more common, and doesn't equate to femininity in the male sex and masculinity in the female sex.

      • Brieana says:

        I don't think everything needs to be represented with a daemon equivalent. Like gays have this as a daemon and transgender people have that. To me, Bernie was just an exception to the rule. That's the way life works. Most things aren't black and white. We kind of have general rules but there are shades of gray and exceptions and I suppose complications.

        • Noybusiness says:

          But if, as they themselves would be the first to say, transgender people are *really* the gender not matching their physical sex, it makes sense their daemons would be the opposite gender of that, i.e. the same as their physical sex.

      • evocativecomma says:

        If you are asexual, your daemon is a stuffed animal. 😀

        Like Hobbes! Everyone sees your daemon as a stuffed animal–and stuffed animals are genderless–but *you* see your daemon as alive and real and you can choose your daemon's gender!


    • hallowsnothorcruxes says:

      I've been thinking the same thing. Dust may have something to do with desire and passion but I doubt its only restricted to that. I suppose intercision could be akin to lobotomization where a part of you is lost forever.

    • Noybusiness says:

      I'd say it has to with maturity, which includes the growth of sexuality in most people, but not just that.

    • Brieana says:

      Speaking of the sex thing, remember that case of BLATANT BODYSHAMING chapters ago when Mrs Coulter made Pan look away when Lyra was bathing?

    • notemily says:


    • AndiBlac says:

      Ugh I totally want to answer your question with the AWESOMENESS of Pullman's ingenious brain and its ideas… but, as River Song says:
      And Mark would boot our backsides so hard if we spoiled that…

  10. Araniapriime says:

    Wanna blow your mind some more? Check this out:

    Remember when Lyra was staying with Mrs. Coulter until she finally realizes Mrs. Coulter was treating her as some sort of pet?

    And now Mrs. Coulter says: And your dæmon stays with you, only…just not connected. Like a…like a wonderful pet, if you like. The best pet in the world!”

    And THEN she says: "I’ve got my little assistant back. My favorite! The best assistant in the world.”

    DING DING DING DING! THAT'S THE HORROR ALARM RINGING, MARK. You know what that means, don't you? It means YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

    • Sarah says:

      Like, she wants to keep her daughter around like a pet but not treat her/be connected to her as her mother?

      /silent scream

    • Partes says:

      Holy crap, I never noticed that before. UUUUUGH that's SO FUCKED.

  11. Sophi says:

    My dad told me a story just…yesterday (I guess he knew it would come up? 0.0) about my little self getting a vaccine. He put a chocolate across from me on top of a cabinet and apparently I just stared at it the whole time and didn't even bother to realise the vaccine was happening.

    Also, I have one pointy ear and nobody knows how this happened. Seriously, it is genuinely pointy and I've had it since I was at least two–we have photographic proof!

    I would say I was a changeling child but I look exactly like my dad, so it can't be.

    • Niyalune says:

      A pointy ear ? Are you half Vulcan ;-D ?

      Personally, I was 2 in 1994, and waiting for my sister to be born ^^

      • Sophi says:

        It is a great mystery and of great personal pride, whether I am some kind of alien child or not (probable? I don't know. I listen to Chris Isaak more than someone my age ever should, perhaps I am an alien child.)

        I'm at the end of '94 in the glorious English autumn drizzle. My birthday is immensely soggy, every year.

  12. eleniel says:

    I kind of suspected that a person/daemon would die when their other half did; I became SO ANXIOUS whenever Pan turned into, like, a bug or something, or when Lyra met that woman with the butterfly daemon. What if someone had a flyswatter?? What if YOU SAT ON YOUR DAEMON I mean jeez. I would try to avoid letting my daemon become something so delicate!

    • Vikinhaw says:

      Or if a person had a fly or a bee or a wasp or anything unpleasant that people would want to smoosh. I killed fly on the window sill a minute ago and now I'm thinking 'whoops I just killed someone walking by because their daemon was buzzing annoyingly'.

      What if you had a daemon that was really big like an elephant. 'I can't go in to see the movie, my daemon won't fit inside the door'. And people would have to avoid touching it as well.

      • Sarah says:

        I’m wondering if Daemons that became big animals like that would be in like… Miniature form?! Because I’m thinking of how when Pan became a dragon or wildcat or whatever, he was always described as not exceeding a certain size. Unless it’s just the shape-shifting children daemons that can’t become huge.

        • enigmaticagentscully says:

          Now I really, really want a miniature elephant daemon. One that would fit in the palm of my hand.

          so cute omg

        • roguebelle says:

          It just occurred to me that we don't really see inconveniently-sized daemons. Or inconveniently-shaped. Have we seen anyone with a hoofed animal? I mean, that could get slightly awkward. Or what if your daemon settled as a whale, but you weren't near the ocean when it settled? Also if your daemon was really tiny like a bug, would it freak people out to see you and not immediately see it?

          • cait0716 says:

            Doesn't Lord Asriel have a snow leopard? That doesn't seem terribly convenient.

            • Sarah says:

              How so? I dunno, she’s never described as HUGE, and she’s like… Feline, I can’t see too many problems with that sort of a daemon except maybe the occasional “HOLY SHIT snow leopard.”

          • Sarah says:

            And is there, like, daemon judging?! ” Oh, your daemon is a fly, you are probably nosy, don’t talk to me?!”

            • _Sparkie_ says:

              :O I guess, knowing human nature, this sort of thing would be inevitable. It's an interesting thought, because the daemon is representative of that person's nature so maybe it isn't entirely unfounded. I mean, we see in this chapter how people are scared of the Tartars with wolf daemons and presumably people would want to avoid them.

              • Sarah says:

                But it’d be so hard since there are so many different interpretations for so many animals. D8
                Like the wolves!! Some people would look and say “UM, FEROCIOUS STAY AWAY” but the tartars are probably like “Ooh pack animals they will all work well together probably!!”

                • roguebelle says:

                  I wonder if the wolf daemons can indicate rank within the regiment. Do wolf daemons have alphas and betas like regular wolves?

                  • sabra_n says:

                    I would guess no – daemon-wolves aren't actual wolves; they're parts of people first and foremost.

                    • theanagrace says:

                      But it says in this or the last chapter that children often have their dominance issues sorted out by their daemons, so I can for sure see that happening.

