In the twenty-second chapter of The Golden Compass, Lyra is awakened by Lord Asriel’s butler, who reveals what her father’s plan was all along. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Golden Compass.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: BETRAYAL
I ALREADY DO NOT LIKE THE TITLE OF THIS CHAPTER AND IT MAKES ME NERVOUS.
“What? What’s happening?”
“Lord Asriel, miss. He’s been almost in a delirium since you went to bed. I’ve never seen him so wild. He packed a lot of instruments and batteries in a sledge and he harnessed up the dogs and left. But he’s got the boy, miss!”
WHAT?!?!?! WHY. WHY DID HE TAKE ROGER?
“–you know when you first came to the door, miss? And he saw you and couldn’t believe his eyes, and wanted you gone?”
YES. I REMEMBER THIS. IT MADE NO SENSE.
“It was because he need a child to finish his experiment, miss! And Lord Asriel has a way special to himself of bringing about what he wants, he just has to call for something and–“
WHAT THE HOLY FLYING FUCK JUST HAPPENED YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!!! LORD ASRIEL ASKED THE UNIVERSE FOR A CHILD TO SACRIFICE SO HE COULD OPEN UP THE BRIDGE TO ANOTHER WORLD AND THE UNIVERSE SENT HIM HIS FUCKING DAUGHTER, EXCEPT IT ALSO SENT ROGER AND NOW I AM COMPLETELY SHATTERED BECAUSE LYRA CANNOT EVEN TRUST HER OWN PARENTS
ALSO WHAT DOES THOROLD MEAN THAT LORD ASRIEL HAS A “WAY” OF GETTING WHAT HE WANTS IS HE LIKE A TELEPATHIC MAGNET OR SOME SHIT I AM SO CONFUSED RIGHT NOW.
She was uttering it, but it was bigger than she was; it felt as if the despair were uttering her. For she remembered his words: the energy that links body and dæmon is immensely powerful; and to bridge the gap between worlds needed a phenomenal burst of energy….
She had just realized what she’d done.
THIS MIGHT BE THE MOST WRETCHED TWIST OF ALL TWISTS BECAUSE IT IS A SIGN TO LYRA THAT EVEN IF SHE DOES EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO DO GOOD, SOMEONE WITH MORE POWER IS STILL GOING TO RUIN EVERYTHING. OH MY GOD THIS IS JUST THE WORST
She had struggled all this way to bring something to Lord Asriel, thinking she knew what he wanted; and it wasn’t the alethiometer at all. What she wanted was a child.
She had brought him Roger.
I SERIOUSLY WANT TO JUST CRY IN ABJECT TERROR AT THIS VERY IDEA. MY GOD. 🙁
That was why he’d cried out, “I did not send for you!” when he saw her; he had sent for a child, and the fates had brought him his own daughter. Or so he’d thought, until she’d stepped aside and shown him Roger.
THIS IS JUST SO MESSED UP AND I CANNOT BELIEVE IN MY LAST REVIEW I WAS THIS CLOSE TO PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER AND I STILL DIDN’T DO IT. THAT ALONE IS ENOUGH TO SEND ME OVER THE EDGE, BUT NOW I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE FACT THAT LORD ASRIEL IS BASICALLY A VILLAIN NOW TOO. oh my god OH MY GOD.
“Iorek–” she sobbed, pushing the servant aside. “Where’s Iorek Byrnison? The bear? Is he still outside?”
The old man shrugged helplessly.
“Help me!” she said, trembling all over with weakness and fear. “Help me dress. I got to go. Now! Do it quick!“
I DON’T LIKE AN UPSET AND SOBBING LYRA IT MAKES ME NERVOUS AND ANXIOUS
“Iorek!” she called. “Iorek Byrnison! Come, because I need you!”
LIKE I CAN SERIOUSLY HEAR THE DISTRESS IN HER VOICE. HOW ON EARTH IS SHE GOING TO STOP HER FATHER.
Behind them, the other bears paced easily, pulling the fire hurler with them.
HOW DO THE BEARS OWN A FIRE HURLER. SERIOUSLY HOW COULD YOU EVER BRING DOWN THE ARMORED BEARS AT THIS POINT.
Lyra felt Iorek Byrnison change pace. Something had caught his attention. He was slowing and lifting his head to cast left and right.
“What is it?” Lyra said.
He didn’t say. He was listening intently, but she could hear nothing. Then she did hear something: a mysterious, vastly distant rustling and crackling. It was a sound she had heard before: the sound of the Aurora.
NO. NO!!!!! PLEASE TELL ME THAT THEY ARE NOT TOO LATE. HE CAN’T BE THAT FAR AHEAD!!!
But none of the bears were looking up: their attention was all on the earth. It wasn’t the Aurora, after all, that had caught Iorek’s attention. He was standing stock-still now, and Lyra slipped off his back, knowing that his senses needed to cast around freely. Something was troubling him.
WWWWWWWHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYY IS THERE NOW SOMETHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT. CATCHING LORD ASRIEL IS BAD ENOUGH WHYYYYYYYYYYY.
She could hear the immense stinging hiss and swish of vast intangible forces.
“Witches!” came a cry in a bear voice, and Lyra turned in joy and relief.
