Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 31

In the thirty-first chapter of The Amber Spyglass, head explosions forever. HOLY SHIT WHAT??!?!?!?! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Amber Spyglass.


Even the title of this chapter could not prepare me for what was inside. I….I just….


The time is upon us where Mrs. Coulter will attempt to trick Metatron so that Lord Asriel can destroy him, and I honestly thought this chapter would deal solely with Will and Lyra discovering God. But the image of Metatron and Mrs. Coulter looking down upon the descending figure of Lord Asriel and his dæmon sort of set the mood for me, and I felt incredibly nervous. We are so close to the end of this book, and I know that virtually anything can happen. Pullman could kill off any character, this could end terribly, and…oh god. I just don’t want this to end. I love this world. Well…these worlds. I love these characters, I love the story, and I just want to stay here forever. Can someone make this happen.

Oh, please don’t let this end in disaster.

“I could strike him now,” the shadow whispered.

“Yes, of course you could,” she whispered back, leaning close, “but I want to see his face, dear Metatron; I want him to know I’ve betrayed him. Come, let’s follow and catch him…”

Oh, Mrs. Coulter. You are so manipulative, and I am finally at a point with your character that I don’t look upon that trait with disdain or disgust. But you are about to betray one of the most powerful angels in all existence. How can this end well? How do you trick an angel?

Apparently, you tease him with what he has not had, nor can he possess, in many, many years: flesh. Pullman has inserted a few references to sex and sexual desires in the past two books, but this is the most explicit of them all. (Relatively, I mean. It’s not explicit in a general sense, and I think he would have lost me if he had written a scene of them actually having sex.) I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been much discussion of it in these books, as he seems to be more interested in setting up a dichotomy between God and the pursuit of knowledge and experience. Sex is inherently a part of that, but the shaming of sex, sexual thoughts, and sexual impulses is pretty heavy here in the west, especially when it comes to many of the larger Christian sects. Obviously, I’m not done the series, and there could be more in the future, so I don’t want to be preemptive about this. But from a personal standpoint, Christianity really fucked up my perception of sex, and it’s something I would like to see addressed. It literally took years to unpack all of the awful things I was taught from my mother and then later during my stint as a Catholic. The social stigmas attached to sexuality (especially queer sexuality) is just as dangerous as the political ramifications of theocratic power, too.

At the very least, I like that Mrs. Coulter is choosing to act as she wishes with her sexuality, even if that is to be manipulative. It’s in character, and I’d be a lot more uncomfortable with it had she not maintained her own agency throughout the process. So I like that this is all a choice for her, and isn’t that what her transformation is about in The Amber Spyglass? For once, she is choosing to use the negative aspects of her personality and behavior to do good, or at least what I would argue is a good thing. She plays this angel’s obsession against him, and I think if this had been portrayed in any other way, it would be utterly unbelievable. This is an angel, thousands upon thousands of years old, and he is being tricked by the oldest technique in the book? However, Pullman makes a point to spell it out for us, and I actually appreciate how blatant it is:

Nevertheless, at that moment he was blinded by his twin obsessions: to destroy Lyra and to possess her mother.

In this sense, Metatron still maintains some elements of his human life, and it’s consistent with how Pullman has portrayed angels in his series, so this is why this is so believable to me. Think about the relationship between Baruch and Balthamos. (Oh god, my heart. Maybe that’s a bad idea.) These angels, wise and powerful, still had very human emotions running through them. Why would Metatron be any different?

For the first time in the series, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel have a moment that I wholly accept as a genuine expression of affection, one devoid of the usual subtle jabs or horrific subtexts that I’ve come to expect from them. Mrs. Coulter voices her certainty that this is it for them, that they probably will not survive past the next few minutes, and Asriel assures her that they are, for once, doing the right thing, something entirely unselfish and pure.

“And Lyra will be safe?”

“Yes, yes,” he said gently.

He kissed her. She felt as soft and light in his arms as she had when Lyra was conceived thirteen years before.