                    • sabra_n says:

                      I get uncomfortable when people start analogizing human relations and those between animals. We're not wolves and wolves aren't us. Even in a world where our souls can be wolf-shaped. 🙂

                • t09yavorski says:

                  Personally I would go "Oooooh Puppy!"

          • eleniel says:

            Seriously, these are IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.

            • roguebelle says:


              These are the things my friends and I spend far too much time discussing. I first read these damn books over a decade ago, and I /still/ can't figure out what my daemon would be. Too many parameters to consider!

              • RoseFyre says:

                Definitely not easy to figure out, but there are a few good online quizzes out there – I like this one.

                It gives you a variety of responses, which is good, because then you can look at it and figure out which actually fits. It's how I figured out that mine is a fairy bluebird…though I still don't know his name. 🙂

          • monkeybutter says:

            I wonder if daemons settle on convenient, or at least not too-obtrusive sizes because it would be difficult and imposing on the people around you if you had, like, a rhinocerous daemon. Maybe huge or dangerous daemons are a sign of asocial or antisocial personalities. Or the people with them think of themselves as special snowflakes. These are interesting questions.

          • notemily says:

            Didn't they say that some people have dolphin daemons and can never leave the water?

          • fandomphd says:

            There was that one sailor who knew someone who had a dolphin as a daemon and could never go on land.

          • xynnia says:

            They dealt with the inconvenience of having a dolphin for a daemon (though albeit not with the issue of it settling whilst on land). On the subject of hoofed daemons, if you had like a horse daemon, surely that means you could ride it places XD

        • _Sparkie_ says:

          Well if Pan can become a dragon, why couldn't he become any imaginary animal and by that token, why not variations on animals-like hybrids or miniature animals.

      • sabra_n says:

        Daemons have a couple of advantages over actual houseflies and such – they have human-level intelligence, and they can talk. Combined with the taboo, I'm sure a little buzzing daemon could avoid peril from other people pretty easily. 🙂

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      If you sat on your daemon you'd be able to feel it, too, which might produce the weird sensation that you're somehow sitting on yourself and then ugh get myself off me before I smush myself to death.

      Probably, though, the kinesthetic sense would be extended to a person's daemon in Lyra's world, so you'd always know exactly where your daemon is in relation to your body, unless it's been intercised or something.

      I'm also guessing the fact that most people can't separate from their daemons by more than about a yard would help prevent someone else from accidentally killing someone's daemon, though I imagine it would still happen. Maybe daemons are just naturally more impervious to damage than real animals are, given that they're seemingly only half-physical manifestations of a soul?

      • eleniel says:

        you'd always know exactly where your daemon is in relation to your body

        That's probably true. But still, accidents happen! Horrifying, deadly accidents D: D: D:

      • _Sparkie_ says:

        I suppose too, daemons are perfectly aware of their surroundings so would presumably move out of the way to protect themselves. And they too would be repulsed by the taboo like the caged daemons were with Lyra so would actively avoid contact with other people.

  13. Mauve_Avenger says:

    ( is it ever explicitly stated that all Tartars have wolf daemons? Or may be that's just what Lyra or the people in Brytain think about Tartars )

    John FaaAn unidentified gyptian said that in the Sibirsk regiments they all have wolf daemons, so not all Tartars in the military do. It's probably a prerequisite for being recruited into that particular division, similar to how all servants have dog daemons.

  14. Sarah says:

    Ha, I am really liking this book so far, but not nearly as much as all of you. :’D idk, I feel like I’m missing out on something.

    But considering what’s going on over at mark watches, I couldn’t help but think “lol Lyra and Zuko could both use some extra thought about THE COLD.”

    • vivelabagatel says:

      I'm only liking it this much on a reread – the first time I read it, I was a kid and I liked it well enough but any ~deeper meanings~ passed me by. Then I read it again a few years later to figure out what I'd missed out on, since everyone else said how good it was, and still wasn't so keen. It's only this time round that I am totally sold and relishing EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

    • arctic_hare says:

      LOL yes! Rereading it, my first thought when they were out in the cold like that, without anyone else around, was of Zuko in Siege of the North.

  15. Psi Baka Onna says:

    I must have been 13 or 14 when I read this book. My friend pointed the series out to me when the Amber Spy Glass won some sort of award. A children's book award perhaps? *shrugs*

    It's one of my favourite book series & I'm so glad you've chosen to read through it, Mark, if only because you've reminded me of why I liked it so much. Pullman's attention to detail is terrific & I Love how well constructed this world is.

    I'm cheering you on through this read & trust me, you're so not prepared. 😛

  16. enigmaticagentscully says:

    LOL I love your comparison of what you were doing at 11 to what Lyra is doing. When I was 11 I spent my time drawing cartoons and watching The X Files for the first time. I'm actually kind of glad I didn't have to go on any life-changing adventures? Unless the X Files counts, of course. 😛

    I had exactly the same experience growing up reading the Harry Potter books…ever new year of school my friends and I would be like 'This is the year Harry nearly got his soul sucked out my Dementors or 'When Harry was in this year he had to fight a dragon and witness the return of Lord Voldemort' etc etc.
    And then we all decided that we collectively could not have handled the shit that boy had to go through at that age.

    It's weird reading YA books as you get older, because when you're a kid you just take it for granted that the characters can handle what goes on. But suddenly you'll be reading something and realise the protagonist is younger than you. And that there's no way you could have done any of this stuff even NOW. I mean jeez, if I had to go through what Lyra has so far…I would just be a quivering wreck. And I'm a good few years older than her.

  17. roguebelle says:

    This is one of the chapters where I find Mrs Coulter so damn fascinating.

    Because it's not like she's trying to convince Lyra to have the procedure done. But she still feels compelled to defend it — but in a way that doesn't really ring true. Does she really believe this is necessary? Well, we don't know yet, but she doesn't talk like a true believer — she talks like a spokesperson.