YES. YES. I LOVE YOU SERAFINA. YOU ARE MY FAVORITE. COME TO THE RESCUE AT THE PERFECT TIME!!!
But a heavy muzzle knocked her forward, and with no breath left to gasp she could only pant and shudder, for there in the place where she had been standing was the plume of a green-feathered arrow. The head and the shaft were buried in the snow.
WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! OH MY GOD, THEY ARE NOT SERAFINA’S CLAN. OH MY GOD WHY.
Lyra crouched low beside a rock, watching for a witch dive. A few shot at her, but the arrows fell wide; and then Lyra, looking up at the sky, saw the greater part of the witch flight peel off and turn back.
YES. THE BEARS ARE THE BEST. I LOVE THEM. KEEP SWATTING DOWN WITCHES WITH THEIR POOR ARCHERY SKILLS.
If she was relieved by that, her relief didn’t last more than a few moments. Because from the direction in which they’d flown, she saw many others coming to join them; and in mid-air with them there was a group of gleaming lights; and across the broad expanse of the Svalbard plain, under the radiance of the Aurora, she heard a sound she dreaded. It was the harsh throb of a gas engine. The zeppelin, with Mrs. Coulter and her troops on board, was catching up.
FFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU THIS COULD NOT GET ANY WORSE AND I KNOW BY SAYING THAT, IT WILL GET WORSE BUT SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL THIS IS AWFUL. HOW. HOW IS LYRA SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH LORD ASRIEL AND WITCHES AND NOW MRS. COULTER ALL AT THE SAME TIME THIS IS TOO MUCH. THE LORD IS TESTING ME.
As she watched, a bright flame gushed out, and a team of bears swung into practiced action. Two of them hauled the long arm of the fire thrower down, another scooped shovelfuls of fire into the bowl, and at an order they released it, to hurl the flaming sulfur high into the dark sky.
AHHHHHHHHH BEARS CAN SHOVEL FIRE. WHY IS THAT DETAIL SO AMAZING TO ME.
The witches were swooping so thickly above them that three fell in flames at the first shot alone, but it was soon clear that the real target was the zeppelin.
YES YES YES DESTROY IT omg i am so violent.
Then it became clear that they had a powerful weapon in the zeppelin too: a machine rifle mounted on the nose of the gondola.
THIS IS SERIOUSLY JUST NEVER-ENDING TENSION.
This time the sulfur hurtled against the envelope of the zeppelin’s gas bag. The rigid frame held a skin of oiled silk in place to contain the hydrogen, and although this was tough enough to withstand minor scratches, a hundredweight of blazing rock was too much for it. The silk ripped straight through, and sulfur and hydrogen leaped to meet each other in a catastrophe of flame.
YES. YES. YES. YES! VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY PLEASE LET THE EARTH OPEN NOW AND EAT THEM. (PS: This section is rather gorgeously written. Just sayin’!)
But the soldiers on board, and the others too (though Lyra was too far away by now to spot Mrs. Coulter, she knew she was there), wasted no time. With the help of the witches they dragged the machine gun out and set it up, and began to fight in earnest on the ground.
SERIOUSLY, PLEASE, AN EARTHQUAKE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. JUST OPEN UP, EARTH, AND YELL, “OMNOMNOMNOMNOM.” I WOULD BE SO HAPPY.
Ok. I’m ridiculous. But after a constant onslaught of sheer brain-meltage, I was glad that Iorek took Lyra away from that battle. The armored bears can handle it on their own, and he’s not forgotten the importance of catching up to Lord Asriel. Iorek follows the obvious tracks that Asriel has left behind, and more so than ever, this is the worst weather the group has experienced. Again, as I’ve said in past reviews, Pullman doesn’t really describe action as “This happened, then this, then that.” He’s far more interested in painting landscapes and visual parallels during the process.
I get the distinct sense of finality to all of this, and it honestly scares me. There’s only one chapter left and I worry that something will be irrevocably altered in a negative way. It doesn’t help that Lyra suddenly asks Iorek if he’ll find Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala. She doesn’t say it, but it feels like the second half of that is, “…if I don’t come back alive.” To see Lyra admit that she has finally found herself in a situation that could absolutely end in her death is frightening. Who’s to say that she can’t die at the end of this novel? I don’t even know if she’s the main character for the full trilogy.
And this is all made worse when Lord Asriel’s tracks continue over a massive chasm in the ice and snow, and just a bridge of “compacted snow” remains. Meaning there is no way that Iorek could ever make it across.
“I got to go across,” she said. “Thank you for all you done. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get to him. We might all die, whether I get to him or not. But if I come back, I’ll come and see you to thank you properly, King Iorek Byrnison.
She laid a hand on his head. He let it lie there and nodded gently.
“Goodbye, Lyra Silvertongue,” he said.
SHAKING. AND. CRYING. It does feel so very final, doesn’t it? Lyra crosses the bridge and, while it’s kind of predictable that the bridge would collapse behind her, it’s what Pullman does with it that strikes cold in my heart:
She stood and raised her hand to the watching bear. Iorek Byrnison stood on his hind legs to acknowledge her, and then turned and made off down the mountain in a swift run to help his subjects in the battle with Mrs. Coulter and the soldiers from the zeppelin.
Lyra was alone.
This is not going to end well.