It’s such a tender moment, and even Mrs. Coulter realizes this. Her life has been devoid of love, and she now knows that only in her last moments did she discover her love of Lyra, which came to her “like a thief in the night.” Unexpected, sudden, and brutal. Even Lord Asriel himself seems more affectionate than he ever has. Did it take this moment of facing his mortality to realize it, too? Pullman doesn’t make this obvious, but I’d like to imagine this is the case, if only because Lord Asriel has had nearly three novels’ worth of time to face his own lack of love. And maybe he doesn’t love Lyra as her mother does now, and I’d believe that. But maybe his love is one that is given to something far less tangible: life. His pursuit of knowledge and of science and of discovery and of experience. Perhaps he is ready to sacrifice himself so no other person or being in any universe will be stifled by the Authority ever again.

It’s with these thoughts that I began to read the battle against Metatron with a heavy heart. There seemed to be no way that Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter could both leave with their lives, so I assumed the worse. It’s so strange to me to think about them in their entirety, how much I hated Mrs. Coulter when I started this series, and how I grew to this point now: I don’t want her to die. I was initially intrigued by Lord Asriel, having believed the myth that he was a great man, then angered by his heartless betrayal of his own daughter and her best friend. He hasn’t redeemed himself in my eyes, but now I want him to survive to explore this new side to him.

The fight is intense, brutal, and frightening. Two humans are trying to destroy one of the most physically superior angels ever, and within seconds, Metatron has landed so many horrific blows on Lord Asriel’s body. Mrs. Coulter does what she can to grab his hair, the dæmons thrash and bite his body, and Lord Asriel refuses to stop trying to bring him to the ground. But the angel’s power is too immense, and I felt my heart leap when I read that Metatron had struck Asriel’s skull with a “fist-sized rock,” and I knew in that moment that no matter what, victory or not, Lord Asriel would die. He still clung to that angel, the dæmons still attacked, and, as Asriel began to feel weak from his impending death, Mrs. Coulter DIGS HER FINGERS INTO METATRON’S EYES. oh my FUCKING god, WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING I AM GOING TO PASS OUT.

It all becomes pure chaos, four beings against one, and just as they believe Metatron can be flung into the abyss, he tosses Mrs. Coulter away and begins to fly into the air over the abyss. The time has come.

The cry was torn from Lord Asriel, and with the snow leopard beside her, with a roaring in her ears, Lyra’s mother stood and found her footing and leapt with all her heart, to hurl herself against the angel and her dæmon and her dying lover, and seize those beating wings, and bear them all down together into the abyss.

They’re gone. That’s it. They both sacrificed their lives for Lyra, for all universes, didn’t they? Oh my god. Y’ALL I CAN’T HANDLE THIS. I love that in this last moment, it’s not Mrs. Coulter: it’s “Lyra’s mother.” It’s a call to the bravery and courage of that girl, and an acknowledgment that in this last act, Mrs. Coulter has given up her past to accept the role she should have taken years ago.

She is Lyra’s mother.

This alone could have been an end to a chapter, but Pullman instantly switches to Lyra and Will, and Will slashes the arm off of a cliff-ghast and HOLY SHIT THAT IS WHAT YOU OPEN THIS SECTION WITH? Oh, nope, that’s not all. as the cliff-ghasts shriek and retreat, Will discovers that the Chevalier Tialys has died, his last act to poison a cliff-ghast. So Will BEHEADS THE CREATURE.


I admit that I expected that there would be some grand confrontation between Will and the Authority, like the one with Metatron that I’d just read. Instead, Will and Lyra find the aged angel who calls himself God, and he cannot speak. He whimpers and moans, and they help him out of the crystal cell, and, to my shock, HE DISINTEGRATES IN THE WIND. Will’s subtle knife did not kill the Authority. Wind did.

I mean….I don’t even know what to say to that. Like Lyra and Will, I don’t even get a chance to ponder this huge moment in the series because HORSE-PEOPLE ARE COMING. But first, an entire troop of Gallivespians arrive, and it is so goddamn beautiful I could weep. I could see how this would be a momentous scene in a film of this book, hundreds of colorful dragonflies skirting through the sky, tiny humanoid creatures on their back, leading Will and Lyra to their dæmons.

The battle against the Kingdom of Heaven continues. THERE’S MORE OF IT. So many bizarre creatures chase our heroes as the Gallivespians yell directions for the children to follow, stinging whatever they can, and then IOREK BYRNISON SHOWS UP. No, at this point, I seriously thought my heart would explode out of my chest. There are nets, and the knife, and horse-people, and then they are riding on Iorek’s back, and there are gunshots and flares and Specters, and the Specters are racing to the group of trees where the dæmons are hiding and CAN I JUST THROW UP RIGHT NOW. THE STRESS THAT ALL OF THIS CAUSES.

