Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 37

In the thirty-seventh chapter of The Amber Spyglass, I should stop predicting anything because everything is wrong and worse than I could have ever imagined, but I should have expected this, but whatever, HOLY ME CLOSER, TINY DANCER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Amber Spyglass.


I was close, but still so far from the mark. As I spend more time thinking about what I just read, it starts to make sense, and I start to appreciate it all, despite how much it hurts. For this is a story about how we must experience life, all it has to offer, all the possibilities of the human condition, and how to shed those things that prevent us from living.

Will and Lyra’s love is more emotional than sexual, though there is a part of it that is the latter, and I believed that chapter thirty-five was the Temptation and the Fall. I believed (mistakenly) that all that was left was some sort of resolution to tie up the loose ends and send our characters off on their way. I wasn’t even close, because now we see what devastating choice Lyra is faced with, and why it will affect all of the worlds, and why she could never know what her “destiny” was.

Lyra’s temptation? To choose a limited life of love with one person, or to sacrifice that in order to save everyone else.

It’s no surprise that this chapter opens with Will and Lyra exploring the physical world around them, almost as if they’ve forgotten their missing dæmons, enamored by their bodies, their hearts, their minds. It’s a constant acknowledgment of the natural world and how humans are connected to it, and I adore that this is how Pullman introduces what comes right after this. Yes, it does make it more difficult to stomach, in a way, but it’s honest. Isn’t that what this trilogy is about? Not lying to ourselves? The quest for truth?

And it’s truth that Will and Lyra find on that beach, at the foot of the sand dunes. Pantalaimon and Kirjava return to their humans, both in the form of birds, Will overjoyed that he can finally see his own dæmon. God, that joy is so short-lived, and it makes the opening of this chapter so much more crushing to me. It’s made worse by the constricting feeling of satisfaction that Will feels when his Kirjava returns to him, one of the few things in his life that he would remember clearly and plainly sixty years later.

But it takes Lyra only a few seconds to realize that while their dæmons are coming back, it’s not for a happy reason. She knows Pan is distressed, and it’s not long before Pan and Kirjava launch into their lengthy story of what they’ve seen and experienced (which thankfully is not summarized a second time for us), desperately trying to get these two to understand that things are not okay. GOD WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO TELL THEM.

When Kirjava brings up Dust and how it was flowing away, I knew that this was inherently a bad thing, and Mary’s chapters with the mulefa showed us this. Dust mustremain in order for life to remain. But Lyra and Will’s awakening stopped this! Well, partially, at least. Right? Right?

“Every time we made an opening,” said Kirjava–and again Will felt that little thrill: She’s me, and I’m her–“every time anyone made an opening between the worlds, us or the old Guild men, anyone, the knife cut into the emptiness outside. The same emptiness is down in the abyss. We never knew. No one knew, because the edge was too fine to see. But it was quite big enough for Dust to leak out of it. If they closed it up again at once, there wasn’t time for much to leak out, but there were thousands that they never closed up. So all this time, Dust has been leaking out of the worlds and into nothingness.”


“Every opening,” Lyra said in a whisper.

“Every single one–they must all be closed?” said Will.

“Every single one,” said Pantalaimon, whispering to Lyra.

“Oh, no,” said Lyra. “No, it can’t be true–”

“And so we must leave our world to stay in Lyra’s,” said Kirjava, “or Pan and Lyra must leave theirs and come stay in ours. There’s no other choice.”

I want to crawl under my desk right now and never leave. I am filled with such an unending sadness, and this is the third time I’ve read this chapter. It gets no easier. It gets no less painful. And worst thing of all? The more I think about it, THE MORE SENSE IT MAKES. The warnings about the subtle knife. The Guild. The careless holes left open. The warnings about dæmons from John Parry. It all fits, as much as I don’t want it to.

And Lyra cried aloud. Pantalaimon’s owl cry the night before had frightened every small creature that heard it, but it was nothing to the passionate wail that Lyra uttered now. The dæmons were shocked, and Will, seeing their reaction, understood why: they didn’t know the rest of the truth; they didn’t know what Will and Lyra themselves had learned.

They had learned to love one another, to love themselves, and to love the world they lived in. And it was all about to be taken away.

I’ve seen a familiar reaction passing through the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom that describes what people have done when they got to certain parts of the various books: they throw the book across the room, hide it under a pillow, ignore it, and do anything they can to distance themselves from it. I got up and walked into the other room, and then walked outside into the courtyard of my building, and I could feel the angry tears just hiding behind my eyelids. This was not what I wanted to read, and this is not what I wanted from the ending. But after a few minutes, I was able to calm down, and I found myself back at my desk, back at the book, and I continued reading. Maybe there was a loophole. Maybe there was an exception. Maybe there was hope.

And that’s exactly what Will and Lyra try to do. Between grief-filled sobs at this epiphany, they try to dissect what John Parry told them, about how a dæmon needs to be in it’s own world in order to survive, that Will’s father lasted only ten years before getting sick. They pose the idea of leaving just one window open instead, but Pantalaimon insists that this is not possible. And I must admit that in any other context, I would have burst out laughing at Kirjava response to Lyra demanding to know how the dæmons came upon this knowledge:

“An angel told us,” said Kirjava.

I mean, we’re at a point in this book where this is not at all a weird thing to say. And Lyra even resist this. How does the angel know? Why can’t they just leave one window open OR just open and close a window every time they want to see one another? That seems like a good compromise to me!

But nope. Because of the Specters.

“Well, we found out where they come from,” said Kirjava. “And this is the worst thing: they’re like the children of the abyss. Every time we open a window with the knife, it makes a Specter. It’s like a little bit of the abyss that floats out and enters the world. That’s why the Cittágazze world was so full of them, because of all the windows they left open there.”

“And they grow by feeding on Dust,” said Pantalaimon. “And on dæmons. Because Dust and dæmons are sort of similar; grown-up dæmons anyway. And the Specters get bigger and stronger as they do…”

Well, that’s it. There’s no way out of this. christ, Specters are ABYSS BABIES. Oh my god, thinking about Cittágazze and the edges of the window, and Iorek’s words about the knife’s intentions…it makes so much sense, and yet I dearly wish it wasn’t true. Because thus begins one of the most depressing, dejecting, and harrowed reading experiences for the entire trilogy, right up there with leaving Pan behind on the shore, right up there with reading Lee Scoresby’s death. It is so touching and painful to read Lyra offering to come to Will’s world, knowing he just found his dæmon, knowing he must find his mother, knowing that whomever chooses to come to the other world will only last a decade before passing away. The thing that I like about this–and why it doesn’t seem forced or unnatural–is that it gives us an example of that pure love that isn’t jaded or cynical that we might feel when we were younger. I hate using the world “childish” because of the negative connotations, but I like the idea that this is the purest, most irrational form of an emotional connection, one that allows a person to insist that surviving just a decade more in order to be with the one you love is totally reasonable.

Will is quick to rebut that, though:

“Ten years…That’s nothing. It’d pass in a flash. We’d be in our twenties. It’s not that far ahead. Think of that, Lyra, you and me grown up, just preparing to do all the things we want to do–and then…it all comes to an end. Do you think I could bear to live on after you died? Oh, Lyra, I’d follow you down to the world of the dead without thinking twice about it, just like you followed Roger; and that would be two lives gone for nothing, my life wasted like yours. No, we should spend our whole lifetimes together, good, long, busy lives, and if we can’t spend them together, we…we’ll have to spend them apart.”

Oh, no, I’m definitely not crying at all. No, my eyes are red because it’s windy, and there’s a lot of dust around, and I was just like…blinking a lot, so no, I am totally not crying at all. No tears. NO MORE TEARS.