    We know she's ambitious. We know she's come to power in a world that makes it really damn hard for women to do that. I don't suspect that she really cares about the procedure for its own sake, that she's really emotionally invested in it — but it's her route to power. It's her research, her project, something she's seized on as a way to exercise her ambition. That doesn't make it okay, but… I /get/ it. Mrs Coulter is complex — which isn't always easy to see from Lyra's perspective, because her world is still very much black-and-white, good-and-bad, evil-and-good. I also get the feeling that, mixed in with all of this — and possibly mixed in with her defence of the procedure — is that she really does want her daughter back. She just has absolutely no idea how to go about getting that, since she never formed the bond and clearly doesn't have much experience with children except in beguiling them.

    And then there's Asriel… about whom… I can't say the things I want to say yet. Except that Lyra clearly sees Asriel as good and wants to get to him (and get the alethiometer to him) no matter what, and it's interesting how this chapter, more clearly than before, sets Asriel and Mrs Coulter up on opposite sides of this Dust problem.

    • knut_knut says:

      the part the confuses me about Mrs. Coulter is what the nurses (or whoever) said in the last chapter about her being so eager to see the children and their daemons ripped apart. I can kind of understand being eager to see how well a new machine works, but eagerly watching a and his or her daemon torn apart by hand? That's just way too creepy. She definitely doesn't seem to be invested in the procedure like a true believer from the church would, but I don't think someone who is just a spokesperson and has nothing to gain but power would be as hands on or as eager.

      • roguebelle says:

        Well, I think there's a definite sadistic streak to her as well — whether that's innate nature or a by-product of how she's adapted to a pretty cut-throat world is up for debate, but it doesn't surprise me in the least that that sort of thing would be an outlet for her.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Mrs. Coulter's personality is perfectly represented in that monkey daemon of hers: all sleek and glossy on the outside, but actually vicious and cruel. They make a lot of mention of how his little hands hurt Pan when Lyra quarreled with Mrs. Coulter, and I think some of the other children talk about how he hurt their daemons as well when Mrs. Coulter was stealing them away. Put it this way: I think it's completely intentional that we have not gotten a name for her daemon, that he's always the 'golden monkey', whereas I think we got the name of Lord Asriel's daemon right when he was introduced: it puts another layer of distance and inhuman-ness to the monkey to make him seem even more evil, because that's Mrs. Coulter's real nature.

    • Kelly says:

      I was actually going to post something on this, and I'm glad someone else thinks it too. Mark, I know that the immediate reaction to Mrs. Coulter is revulsion, but (especially considering your personal history) do you ever feel like she might actually want her daughter back? After all, if all she cared about was the alethiometer, she could have taken it from Lyra as soon as they got away from Jordan and then shipped her off to Bolvanger. I kinda get the feeling that she regrets not keeping her daughter and now wants to make up for it and mold Lyra into the same type of person she is. Which is, in its own way, extremely creepy as well…

  18. barnswallowkate says:

    For years after I first read this book I thought Pullman made up Svalbard. Then I discovered that it's real and it's beautiful and I want to go so badly. Maybe I can hitch a ride in Lee's giant balloon please? If there's space for an armored bear surely I can fit too!

  19. dbmacp says:

    As to the Dust thing (I don't think any of this is spoilery, but control me if it is, I don't want to be That Guy), I think that what marks it as so mysterious and truly awful is that people don't know what it is. Nobody knows. The Scholars at Jordan, the doctors in Bolvangar, no one. So essentially the Church is just assuming that Dust is evil based on the idea that children are innocent and adults are corrupt. Meanwhile, Lord Asriel is looking into the nature of Dust, and that investigation has been called heretical.

  20. stellaaaaakris says:

    someone seriously just like hold my hand while I read this because from this point on…

    Mark, if you come to New York, I will hold your hand. In fact, I'm sure there are several New Yorkers here who would help you out. Hey, we're a well spread out community, I know we can find people all across the country and parts of the world who would be willing to support you. Everybody, start signing up for the Mark Hand Holding as Shit Becomes Real Because He Is Not Even Close to Being Prepared Club!

    • Sarah says:

      I am a New Yorker and right now I would like /my/ hand held, because I cannot handle the suspense from the marriage equality bill rn, I am so emotional just thinking about it. ;A;

      BUT OF COURSE, US NEW YORKERS WILL TTLY HOLD YOU HAND MARK. somehow. on he astral plane? IDK.

      • stellaaaaakris says:


      • mal612 says:

        I'm in New York now, but I just moved here in January. Before that, I lived in Berkeley, only 5 min away from Oakland! MARK! I would have totally held your hand.

    • SporkyRat says:

      Mark, if you come to Mississippi for some unknown reason, I will hold your hand.

  21. fakehepburn says:

    The part where Lyra stands in the snow and thinks about how they're going to overcome the Tartars and remembers her mud wars at Jordan and realises she's not just got a load of children to save, but she's got an army of children standing behind her, and picks up some snow and yells "GET 'EM IN THE EYES!"


    Jesus Christ, Pullman. I can't even.

  22. roguebelle says:

    The extinct/fantasy animals thing really interests me. For one — how about animals that become extinct in recent human memory? Or even not-so-recent, but we still know what they're like, like… saber-toothed tigers? Could someone still have those, because the culture would still know what they were like, how they looked, what they might represent? Or do people stop having daemons of a certain kind once they're extinct? And then there's Pan turning into a tiny dragon at one point — is that something only the shifting daemons could do? Or would it be possible to have a fantasy creature as a daemon, if that's the sort of cultural representation that most resonated with your personality?

    Mr. Pullman, I require specifics. 😉

    • Vikinhaw says:

      I forgot about the dragon Pan turns so i guess it's possible to turn into mythological/fictional animals?All I can think is WHERE IS MY APPA DAEMON?

      • knut_knut says:

        I wonder if it's just children, though, whose daemons can turn into fictional creatures. Since kids are super creative and what not.

      • t09yavorski says:

        It is possible that Pan's dragon was a real animal (like a kimodo dragon or a alligator). that mythical dragons were based on. (That might not have ever gotten a name of its own in this world.)

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          Weren't Lyra and Roger's daemons also turning themselves into something like gargoyles at one point, though?

          • theanagrace says:

            Yes, when they found the wine cellar at Jordan and got drunk, Pantalaimon and Salcilia were trying to see who could be the ugliest gargoyle, and making faces.

    • Sarah says:

      My friend jess loves these books, and she told me in old copies a guy had a young woman as a daemon.

      I dunno if it’s true though.