And it’s right at this point that I couldn’t help but blink with tears welling in my eyes. Lee Scoresby arrives, to the shock of Iorek, who cannot believe he is seeing his dead comrade.  Oh god, they have a ten second reunion WHY CAN’T IT BE LONGER. And then Will and Lyra must bid goodbye to Iorek, and I just wanted to sob and reach into the pages, because these characters, my characters, were rapidly approaching their end. They take off to find their dæmons, and I could not believe the rush of joy I felt when Pan spoke. Pan spoke. DÆMONS ARE NOT REAL, MARK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FEELING SO MANY THINGS.

There is just so much beauty here, and everything hurts. I love the image of Lee leaping to protect the dæmons, of Will cutting into a parallel world and Lee observing that it looked “so very like his own homeland that he thought he’d been blessed,” of Will and Lyra grabbing each other’s dæmon, of them bidding Lee Scoresby goodbye, and most especially, of Will’s goodbye to his own father.

Will said to his father’s ghost, “You said I was a warrior. You told me that was my nature, and I should argue with it. Father, you were wrong. I fought because I had to. I can’t choose my nature, but I can choose what I do. And I will choose, because now I’m free.”

His father’s smile was full of pride and tenderness. “Well done, my boy. Well done indeed,” he said.

Will couldn’t see him anymore. He turned and climbed through after Lyra.

Yeah, I was a hot mess at this point. Will’s story is about choice, and free will, and agency, and he chose to do all of this. I’m dead, someone bury me at sea or something OH MY GOD.

No, I take that back. That was not the passage that made me burst into tears. This was:

Out of the little grove, away from the baffled Specters, out of the valley, past the mighty form of his old companion the armor-clad bear, the last little scrap of the consciousness that had been the aeronaut Lee Scoresby floated upward, just as his great balloon had done so many times. Untroubled by the flares and the bursting shells, deaf to the explosions and the shouts and cries of anger and warning and pain, conscious only of his movement upward, the last of Lee Scoresby passed through the heavy clouds and came out under the brilliant stars, where the atoms of his beloved dæmons, Hester, were waiting for him.

No, seriously, hold me forever. I’m eating curry right now and crying into it. Oh god, Lee Scoresby, I am never going to stop missing you.


There’s a spiffy new banner this week (HOW COLORFUL), and here’s the link to the full image it is cropped from. Additionally, this week’s spoiler thread on BridgeToTheStars is up!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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90 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 31

  1. Darth_Ember says:

    My mood is mixed right now. On the one hand, I share your sentiment, especially about Lee and Hester.

    On the other… the ad down the bottom is for Twilight merchandise, including one item saying 'I promise to love Edward Cullen every moment of forever' so I've got this bizarre grimace of puzzled revulsion on my face.:p

  2. cait0716 says:

    Back after a week-long vacation, and what a chapter to come back to! (Along with some earthquake and hurricane related damage).

    The moment in this chapter that always stick with me is when Will and Lyra grab each others daemons. I think it's really the lack of revulsion they feel. That moment is just so beautiful and strong and I can still recall with perfect clarity my feeling reading that passage seven years later.

    Also, the world opened up and swallowed Lord Asriel AND Mrs. Coulter AND Metatron. Awesome.

  3. Kudz says:

    That moment when Lee lets himself go and reunites with Hester is seriously one of my favorite moments in the whole series. LEE I LOVE YOU.

  4. Harrison says:

    Mark, how do you always manage to make me cry even when I managed to hold it together when I'm actually reading the story?

    I like that Will and Lyra are completely unaware of who The Authority is when they free him. They just see an old angel in pain and try to free him out of sympathy and accidentally kill him in the process. How great is that?

    Everything else about this chapter is also amazing. Iorek and Lee meeting again. Will saying goodbye to his father. "Lyra's mother." Lee becoming atomized. Will and Lyra touching each other's daemons but it not being a bad thing.

    SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS STORY. I don't want it to ever end either.

  5. Bee says:

    Chapter 31 Epigraph!