But do you see the message coded right into this? We must live full lifetimes in the way that gives us the fullest experience. Will gets this right off the bat: what’s the point of enjoying ten years if the rest of your life is miserable and wasted? Yes, this is also a plot point referring to John Parry’s words when they first left the land of the dead, but I get the sense that Pullman wants his readers to take away this idea, that life is ours and ours alone to live, and we should do what we need to in order to enjoy and appreciate that.

Simultaneous to this, chapter thirty-seven deals heavily with children growing up, and the first sign of that comes with the heart-wrenching realization that Lyra can no longer read the alethiometer. With the change that came over her when she discovered the emotional and physical joy of her own body, she lost that natural, intuitive state that allowed her to slip into reading the alethiometer. I didn’t understand it at first, but it took a moment of thought to realize that it’s a way of showing how some things disappear with childhood, and are replaced by others. (At least, that’s how I interpret it.) It is something to be distraught over, though, so I understand why Lyra is so upset about this fact. When Xaphania shows up just minutes after this, it is explained much better.

“You can read it by grace,” said Xaphania, looking at her, “and you can regain it by work.”

“How long will that take?”

“A lifetime.”

“That long…”

“But your reading will be even better then, after a lifetime of thought and effort, because it will come from conscious understanding. Grace attained like that is deeper and fuller than grace that comes freely, and furthermore, once you’ve gained it, it will never leave you.”

Okay, so it is spelled out a bit, but it’s there. The whole stress of this trilogy is on conscious understanding, on the idea that this sort of knowledge is the most important thing in our lives. For the characters in this series, it’s a summary of the experience of fighting against the Authority, who fought to extinguish this very thing. Conscious knowledge and understanding is at odds with some forms of thought who don’t want others to know things about our world and our lives and our bodies. Obviously, from the things that I wrote about during this series, I have an intimate experience with having a group of religious authority figures work their hardest to get me not experience life as I wanted to. I know I say it often, but it bears repeating that this is obviously what my life was like and not yours, but I always want to make sure people understand why I feel so strongly about all of this.

The presence of Xaphania, by the way, certainly helps Pullman to explain a lot of this idea, and it is one of those more expository bits of dialogue, but I’m okay with it because it’s coming from a goddamn angel. What better being could there be to be all explain-y about this all? Dust, as the angel explains, only exists around consciousness, around beings who understand the world they live in and continue to do so in order to create more of it. By assuring that the worlds they live in continue to upkeep this (through the concept of the Republic of Heaven), there could be enough Dust created to leave just one window open.

While I initially believed that this was the loophole that I wanted for Will and Lyra, Lyra is the first to realize that they must sacrifice their own happiness again in order to leave one window open: the window that is allowing the dead to leave their world to become part of the universe. THEY WERE SO CLOSE. One window, and they chose to give that window to everyone in all of eternity for all time instead of taking it for themselves.

No, seriously, Lyra and Will are incredible people, and it hurts even more to read of Will’s endless anguish at realizing he was going to be alone again. Oh, could there be a passage that hits closer to home for me than this? The idea of feeling cosmically alone, the rage at knowing that you might have to have this your whole life…I would really be repeating myself at this point. You all know this already!

But even amidst all of this, I’m happy that Will and Lyra are still looking towards the future, ready to accept the uncomfortable reality of their lives in order to do best for the greater good. Like the same final moment with his father, Will rejects the notion of a destiny. He doesn’t want to know what he has to do to build the Republic of Heaven because then:

“…I’ll be resentful because it’ll feel as if I didn’t have a choice, and if I don’t do it, I’ll feel guilty because I should. Whatever I do, I will choose it, no one else.”

I love this blatant rejection of deterministic futures. I love the poetic parallel to Will’s father. And I love that this is a message in the book, that our lives are whatever we make it, not what we are told they are.

I think that I also enjoy how much I feel for these two, despite that I have absolutely no frame of reference for it. Unlike a good 90% of this series, I have no personal stories to relate to this idea of young love. I SWEAR THAT I AM NOT TURNING THIS INTO ANOTHER SOBFEST OF MINE. What I’m trying to say is that despite all of this, I still get that this is a story that represents that sort of pure love that lacks the cynicism that might come with the love between adults. It feels real to me, and it feels genuine, and from what I know of the idea, most of my friends and my own twin brother describe this in the same way. They’re but twelve years old, sure. I get that this might be weird for some folks, but I like the larger idea that there’s this collision between emotional love and physical realization of one’s own body, and at the very least, I know that it was around this age that I started to come to some of the same thoughts.

At the same time, Pullman presents these two in such a ridiculously cute manner that I don’t think this is all terribly sexual, even though there is kissing, hand holding, and other bits of physical affection. You can see this in the way they tease each other about the first time they met, arguing about who liked who first, and what that experience was like. It’s in these moments that something I’ve been waiting for the entire series happens: Lyra’s dæmon settles.

Pantalaimon was now an animal whose name he couldn’t quite find: like a large and powerful ferret, red-gold in color, lithe and sinuous and full of grace.


“A marten,” he said, finding the name for Pantalaimon, “a pine martin.”

“Pan,” Lyra said as he flowed up onto her lap, “you’re not going to change a lot anymore, are you?”

“No,” he said.”

“It’s funny,” she said, “you remember when we were younger and I didn’t want you to stop changing at all…Well, I wouldn’t mind so much now. Not if you stay like this.”


But Pullman doesn’t stop slaying us with the bittersweet joy of this moment:

Will put his hand on hers. A new mood had taken hold of him, and he felt resolute and peaceful. Knowing exactly what he was doing and exactly what it would mean, he moved his hand from Lyra’s wrist and stroked the red-gold fur of her dæmon.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM FEELING SO MANY THINGS RIGHT NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!

With a racing heart she responded in the same way: she put her hand on the silky warmth of Will’s dæmon, and as her fingers tightened in the fur, she knew that Will was feeling exactly what she was.

And she knew, too, that neither dæmon would change now, having felt a lover’s hands on them. These were their shapes for life: they would want no other.

So, wondering whether any lovers before them had made this blissful discovery, they lay together as the earth turned slowly and the moon and stars blazed above them.

This all has to come to an end. I wish it didn’t have to.


New banner this week, and make sure to check the full image that it is cropped from. Additionally, this week’s final spoiler discussion thread on BridgeToTheStars is up.

Even better, BTTS is running a new contest for September: Ask Philip Pullman a question! Make sure to check it out.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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179 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 37

    • @thelxiepia says:

      And the image reads: "My soul, do not seek eternal life, but exhaust the realm of the possible. Pindar."

    • chrisjpardo says:

      I read this as linking heavily with what Xaphania says to Will about closing all the windows, so he won't waste his whole life looking for one. Basically, 'don't spend your life trying to do something that's impossible; do every possible thing instead'. Indeed.

      • Tilja says:

        But at the same time, there's this other saying: 'As I didn't know it was impossible, I did it.' It means that nothing's impossible unless you believe it is. Your mind creates your own barriers, not the world.

        I take Xaphania's words a little differently, it means you can do great things with your life, for you and for others, it's your choice. You can also waste it for just one thing that won't last, and you know it because you've seen it. It's your choice as well, nobody can prevent it. Everything's in your hands.

        • nanceoir says:

          I think it's kind of like the Mirror of Erised. Basically, you can spend your whole life searching for windows/sitting in front of the Mirror, or you can live your life by doing stuff. Also, just like sitting in front of the Mirror gives you neither knowledge nor truth (therefore, creates no Dust), searching for open windows isn't a good and Dust-productive thing to do.

