Mark Reads ‘The Subtle Knife’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of The Subtle Knife, Lee Scoresby confronts Dr. Grumman about his knowledge of why the world is falling apart. And shit. gets. so. real. If you’re intrigued, let’s all flail about while reading The Subtle Knife.


Continuing from how I started yesterday’s review, this is a wonderful place for Pullman to move on to another character and, given what we’ve learned since chapter eight, it’s a way to re-contextualize the information we’d just internalized. I keep talking about how fun it is to be completely confused, and I’m still maintaining that position. It’s not even a matter of figuring out the plot anymore. Now I am confused about the motivations of the characters and the mechanizations of the worlds we are moving through.

But I’ll get to that in a bit. For now, we’re dropped into Lee Scoresby’s world, and the effects of Lord Asriel’s bridge to the stars have sent the Yenisei River area into utter chaos. It provides the first half of my confusion because I was initially very upset with Asriel’s careless act: He’s rendered such destruction in his own world and he cares not about what he’s done. He’s off assembling the troops for his alleged war against the heavens and in the meantime, the damage here continues to spread. Does he not care if his own words is destroyed in the process? Is his mission that important?

Lee doesn’t have time to think of such things, though. He has a singular goal in mind: to locate the tribe that Grumman belongs to. (Oh, and by memory. What a badass.) It takes him three days (!!!!!) to finally reach the rock that signifies the location of the tribe. Along the way, though, the journey is full of the physical signs of the upheaval of the natural world. There’s been no talk of it, but I wonder if the progression of these things will increase or slowly go away. I can only imagine they get worse from here on out.

Lee makes his way into the village to speak with the Tartars present, and I really love that he doesn’t just barge in and demand to speak to someone in charge. Lee’s a respectable man, and he treats the Tartars in this village with the respect they deserve from an outsider. After Lee wins the favor of the headsman, he asks to see Dr. Grumann, and the headsman’s reply perplexed me:

“We have been expecting you,” he said again. “You have come to take Dr. Grumman to the other world.”

Aside from being an outright confirmation that Grumman is not only alive, but right here, it’s one hell of a weird thing to say right off the bat. Obviously this tribe has knowledge of other worlds, so that doesn’t surprise me. By why are they specifically waiting for someone to take Grumman to another world?

That is a mystery that is not kept one for very long, as Lee is quickly introduced to the Shaman of the tribe, Dr. Stanislaus Grumman, who is very much not dead and not beheaded as Lord Asriel claimed. The two sit and Lee relates the entire story of how he came to seek out Dr. Grumman, ending by asking why Lyra seems to be so important and why he is to be taken to another world.

I cannot believe it was sitting there right in front of me. Dr. Grumman reveals that the nickname given to him by the Tartars–Jopari–is simply their pronunciation of his real name.


I mean HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT. SERIOUSLY. John Parry disappeared at the precise moment that Dr. Grumman seemingly appeared in this world and all of the pieces matched up! IT WAS SO OBVIOUS OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING. Now we have two characters–Lord Boreal and John Parry–who have been living lives in each others’ respective universes. THIS IS SERIOUSLY SO GOOD I MAY NEVER WANT TO READ ANOTHER BOOK AGAIN.

But John Parry is not done with his surprises. To explain to Lee what drew him to this place, he presents the man with his mother’s Navajo ring. It is so shocking and confusing that for the first time in the entire series, Lee is actually frightened, which in turn frightens me. This man is as solid as a rock in terms of his inner fiber. How the hell did John get that ring? (This is actually completely unexplained, isn’t it? Parry insinuates that he has some powers as a shaman to just “bring” things to him. I don’t think Pullman will leave this thread hanging, personally.)

It’s a continued archetype in the His Dark Materials trilogy that the characters speak as plainly and as openly as imaginable. I am going to start desiring that in other books I read, I can already tell. John Parry simply lays it all out on the table: He accidentally wandered from his world into Cittágazze during his expedition twelve years ago, just after his son was born, and lost his two companions to the Specters. He managed to find his way into Lee’s universe, and it’s here we learn that those from other worlds who travel to this universe GET DÆMONS. Confirming that every person has a soul, it seems that dæmons appear once you enter this universe. Seriously, can you already guess what I’m thinking? HOW CAN I GET TO THAT UNIVERSE. I want a dæmon so badly!