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    Text reads: For empire is no more and now the lion & wolf shall cease. (William Blake)

    • cait0716 says:

      This makes me think of A Song of Ice and Fire more than His Dark Materials. Except I hope the lion ceases and the wolf triumphs in that series. ohpleaseohpleaseohplease let the Starks win. (I'm currently somewhere in the middle of A Storm of Swords)

      • pica_scribit says:

        Kinda depends on which lion you mean. ;p I root for a couple of them.

      • ABBryant says:

        I have not read any of ASOIAF yet (It's on the hold list at the library, calm down!) so every time I see 'Stark' my immediate thought is "The Avengers is gonna be frikin awesome!"

        It gets kinda annoying.

  6. Jenny_M says:

    This chapter brings ALL THE TEARS. The last paragraph especially. My heart. MY HEART, Y'ALL.

    I had forgotten that all this shit happens in one chapter. TOO MUCH, PULLMAN. I AM GRIEVED.

  7. Shira says:

    I have been WAITING for this review to quote the following:

    "Christ, please, dude, after you win this war, get eaten by the earth. I would not be at all sad if Lord Asriel died. THERE. I SAID IT. I WILL COMMIT TO THIS. It’s probably not going to happen, but seriously, I have HAD IT."


    • tigerpetals says:


      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        CHRIST. WHO KNEW That's happened twice now!!!!!

        • Becky_J_ says:

          See what happens?? You ask the earth to swallow all of these characters and then it does!!!

          Are you prepared to accept the responsibilities that accompany your awesome powers, Mark???

    • t09yavors says:

      "'Hjalmur Hjalmurson, Lyra gathered, was the bear who Iorek had killed, and whose death had brought about his exile. So Mrs. Coulter was behind that!'
      Seriously. Most malicious villain ever. Oh god, should I just ask for the earth to open up and eat her? I’d like that, a lot."

      And this from chapter 20 of Golden Compass.


      And this from TGC 22.

      If you ask, it will happen. Please use your powers only for good.

      • chrisjpardo says:

        Haha, there are so many people on here who've been biting (or at least rot13'ing) their tongues for weeks waiting for you to read this chapter, just to point all these out.

        Please don't send us into an abyss.

    • Is it bad if I've been waiting for this since the moment he wrote those words?

  8. eleventysix says:

    Apparently, eleven-year-old me formed very selective memories about this chapter, because there are things I remember super clearly (like how The Authority died and how that sent me into relatively deep thoughts) and things I completely forgot ever existed (like Ms. Coulter fake-seducing Metatron… it's brilliant and squicky). So, as usual, yay for Mark Reads, because in addition to getting new perspectives on books that I love (selective memory and all), I get a chance to reform my own ideas.
    Two things really stood out while I read the chapter this time, and maybe it's because I actually took the time to read it slowly, instead of just trying to finish the whole damn book:
    I love how pragmatic Iorek and Lee remain during all of the reuniting that goes on during this chapter. Asriel/Ms. Coulter and the Gallivespians and Lyra/Iorek and Lyra & WIll/ Daemons is all very emotional and made me make small noises of distress, but Lee and Iorek stay so in character and for some reason, it just makes their seeing each other that much more lovely. I also laughed at loud at Iorek asking "What am I talking to," because, well, way to cut to the point.
    The other thing I really loved was that Lyra and Will didn't mean to kill the Authority at all. As usual, Lyra was acting out of a sense of love and a desire to help; she saw something in trouble and, perhaps rashly, tried to do the right thing. Although she didn't get the chance to think about her actions in the middle of WAR and CHAOS, I feel like she might regret what she did. I also like that even though the entire point of of this war was to either destroy the Authority, or usher in a new empire for him, this act was committed on the sidelines of the fighting, with no ceremony. It was very personal, and, well, touching.

    So that is all. Yay for this chapter! it made my head asplode!!

  9. Mitch_L_Grooms says:

    Someone else may have said this, but I really like how Mrs. Coulter's love for Lyra, which came "like a thief in the night", can be likened to the Kingdom of Heaven, which according to Jesus will also come "like a thief in the night". Suddenly, when you're least expecting it. It seems to be saying, therefore, that love is the most important thing. The real Kingdom of Heaven, perhaps.

    • eleventysix says:

      I feel like there was also a not-so-sly reference to the parable of the mustard seed in there. Or perhaps that was my shattered brain trying to makes sense out of chaos (seriously, this chapter and new Doctor all in one weekend. I was not prepared).