  1. knut_knut says:

    isn't the way th ghosts get out of the land of the dead through an opening Will cut? Does he have to close that one too? And if they leave that one open, can't they just leave 1 window open between Will and Lyra's world? No?? 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

    Pan as a pine marten is PERFECT! Now I wish I could have a pine marten daemon. Or just a pine marten. Maybe even just a ferret?
    BUT SERIOUSLY, WHY DON'T WE HAVE DAEMONS??!! 🙁 Worst universe ever.

    • Jenny_M says:

      Your first paragraph was addressed in the chapter – Xaphania says that the only window that may remain open is the window from the world of the dead, because human knowledge and consciousness will create just enough dust to leave it as such. Will and Lyra make the choice to leave that window open as opposed to one for their own personal use.

      • knut_knut says:

        I just went back and reread that bit *facepalm* Way to pay attention, me. That was a big chunk of text too! Maybe I blocked it out of my mind so that I could force a loophole… I don’t want them to be apart! /selfish

      • Meg says:

        seems kind of conveniently tragic that one window's worth of dust is okay but two is JUST TOO MANY, doesn't it? maybe humans should work on being smarter and more conscious so they can make more dust so poor lyra and will can get their damn window.

        • cait0716 says:

          I was thinking that, too. How much Dust could possibly leak out of one window that doubling that amount for a single human lifetime would cause the world to end. There have been thousands of windows for hundreds of years. What's another few decades, in the grand scheme of things?

        • monkeybutter says:

          lol I had that thought the first time I read, too. And wouldn't Lyra and Will being together produce a lot of dust?

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          I think that maybe it's not actually that having only two windows would allow too much Dust-loss, but rather that Xaphania knows that for humans it would be easy to justify the creation of another window on the basis of the continued existence of one window, and then the creation of another window on the basis of the others existing, etc.

          I think it wasn't so much a matter of Xapahania's words being literally true as it was a matter of "give them an inch and they'll take an ell."

  2. chrisjpardo says:

    I still disagree with your interpretation of Lyra’s temptation; I still think it was the temptation of Mary’s marzipan story (otherwise the ‘serpent’ bit doesn’t really work) that lead to Lyra being awakened to adulthood and knowledge and awareness and all that. But I hadn’t really considered your idea before, so it’s certainly an interesting one. Anyway…


    To paraphrase, "My heart, Mark…"

    Oh dear god, this is just too much. Note to people reading this for the first time: this does not get any easier second time round. In fact you know it’s coming; ever since the retiring room in Jordan College, it’s been creeping closer and closer. And like Will and Lyra here, you can try and ignore it and not look straight at it, but it’s still coming bit by bit…

    I’m going to save most of my comments until tomorrow, as I don’t think it’s fair to split these last few chapters up. I’ll also avoid pretty much quoting every line, which is my want.

    But there are still little bits to love in the writing and narrative, as with every chapter in these books. The whole final discussion between just Will and Lyra is heartbreaking, but I did smile at Will gently mocking Lyra when they’re ‘arguing’ about who liked/attacked who first. I also love:

    The description of the physicality of Lyra quietly sobbing immediately after is just an amazing bit of writing. I can picture this; I can feel it.

    Will watching Lyra using the alethiometer, and feeling like he could fall in love with her again “if love didn't already possess every fiber of his being”. There is still some wonderful romance in this chapter. Be still my heart.

    Will’s anger at realising he was going to be alone again is just… urgh. There are not enough words.

    I’m just waiting for the inevitable ‘OMG daemon-touching = sex’ discussions. In my opinion, this is clearly an incredibly intimate act, possibly even more so than sex, but I don’t believe it’s a metaphor; I think it’s exactly what it says it is. And in this sense, I interpret “lover” as simply meaning “a person who loves”, nothing more. That is all. More tomorrow.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I actually like that quite a few events could be the temptation for these characters. Looking back, I can't really disagree with your opinion. But I like the idea that the Temptation is Mary setting them up to fall in love with "Marzipan" and then having to choose which world to live in.


      • chrisjpardo says:

        My brain/heart hurts.

        But YES, everything since Authority's End has been a fluid, connected story, so I like this idea too. Both of our opinions can peacefully co-exist is this one combined idea.

      • muzzery says:

        And don't you just love that these books are getting you to do exactly what the characters are encouraged to do? THINK.

    • Tilja says:

      I agree with all. I'm especially Not on the side of 'sex' interpretation, although I can see it as well. The reason is their age and uncertainty of their own bodies; they're still discovering themselves and the other for it to go straight to penetration. If you go with sexual connotations in every aspect of the daemon- touching theme, then it goes on to say that Lyra was raped more than once and then because of it she had sex. Interpret daemon-touching in one single way, make that interpretation for every instance of it. I like your better interpretation of intimate act but not solely sexual act. After all, love doesn't come in one single shape and shade.

      • Meg says:

        who said anything about penetration? there are plenty of ways to have sex without it.

      • manybellsdown says:

        I thought it was much simpler than that. Daemons are part of your soul. Love touches your soul and changes it forever.

      • erin says:

        Actually, Pullman himself never decided whether Lyra and Will had "for realzies" sex or not. Check it out:

        Interviewer: "…I read a review that protested that they consummate their relationship and I thought, ‘I must have missed that.’"

        Pullman: "I don’t know what they did. I wrote about the kiss – that’s what I knew happened. I don’t know what else they did. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. I think they were rather young to, but still…"

        • notemily says:

          I like that part of Pullman's writing philosophy is that he doesn't even know everything about his own books.

        • Tilja says:

          Yes, I remember that. It was clever of Pullman and very good for letting the reader decide. I still prefer to think of them as still children enjoying the more spiritual part of their love rather than burning stages like thoughtless teenagers do nowadays. Every part of life has its own time to mature, and the one where you prepare your body for the future inclusion of a new life holds a deep meaning to me (and I believe to them as well), so I'll believe they're healthy pre pubescent children sharing an experience.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Well, since you brought it up today, I don't think daemon-touching = sex, but like Meg, I think the way it's described both here and when Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel's daemons are clutching and caressing each other at Svalbard is undeniably sensual (and somewhat odd.) I don't think Lyra and Will had sex, but I think Pullman deliberately described the petting with a sexual connotation. But hey, different people will read different things into it.

      • chrisjpardo says:

        Haha, I've managed to bring up the discussion that I wanted to avoid really. My bad…

        I agree that it certainly has connotations, but I also don't feel that that's bad. I just think it's an extremely intimate (and yes, clearly physical) moment, but it's intimate because of the context it's done in and what Lyra and Will mean to each other.

    • ladykjane says:

      Q: Note to people reading this for the first time: this does not get any easier second time round.

      It never gets any easier, on the fifth or sixth or twentieth. It hurts every time, forever.

    • Vikinhaw says:

      I've always thought that daemon-touching was a both an emotionally intimate and sexual thing. Alot of this series is about the importance of the physical so I don't think it can be excluded. Maybe cause I'm a girl who likes girls but I always seen sex as less of a definitive act but there being, I can't quite think of the word, 'degrees' of sex. I don't they had (if you'll excuse the explicitness) penetrative sex but a kiss is a sexual thing and it's an age appropriate sexual and emotion thing.

    • Rainicorn says:

      "this does not get any easier second time round" – nor the third, fourth, sixteenth… I've read the trilogy at least fifteen times, and even reading Mark's summary of this chapter made me cry. This book is like Bridge to Terabithia or Grave of the Fireflies – I literally cannot think about it for more than twenty seconds without starting to well up. ALL THE SOBS FOREVER.

      • chrisjpardo says:

        It's really good to know that there are plenty of people on here who feel the same way as me! Most seem to be return-readers too.

  3. Jenny_M says:

    This chapter is maybe the most difficult one in all three books. I cried when I first read it simply because of how unfair it seemed. It still seems that way, but I can accept it now.

