In the eighth chapter of The Subtle Knife, Lyra and Will travel to the Tower of the Angels to retrieve what Charles has asked for, where Will’s life is set on to a new path. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Subtle Knife.
Lyra crossed the bridge to the stars in order to find Lord Asriel, and she could not be further from that plan than she is now.
CHAPTER EIGHT: THE TOWER OF THE ANGELS
I could see why people might dislike this, but for me, this is about as close to fantasy perfection as I could ask for. I love when a story is taken to realms you’d not even considered, when you expect it to be about this thing, but it ends up being about this other thing that never even entered your brain. Pullman’s quite good at keeping me guessing at this point, and I’m certain I never once would have thought that the book’s title would mean what it does here. But seriously, Lyra has not even thought or mentioned her father’s name once in at least a hundred pages. AMAZING!
I also didn’t expect Pullman to immediately continue with Will and Lyra’s story; he’s been mixing it up so often with Serafina and Lee, and given that Ruta found Lord Asriel’s fortress, we have three other subplots with ridiculously exciting possibilities waiting for us. AH THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON AND I HAVE FIGURED OUT PRETTY MUCH NONE OF IT. Well, except that Charles is from Lyra’s world. Which…that is the most obvious clue of them all, so I don’t suppose I deserve to be patting myself on the back. why can i never figure these things out.
Chapter eight. WELL. WELL. I think it’s best for me to try to make sense of this all in one of the only ways I know how to organize such things.
A Very Ridiculous and Lengthy List of Things Found in Chapter Eight of The Subtle Knife That Made Mark Want To Pass Out From Excitement
- Charles is very knowledgeable of Cittágazze and the Guild and has no qualms about revealing this to Lyra and Will. How many other worlds does he know about? Does he collect artifacts from parallel worlds for a living?
- Lyra swears she recognizes this man, and I know it’s Pullman’s way of saying CAN YOU GUESS WHO THIS IS, but I literally cannot. I have either completely forgotten most of The Golden Compass already or it’s not that easy of a clue. I honestly believe it’s the former.
- Before dropping Will and Lyra off, Charles tells Will there’s a mighty fine photo of him in the newspaper that day. GREAT. GREAT. Can he ever return to his own world?
- At the Tower of the Angels, Pan flies up to an open window and confirms there is a young man inside. Oh, and he’s dancing. Dancing. I have given up hope ever figuring this out. I’m just going to enjoy the ride.
- When they make it up to that room, they discover Pantalaimon was not exaggerating in the slightest. It really does appear that the young man is dancing with the knife Charles wants in his hand.
- Oh, and there’s clearly someone on the roof that’s not this man. WHAT.
- Oh, and that noise from the roof is an old man with his hands tied behind his back.
- Oh, and his name is Giacomo Paradisi, and he is the “bearer” of the knife, but the young man below stole it from him.
- Oh, and he “hold[s] the subtle knife on behalf of the Guild.” Which sounds like nonsense, but obviously Pullman has a plan for this.
- The young man with the subtle knife appears on the roof and the fight that takes place is disorienting and brutal. Perhaps this is motivated largely by the young man’s frustration with being unable to “cut through” whatever the older man on the roof was referring to.
- When Will and Lyra successfully trip the man, the knife falls out of his hand and appears to slice right into the stone ground as “if it had fallen into butter.” what the hell
- Will’s internal monologue about causing this man as much pain as possible is something that I, too, learned in elementary and junior high, but I was always on the receiving end of it. OH WELL UTTER TRAGEDY.
- Will gets to enact that history of violence on the young man and lands a well-placed kick to his kneecap, and the man falls, and then Will stomps on the man’s hand TWICE in order to get the knife away from him, and there’s blood and WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON and then Will shoves the man down the stairs, much like the intruder in the first chapter, and he gets the knife, and the man runs away, and WHAT A BADASS VICTORY.
- Oh, right, that victory is short-lived because WILL’S TWO SMALLEST FINGERS ON HIS LEFT HAND FALL RIGHT OFF. WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS GOING ON.
- No, seriously, I cannot get over this. Two of his fingers have fallen off and he is gushing blood HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.
- Lyra is witness to Tullio, the young man, being attacked by the Specters below the Tower. I can’t ignore the parallel to Will knowing he killed someone, and while the Specters don’t exactly kill a person, watching Tullio convulse and thrash in terror, and then become lethargic, is ridiculously disturbing.
- Giacomo tells Will the knife is his, as he is now the bearer of it. He says he knows this is true and shows by raising his left hand to show that the exact same fingers are missing, too.
- WHAT SORT OF OBJECT PICKS ITS NEXT OWNER BY SEVERING FINGERS?????
- Giacomo tells Will and Lyra they are never to give Charles the knife; he will betray them in order to get it.
- The subtle knife is revealed to be an actual subtle knife, made of some bizarre material with “subtle” colors flowing through it. It reminds me of the aurora, personally, and I also now sense that this is directly related to the alethiometer. How? I’m not sure. Lyra, however, recognizes that one side of the knife is the exact same color/make up of the blade that was used during intercision. How could the scientists in Bolvangar create a blade like this???
- Giacomo reveals that one edge of the subtle knife is able to cut through any material in the world, and then demonstrates it by cutting through a spoon like it’s a slice of paper.
- Oh, and the other side cuts through the wall between universes.
- The other side of the subtle knife cuts through the wall between universes.
- THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SUBTLE KNIFE CUTS THROUGH THE WALL BETWEEN UNIVERSES.
- Okay, I’m all right now. I’ve begun to process this. Giacomo seems rushed for some reason, and stresses that Will has only a very short time to learn how to use the knife in order to cut a hole in the world. We learn it’s remarkably similar to the process that Lyra uses to work the alethiometer. Does Dust/dark matter flow through the knife? Why does this sort of soulful concentration bring about such fantastical powers? I recognize that this is what they have in common, but I can’t figure out why they work this way.
- When will has a breakdown in front of everyone, overcome with sadness, grief, and pain, Pantalaimon decides to break the taboo between human and dæmon and lick Will’s wound. It is one of the most moving passages in the entire series. Pan works independent of Lyra, but Lyra knows that this act is deeply moral and right, despite how weird it is for her.
- There’s a really, really interesting bit that Pullman provides that I think is a much larger clue to this whole series: When Lyra is more aware than ever how similar this process is to using the alethiometer, she compares it to the same knowledge that Dr. Malone, and Keats, and other great minds who know about letting go of one’s mind. So what exactly does this mean for the story here? We know Dust is attracted to acts of humanity. Is Pullman trying to say that there’s nothing more human that this process? I AM INTRIGUED.
- Will cuts a hole in this world and they all look in on a parallel universe. I just…I cannot even deal with this. This book is seriously one of the best things I have ever read.
- Giacomo teaches Will how to CLOSE THE WINDOW. YOU CAN CLOSE THEM. But why are some left open?
- Upon Will’s success, Giacomo spends what little time he has left explaining what he can about what he has been doing as part of the Guild and what Will is up against. He confirms that the Guild brought Specters into the world by splitting particle bonds. No one knows which universe they came from, but they arrived three hundred years before. !!!!!!!
- The window Will climbed through was opened by Giacomo, who was trying to lure Charles through in order to have the Specters destroy him. CHRIST.
- Giacomo reveals why he is in such a rush: He needs to go kill himself, as he no longer has the subtle knife and is not protected from the Specters. holy fucking hell THIS BOOK.
- Lyra, deeply upset after bidding Giacomo goodbye, is comforted by Will, who reveals that their next step is to obviously travel back to his universe and steal back the alethiometer. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My god, I am so unprepared and I have never been so happy to state that.