John continues to explain his life in this world to Lee, elaborating on his time spent learning as much as possible about this world, and in doing so, he learns of Dust. I’m just going to quote this section because it’s what made me bring up what I did in the introduction:

“I see from your expression that you have heard the term. It is frightening your teologians to death, but they are the ones who frighten me. I know what Lord Asriel is doing, and I know why, and that’s why I summoned you here. I am going to help him, you see, because the task he’s undertaken is the greatest in human history. The greatest in thirty-five thousand years of human history, Mr. Scoresby.

“I can’t do very much myself. My heart is diseased beyond the powers of anyone in this world to cure it. I have one great effort left in me, perhaps. But I know something Lord Asriel doesn’t, something he needs to know if his effort is to succeed.”

And it’s at this point that all of my thoughts on Dust and Lord Asriel’s war unravel. (That’s a good thing. It’s challenging my thought process.) We know that Lord Asriel is going to wage the second war in the heavens, which I can guess means some sort of revolt against God himself. (Assuming this is the Christian or Abrahamic God, at least for the purposes of discussing this.) Asriel is bent on discovering the source of Dust, and, given that he wants to locate that and then destroy it, it seems to lend credence to the idea that perhaps Dust is not some good, moral force in the universe. I know that we’re meant to think that Lord Asriel is a horrible villain, and even after what I say here, I will refuse to forget that he murdered Roger in order to get where he is. But what if the Magisterium is actually right about what Dust is? What if it is the very notion of sin, the very idea that all of us are doomed from the start for the actions of two people whom we never even knew?

We keep hearing the number “thirty-five thousand.” I’m taking it that Pullman is going to actually do something completely different than I expected. He’s not going to say that God is not real. Rather, he’s going to propose that God is indeed real, and that it actually is a moral decision to resist and destroy Him. Or him. Or it? Whichever pronoun is appropriate.

The thing is, John is presenting this reality as something that is deeply important for humanity, and I can’t possibly believe that it’s for an evil cause. That certainly adds yet another layer of depth to Lord Asriel. He now seems like a deeply flawed, prideful person who might actually be trying to save every universe that has ever existed. Still, we’re missing a gigantic piece of the puzzle: Why should there be a war against God?

John does reveal what it is he knows that Lord Asriel does not: that three hundred years ago, philosophers in Cittágazze created a tool called the subtle knife, and this knife is integral to Lord Asriel’s success. So, in a matter-of-fact tone, John states that Lee will fly him into Cittágazze, they will find the bearer of the subtle knife, and that bearer will assist Lord Asriel in the war against the heavens.

good holy god WHAT!!!!!

So now John’s OWN SON is absolutely a crucial part of this unbelievable, absurd plan, one that fills me with NEVERENDING EXCITEMENT for the future. Lee, always the pragmatist, asks for just one thing in return: the protection of the subtle knife for Lyra. It’s charming and touching that after hearing all this, Lee thinks of that brave, fierce little girl and wishes for her safety. To me, that is a sign of utmost respect, a gesture of pure altruism on his part. Lee, whose been quite the reluctant skeptic throughout this, is coming around to the idea that he’ll play an important part in whatever battle is on the horizon.

Well, it’s not quite that easy, I suppose:

“But I warn you: the bearer of that knife has his own task to do, and it may be that his doing it will put her into even greater danger.”

WELL, OKAY. We had such a good run of straightforward, no bullshit talk. What the hell does this mean? What task will Will Parry have???

The mysterious, otherworldly shaman agrees to do whatever he can to assure Lyra’s safety, and then he begins the process of bidding his tribal family goodbye. His head surely spinning, Lee navigates his way back down the river towards the port. Upon arriving there, they discover that things just got a whole lot more complicated: the Imperial Guard of Muscovy, an army controlled by the Magisterium, has taken control of literally every supply they might possibly need for the war effort. The Magisterium is going to war in the new world, ostensibly to oppose Lord Asriel’s force. Knowing he has to move quickly, they rush to where Lee’s balloon was left, only to find that it was already requisitioned by the army. Finally, proving that every once in a while I can figure things out, Lee uses the Magisterium ring he stole from the Skraeling to bluff his way into getting his balloon released and stocked with supplies. I AM A MASTER COMPREHENSIVE READER. Actually, no, I’m not, since I totally missed that Jopari = John Parry, but allow me this rare moment of victory. There’s a bit of trouble when Lee does try to cast off after packing up properly, as only half of the men cast off the balloon on time; the other two are reluctant upon the appearance of armed guards who order the balloon to halt. Unfortunately, only one man actually releases his rope, and Lee has to witness the fourth man clinging on foolishly before falling to his (apparent) death far below in the water.