    Also, there's some great Pullman quote about how a lot of Christian denominations put this focus on being "innocent like a child" and that a state of childlike naivete is the best way to be. I remember being told the story of Jesus spending time with the children and having to memorize verses about that over and over and over and over again. It always annoyed me because, well, I didn't want to be like a child. (Unless it was Peter Pan, but that's a whole other thing.)

    Anyway, Pullman continues in saying that, to him, and hopefully to a lot of people, it's actually through knowledge that one can achieve true grace and fulfillment. I think that's all spelled out very nicely with Lyra and the alethiometer in this chapter.

    • Yeah. I really like that idea a lot. Being a child is great and all, but eventually you have to grow up. And that is in no way a bad thing. Loss of innocence means a gain in understanding. And sometimes it hurts, (in the case of Will and Lyra especially) but it is ultimately positive.

  4. cait0716 says:

    Mark. Mark. Mark.

    Remember this?

    There was definitely a squee or two when you posted that on tumblr

    I'm one of those people for whom it will always be weird that Lyra and Will are twelve. That simply feels too young for this sort of experience (and before you try, you probably aren't going to convince me otherwise. They are children)

    Several weeks ago, someone asked if people were satisfied/happy with the ending of the book and I was one of the few who replied no, but it's not because of the separation of Will and Lyra. It's because I can't wrap my head around their love. Pullman represents it as true love and I just can't accept that two people who are so young and have known each other for such a short time have fallen so deeply in love that they'll be in love forever. When Pullman starts talking about Will 60 years from now still remembering the touch of Lyra's lips and the way she fed fruit to him, I just can't accept it. They both still have a lot of growing up to do and the odds that they'll grow together, especially living in separate universes, isn't high. I really do think that a huge part of being in love is growing together. So maybe they have these happy memories of each other. But I would rather they move on and fall in love with other people than spend a lifetime waiting to be reunited in the land of the dead.

    I also just hate that Lyra loses that ability to read the alethiometer. Especially since Will doesn't use the ability to open and close windows.

    At any rate, as much as I love Dr. Malone and the mulefa, as interesting as Pullman's thoughts on religion and innocence and wisdom are, the first book will always be my favorite.

    • MRB says:

      Wait. Wait. WAIT A MINUTE.

      Mark and Lyra have THE SAME DAEMON?

      And I was doing so well. *crieeeeees*

    • knut_knut says:

      I try to take Will and Lyra’s love with a grain of salt. I don’t doubt that Will will remember his first kiss with Lyra, but I tend to look at their relationship as any dramatic pre-teen romance. I wasn’t in a relationship when I was 13, but I remember my friends and classmates having some pretty ridiculous and dramatic ones, where they were truly in love and meant to be together forever. At the time, I don’t think anyone thought they were ridiculous, but as an adult looking back, they were definitely over the top. I want Will and Lyra to stay together because I don’t want them to be even more lonely than they were before (I guess for Lyra that was never a problem but I can’t imagine everything going back to the way it was before).

      • cait0716 says:

        I like this interpretation. Maybe I've just become a tad too jaded and cynical (though I do adore The Princess Bride and Stardust). Thinking back on my first love (who was actually the guy that convinced me to read these books) and how quickly and horribly that relationship went south, it becomes a bit harder to buy the young love is everlasting love that gets presented here. Then again, maybe the timing of all that drama just soured me on this story in particular.

        • Meg says:

          if you're jaded and cynical, of course you love the princess bride. it's a satire of storybook romantic love. i love it too, both book and movie.

        • hpfish13 says:

          I tend to be a little unsure of the young love aspect as well. It's one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet. People interpret Romeo and Juliet to be this epic romance, but it's really just two young teenagers getting overly dramatic (I much prefer the romance in HDM to Romeo & Juliet though).

          • cait0716 says:

            At least Shakespeare knew that Romeo and Juliet were just over-dramatic teenagers, though.

          • knut_knut says:

            I do not understand how Romeo and Juliet or Wuthering Heights or even Jane Eyre are ~great romances~ . I like them all as stories, but I don't want my love life to be like that!

            • monkeybutter says:

              Add The Sorrows of Young Werther to the list! Except I hate it as a story, too.

              That's why I appreciate Kirjava as a nightingale saying "it's too soon!" in the last chapter. It creates a contrast to Romeo and Juliet, as Will and Lyra aren't sacrificing their lives for love. They actually say how ridiculous it would be to do that in this chapter! It's nice to see.

        • knut_knut says:

          I don't have a problem with love, but I've never been big on romance- it tends to freak me out a bit :/ Can't I be in love and not want to spend every waking minute with you professing my feelings, caressing your hair etc etc?

      • Meg says:

        i don't think that's a fair comparison at all. presumably your friends and classmates did not go through what will and lyra did, or carry the vast amount of responsibility they did. young teenagers, and kids even younger, often play at love because they are testing the waters of adulthood. but it's clear that the adults in this story take lyra and will seriously, so i think it makes sense that as readers we do the same.

        • notemily says:

          Yeah, I get the feeling that because Lyra and Will have been through SO MUCH together, not just going to school together or whatever, their love is stronger than the vast majority of affection between pre-teens. Considering that these books have taken, what, less than a year to happen, I think they've earned some growing-up-in-a-short-time.

        • knut_knut says:

          I definitely don’t think that Will and Lyra have the exact same relationship your average 13 year old has, but I think it’s a bit dramatic of them to say they’ll never love again and can’t wait until they’re reunited when they’re dead. Assuming they die in their 80s, are they seriously going to spend the next 70 years pining for each other? Doesn’t that go against the whole living a full life thing? I think they’ll always love each other in a way, considering what they went through, and even when they’re 60 they’ll probably wonder what life could have been like with each other, but I also think they’ll love again and will be able to live full, happy lives without each other.

          • Jenny_M says:

            It's sort of like how in Titanic, Rose married another dude, but in her heart she always LOVED JACK THE MOST BEST. Because her heart will go on, y'all. Her heart? It will go on.

            (Wow, I have got to learn to keep my inner thirteen-year-old fanfic writer at bay.)

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        I agree. I totally remember my first kiss even if I wasn't in love and this person didn't ~understand my soul~ so I have to think Will would remember it. And I think their relationship is a great first love. I'm not sure their love would last forever. While my personality is still definitely me, I've changed a lot in the past 5 years. I wouldn't want to devote myself to one person for the rest of my life at the age of 12. Yes, they have so much in common, but that doesn't necessarily mean their ~soul mates~ (a concept I don't necessarily buy into). But I think their friendship is beautiful and that they were meant for each other as best friends and living in a separate state as your BFF is hard enough, the thought of being forced to live in separate universes where you could only "imagine" each other is devastating.

        So summary: Will and Lyra as soul mates, not so much; Will and Lyra as BFFs, <3 and it breaks my heart even more than their love

      • hazelwillow says:

        Well, it is what it is, but I wouldn't dismiss it based on their middle-school age. Lyra and Will did share the experience of, you know, abandoning their own souls, and of being almost the only living people in A WHOLE WORLD. I think that's got to bring two people closer.

      • flootzavut says:

        You know, I've been reading "Mark Loves Twilight" and I guess this is a direct comparison between the two books. Lyra and Will think this is TRUE LOVE and will last forever, but have the sense to realise that one or other of them sacrificing themselves to keep it is not the brightest notion.

        Bella, on the other hand, despite being half a decade older, STILL has the ridiculous childish notion of Edward is my One True Love and Soulmate Forever, and both Edward and Bella are exceedingly overdramatic and stupid whenever they think that that could be remotely threatened.