      Why must daemons be so confusing D8

      Definitely the most interesting part of the book for me though aha.

      • mr_bobby says:

        In my copy of the book, when Lyra finds the old Master's coffins with the pictures of the daemons on (in one of the first chapters), one of the pictures is of a young woman… WEIRDED ME OUT SO MUCH.

      • roguebelle says:

        I remember having heard about that, and it's definitely very O_o.

      • Vikinhaw says:

        In my copy of the book in the 3rd chapter when Lyra's looking around the crypts at the plaque engraved with the dead scholar's daemons there's one which has a picture of a woman. That is so very very creepy and wrong. Having a woman as a sort-of spirit animal? It seems dehumanizing somehow.

        • mmsljr says:

          What edition/version is that? I want to find it.

          • Vikinhaw says:

            I only bought this book two weeks ago (cause my cousin stole my old one) and it says that the edition is 2007 so I guess it wasn't changed in the UK/Ireland edition?

      • leighzzz31 says:

        That's in my edition. But I know that since then Pullman changed that and subsequent editions mention another animal. I guess at that point in the story he hadn't quite figured out the history/anatomy/etc. of daemons and it's a detail the editor didn't point out. Reading the books again, it's weird thinking of a 'human' daemon but it was definitely a mistake that had to do with early writing.

        • Mew says:

          I LOVED the human daemon and in my head canon, it'll always stay a woman. I found the idea fascinating and always wondered what it would mean, to have a human daemon. 🙁 <3 ALL MY LOVE, SCHOLAR & WOMAN DUO!

      • evocativecomma says:

        My friend jess loves these books, and she told me in old copies a guy had a young woman as a daemon.

        I'm reading it on Kindle, and one of the daemons in the crypt was a woman, not an animal.

        • theanagrace says:

          Maybe it wasn't a woman, but a fairy! So he had a daemon of a mythical crature that is shaped like a human AND tiny! All of these things at once!!!
          (I'm going to pretend that's what it was, because I'd like to sleep tonight)

    • Crystal says:

      When Lyra was switching the coins and skulls in the crypts of Jordan college, one of the former Masters had a Basilisk daemon. So, no, I think adults can indeed have fantasy-based daemons.

      ….my question is, how the heck did the daemon not turn people into stone 😛

  23. Ryan Lohner says:

    I've now been inspired to check out the movie's trailers again, and I really have to admire how well done they were in making such a subpar product look incredibly cool and a worthy adaptation. Just check out the teaser:

    As a fan of the books, that opening with the One Ring turning into the alethiometer really got my blood pumping, and the awesome music playing over the cast credits was even better. If only the movie itself lived up to that promise.

    • sabra_n says:

      Yeah, this is one case where my skeptical, cynical, shriveled little heart served me well. I was pretty sure from the start this was going to be bad, and so I wasn't disappointed. Much.

    • MichelleZB says:

      Yeah, the trailer actually looks like the movie could have worked. Too bad.

  24. Kelly L. says:

    Holy lord, even these recaps are intense… eek.

    I have nothing to contribute except for standing over here (well, okay, sitting, IF WE'RE BEING HONEST) just kind of metaphorically biting my nails for what happens next.

    Also, incidentally, I was turned eleven in 1995. I had a really hard time remember even being eleven, but looking back, it was the stage where I actually fully realized how socially awkward and naive I was… and also when I really started writing. Or, "writing." I was eleven. I'm not sure I had much to say.

    So there's that.

  25. arctic_hare says:

    I feel like shouting constantly while reading this and overreacting to everything and making ubiquitous cries of all-caps bliss.

    THAT IS EXACTLY THE RIGHT REACTION TO HAVE TO THE CHAOS THAT UNFOLDS IN THIS MAGNIFICENT CHAPTER. My goodness. It is utterly amazing. It starts out so awful and tense and creepy with Mrs. Coulter being… well… Mrs. Coulter, and Lyra having to play the game in order to get through this, and then – complete chaos and multiple displays of badassery all over the place and it sends me to a happy place.

    I remember reading for the first time and when Mrs. Coulter (who is quite possibly the worst person in the world, though she has stiff competition from the guys that almost severed Lyra and Pan last chapter) took the belt and pouch, I was all FUCK NO, FUCK YOU – and then I remembered Lyra hiding the alethiometer, and the mention of the moss in the tin made me all "SNERK. THIS IS GONNA RULE." And it did, because Mrs. Coulter sending those spy flies after Lyra totally came back to bite her in the blubber (thank you, Sokka, for this phrase!). HAHA! *points and laughs at the evil scumbag*

    Lyra is so damn amazing, I can't even. She still tries to rescue the kids, she comes up with that great idea with the fire and the flour, she starts throwing snow at the Tartars… handles herself much better than I would. <3 Love her.


  26. Becky_J_ says:

    "…..and most of all of the golden monkey, whose hard little fingers had run swiftly over Lyra's body when only Pantalaimon could have noticed." __I HATE THAT GOLDEN MONKEY MORE THAN ALL THE THINGS. mkhektjkjdthekd I wanted to throw up reading that line…. if it ever touched me I would… GAHHH.

    • LIKE



      • monkeybutter says:



      • sabra_n says:

        It would have been Mrs. Coulter who "felt" the wrongness, since it was her daemon touching another person. Since it was also her daemon initiating the contact, she was probably prepared for the "wrongbadno" feeling and determined to search Lyra via the monkey anyway. Just goes to show how cold and composed Mrs. Coulter is.

        • theanagrace says:

          I never noticed that part in that context before, but now I'm wondering; Do parents ever touch their children's daemons? If so, that could explain why the monkey was so willing to break the taboo. If the rules are slightly different for parents and their kids or suchlike.
          Now, I'm also wondering if there is ever anyone born in Lyra's world without a daemon, or what about twins and conjoined twins? Is it still taboo? Oh man, I am not answering any of my questions, I am just making things WORSE.

          • Becky_J_ says:

            Daemons are so interesting, and each time I think I've got them figured out I find five more questions about them! My guess is that twins have separate daemons, and that conjoined twins…. well, I think that would depend. I don't know much about conjoined twins, but don't they have separate personalities? I associate daemons with separate people, so I think that conjoined twins would have two different daemons. But really I have no idea….. Pullman, can you please just tell us everything about daemons pleaseeeeee????