But it’s still a success: John Parry and Lee Scoresby fly on to the north, ready to pass into a parallel universe to find Will Parry and Lord Asriel. Shit is going to get so much realer from here on out.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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103 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Subtle Knife’: Chapter 10

  1. Inseriousity. says:

    I would imagine that Lord Asriel read about it or was aware of the previous fight that's been mentioned where they all lost and thought 'I'm going to make sure we don't lose a second time'. So I think he'd have known about the effects on his world but, like Dumbledore, he'd have said it was for the greater good… the same about killing a child!!!

    I never spotted the John Parry thing on my first read but re-reading it, it is so obvious that I had to punish myself a few times as to how did I miss these big clues! 😛

  2. I remember the precise moment I realized Grumman was Parry, and it was back in Chapter 6. I was reading while walking to Safeway or something, and I got to the part where it said Grumman came from another world and he came from the "Jopari" tribe, and the book did not connect the dots for me, but as I was crossing the street, I suddenly put two and two together and exclaimed, "Holy fuck!"

    I love when books make me audibly curse.

    • cait0716 says:

      I can't remember when if I figured this out on my first read, but on this read I was convinced Mark would pick up on that and slightly disappointed when he didn't. Watching the brain explosion when the dots are finally connected is a lot of fun, though.

      • pica_scribit says:

        Yeah, on this re-read, the path of clues laid out seemed SO OBVIOUS, I was sure Mark was going to get it before the brainsploding reveal. But clearly Pullman has done a great job of concealing the truth until he's ready for it to be known.

  3. Jenny_M says:

    One of the things I love about Pullman is that he drops hints, but you have to be REALLY paying attention to them. Since I know you're going to be watching Buffy in the future, I will rot13 this, but when I found out John Parry was Jopari, I definitely was like, "Jnvg, jung, Ora vf Tybel???"

    • Haaaaaaa. Man, Buffy references are like half my lexicon. (Such that I didn't have to translate to know exactly what you were talking about.)

      • Jenny_M says:

        I think that line is so oft repeated that it's going to be one of those "Snape kills Dumbledore" things that Mark already knows without even realizing he knows it!

        But yeah, fire bad, tree pretty is like…my go-to line for bad days at work.

      • cait0716 says:

        Ditto. I can have entire conversations using only Buffy references. Much like that weird Star Trek (TNG) episode with the alien species that spoke only in metaphors. I can't wait for Mark to start Buffy

        • arctic_hare says:

          I can do that with Sandman, which has made it difficult on a few occasions on Reads and Watches because I want so badly to quote this or that issue, but can't because Mark is going to read it. 😀 Really excited about him reading it!

          • cait0716 says:

            I'm sure I would do it with Sandman if I could convince my friends to read it. I can't wait to discuss it here. I'm so impatient for all the awesome things Mark will eventually get around to reviewing.

            • FlameRaven says:

              You can't convince people to read Sandman? That is so sad. D: Sandman is what really got me into comics– well, that and the first X-Men movie, but Sandman was where I sat up and went "Wait, you mean comics don't have to be about superheroes? And they can have good writing?!"

              It's also worth mentioning that the first volume of Sandman I read was Vol 9, the Kindly Ones. You know, where that massive spoilery thing happens? Yeah. I was so fucking confused I had no idea what was happening in that book, but I spent the entire school day surreptitiously reading it under my desk all the same.

              (I can kind of see it being hard to get into. The first couple chapters are okay and then suddenly oh my god. There is one chapter I almost always skip on re-reads because of that.)

              • cait0716 says:

                I know exactly which chapter you're talking about – I tend to skip it, too.

                I actually got in to Sandman because of a Buffy/Sandman crossover fanfic I read on ffn (, which may be one of the geekier things that has happened to me. I think I ended up reading Endless Nights first, which didn't exactly spoil anything, but certainly made more sense after I'd read the core books.