        I like your interpretation of it… I don't know if it is what Pullman had in mind, but your version of it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

    • Meg says:

      plenty of people have friends for life. i don't see why this would be any different. they're like the best of friends who traveled to the world of the dead and back and who happen to love each other. i agree that growing together is a hugely rewarding experience that they ought to have, but i also think a major point of these books is that we shouldn't underestimate kids (or young teenagers, as the case may be) and their capacity for intelligence and emotion.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I should have read your comment first. 🙂 I agree with all of it, but especially this: "I really do think that a huge part of being in love is growing together." If they can't live in the same world, I'd like them to grow up and live their lives to the fullest in their own worlds. Sure, their personalities will be similar to the way they were as kids, but they won't be the same people, and it seems wrong to hang onto memories and deny themselves the even the possibility of loving another person.

      I want to read it the way knut_knut does, with a grain of salt, but that doesn't seem to be the way Pullman intends it. My criticism is for him, not for Will and Lyra's feelings, which are perfectly okay for them to take seriously. I just have a harder time doing that.

      • cait0716 says:

        I'm really glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. 🙂

      • knut_knut says:

        bahaha I think my interpretation may be a bit delusional, but it makes me feel better about the way Pullman wrote their love. We all knew they were in love, I don't think he needed to add the parts about them wanting to caress each other and be together forever no matter what. It got creepy.

      • hassibah says:

        I do not get Pullman's ideas about romance. Straight romance, at least.

        But now I don't feel as bad that the part where they grope each other's daemons made me laugh pretty hard.

        • cait0716 says:

          Well, Baruch and Balthamos were pretty over the top, too. But I think the fact that they were angels made it work better.

          • hassibah says:

            Okay, yeah, they were. But I dunno, as these great mythical beings that had lived for a minimum of thousands of years I could buy into their drama a lot more easily. With humans it just doesn't work for me.

    • barnswallowkate says:

      Yesssssss I have been waiting for this chapter since Mark posted that! Finally! Mark + Pan 4EVA.

      I mostly agree with you about Will & Lyra's love story. This time around I just pretended that their experiences added some years to their emotional/internal age, so they're really like 15-16, and that I can get behind.

      • cait0716 says:

        I should try mentally aging them a bit. When I read this chapter, I had a voice in the back of my head screaming "they're TWELVE!".

        • barnswallowkate says:

          Right?? 12 year olds probably believe they'll love Justin Bieber with every molecule of their beings for the rest of their lives. Doesn't mean it's true!

      • flootzavut says:

        I think in my head I conveniently forget they are only 12! I do find it moving… I do find the idea that they will always "be in true love" doesn't sit right. But I have no doubt that they do love each other as much as they can at that age, and that what "could have been" is something worthy to be grieved. They have so many experiences in common and it would be so very hard to leave the one person who really understood what you have been through. Call it true love or true friendship or whatever, that is gonna hurt.

    • Vikinhaw says:

      I agree, I don't that they can possibly be 'in love forever'. While I think that they definitely loved each other, I hate the idea that it's true love and they'll always be in love forever. They're 12/13. There's a physical aspect to emotional maturity (your brain grows too is what I mean) that can't be substituted for experience. As well as that they'll grow up and experience new things and change and be different people. I honestly hate the idea of 'one true love'. What does the true part even mean? Like all other loves you have had or could or will have are somehow lesser? I don't think it would diminish the importance of Lyra and Will's 'knowing' of one another that they will love other people.

    • flootzavut says:

      The first book is my favourite too.

      Regarding Lyra and Will, I always felt it more as the loss of "what might have been" – I agree, there's only so deeply any two twelve year olds can feel "true love"… these two have been through a lot and they will have more maturity and more understanding of it than the average 12 year old but still. Their nascent sexuality and attraction is moving and beautiful and I love how they love each other, and how much I personally feel in my guts that they will miss each other, but they are just twelve! To me it feels more like losing a best friend and the possibility of what might have been had they had the chance to grow up together.

      • chrisjpardo says:

        I agree with all these kinds of comments; I think it's a middle ground that most of us can agree on:

        Whether or not you believe they really can feel full love (and I'm in no position to judge), the tragedy and sadness of it all is them not getting the chance to find out as they grow up. It might have worked out, it might not.

        And they're also losing a best friend, the only person who's experienced these same things.

        • flootzavut says:

          "the tragedy and sadness of it all is them not getting the chance to find out as they grow up."

          Yes… yes, exactly.

          And losing any friend can be painful… losing a best friend is awful… losing the one person with whom you have shared these incredibly intense experiences? So painful.

  5. Julezyme says:

    Should not read this in the cafeteria at work. Why is that lady crying over a mango chicken wrap, think coworkers?

    “I remember the time you told me/ Love is touching souls/ Surely you touched mine …”

    I think you can be in love at 12 or 13. Sure, you don’t have much to compare it to; but that’s why it can be so pure, so powerful. Undoubtedly Lyra and Will will both love again – but they will always be part of each other, part of the Will and Lyra who live and are loved as adults, in more complex ways.

    Ok, have to stop now before I leak tears and snot all over the table. Damn that spicy chutney, making my eyes and nose water!

  6. FlameRaven says:

    I was always curious about the symbolism of Lyra and Will's settled daemons, so I looked it up. The HDM wiki lists it as this:

    Pine Marten – grace and empathy (Celtic mythology)
    Cat – guardian and protector

    Quite honestly I couldn't think of anything more perfect for either of them. 🙂

    • Didgy says:

      I'm glad that Pullman didn't make their daemons the same animal. I was worried he might, which would have made it WAY too cheesy. Plus,this way, we can see that its not just a case of their love becoming their single dominant personality trait. Put it this way: if for some reason Pullman went on holiday and for some bizarre reason decided to let SMeyer choose their daemons, what do you think she would have done? Aside from making them sparkle?

      • FlameRaven says:

        I've read these books too many times for me to accurately remember what my original guesses on Pan's settled form were, but I do remember feeling like their forms were both somewhat obvious choices and very perfect for the personalities of each character. A pine marten seemed like the obvious extension of Pan's favor for ermine/weasel forms, but with the added symbolism above that fits so well with Lyra's character. For Kirjava to be a cat also seems obvious, since Will has had an affinity for cats through both books, but then again, his nature is very much in line with cats, so it makes sense. I hope that's coherent.

        Anyway, I can't say I was ever worried their daemons would end up being the same. After all, Will and Lyra are not really similar personalities; it's actually their differences that bring them together.

      • notemily says:

        Their daemons would both be wolf shape shifters which would then imprint on their twin babies.

  7. Kira Wonrey says:

    Oh, my heart. I've read this book five times before and I'm crying just reading this review…

  8. monkeybutter says:

    This chapter always makes me sad. I know everything has been leading up to this point, but I hate that Will and Lyra have to separate. They've been through a lot in the past month, and no one else could really conceive of the trials they've survived, so it seems terrible to separate them. I think it's pretty sweet that they've left lifelong impressions on one another via their daemons (though the thrill they get from petting? Jeez, Pullman. COME ON NOW.)

    I should probably preface this by saying that I am terrible, jaded, cynical person, but I hate the way Pullman writes romance. It always strikes me as over the top, so even though I feel awful for Lyra and Will, I'm distracted by how much they don't sound like 12-year-olds in their lamentations and confessions. In particular, Will's waves of anguish are purple as hell. Their words are almost parodic of the "omg, the world is ending" view on romance that kids their age have, except it's meant in earnest. I just don't know what to do with that. I wish that the writing was dialed back a bit so as to be believable coming from 12-year-olds. I'm sorry, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I needed to get this off of my chest. I am one of those people who thinks it's weird for middle-school-aged kids to state the eternal love for one another.