      • Mitch_L_Grooms says:

        Holy crap, yes! I didn't even notice that! And again with love, because she hoped that Metatron wouldn't see her love, that it would be "no bigger than a mustard seed" in comparison to the faults that he could see. So Pullman, or at least Mrs. Coulter, really seems to be going with the idea that love is the true Heaven. I just… really like that.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Yeah, the "thief in the night" thing, immediately followed by mention of mustard seeds, rang lots of biblical bells in my head.

  10. monkeybutter says:

    I actually remember the things that happen in this chapter, but I had completely forgotten that they happened all at once! Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter's final reunion was a lot less hokey than their first one on Svalbard, and I'm thankful for that. Then they were swallowed up by the earth! With Metatron! It's all you could ever ask for. I like that the monkey was with Lord Asriel and Stelmaria leapt with Mrs Coulter. It's a neat parallel to Will and Lyra grabbing each other's daemons without a care because they wanted to get them both free and away from the specters. And I especially liked that Lee met Iorek (bashing skulls again!) and got a glimpse of terrain that reminded him of home before he disintegrated. I'm glad he, John Parry, and the Authority got to move on in peace after this chapter.


    • tigerpetals says:

      Me too.

      I like that this is the one series in which characters Mark hates get swallowed by the earth and he didn't want it to happen- and they were doing it heroically.

    • tigerpetals says:

      Me too.

      I like that this is the one series in which characters Mark hates get swallowed by the earth and he didn't want it to happen- and they were doing it heroically.

      Envying the readiness of your Pottermore account.

      This reply might appear twice, because in editing it it is somehow not fully posted on my screen. Sorry.

    • notemily says:

      I didn't even notice that their daemons were switched, too! Awesome parallel.

  11. barnswallowkate says:

    Mark continues to be a ~true seer~ He got his wish from all the way back in The Golden Compass and Mrs. Coulter got eaten by the earth!

    Lee and Hester atoms together forever <3 <3 <3

  12. SecretGirl127 says:

    I love how much of an afterthought the "death" of God is. Eh, he just disintegrates, now back to the action and people we care about. Wow, no wonder the church has issues with this book.

  13. tigerpetals says:

    What always stuck with me was the Metatron event and the Authority's death.

    I was anticipating this. Mrs. Coulter is such an awesome villain and has my favorite villain redemption of all time. She has all of the traits she used to commit atrocities and this very villainous past enabled her to save all the universes. And she meant it. The saddest thing, that I remembered so clearly was how she said their atoms would never join the universe, would never mingle and become part of life again. So vividly was the value of life depicted, of Dust being part of it after death.

    I had forgotten that Lee's last scene was in the same chapter, but god was it one of the most memorable and weep-worthy things in these books.

  14. arctic_hare says:

    This chapter. :'( :'( :'( Who'd have thought, eh, who'd have thought way back at the beginning of TGC that seeing Mrs. Coulter get swallowed up by the earth would be an occasion of sadness? The last moment she and Asriel have together before the fight with Metatron is so wrenching to me, it's such a bittersweet moment. And now they've both died to protect Lyra, and can't even rejoin the universe as atoms the way others can. 🙁 I think Pullman did a great thing with creating Mrs. Coulter, she's one of the most fascinating characters in this whole trilogy. Like you, I love that she's called "Lyra's mother" at the end. It's a great testament to her journey and the role she's accepted, and what she's doing here: sacrificing herself for her daughter.

    But things keep rolling on, rolling on in the sad train: the deaths of Tialys and Salmakia, Lee and Iorek's brief reunion, Will's touching last words to his father… but yeah. What really got me was that last paragraph about Lee. :'( I won't ever stop missing him either, Mark, we're together in the same boat in this.

  15. muzzery says:

    I love how poetic the Authority's death is. It wouldn't have made any sense to have a huge confrontation with him, given how weak and feeble he had become. Lyra and Will helping the Authority out of his crystal prison felt like a bit of a metaphor for them freeing him from the weak aged form he had been reduced to over the years by helping him into the open air, and it's a lovely little throw back to the chapter where Mrs Coulter talked about killing the Authority actually possibly being a kindness, when here it was the children's kindness which "killed" him. I love the relief on his face as he fades away, that this crippled being is finally being permitted to stop degenerating and join the fabric of the universe along with the other ghosts. And Will's subtle knife DID kill the Authority Mark, if indirectly; it cut into his crystal cell and exposed him to the air.