            • theanagrace says:

              Lol, I meant more that I'm wondering if twins or conjoined twins wouldn't feel the taboo, and would potentially touch each others' daemons. But now you've made me wonder about how often twins would have a similar daemon, maybe never, hmmmmmmm.

              Dammit, still more questions, lol.

              • notemily says:

                I think the twins thing wouldn't have much to do with whether or not they had a similar daemon. I mean, identical twins are alike in appearance, but not necessarily in personality, so their daemons would probably settle based on their personalities, without regards to their being identical.

      • @ladylately says:

        Voluntary daemon contact– something that is, for the purposes of Lyra's world, nearly inconceivable– is probably different, too. For the person with daemon, anyways. 'Cause it certainly wasn't voluntary for Lyra.


    i clearly don't know how daemons work very well but like

    if mrs. coulter is her mom does that make like, the monkey kind of like pan's dad?!


  28. Anseflans says:



  29. Skelly says:

    You know, I was nervous when you started these books. This trilogy is almost UNBEARABLY important to me, and I had the requisite hand-wringing over "but what if he doesn't loooooove iiiiit?"
    But if that was the worst case scenario, the best case was you loving it. I never for a minute thought you could make me love these books more than I already do, because hi! Totally obsessed fangirl, reporting for duty and annual ritualistic rereads for the past DECADE.

    But right here:

    Everything I thought I knew of love was a LIE, because with THAT SENTENCE, I love these books exponentially more. Seeing you freak out and flail and capslock, we all know YOU'RE not prepared, but it turns out that I wasn't either. Thank you for being one thousand percent fortified with AWESOME.
    (please accept this gratuitous fangirling in leiu of me saying anything even remotely spoilery)

  30. pica_scribit says:

    Yeah, I only saw the movie once, when it was in the theatres, and the only thing I really remember is that the timeline was completely fucked up

  31. lossthief says:

    So my brain might be going weird places, but I was wondering, When Mrs. Coulter started talking about how Daemons make adolescents start thinking "troublesome thoughts" did anyone else get a flashback to the pills the give kids for the "stirrings" in "The Giver"?

    Also – YOU ARE LIVING IN A HOUSE CONSTRUCTED SOLELY OF LIES. – Is my new favorite phrase. Reminds me of a joke my friend made about politicians. "He's a political warrior, and he's wearing armor made entirely out of ignorance."

    • Danielle says:

      "did anyone else get a flashback to the pills the give kids for the "stirrings" in "The Giver"? "

      This is totally what I thought when I first read the book!

  32. Sophi says:

    I love the internet and communities like this for bringing people all together. There are probably people younger than me who read this, and who knows how far up the age range extends? 😀

    It's also teaching me about a lot of stuff nice and early. I've learned so much about privelege and marginalisation and I'm totally not putting a powerpoint together with all of that in the hope that one day I'll be able to present it at school nope I party in my spare time. With all my homies. Because I'm hip. Or something.

    • pica_scribit says:

      That's great. I wish I had been aware of more of these issues from a younger age. And it just drives home the point I've been making for a long time that school is a completely artificial social environment. (I was homeschooled, and people always ask if it "stunted" me socially. I have to explain to them that I was actually spending time with people of a broad range of ages and learning that the thoughts and opinions of people other than my immediate peers were also interesting and important.)

    • evocativecomma says:

      Well, I'm 42. I'd love to know if the community includes a bunch of people older than me.

  33. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I'm assuming, based on their ages and their positions as nurses (and doctors? it seems like there was also at least one doctor) who're skilled in operating the intercision-related technology, that the adults who underwent the process did so with informed consent, so they'd be less freaked out about it from the very beginning and less likely to struggle against it. The only one whose name is given is Sister Clara, which underscores the religious nature of the operation (assuming it means nun and not head nurse, which it might). I could see a woman who's devout enough to take vows volunteering for this process in the hopes that it would remove her ~evil Dust infection.~

    My theory is that they tested intercision on volunteering adults first, realized that it didn't have the intended effect but that it made them bland and compliant, and decided to have the intercised adults work at Bolvangar. They can't reintroduce those people to normal society, because it would freak other people out and probably cause the operation to be shut down, and the first technicians who performed the operation had to be discharged because they were essentially having nervous breakdowns about what they were doing. So, they needed to do something with the incurious, compliant oblates, and they needed incurious, compliant people to control the machines.

    • Noybusiness says:

      Reminds me very much of some fundamentalist attitudes to sexuality and Genesis, that something we who live in reality know is good and natural is a sign of an inborn evil that needs to be removed.

  34. @ladylately says:

    It's stated that there are a few different methods and usages of what we call intercision around the world, and almost all of them are on adults (it's implied). It's supposed to make them easy workers and slaves. Too me, it sort of sounded like the whole hoodoo zombi myth turned up to 27 (because Eleven would never associate with this).

    I figure, they did it to the adults and had them for the station so they'd care less about what's going on. I always thought that was why the scientist grabbed Pan– he had no soul, so why should it matter if he touched someone else's?

  35. monkeybutter says:

    I liked the implications of walking away from the lights at Bolvangar since those lights are anbaric and artificial. It mirrors a rejection of allllll the fuckedupness of cutting people's daemons off because they're somehow wrong or dirty. Even though they're moving out into uncertainty and blizzards, it's still a helluva lot better than the Church and Mrs Coulter's version of order. Plus, I like the imagery of Lyra moving towards the Northern Lights instead.

    I won't forgive you for getting Linkin Park stuck in my head, though. Is this revenge for Sarah Palin voice?

  36. monkeybutter says:

    On the plus side, it would be soooo much easier to avoid their drama. We need daemons!

  37. Danielle says:

    Iorek Byrnison makes everything better just by existing. Even if he only exists in our minds.

  38. leighzzz31 says:

    Hmm, I don't know about the 'not intended for kids under 12' thing. I read the whole series when I was 10-11 and while I admit I appreciated certain things a bit more as I reread the books later on, I think I grasped a lot of the 'deeper meanings' so to speak. I certainly enjoyed the adventure story far more than the philosophical questions but my first impressions have stuck with me, the involvement of the church and what daemons and Dust seem to be, in particular. I cite this series as something that influenced me a lot and the way Pullman handles these difficult concepts is one of the reasons it did.