    On a lighter note, I was so excited when you decided your daemon was a pine marten. I think that was your best bit of Trelawneying ever! Also, in regards to yesterdays sorting, Pan's final form is a good argument for Lyra being a Hufflepuff!

  9. Mel says:

    I prefer happy endings, and with this chapter Pullman made sure I'd never want to read the books again. And I still haven't.

    Thank you J.K. Rowling for giving Harry, Ron and Hermione a far better (and happier) good bye.

  10. Maya says:

    Seriously, when I read this at 13, I was sobbing my eyes out. For a long, long time if I needed a good cry, I could turn back to this chapter. Phillip Pullman can be a real dick about the happy endings (Fred Garland anyone????? Seriously, I may mourn him more than any other character ever).

  11. Leo says:

    FINALLY you know that you picked the same daemon as what Pan settled as! You mentioned this at LeakyCon and I have been BITING MY TONGUE ever since.

    I have many more feelings to discuss but it’s late o’clock here, so… Not now.

  12. Adelaide says:

    I cry every time. Sorry, but it doesn't get easier with re-reading. (It gets better, though. I happen to like sad endings just as much as happy ones. I don't think this chapter is tragic, more bittersweet? Because there are loads of happy bits too, and the selflesness of everything.)

  13. barnswallowkate says:

    Hmm what's this? A void between worlds and Dust that you can see with special lenses? Two people in love going to be separated forever in different universes?

    <IMG alt="Ten/Rose Doomsday" src="; border=0>


    It almost sounds like Will and Lyra will have to create new religions in their worlds to get people to think and live and create Dust and have stories for the harpies. Or maybe Will changed his name to Phillip Pullman and wrote a "fantasy" trilogy to tell us what happened?

    • arctic_hare says:

      haha, yeah, I wasn't going to talk about this, but I do think RTD "borrowed" that from HDM. I do think it's got nothing on the genuine article, though, mainly because this is a conscious choice that both Lyra and Will are making, for the good of all the worlds. It always bugged me that Ten was originally going to just seal Rose off in Pete's World without even really discussing it with her or giving her an option; here, both parties have agency and make the decision together.

    • t09yavors says:

      Beat me to it 😛

      Philip Pullman: "I knew that Russell T. Davies had ‘borrowed’ the ending of one of his Doctor Who serials from ‘The Amber Spyglass’, because he’s said so."

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Ha,ha,ha. So I can assume that someone clones Will from his chopped-off fingers, creating a perfect double that Lyra can stay with! 😉

    • I can't name a major fantasy franchise RTD hasn't stolen directly and obviously from, TBH.

  14. pennylane27 says:


    i'll go read the review now and cry.

  15. t09yavors says:

    …because it’s coming from a goddamn angel

    This is one of the best sections in the history of ever because it is so delightful to read AND it is absolutely literal!

  16. arctic_hare says:

    I'm not crying either, Mark. I didn't cry at all when Lyra heard from Pan and Kirjava and realized what they had to do, or when she found she could no longer read the alethiometer. Certainly didn't cry when Will was thinking about how he'd been alone all his life, and was now going to be alone again because this was being ripped from him. Nope. No tears.

    (I'm lying, of course.)

    Also, I remember you posting on Tumblr that a "what is your daemon?" test told you that yours would be a marten, and I laughed so hard and have been eagerly waiting for you to get to this, moreso over the past few days.

  17. There are so many tears happening on my face right now. SO MANY TEARS.


  18. pennylane27 says:

    I wasn't crying either when I read this the first time, at the beach, surrounded by my family and my cousins' boyfriends and my best friend. I definitely didn't want to curl into a ball on my beach towel and stay there forever. I most certainly did not fail to hold back the tears blurring my sight, those pages do not have tear marks, what are you talking about?

    Anyway, I have come to realise that there were a lot of things that kind of went over my head first time around, I was in such a frenzy to finish, but reading the reviews and the comments I feel I understand a lot of things better, and appreciate the books much more.

    And I can't believe you're almost finished! When are you starting The Hobbit? I seem to remember you were going to read something before that…. I am way too excited for you to discover Tolkien's genius work!

  19. BradSmith5 says:

    Well, I'm not disappointed by this chapter at all. I was impressed by how the different plot elements––the doors, the specters, the characters and their emotions––all came together to form a tense ending that kept me guessing the whole time. Perfect. Amazing.

    Now, I don't buy into the whole 'true love' thing, but I still think Lyra and Will's separation is tragic; their relationship is ending, just as they've begun to open up to each other. I mean, they even joked around about their first fight! Did you see that? That bit of humor is what got me. At last, dust has brought back the SARCASM. Balthamos' particles must have been in there, somewhere. 😉

    • @sab39 says:

      What the…?

      Who are you and what have you done with BradSmith5?

    • notemily says:

      Brad Smith LIKES something? Is… is my sarcasm detector broken? *pokes at it*

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Yes, I'm serious; this is the best part of the book! I am not airing up my tires or pulling some stupid gag! This ending is a wild symphony of sacrifice, hope, and pain, and I'll admit it––I enjoyed every page of the chapter! I can't believe you and the others found so much to complain about! Honestly! Where is this nit-picking attitude when we're knee-deep in boredom and the plot is literally "this guy moves from point A to point B?" Oh no! We save that criticism for the END, when silly things like "conflict" or "drama" occur! What are these strange things? What are they doing in a story? Kids don't scream or cry; they ask compasses what to do and stab angels to death with knives.

  20. Andreas says:

    "No we have other ways of travelling" [said Xaphania]
    "Is your way easy for us too?" asked Lyra.
    …But you have a friend who has already done the first steps and could help."
    This passage had kept me thinking since the first time I read it. So there is a way for Will and Lyra to visit each, but is it achievable? Is it real enough for them to give it a try? Who's that friend?

    Oh, I wished I had the answers… 🙁
    It might feel to optimistic but I still hope I'll find them in the book of dust…….

    • Andreas says:

      Btw sorry if the original text is not exactly that, but I read the book in a translation.

    • notemily says:

      I always interpreted this as referring to the chapter where Mary went outside her body, accidentally, while up in the tree. It sounds similar to what John Parry could do, as a shaman, as well–I think there's a part in the Subtle Knife that describes him astral-traveling to other worlds in a trance. So Will could eventually learn from Mary how to go outside his body, and then maybe there's a way to travel from one world to the next, but to me it still seems like a cheap substitute for being physically near someone.

  21. Raenef says:

    Points I enjoyed:

    – Xaphania, the female angel! This series has a lot about female empowerment.
    – Lyra losing the ability to read the Alethiometer through grace. Because this has to be HER choice, her's and Will, and questions about it being too convenient is answered here. There's no easy way around this choice, it has to come from them and not someone else.
    – Lyra's Pine Marten and Will's SUBTLE CAT. It's great how the series built up all this meaning in touching another person's daemon. The first time we saw it in TGC it was a terrible act, and here it was wonderful.
    – The message behind this section. Yes the thought of them separating is intensely sad, and perhaps rage-inducing for people, but their choice is so brave and comes only after they've exhausted every option or thought. The right thing to do isn't easy. Dying too soon before their lives even started, depriving the worlds of their work and futures would be the tragedy.

  22. I was annoyingly rather busy at work two weeks ago and as a result didn’t read any reviews until that Friday – but then I got to read 5 at once and it was delicious and so worth it! So I did the same thing last week. BUT there is only one HDM review left! NO! It cannot be!

    I don't believe in One True Love just like many of you here, but Will and Lyra do believe it at the moment – I imagine them getting some perspective on it as they grow up, but not wasting their (potential) love over it? Does that make sense? Funnily enough, when I first read this at 14 years old, I completely and utterly understood and believed in their true love, I felt that their pain of separation was the worst experience in the world. I would like to say that I have learned better … perhaps I have, but sometimes I am not entirely sure!