                Many of my friends simply aren't interested in comic books. I'm the one seeking out more Alan Moore and Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman, and they're mostly content to wait for the movie to come out.

              • notemily says:

                Gur svefg obbx vf fb jrveq. Vg'f nyy ubeebe-l naq guebjf va enaqbz ersreraprf gb bgure QP pbzvpf. Arvy uvzfrys (V guvax) nqzvgf gung gur frevrf qvqa'g ernyyl svaq vgf ibvpr hagvy vffhr rvtug, gur bar jvgu Qrngu naq Qernz srrqvat gur oveqf, naq V'q nterr.

                Gur Xvaqyl Barf vf fb nznmvat. Rirel gvzr V er-ernq Fnaqzna, V yvxr gung obbx zber. V hfrq gb or chg bss ol vgf fhcre-fglyvmrq neg naq gur fnqarff, ohg abj V guvax vg'f whfg nobhg cresrpg. Ohg V nyfb ybir obbx gjb, frira, rvtug… V pna'g cvpx n snibevgr. Hayrff V pna cvpx "nalguvat Ubo Tnqyvat nccrnef va."

    • linguisticisms says:

      Mark is going to be watching Buffy?! Man, the shit I miss when I lose internet for three weeks.

    • Hanah_banana says:

      God that was an epic Buffy moment <3 I only watched Buffy for the first time last year so I'd been spoilt for almost all of the major plot points just by being on the internet, but that I did not see coming! HEAD ASPLODED.

    • notemily says:


    • PeanutK says:


      Mark, are you going to watch the spinoff show too? (Which I will not name because the title might be considered spoilery after a certain point) Please say you are! I love them both, but the spinoff is my favorite (for mainly personal reasons, but still), and it would be awesome if you reviewed that. Plus, they cross over a lot so it might be confusing otherwise.

      Mark is reading my favorite YA trilogy, watching Avatar, and now he's going to watch one of my favorite TV shows of all time. IS IT CHRISTMAS IN JULY?

      • hpfish13 says:

        I also love the spinoff show!! And I hope he watches them in alternating order (one of Buffy, one of the other show), because there are certain episodes that work so well that way!

        • PeanutK says:

          Same here! And I would have been SO confused if I hadn't watched the spinoff too. I'd have been like "wait, what are they talking about? I don't remember this happening? Huh?"
          I actually did the back-and-forth that you just described for most of the spinoff too. At a certain point though, I just watched them a disc at a time.

          • Thiamalonee says:

            I have the proper viewing order, by air date! I worked it out once so my cousin would watch them properly. The order gets all confused, and the crossovers/complementary episodes don't work if you just do the basic alternating. I'm planning on posting it on here when we get closer to Mark watching it. I have to remove the episode titles first, though, since they're considered spoilery.

            • @sab39 says:

              There's one episode crossover where doing it by air date doesn't quite work either because the networks screwed it up I guess. Around an episode with "Lies" as the first word of the title on Buffy and a one-word title starting with O on the spinoff. I presume you've got those figured out right too – the Buffy ep comes first even though the spinoff one aired first, if I remember rightly.

              Perhaps Mark could designate a friend for you to give the full list to including episode titles and that friend could then give him the titles one ep at a time as needed?

        • notemily says:

          That one episode where they show the same scene from different perspectives, one on each show, is comedy gold. At least until Buffy switched networks, I think the other show is almost required viewing.

  4. cait0716 says:

    Grumman's ability to bring objects towards him seems to be the same as Lord Asriel's, which showed up at the end of TGC. It lends credence to the whole John Parry = Lord Asriel (and Will = Lyra) theory you had going a while back, Mark.

    It's interesting how tangled up this is all getting. Dr. Grumman wants to find and help the bearer of the subtle knife, with no idea that it's his son and Lee Scoresby wants to get Lyra under the protection of that knife, not knowing that she already is.

    • RoseFyre says:

      "It's interesting how tangled up this is all getting. Dr. Grumman wants to find and help the bearer of the subtle knife, with no idea that it's his son and Lee Scoresby wants to get Lyra under the protection of that knife, not knowing that she already is. "

      THIS. So much irony!

      Also, what's interesting is that it's almost a conversation between two dads about protecting their kids, except that Lee isn't actually Lyra's dad (though he totally acts more like a parent than either of hers does) and Grumman doesn't know that Will is the bearer of the knife.