  39. MichelleZB says:

    Also, isn't Lyra twelve, not eleven? I think she says she's eleven that one time but she's lying.

  40. t09yavorski says:

    Things I learned from The Golden Compass: Flour explodes…Violently

    • cait0716 says:

      The scientist in me really wants to test this. But there's another voice saying it would be a very bad idea.

      • SporkyRat says:

        This scientist wishes to inform you that yes, it does explode violently. For the love of Appa, do it outside, not in your kitchen/lab.
        Also, non-dairy coffee creamer explodes. Again, not in your kitchen/lab.

        (Still can't get the dog to come in the kitchen when I'm there.)

        • sabra_n says:

          Hee, the non-dairy creamer I knew about from Mythbusters.

          • theanagrace says:

            We threw handfuls of non-dairy creamer into the fire at camp because we were so totally awesome and hardcore. It actually makes a very big cloud of flame for about a second, very cool.

    • hummingbrdheart says:

      Yes indeedy! My dad and my brother did that for a science fair: get a hollow tube, put it over a flame (candle), sift flour into the tube so that it doesn't douse the candle, and POOFBOOMexplosion.

      That's why sawmills and mills in general were so dangerous in the past: the particulates in the air go up like tinder if a spark catches them.

      • t09yavorski says:

        This was a bad thing to teach 9 year old me. It was lucky I didnt know where the flour (or matches) was.

  41. Alexander_G says:

    The entrance of the witches and Iorek Byrnison just upped the Badass Quotient by at least 335% (pure science, btw)

    As a scientist I can indeed confirm these numbers.
    If anyone is interested in how we measured this: we took the fail-o-meter developed during 'Mark reads Twilight', replaced the literary signature of 'Twilight' with that of 'His dark materials', re-synced it with the neuro-matrix and then simply inverted the image!

  42. Brieana says:

    Sorry if this has already been mentioned but eh,
    At least we know where Lyra gets that from.

    • sabra_n says:

      Her "uncle" lied to her her whole life, too. Lyra is basically the child of two magnificent bastards; it's no great surprise she's turned out that way, too. 😛

  43. flootzavut says:

    Ver-ver brief comment:

    No, you are not prepared.

    Yes, Pullman's descriptions of the Aurora and the clouds are stunningly, gorgeously beautiful.

    And interesting factoid regarding "is this a children's book?": Apparently in the UK they were initially marketed towards adults, whereas in the US they were aimed at children. I forget where I read it though. As far as I recall when I read them I got volumes 2 and 3 out of the YA section of the library.

  44. MichelleZB says:

    But is Mrs. Coulter actually lying? I vote NO. I argued in the last chapter’s comments that she really seems to sort of half-believe her own dogma. I think she really thinks that humankind would be better off without all the nasty, ungodly Dust.

    Obviously, she doesn’t want her own daughter to get the procedure, but that’s where that pesky cognitive dissonance comes in. Dogma only gets you so far, and her sudden emotional reaction to seeing Lyra about to be cut off from her own daemon caused her to act with her REAL feelings about the procedure for a second.

    Sort of like Jehovah’s Witnesses that truly believe–or at least half-believe–that blood transfusions are bad. I have a friend who is a nurse who says that many Jehovah’s Witness parents change their minds when they see their own children dying. (Some don’t!)

    I put to you that Mrs. Coulter is NOT totally lying when she tells Lyra all about intercision. I feel like she’s half convinced herself that she is doing good. It makes the story much more interesting, and it also draws much better parallels to modern-day religious leaders who do more harm than good, but don’t see it that way.

    • Fuchsia says:

      I always thought that Mrs. Coulter didn't want Lyra to go through the procedure because, despite what she says, it is NOT 100% safe. She doesn't want to risk her daughter's life. She's fine with risking the lives of random children she took from the streets, but that obviously changes when it concerns Lyra.

    • echinodermata says:

      There was a possible spoiler in your comment, so to be on the safe side I edited out the part in question. (You can always check with me on the forums or the spoiler blog if you don't know which part I removed, and are curious.)

      • MichelleZB says:

        Oh, I see what you did. I didn't think about that wording being a possible spoiler. Edit away!

  45. sabra_n says:

    Actually, that was one movie choice I didn't really object to that much. With the way they totally screwed up…uh, stuff that comes after in the book, the battle at Bolvangar really did become the emotional and action climax of the story.

    (That's not spoilery, right? I'm sorry if that's spoilery!)

  46. Fuchsia says:

    This is one of the few things about the movie that I remember. I've seen the movie *twice* (don't ask why), both after reading the series, and I still only remember… this/the scene with the separator (specifically, when Lyra and Pan are reunited), how they show Lyra using the alethiometer (something they did decently well, I think), and Iorek in general.

  47. Fuchsia says:

    So I've been gone from the site for the last month or so due to a lot of personal shit happening. I finally got time to check in on Wednesday and have spent the last two days catching up. I'm finally current! Yay! This chapter has so much in it and as I was reading, I thought I had missed the chapter break somewhere. But no, it's just dense as all fuck (and not in a bad way). Ahhhhh! Even though I've read it before, I was still tense while reading everything that happened here.

    I'm the same age as you, Mark. When I was 11/12 was when I started getting into animal rights and feminist activism. 😀

  48. theanagrace says:

    That's the idea I'd created for myself as well. The daemon probably rushes together in a surge of energy as the baby cries for the first time.

    Re; the naming thing- that is awesome! Here I was thinking the daemon just knew their name or smtg. I'd also made a vague connection that people with simple names have complicated daemon names (Lyra/Pantalaimon, Roger/Salcilia, Asriel/Stelmaria) and so with a name like Theana, I've come to accept that my daemon would probably be named Gary or Ted.

    • RoseFyre says:

      Yeah, it's an interesting discussion about the timing. I kind of like the first breath idea, but it also (as mal612 kind of points out) goes into the whole when a fetus is considered fully human idea. I mean, I'm assuming that the daemons don't give birth to the child's daemon – and frankly, appearing with the first breath seems the most logical – but if the daemon is the soul and it doesn't show up until the child is born, does that mean that fetuses don't have souls yet?