  23. SecretGirl127 says:

    And this is where the books that I couldn't put down, completely disappointed me. A love story? Really? We are readng all these amazing stories about God, daemons, multi-universes, and distilling it down to a love story? Blah.
    And Mark, I guess this does make you a romantic after all.

    • cobaltazure says:

      This was what I thought the first time I read the book. All I wanted was to read a story with a heroine who doesn't fall in love. But in another sense, this was a love story from the very beginning. It's about love for every world. Love for growing up, understanding yourself, and deciding who you want to be.

  24. TalentedKitty13 says:

    I've been a long time follower but I haven't commented before. I have been waiting for you to get to this chapter. When I saw that you were reading this series my thought immidetely went to the scene of Will stroking Pan and Lyra stroking Kirjava. Honestly that is the only part that I remember of the entire series. I though it was absolutley beautiful the first time I read it around (shortly after TGC movie came out [that's what got me into the series]) and now that I'm reading it chapter by chapter with you (and my god it is hard, I must commend you on doing that for every series) I find it even more spectacular.

  25. Hella says:

    This is when I tossed the book straight across the room, cursed Philip Pullman's name for doing this to us, and shed some tears. I was so wanting them to find a loophole. To find a way to betogether and I was torn when there was none. I understood why they couldn't, but I was still very upset and angry. And Pullman had to do it right after they realized they loved each other.

  26. pica_scribit says:

    “…I’ll be resentful because it’ll feel as if I didn’t have a choice, and if I don’t do it, I’ll feel guilty because I should. Whatever I do, I will choose it, no one else.”

    Speaking as a woman, even in the 21st century, this hits really hard. Because we are still told, for the most part, that whatever we do, eventually we will be (and will want to be) wives and mothers. Some people love that role, and never want anything else. Some people get pressured into it and are forever dissatisfied, wondering what else might have been. Others choose not to, and then are made to feel guilty for it by their families, or they lose friends who decide to have kids and spend more time with others like them.

    When I was younger, all I wanted was to get married and have kids, to the point that I didn't really seriously develop a Plan B. Sure, I went to college, because that was expected. But I studied something I thought sounded like fun (archaeology) and never seriously thought about what I wanted to do with it. I dated and had a few long-term relationships (a year or more), but I never really got around to the getting married and having babies thing. I was almost always the one to break it off. The one time I did get engaged, I ended up cheating on the a wonderful man, and then running away from the whole situation. It turned out that it was all just too much pressure. I enjoyed romance, but I didn't actually *want* to get married. And while I love kids, the thought of giving birth, or having a tiny person utterly dependent upon me for survival frankly terrifies me.

    I'm 32 now and single (going on almost a year) and I'm really quite enjoying it, though sometimes I would like to have the sort of constant companion in whom I can confide anything. I've worked off and on in archaeology for the past six years, and some of it has been interesting and I've traveled a lot, but I haven't made a career out of it. Now I think about going back to school and studying something else, but I don't know what. I don't know how to make that kind of plan or choose a path that will be right for me. I still always feel like I'm running away.

    I'm not sure any of this means anything in the context of the book, but this is what I thought of, reading back over it.

    • cait0716 says:

      I definitely agree with this. Sometimes I feel like I'm wasted potential no matter what I do. If I choose to have kids and be a stay-at-home mom, I'm wasting my intelligence and education. If I choose to forgo the family and pursue a career, I'm wasting my very ability to have kids and grow a family. If I attempt to juggle both, I'll probably end up so stressed that I'll spend half my life on anxiety medication. It's really hard to strip away all the pressures of society to figure out what I want, at which point I'll probably spend a lot of time defending that decision.

      I hope you figure out your path

      • pica_scribit says:

        I wouldn't want to discount the importance of motherhood and helping to raise the next generation. I feel that it is a noble calling for those who pursue it and desire it. But it is just one choice among many. Unfortunately, it is the one reinforced almost constantly and upheld as the ideal by the dominant culture in the US (Stephenie Meyer, I am looking at YOU!), to the point that young girls internalise it and believe it is the only true measure of success in life. I just wish I had figured all this out a whole lot sooner, and wasn't starting from square one at 32.

    • notemily says:

      I'm 28 and feel similarly. Not that I always thought I would have babies, but I thought my life would be more figured out by now than it is. Your part about not knowing how to choose a path is where I'm at as well.

      Babies are something that's kind of #2 on my priority list. Like, first I want to find something rewarding that I like doing and can make a living at, and THEN we'll see about babies. But I do have a nagging anxiety that by the time I get there, it'll be too late for babies. That's not the worst thing in the world for me, but I think I would always wonder about it, if I didn't get to do it.

      My sister is 36 and just had her first kid, and she did have some trouble getting pregnant. It sucks that we only have a couple of decades in which to decide whether or not to reproduce, and then that's it. If you spent that time focusing on your career, too bad, no do-overs. (And the dire economic straits many people are in makes it an imperative that we must focus on having enough money to support kids before we have them.)

      • pica_scribit says:

        With each passing year, I get less interested in actually going through the process of pregnancy myself. My sister had a baby this year, and plans to have more, so I can relax on the whole perpetuating my DNA front. If I eventually decide that I want to be a parent and have the resources to do so, I will look into adoption, with or without a partner.

    • Beautifully expressed. I identify a lot with this! Damned if you do, damned if you don't for women these days…

      As far as motherhood & babies go: I'm 36, got my tubes tied four years ago, and never looked back. (Thank you, Washington state, for paying for that surgery, by the way. My tax dollars at work!) I have an awesome job, a great circle of friends, a plethora of hobbies and interests, a deep respect for those who do choose to be parents … and a deeper relief that I don't have to be one of them. Viva choice — isn't that at least part of what Pullman is advocating here?

  27. I was around about 12 myself when I first read this book, and I hated the last few chapters because I was like 'Oh please, they're children. Children don't fall in love like that'. At the age of 12 I read more sexual implications into the text than I do now, aged 25. Now I see it as sweet and desperately sad – they may not be in love with the depth an adult possesses, but they don't know that – they love each other with all of themselves, and if they were able to grow up together perhaps it wouldn't last, but that's not the point. The point is that they love each other now, and the first time you fall in love is an important part of growing up, no matter what age you are when it happens and what form the love takes.

    • chrisjpardo says:

      I'm trying to think of a really clever way to say I like this, but I can't, so; I really like this!

      Like you say, as far as they're concerned, they love each other with every fibre of their beings in the here and now, and that's what matters. That love might not be enough in the future as they grow up, but it also might be; it may also change and develop with them as they get older. From a storyline sense, would any 'normal' kind of love have stopped the flow away of Dust? The heartwrenchingly sad thing is that they'll never get the chance to find out.

      No matter if you think they're old enough to experience 'true' love (or if you even believe in that idea) or not, I'm sure you can see the tragedy in that.

    • arctic_hare says:

      I really wish I could upvote this more.

    • leighzzz31 says:

      Perfectly put. This is exactly how I see their relationship. Maybe it would have lasted, maybe it wouldn't have. The point is what they have matters to them more than anything else at that moment and the fact that it ends is probably the reason it sticks with them throughout their lives. The 'what if' is what makes their romance heartbreaking.

  28. On an unrelated note, Mark, what are you reading next?

  29. ldwy says:

    It has nothing to do with anything. But I just had to leave this here, my book-loving friends:

    <img src=""&gt;


    Enjoy with envy.