  5. monkeybutter says:

    Holy monologues, Batman. Parry must have spent some time in a valley in magical objectivist universe Colorado before stumbling upon Lyra's world. I agree that it's nice to have characters speak directly about their actions (though I also enjoy coy, manipulative characters who lead you on) but I prefer it when it's done in conversation more like the last chapter, rather then some guy spieling about his life story and the total sum of his knowledge. It works here because Lee Scoresby is a silent man, but I just don't like it as a narrative technique. Confusing, withholding, or coy dialogue and characters seem natural to me, though it'd also be irritating if that was the only kind of person a book included.

    Anyway, yay, you know who Grumman/Jopari is! I tend to read names of foreign-sounding words aloud in my head (does that make sense), so that's how it clicked for me. I like the way the two families are intertwined. Lyra has to help Will find his father, while his father has to help Lord Asriel by finding Will and Lyra.

  6. stellaaaaakris says:

    I thought Will's task was to help Lord Asriel in his great upcoming battle, no? If Grumman makes Will promise to keep Lyra with him (I would think he would anyway, but Grumman doesn't know Will and Lyra are fast on their way to becoming BFFs) to keep her safe but his task is to take God down and knowing how powerful the Magesterium is in Lyra's world along, I don't think it's a great stretch of the imagination that trouble from Will's "task" might follow them….Not sure if any of that made sense. Or if it's right. Because Pullman refuses to let you be comfortable in your thoughts and predictions.

    • t09yavors says:

      The witches said that Lyra has her own task which has already led to trouble following them so its not a stretch at all that Will's task is just going to add to that.

  7. Mauve_Avenger says:

    The Tartar headman is the second person who has been mentioned as practicing polygamy; the other is Iofur Raknison.

    I'm pretty sure that I didn't catch that Jopari (which I've always pronounced as joe-PAH-ree) was John Parry on my first read. What I did catch was that he uses the past tense when talking about Elaine and Will Parry; "I loved my wife," "I loved my son," "I missed them terribly." He speaks as if they don't exist for him anymore.

    Parry's osprey daemon is named Sayan Kötör. I'm pretty sure that one of the HDM wikis used to have the meaning of her name listed, but I can't find it anymore and so I had to look it up. Apparently kötör is the Sakha word for "bird," Sakha being a northern Siberian Turkic language spoken by the group of the same name who mostly live in the Sakha Republic of Russia. There are a lot of similar or even identical words in other Turkic languages, but it looks like all of them have meanings pretty closely related to that of the Sakha word, like "flying" or "rising." I'm guessing that the name of the island of Sakhalin, which was said to have been the location of Parry's death by avalanche, is somehow related to the Sakha people; given that Parry was rumored to have been in that region, it makes sense for his daemon to have a name in that language.

    "Sayan" is probably a reference to the Sayan Mountains (which would support my earlier post about the Semyonov Range being a part of the Sayan Mountains), which is so named because of the Sayan people who lived there (though they themselves called the mountains "Kogmen"). It looks like the Sayans and the other Turkic people of the South Siberian region migrated and intermingled to the point where most distinctions between tribes were lost, and the resultant people were known as the Tuvans.

    • notemily says:

      Aw, poor Parry, talking about his family in the past tense. He probably figures he'll never see them again, especially since he talks about being sick and not having much time left.

  8. frogANDsquid says:

    Im not the best at figuring out these things… Half the time i get it and the other half i am completely off. The Jopari=John Parry did not click for me until Pullman told us and then my brain di this: jdkdbdjsldm shdkdlsbdjdksmsbssjksk. Then it all made sense and i wanted to smack myself. I pretty much put the book down and stared in disbelief that i did not see this. My original guess was that John Parry was (im pretty sure mark mentioned thinking this as well) the Lord Asriel of another universe.

  9. rumantic says:

    I didn't get the Jopari thing at all on my first read of this book. Mainly because I was mentally pronoucing the first syllable as joe rather than joh.

  10. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Yeah I totally didn't get the whole John Parry/Jopari thing until you JUST said it. *facepalm*
    The first time I read the book I totally didn't realise they were the same dude until the big reveal either, so don't feel too bad about it. 😛
    I have to admit, now we're into the second book, there's a lot I don't remember! I'm kind of excited to see how it all turns out now!