    There's a lot of meaning in that single section, and I find it surprisingly moving.

  16. pica_scribit says:

    Thoughts while re-reading this chapter:

    1) The earth opens up and eats Lord Asriel, Mrs Coulter and Metatron. Mark is going to be so happy!

    2) The whole fight between the three of them is really *messy* compared to Lyra and Will releasing the Authority. What a weird chapter structure. The big-impact action scene is first, and God's death is a quiet little anti-climax between two actiony-bits, but I love having the conjunction of these two scenes that are so clearly parallel.

    3) Well, Will *technically* uses the Subtle Knife to kill God.

  17. A Comment with No Magic in Its Heart, or: Where's the Downvote Button?

    I hated the anticlimax of the Authority's death, given that the entire series was supposed to be leading to that moment. You make this huge deal about the WAR ON GOD and he just…evaporates? And Lyra and Will don't even know? Gah. I am not a fan of anticlimaxes in general. I vastly prefer climaxes.

    Also, I cannot get excited about Lee Scoresby's atoms joining Hester's. YOU ARE ATOMS. IT DOESN'T MATTER.

    Hey, let's talk about the Hunger Games Sneak Peek instead!

    • eleventysix says:

      So, your first point I have no real words to argue with. Personally, I don't think that the Authority's death is really an anticlimax. I mean, maybe not, in the action-packed sense, but it felt climactic to me; though that's just a personal opinion, so, I can deal.

      My response to your second point is also a personal opinion, but one I feel a bit more strongly about, because it aligns more with actual personal beliefs, so, you know; people get defensive about those. I feel like part of the beauty of Lee reuniting with Hester is precisely that they're just atoms now, and that it doesn't have to matter anymore that they were ever separated, because there's no more "them" after death. Yes, Pullman writes it as the two of them being joined again, but my stubborn mind reads it as them joining everything as non-entities. Insert appropriate "drop of water in the ocean" cliche here. I'm not a believer in anything-after-death (this had led to many wonderful conversations with family…), and part of the horror for me of the world of the dead wasn't just that it was so terrible, but that it existed. The daemons get to dissolve, which seems fair; but the people, whatever is left of them, have to keep going with a memory of what they were and what they can never have again. If that's enough to frustrate Metatron with all of his power and grumpiness, I can only imagine what it does to non-angelic schmoes like the rest of us.
      I guess this is all just a long way of saying I liked that last paragraph not because it was Lee reentering that special bond with Hester in particular, but because he got to join her in being free; yes, he was dead, and yes, there was no more of either of them after their spectacular normal and ghost lives, but being dead meant something more than just not-being alive.
      What can I say? I liked the sense of closure it gave.

    • MichelleZB says:

      It wasn't an anticlimax–it was Pullman's entire point. He was trying to say that God wasn't important–he'd left the fight centuries ago, and whether he lived or died didn't matter. Nobody noticed–not the people fighting "for" him or the people fighting "against" him. They all just kept fighting each other.

      • Harrison says:

        Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself.

      • Okay, I do like that take on it. As a reader, I still don't find it satisfactory as part of the narrative, but the third book is my least favorite largely because the story suffered for the sake of Pullman's "point."

      • notemily says:

        Yeah, I thought the point was that everyone was living based on their IDEA of the Authority controlling everything, but that wasn't actually what was happening at all. People just kept going for millennia, and of course it was their own prejudices and emotions guiding things, not God.

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Yeah, kind of a disappointment. At least I got my abyss-side wrestling match of the CENTURY-URY-URY! And I see there is still a sizable chunk of book left––time enough for the REAL villain to step up, eh? I'm right, right?

      And what was with that trailer!? The logo isn't supposed to be on fire yet!! Where's all the food? Why does the "X-Files" music play at the end? And where's my Woody!? Nice fireballs, though.

    • Rachel says:


      i c wut you did thar

    • summeriris says:

      I think the thing is that that being was not God, he pretended to be but you know all he was, was a fake.

  18. chrisjpardo says:

    My first comment! Firstly I'd just like to say how much I've loved all your reviews of this series Mark; I discovered them through BTTS a month or so ago, and with it being 6 years since the only time I've read these, I decided to start working my way through from the beginning and try and catch up before you're done. And as of today, I've done it! This was my first experience of the chapter-a-day method… and I hate/love it already!