      I mean, Pullman explicitly states that the daemons are the souls of the people – and that the humans themselves are the body (and possibly the mind). When Lyra, Farder Coram, and John Faa meet Kaisa (Serafina Pekkala's daemon) for the first time, Pullman says that their daemons looked politely away from him, as he was "missing his body." So in that sense, the daemons ARE people's souls.

      So if a daemon doesn't exist before a child is born, does that mean abortion is okay? (Personally, even if a fetus has a soul, I still think there are times when abortion is okay, but that's a matter of opinion, and I don't want to get into a pro-choice/pro-life fight here.) Even if the fetus doesn't have a soul yet, it still has a mind and a body, right? So I guess it's still debatable, but in this, Pullman almost seems to be arguing that we don't have souls until we're born.

      Admittedly, we never actually see a child born, which is probably for the best, because then it would be EVEN MORE of a religious issue than this book already is.

      • theanagrace says:

        Okay, I don't want to get into spoiler territory because it's been a while since I read the other two books and I don't remember what is specifically stated in them or what I've fabricated myself in the past years. Would you like to continue this discussion over on the forum?

      • Noybusiness says:

        I imagine the daemon is one with the child's body after the child is properly alive (three months or so after conception) until the birth/first breath (neat idea).

  49. carma_bee says:

    When I got to the end of the audiobook for The Golden Compass, I learned a startling fact (startling for me at least); Roger and Serafina are voiced by the same person. I never expected that at all, so it gave me a turn.

  50. Mathematique says:

    "Pullman makes these pages drip with the sort of alarming plotting that gives me goosebumps and turn my stomachs."
    Two stomachs…
    Two hearts…
    TIME LORD?!?!

  51. RoseFyre says:

    Agreed on hoping for next weekend! There are six chapters left, surely Mark can't stop next week with just one to go…

  52. sabra_n says:

    Ha, I totally volunteered in the library to avoid having to go outside for recess in elementary school. Recess was boring. And cold, for a good chunk of the year. I wasn't a very sporty child. 😛

    • Sophi says:

      Oh god neither was I. I remember on one occasion nearly crying because we had to play football (soccer). Lawd.

      Our librarian in secondary school was American and a lovely lady. We were only allowed to take out two books at a time but she modified my account for me so that I could take out five <3 I miss her. The new librarian is just not the same.

      • sabra_n says:

        Ha, the only sport I was remotely good at in school was dodgeball, because it was exactly the opposite of every other sport – the point was to avoid the ball rather than hit it or otherwise handle it. I was very good at avoiding the ball. I had the motivation of fear. 🙂

        To bring this back around to the book, Lyra is so different from me as an 11-year-old as to practically be a different species (can you imagine her hanging out in a library when she could be outside?), but when I was that young I also had a thing for befriending girls who were wilder and louder and more fearless than me. I don't identify with Lyra, but I do want to follow her.

        • Sophi says:

          Oh goodness, yes. Lyra is halfwild and immensely courageous–and even from the beginning she was a leader, albeit a slightly weird one, to the children in Oxford. She has all these beautiful shiny qualities just hidden under a layer of dirt that are waiting to burst into A BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY. It's also interesting to see how muh she's progressed already, how much she's thinking as compared to back when she was this wild thing leading the townie children into WAR on the brickie children.

          (strange analogies ftw!)

    • pica_scribit says:

      Are you me? ;p

  53. Billie says:

    These books are incredible to read and re-read because you always find something you missed, or if you read it when you were young, something that was beyond your comprehension until later, or actually, they are always just brilliant, over and over again. Somehow, after almost a decade of reading this book, I completely missed that it was possible to sever adults from their daemons, and that the nurses etc were severed adults. I don't know, maybe I was so excited I skim read??!! The thought horrifies me.

    I quite like that these books were originally marketed as adult fiction but were changed to children's fic, because I don't think they would have done so well otherwise. Or, at least they wouldn't have got as much attention. Children's books that criticise aspects of religion are a lot more controversial than adult books that do the same, I imagine.

  54. Niyalune says:

    Well I'm sadly not rereading along (my books are at my parents' and anyway they're in French. I should buy the English version)
    I remember when I read this the first time (I was about 13 I guess) I was so angry that the nurse from last chapter is called Clara; It's my first name, and I really didn't enjoy having a creepy soul/spirit/deamon-less namesake in one of my favorite books ever.

    I agree with everyone, Lyra is incredibly amazing. In her place, I just would have been overwhelmed by the events from the beginning, and just done nothing. She's incredibly resourceful and determined.

  55. sophpoph says:

    Mark. I wasn't even born when you were eleven! I am a baby.
    and no, these books were not traumatising to me and I read them at 11 or 12 🙂

  56. mal612 says:

    I was thinking about this, and without getting into the pro-life/pro-choice-when-does-a-child-become-a-child thing, I imagined a sort of half there/translucent daemon floating around a pregnant stomach. HA.

    I clearly do not think this happens..but that's where my mind went and I thought it was amusing. Like "hmmm…I'm a bit late and there's a ghosty animal hovering around my stomach..I must be pregnant!!" HA!


  57. Arione says:

    Welcome to Arione’s long post time! If your familiar with my style of commenting you’ll know that usually I go for the short incoherent, immediate emotional response comments, unless for some reason the mood takes me to talk crazy long about “feelings” and a little to much personal disclosure. So brace yourself… Or ignore because that is entirely acceptable.

    Alright, right off the bat, Mark I think it would be the most fascinating thing in the universe to be in same room with you whilst you were reading… Totally mean that in a non creepy way, just that you have such animate reactions to books, that it would surely be interesting…

    Which leads to my second thing to say… This I a more a project for commentors. One of my favourite things to do in all the world is to read books aloud with my friends, its just amazing fun. What would you say to the idea of having a video made of markreads readers reading chapter of say “The Amber Spyglass” aloud to you, we could prep in advance break up the chapter accordingly and make a collaborative video. It could be fun, heck people could do costumes and voices if they liked… And you could perhaps record your reactions, or just do a normal review… Crazy idea, but I’m prone to those.

    I was six and seven in 1994 and 1995. I was fighting a losing one girl war against bullies. My battle tactics involved have loud and public trantrums, throwing fistfuls of grass at people, and ranting about injustice… For some reason this lead to rumours that I was a lesbian (go figure.) Unfortunately this stopped me from coming out for a good four years after I finally accepted I was gay… Because I hated to prove them right. Insane teenage logic. The moral of this story is that Lyra is a much more capable child than I ever was.