    How awful is that balloon scene though? When the guy is left hanging on to the rope being pulled further away from his daemon?? I swear, Pullman has made the whole 'daemon' thing so real to me that scenes like that are almost painful to read now.

  11. Darth_Ember says:

    I agree so, so much with you, Mark.
    DO WANT getting into that universe and getting a daemon.
    That's kind of an amazing thing, that a world might have some inherent mystical property that makes manifest part of your soul to be your lifelong companion. Really; it's beautiful even beyond the daemons themselves, because it indicates that the world itself has that astonishing power.
    On that miraculous other world, John Parry had that piece of his own nature revealed to him, even though he wasn't born there.
    To know yourself is an incredible gift, and it's one everyone in that world is given the keys to, along with the knowledge that they'll never be alone.

    That's amazing… and sort of sad for those of us who look at it, and wish we had that good fortune. Ah well; vicarious appreciation will have to be enough.

    • t09yavors says:

      About knowing onesself. Parry* was surprised to find out that there was a part of him that was female. For those with daemons of the same gender does that mean they have no part of them that is opposite? Which would mean guys like that are completely masculine and girls, completely feminine.

      This seemed really interesting to me due to the theory that people with same gendered daemons were gay.

      *I wanted to call him John but that felt too familiar.

      • tigerpetals says:

        What if it has nothing to do with femeninity or masculinity, and is instead about what you're attracted to? Since they're your other half, and that phrase is typically associated with romance?

        • Darth_Ember says:

          I don't think so. That would imply asexuals don't get daemons. So, no, I'm not big on any theory that would turn around and go "No sexual attraction? No manifest soul! You're just not human enough." Blegh.
          I will spare you the rant on the way any number of people deny the orientation exists, or insist that it's just being dysfunctional, because if asexuals really really tried, surely they could want sex just like 'normal' people, and the way this opinion has been delivered even by some LGBT folk or feminists…
          Yeah. Not good.

      • Darth_Ember says:

        I've commented on this before, but my theory is that it is like the yin-yang thing; masculine and feminine energy in balance. If you have more of one in you, your daemon will embody more of the other, to balance things out.
        So pretty much the opposite of what you're saying.
        From my old comment: "If your two sides of your nature are either really balanced or slightly tilted the other way than expected your daemon might counterbalance that.
        Daemons, as we've seen, disappear on death. So they're a bit less physical, so viewing them in terms of energy might make sense.
        Yes I know this is not scientific but this is a fantasy series where a little girl has a talking shapeshifting animal companion. So why not masculine/feminine energy?"
        Therefore it would be a thing regardless of your physical sex; if you have more of one than the other, your daemon will have the other one, to balance out the nature of your soul.

  12. Becky_J_ says:

    Lee Scoresby and John Parry in a hot air balloon on an adventure to find Will and Lyra in another world?


  13. barnswallowkate says:

    I love/hate the John Parry = Jopari reveal. Love because it's awesome, hate because HOW DID I NOT FIGURE THAT OUT REALLY.

    And of course I love the idea that if we went to Lyra's world we'd find our daemons. Except I recently realized my daemon is my iPhone – it shares my whole life with me, half my thoughts are in it, it hurts to be apart from it, etc. So I guess I've already got mine. I wonder what I should name it?

  14. sabra_n says:


    HAHAHA I KNOW RIGHT. Reading your recaps and the way things have been laid out, the clues seemed especially obvious, but somehow when I was in the middle of reading the first time through I didn't get a thing. Well, I say "somehow", but I mean that a) I'm spectacularly naive while reading novels, and b) Pullman's really good at redirecting your attention.

  15. notemily says:






    OK just had to get that out of the way.


    But… The Amber Spyglass…? 😉

    Why does everyone want to help Lord Asriel? SERIOUSLY. HE IS NOT ON THE SIDE OF GOOD. He is on the side of his own massive arrogance. "The greatest war ever known" seems like something of an oxymoron to me. War is not great.

    And I refuse to believe that severing Roger from his daemon was necessary "for the greater good."

    "That is the craziest damn idea I ever heard in my life." I love you Lee.

    • ChronicReader91 says:

      "Why does everyone want to help Lord Asriel? SERIOUSLY. HE IS NOT ON THE SIDE OF GOOD. He is on the side of his own massive arrogance."