    I don't remember this being all in one long chapter! I swear this is about 3 chapters worth of awesome thrown into one. I love the parallels between Lyra tricking Iofur and Metatron being essentially tricked by "Lyra's Mother". There have been many allusions to the similarities between Lyra and Mrs Coulter (that sounds too formal now she's dead and anti-evil), so this was a nice way to bring that all back into focus.

    Personally my favourite bit of this whole chapter is something that I'm kind of surprised Mark didn't make such a big deal of; when Lyra and Will realise they're holding each other's dæmon. After nearly 3 books of it being made clear that this is huge no-no (to say the least), this is incredibly sweet.

    I think overall (despite the ridiculous amount of deaths), I see this as a massively positive chapter; Lyra's parents get an heroic end (even if they don't really deserve it), the Authority gets set 'free', Metatron is destroyed, Will gets the "well done" from his father that he's always wanted (it was mentioned quite a lot in TSK, and boy has he earned it), more Iorek, Iorek & Lee, Will & Lyra get their dæmons back, and escape to somewhere safe, AND the ghosts get to finally be a peace and be part of the alive world again.

    Oh god though, that last page had tears running down my cheeks. I'm a 26 year old man, who's read these before, but these books…

  19. muzzery says:

    V ybir gung Znex gbbx gvzr va guvf erivrj gb qvfphff gur ynpx bs frk va gurfr obbxf naq ubj gurer zvtug or fbzr yngre. Gehr Frre vaqrrq.

  20. t09yavors says:

    "but as Lyra reached in, too, to help him out, he tried to smile, and to bow, and his ancient eyes…blinked at her with innocent wonder."

    This is one of my favorite parts of this chapter. The Authority recognizes Lyra, or at least recognizes that she is Eve or whatever. And not just that but he respects her, he bows to her, he is honored to meet her. Its a strange reaction to the individual resposible for his loss of power/influence.

    • Raenef says:

      I never really read it as the Authority recognizing WHO she is but WHAT she offers, which is kindness.

      • t09yavors says:

        But Will reached in first and he was still afraid. I don't think Will showed any less kindness than Lyra.

  21. Kateness says:

    News story this morning: they're building airships for the North! Life is imitating Pullman! So where's my daemon?

    • flootzavut says:


      rot-13 for Jasper Fforde spoilers

      V nyjnlf ybirq gung va Guhefqnl Arkg'f jbeyq gur genafcbeg jnf znvayl ol nvefuvc. V rira unq n qernz gung vaibyirq geniryyvat ebhaq gur HX ol nvefuvc… V jnf fnq gb ernyvfr vg jnf n qernz 🙁

  22. Becky_J_ says:

    Since everyone else has discussed the things that I love in this chapter so extensively (Lyra and Will touching each other's daemons, Iorek and Lee, and Hester's atoms oh my god still crying ) I will comment on something that is minor but still leaves me shaking in my boots. By the way, not entirely sure it's actually in this chapter or the last, but it's appropriate either way.

    When Mrs. Coulter thinks about the abyss, she comments that it will be the end for her and Asriel. In my head, I thought, "Duh!!" But then she explains more….. It will be the end for them more than just death. There will be no World of the Dead for them, no rebirth into the worlds, no reunion with their daemons. Ever. They will be lost, in the most complete sense of the word. The abyss is nothingness, a more horrific end than anything I can comprehend.

    That said, Lyra's mother made an even greater sacrifice for her than I had imagined was possible. She sacrificed everything for her. Death seems so impermanent compared to what she and Asriel get.

    But I don't care what she did, I still hate that damn golden monkey

    • Ash says:

      I have an ambivalent feeling here. one time, I think that Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel deserve what they got. Another time i think that even if there crime in the past was really big (Mrs. Coulter causing death of children and Lord Asriel being mean to his daughter. IMO, two of the worst things you can do) they do not deserve such punishment.

    • chrisjpardo says:

      I love that the golden monkey's way of contributing to the fight was, once again, to be a total shit and try and rip the wings off things.

    • Harrison says:

      Yeah. It really is horrible that they ended in nothingness. That is really truly terrifying. And I really like that Pullman made the distinction between that and what everyone else gets, that is, disintegrating into atoms. But it really is a world of difference. When you disintegrate into atoms, you become part of everything. By being nothing, you become everything. But Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel didn't get that. They are part of nothing. That really is horrible.