    This chapter! I recently reread it and when I got to the balloon ride and the scenery decription, I just floated. Also it’s winter here, and I want a daemon to cuddle and an Iorek to keep me warm. I love that Pullman is really using the setting of the North to enhance the danger, and that he’s not just forgetring that it soooo cold you will DIE! Also do much happens in the escape from Bolvanger that if you miss a single sentebce the story goes on without you, and you can’t slow down because otherwise you’ll never catch up!

    That’s about all for now, some let me know if you think the readers read to Mark idea is any good. Love love love.

  58. i didn't imagine it as like, PHSYICAL BIRTH OF DEAMONS of something, but like… just in relation i guess.
    again i am not very clear

  59. hazelwillow says:

    Can I just say witches are amazing. Right? I love all sorts of witches but I especially love the ones in this book. Back when Lyra was riding on Iorek and she saw them flying and flying overhead –I thought that was awesomely beautiful and spine-tingling.

  60. notemily says:

    Yeah, and then they just END THE MOVIE with Lyra drifting away in Lee's balloon. Like… WHAT.

  61. sherryrowe says:

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  62. FuTeffla says:

    I may actually have whooped out loud when I first read this chapter and Mrs Coulter got a SPY-FLY IN THE FACE. That will teach you, you awful, awful woman.

  63. MsPrufrock says:

    Oh man. I'm a bit late to the HDM party, as I only got the books yesterday, but I've been a speed-reading fiend to catch up to where you guys are. I saw the movie in theaters when it came out a few years back, so I remembered a lot of the plot points, but I have to agree that (from what I can recall) the movie wasn't very emotionally powerful. The movie certainly wasn't anywhere near as gripping as the book is proving itself to be, and I'm very very glad I decided to splurge and buy the books to read along with Mark.

    It's getting very near to the point where I will know absolutely nothing that will happen (I remember one more Event from the movie, and a general ending to the series), and I'm super excited! I just have to force myself to wait to read another chapter, so I can still be on pace with everyone. We'll see how that goes.

    Finally, I'm aware that this is quite a strange comparison to make, but is it odd that Lyra and all this discussion of her being bratty and sometimes hard to deal with but overall awesome reminds me a bit of Allie Brosh and her childhood stories on Hyperbole and a Half? I mean, with the "Please Stop" story (… ) I think it could easily fit in to Lyra's childhood if you moved the setting to Oxford and added daemons. Amiright?

    • FlameRaven says:

      Always nice to see people get into the books! I've been reading bits and pieces of the Golden Compass for the reviews, mostly to avoid spoilers since I've read these books half a dozen times at least. But yesterday I started the second book because I couldn't wait any longer, and now I'm halfway through the third book. It's so much fun, I don't know how anyone sticks to the one-chapter-a-day rule, although to be fair, I was also terrible at doing that in school: inevitably I'd read every book twice, once in my first mad rush and then going along at whatever pace the teacher set.

  64. EmmylovesWho says:

    You're reading Northern Lights? This is the best thing ever.
    It's like you don't want me to do any work, Mark. 😉

  65. FlameRaven says:

    Except Mrs. Coulter is a Lying Liar who Lies, so it's entirely possible she's just making that shit up to placate Lyra.

  66. FlameRaven says:

    Interesting! So was it the golden monkey who named Pan, or Lord Asriel's daemon Stelmaria? Somehow I would guess the latter.

  67. pennylane27 says:

    I love how your reactions to this chapter are essentially the same as mine. ALL-AROUND MINDFUCK.


    AND DUST. I feel like I shouldn't really say anything about it because I have read all the books, so I feel like all my conclusions and theories stem from that knowledge, and I can't remember what you actually know, so yeah. Pointless comment is pointless.

  68. G3Shoes says:

    You will never be prepared. I re-read The Amber Spyglass today, and I could totally imagine your reactions the whole way through. Are you going to read the whole series? (Well, you're in this far, you'll never find out what Dust is otherwise.) Anyway, can't wait.

  69. Ellalalalala says:

    The only good thing about missing the review on Friday and being internetless for the weekend is having all these awesome comments to read!


  70. AndiBlac says:

    Mark, did you.. did you just quote Linkin Park? <3
    Also, yes, yes this woman is the MAYOR OF LIARSVILLE. And oh my goodness I laughed so hard, yet was horrified at the same time.

  71. flootzavut says:

    You know what, I've been thinking about Mrs C's attitude to it all, and it's awful, and the way she is happy to use poor children but didn't want the same thing to happen to her own child, but the more I think about it the more it's chillingly familiar.

    In the west we see pictures of children starving or dying of preventable disease, and we may think, "Oh how sad", or make a donation to a relief charity, but how few people actually go and do something about it? Or even do something relatively simple like sponsoring a child? If the little girl across the road was dying of starvation we would call in the child protection agencies, the police, but the WHO estimates that 1 child dies every 5 seconds as a result of hunger – 700 every hour – 16 000 each day – 6 million each year – 60% of all child deaths… and what do we do about it? Precious little, in most cases.

    How much better are we than Mrs Coulter? We protect those close to us, and we turn a blind eye to bad things happening to children thousands of miles away because they are not our problem. We may not actively pursue and persecute and damage those children, as she does in the book, but like the rich families whose kids don't go missing, we sit back and allow other children to go missing (in the book) or die (in real life) from preventable causes…

    Just something to think about. It's easy to say, "Oh that is shocking." But there are chilling parallels in our own, supposedly advanced and civilised western world…

  72. Stephalopolis says:

    At this point, I'm pretty much just repeating what you've already said. But I agree- this was the first time that I felt there was more to this story, that things were metaphors for real life items/ideas. So Dust is, what? Sin? I don't know. I can't wait to finish this book and google the controversy surrounding this book and learning what supposedly everything represents.

    But for now….


    And finally…. just a sigh of contentment at the final few sentences. I feel like this is the first breath I've gotten to take in a loooong time.

  73. AcesWild says:

    Mark, I'm holding your hand on the astral plane. Deep breaths, man, deep breaths.

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