      Exactly. I can't make myself like him, as fascinating of a character as he is, and even if it turns out his motivations were "good", it won't excuse the things he's done to get to this point.

  16. arctic_hare says:


    Noooooooooo, never say things like this. 🙁 It makes me deeply sad. For I firmly believe that anyone who truly loves books will never run out of things to read. Which is something that makes me happy, for running out of stuff I want to read is a very scary thought to me.

    And… heh. I've been looking forward to this chapter – I thought for sure in chapter six, you'd figure out the Jopari = John Parry thing, but no. So I've been anticipating the reaction here. 😀 BUT THE BEST PART IS, YOU STILL EN'T PREPARED. 😀

  17. pennylane27 says:


    Also, I did not make the connection either. Was reading too fast to think. Or something.

  18. If you're going to start wanting all characters ever to speak plainly and openly, I am Officially Warning You that The Wheel of Time may give you an aortic aneurysm.

    • Marie the Bookwyrm says:

      Oh, yeah. I love Wheel of Time but there were plenty of occasions when I wanted to strangle characters for being irritatingly obscure.
      And I was another of the clueless ones who had no idea of Grumman's true identity until the big reveal.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        there are a lot of books in that series.

        good god.

        • cait0716 says:

          Also, the author died before he finished it. That fact, more than the vast number of books, has frightened me off from attempting WoT.

          • FlameRaven says:

            Yes. The Sword of Truth series taught me to be reeeeeally wary of any series with more than 5 books, especially when those books are over 600 pages long.

            So far, I have found a number of good series with more than five books that are short, but only Game of Thrones has succeeded at being good despite being unfinished and with very thick volumes.

            • t09yavors says:

              So far the only book I like of Sword of Truth is the first one. (Which is annoying because I own 4 others and since I own them I have to finish reading them someday and they just arent as much fun :/ and I am complaining about having too many books so I will stop now)

              • flootzavut says:

                I loved the first one, enjoyed the second OK, then at some point I came across some of the later ones and started to read with great excitement only to end up going "What? What? What is this rubbish??"

              • FlameRaven says:

                The first one is… okay. It's like 90% generic fantasy cliches and set up and 10% BDSM, which is unexpected and weird, but it's readable. The second one gets rather strange. I think it was the third book where Goodkind decided he wanted to be Ayn Rand. By the time you get to book 6, the main character is curing communism with a statue and it's all become really confused. I gave up after book 7, which spends an entire book away from the main characters.

                • cait0716 says:

                  The 7th book pissed me off, but I actually made about halfway through the 9th book before I gave up. I really liked the 5th book when I read it, mostly because of Beata. But the series does get strangely drawn out and convoluted. And it's way too long. Of course I was about 14 when I read the first 6 books, so I probably liked them more than I would now.

          • The Brandon Sanderson books that are finishing the series are EXCELLENT. Jordan's dying is a tragedy, and I would obviously have loved to read his vision of the end of the saga, but Sanderson is doing a phenomenal job.

        • Saphling says:

          Once the last book is published, the series will have over 11,000 pages and 4,000,000 words in it.

          Jordan may have been under the impression he was being paid by the word. >_>

  19. PeanutK says:

    Haha, I was so looking forward to today's review because I knew you'd discover the identity of "Grumman" and that there would be much head a-splodey and capslock. Also, Lee is awesome so any review of a chapter with him is going to be great by default.

    I didn't figure out the true identity of Will's father either, and like you, I wanted to smack myself upside the head because, like the reveal that Lupin is a werewolf in Harry Potter, it was so obvious in hindsight!

  20. flootzavut says:

    I had to ZIP MY MOUTH SHUT (and zip my fingers together) the other day NOT to say something when you talked about the name Jopari! I knew that would result in more headsplosions 😀

  21. Hazelwillow says:

    Is there still a spoiler blog? I've tried googling for it but I can't find it anywhere. Help?

  22. RoseFyre says:

    So, people have said most things I wanted to say, but, having read this book before, I was totally confused when you were in Chapter 6 (I think it was 6) and mentioned how Grumman was the third such man whose reputation proceeds him. I was all "…third? I mean, there's Lord Asriel, obviously, and Grumman, and…oh! Right! John Parry! Counting them as two different people!"

    …And then there may have been evil cackling.

    Can't wait to see your mind blown even more as the series goes!