      • Quandary says:

        I kind of like it, too, but I am not sure -why- it has this peculiarity. Okay, so a superbomb ripped a hole in the very fabric of the worlds… or of the world of the dead [something else not explained to my satisfaction, does it only affect only one world or more/all of them? I suppose I should reread the chapters dealing with it, it might help]… but I would need more information concerning the reason for which everything that flows through it is lost forever. So it's not a doorway between two worlds; it's a doorway between a world… and what? a black hole? Not enough information. :/

        • notemily says:

          It seems like the superbomb broke open the abyss, and caused cracks in ALL worlds that led to the abyss. Yeah, I have trouble with the concept of nothingness going on forever, because WHERE DOES IT GO. My brain cannot compute.

    • notemily says:

      Thinking of what Lyra said earlier about falling down forever until you starve to death and die but then you just KEEP FALLING… yeah. The abyss scares the crap out of me.

  23. Ash says:

    I did not feel bad about Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel dying. No matter how good they turned out at the end, Mrs. Coulter was the reason for so many deaths and Lord Asriel treated his child so badly. To me, what they have done at the end does not make up for what they did before.
    I had no clue that the dying angel was the authority! The cliff-ghast part was so confusing. that is why I waited for Mark to come to this chapter and explain it.

    • Harrison says:

      I think it's funny that everyone only hates Asriel for treating Lyra badly. I'm not denying that he was a crappy father and doesn't deserve animosity for that, but it amuses me that everyone seems to forget about how he also killed Roger at the end of the first book.

  24. flootzavut says:

    "I think he would have lost me if he had written a scene of them actually having sex."

    Yuk. Yeah that would have pressed the weirdness factor WAY too far.

    I think an awful lot of the guilt trip regarding sexuality is imposed. Didn't the Catholic church used to teach that the Holy Spirit left the room during intercourse? I've said it before here, but read the Song of Songs in the Bible and, well, a lot of the assumption that sex is _inherently_ wrong just doesn't tally… And I forget exactly where but in one of the letters to the Corinthians Paul specifically tells married couples NOT to abstain from sexual intercourse for too long…

    Additional: I seem to have mislaid my username here 🙁 not sure how I managed that, means stupid notifications won't work doesn't it 🙁

  25. flootzavut says:

    I also love the tender moment between Asriel and Mrs C!

  26. Eye Zem Grim says:

    On the one hand, it's true (as others have commented) that Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter won't have a chance to join life again. But I get the distinct feeling that they did this consciously, and that they therefore can distinctly be thought of as having sacrificed themselves for the cause in the most meaningful way possible. They're the only two ghosts who will never have the option of passing through the opening that Will & Lyra made in the world of the dead.

    But remember — once they die, and their daemons are gone, they will still be ghosts. Remember a few chapters back, when Mrs. Coulter said that nothing could be worse than oblivion? In a way, she's got her wish. She's going to fall forever, but she'll still have some form of consciousness. And Lord Asriel will be with her. Let it never be said they didn't have a twisted sort of love story. And now they get to be together for eternity, and conscious. It's something.

  27. ChronicReader91 says:

    Even before reading this series, I had heard (mostly from misinformed, frothing-at-the-mouth opposition to the books) that it was about “killing God”, so naturally, I assumed that the death of the Authority would be the book’s climax. So reading it happen so casually was probably one of the biggest “shockers” so far for me. It’s just NOT A BIG DEAL. Besides the title, it has very little to do with the chapter as a whole. The important plot points are Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter defeating Metatron, and Lyra and Will finding their daemons. Oh, yeah, and the death of God gets thrown in there too.
    At first I was thinking “But he can’t be actually dead! Wasn’t Will supposed to kill him with the Subtle Knife?” Then it hit me: He DID. He just didn’t realize it. He used the knife to open the crystal litter, which, thinking about it, must have been what allowed the Authority to reach such an incredibly old age in the first place.
    Just one of the countless times in this series where Pullman hasn’t taken most of my expectations and crushed them under his heel, probably laughing about it too.

  28. @maybegenius says:

    WRECKED. Just wrecked. Every fucking time. This chapter destroys me.

  29. Learn More says:

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