  23. Ash says:

    I kept thinking that Grumman is Will's father. But then again he can't be, because he has a daemon. So he must be from Lyra's world. Then the revelation of how he got his daemon. I MUST GO TO LYRA'S UNIVERSE.

  24. Ellalalalala says:

    Although I am loving the awesomeness of the story arc, this is the first chapter where I really felt info-dumped. That made me a bit sad. I've always been totally in the moment in every other bit of explanatory dialogue, but here I felt a bit outside of it all. I think because it all felt a bit too pat – oh Lee's found Grumman, oh Grumman has a ring that means a lot to Lee, oh Grumman is Parry, oh there is a great big grand plan incorporating Will, Lyra, the subtle knife, Asriel,God, oh gotcha, all falling into place.

    But then Lee went and charmed my socks off in one fell swoop:
    "That is the craziest damn idea I ever heard in my life."
    <3 Lee

    But, information-wise, AWESOMENESS! And I TOTALLY guessed Grumman was Parry, and came THIS close to calling it a few chapters ago, but then decided it couldn't be him because Grumman had an osprey daemon and people from our universe don't have daemons, yo.

    Oh SNAP, Pullman, you sneaky sonofagun!

    Other people have already said it, but I gotta reiterate: WHERE IS MY BRIDGE/WINDOW INTO LYRA'S UNIVERSE ALREADY?? I want my daemon, dammit!

  25. Bloop says:

    I had pretty much figured out the big reveal very early on. What I was most surprised about was that Lee was at least part Navajo. Am I wrong about this? I don't have my book with me, so I may be remembering incorrectly. If this is true, this revelation makes me think they /did/ get the casting wrong for Lee for the movie.

    • FlameRaven says:

      No, it's true. Lee says his mother was Navajo, presumably his father was New Danish, since Lee describes himself as a New Dane out of the country of Texas.

    • Mmsljr says:

      I know this post was from yesterday, but I didn't get around to this review until today. I don't think that they necessarily got the casting wrong. Just because someone is half and half doesn't mean that they will automatically take on the mother's phenotype (admittedly native American genotypes may be dominant). My mother is full Puerto Rican; super tan, black hair, dark eyes, etc. My sister, who is the eldest, turned out very pale, light brown eyes, red-tinted light brown hair. I liked the casting for the movie and I could imagine that his mother had been Navajo.

      • Bloop says:

        As someone who is part Lakota and with very German features, I can understand that. I just get sad whenever there is a chance to feature people of color in movies and they don't. :/ But yeah, you're right – I can see how people would like the casting. 🙂

        • Mmsljr says:

          No, I completely understand that. I did like the casting, but it would have been a great opportunity for them to introduce someone that isn't Caucasian. That movie was very white and they definitely could have introduced other actors that weren't because the book itself wasn't THAT way. (QUESTION: my comments automatically 1up themselves, how the heck do I stop that? It's kind of annoying.)

    • James says:

      Considering that Samuel L Jackson was Pullman's first choice for Lee I doubt he considered his race a very important part of the character, so I doubt it mattered that much. 😛

  26. Wang Fire says:

    So I've read this book before and I had to stop and gape when John Parry revealed himself. I don't know if the "Mark Reads" format is helping but this book is way more awesome than I remember it being.

    We're two thirds of the way through the book and everything is coming together now. Lyra and Will both have their tools and are ready to search for John Parry. John and Lee are on their way to search for Lyra and the bearer of the Subtle Knife who, they are yet to realise, just became John's own son. I am so excited.

  27. MARK.

    I am reading along and I am dying to read the next chapter.

    Are there going to be regular updates during Leaky-Con because I SERIOUSLY DON'T THINK I CAN WAIT A WEEK TO CONTINUE READING THIS BOOK


  28. ChronicReader91 says:

    There should be a poll: Check here if the Jopari = John Parry thing made you feel like a COMPLETE IDIOT FOR NOT SEEING IT BEFORE. Omg, just… how? HOW could I not?

    Also, Lee Scoresby has firmly planted himself in the position of my very favorite character in this series, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  29. Kelly L. says:

    HOLY SHIT. That is all.

  30. karissajoelle says:

    I just read this chapter for the first time today and I LITERALLY DROPPED THE BOOK when Grumman revealed himself to be John Parry. Hoooow did I miss that.

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