  30. But I'm so happy that you care about/are affected by their love? I was actually quite worried you wouldn't, that you'd be disappointed that THIS was the crux of it all, because you always say that romance bores you and you can't relate to it in fiction, so I was really scared that you'd be like "oh, this was it? THIS? THANKS FOR NOTHING, PULLMAN" … and that you might feel let down.. I'm glad you actually felt for them because this – when they broke down knowing they had to spilt – when I read this for the first time at 16, it was the first book I ever cried in, I had to put it down and full-on sob, not a few tears, real sobbing and it just broke something in me that I had never experienced in any films/books/etc.

  31. hokieblood says:

    i've read this series multiple times..a few times i stopped reading after ch 35 because i didn't want to cry over the sadness of the ending. despite it being the perfect ending. i always hope a loophole will appear

  32. I've been waiting forever for you to get to Pan settling since you said at LeakyCon you said you thought yours would be a marten, this is why I was having fits of hand-clamping-over-mouth.

    However I do think you're wrong about the temptation – I think the fruit and the love WAS the temptation, because that's what made the Dust actually fix itself. I mean, if you believe EVERYTHING is fated, I do see your point because their choice to separate and close the doors and save the world that way is also valid, and needs to be done because of repercussions of what happened along their journey… but, I still think the temptation in the prophecy was their love, and that this is the sad aftermath.

  33. ChronicReader91 says:

    This is the chapter of eternally dashed hopes and dreams, and radical departures. There’s no way Will and Lyra are getting a “happy ending” together. No loopholes. No compromises. Everything they propose to try and get around it is flawed. There’s just no way they can win. 🙁
    As if that wasn’t bad enough, Lyra can no longer read the alethiometer. Pantalaimon changes form for the final time, which, while a big deal and landmark in Lyra’s life (and he’s a Pine Marten, HOW COOL IS THAT), is still kind of sad. It’s like all the things we’ve come to expect over the course of the past three books are being thrown away, and it sets a melancholy tone for the final chapter.

  34. Danielle says:

    We just finished a unit on Romeo and Juliet in English at school, and the I can't help but see the similarities between the plots and endings, in that the 2 people in love in each story have a love that is considered not as deep as a grown adults (R & J were in love after 1 night, L & W are only 12), and yet is much stronger than 'mature love'. Also the fact that they must be separated, and them trying to find a loophole in their predicament (Romeo being banished, Lyra and Will being split) and the fact that the tragedy (deaths/separation) that happens to them is incredibly sad, yet is all for the benefit of future generations. Plus the fact that they got to spend so little time together while in love. Also, the idea of Fate/Free Will/Destiny are heavy themes in each book. And lastly, the fact that the stories would never be as memorable if everyone had skipped off into the sunset in the end.

    AND OMG I JUST THOUGHT OF SOMETHING ELSE. WHAT IS WITH MY BRAIN. Anyway, the fact that they were kind of controversial in their times (Romeo and Juliet did not follow the idea of 'courtly love' by Romeo NOT falling in love with an unattainable woman, and of course the heavy religious criticisms in HDM)

    DONE 😀

  35. Rachel says:

    I was listening to this while reading this review and oh my creys ;_;

  36. hazelwillow says:

    I agree with other commenters, but I have one thing to add: so yes, "Marzipan" was temptation, the moment with the fruit where they realize they're in love was the "Fall", and this –this is Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden. This is the aftermath of the Fall, the painful side of knowledge.
    I didn't realize this till recently, actually. It's funny, because the fact that the Fall is a positive thing is the whole point of these books, and yet they still have a Casting Out in their structure. The narrative structure is so dependent on it…
    What's important, of course, is that they choose to do this. They choose not to be selfish, and to aquiece to the way the world works. And, it's not a punishment, but a way of the world that can't be helped.

  37. muselinotte says:

    This chapter… it breaks my heart, each time, again and again.
    But in such a beautiful way, that I'm kind of okay with it…
    Pullman throws these atrocities at us, but wrapped in such perfect imagery and stunning language, that I can't really be angry.
    It hurts, a lot.
    But I'm kind of okay with it…. after a while.

  38. flootzavut says:

    "I hate using the world “childish” because of the negative connotations"

    I like there is a fine line between "childish" and "childlike"… perhaps childlike would be a more appropriate word? A lack of cynicism and an openheartedness that adults find very difficult but which comes naturally to children (though is sometimes stamped out way too early in dysfunctional and abusive families and sometimes just by life).

    I am taking the chance to comment while I can… I am still reading though, but my Kindle won't let me comment even not signed in so I am a bit stuffed for commenting at the moment!

  39. Loren says:

    I've been tearing up at these reviews, man. Let's all go out and build our Republics of Heaven!

    I was really satisfied with the ending. The young, pure love that Will and Lyra have, even with all their extraordinary circumstances, it's great and all, but it's not meant to last. The idea of a life full of trouble, of sneaking through windows to see each other and of maybe breaking up someday, it's not as powerful or conclusive as the idea that they chose to live full lives, separate. I have full faith that Lyra and Will can do it too! Though it is kind of painful for Will especially that nobody else will ever understand everything he's been through.

    I'm also not sure if I agree with the idea of an "alternate" Dr. Mary. We never actually meet alternate versions of any characters, and I'm not sure if any of them actually exist in Pullman's multiverse. The only indication is the initials Lyra sees in Will's Oxford, and we don't know anything about how those actually got there. They could be a strange coincidence! Mostly, I think this because of characters like Lord Asriel. As far as we can tell, Lord Asriel is the One Person who declares war on the Authority, and don't you think if there were more Lord Asriels, they'd all be declaring war and building fortresses in abandoned worlds and whatnot? And clearly there is only one Lyra Silvertongue. And if people were running into alternate versions of themselves in the World of the Dead, I think it would've been mentioned.

    But even if there were, by some infinitely tiny chance, people who shared the same DNA across worlds, Pullman's point seems to be that it's our choices and experiences that define us and make us who we are. So even if Lyra's new headmistress looks exactly like Dr. Mary Malone, it's wouldn't be right to say that she IS Mary.

  40. HieronymusGrbrd says:

    (This is coming really late. My parents were ill and I had to stay at their ancient, unconnected home for several days. But since I had prepared this in advance while reading ahead because my copy of the book had to be returned to the library, it would be a waste not to post it, even if nobody may read it now)

    I’m not a man of much words, and I hope you all understand that I wouldn’t bother to comment at all if I didn’t like this book, so I refrain from praising everything I love in this chapter (I’m sure somebody else will do this much better than I could anyway) and skip directly to the nitpicking:

    I’m competely confused now. Didn’t Lyra already stop the Dust flooding out of the multiverse? Looking through the Amber Spyglass, Mary doesn’t see Dust flow in any specific direction like she did even before the bomb opened the abyss. So everything seems to be allright again, like it had been threehundred years ago, before the guild made the knife and opened windows. Why is it still necessary to close all but one window?

    Maybe “Dust falling like snowflakes” is just a local phenomenon, and Will and Lyra’s love doesn’t really matter much for other worlds (or even for regions of the mulefa’s world Mary doesn’t watch)? But if so, why was it such a big thing, prophesized by witches centuries ago?

    Did Pullman long for two goals that were mutually exclusive, showing the immense significance of “second fall”, but also heading to the bittersweet end we seem to get soon?

    Parting company despite their love seems to be the crucial choice Will and Lyra really have to take to save all the worlds, and that gives us a nice inversion. The church got it all wrong: Since Will has the knife, it’s more his decision than Lyra’s (ducking furious feminist’s dungbombs), resisting the temptation to selfishly stay together and travel between their respective worlds is the decision that is not in the churchs interest, and the ultimate result of never have been tempted in the first place would have been the same. Poor Father Gomez died for nothing.

  41. Janna says:

    I’ve been trying to catch up and I haven’t posted any comments, but through this whole chapter this song was playing through my mind:

    It’s time for us to part
    Yeah, it’s best for us to part
    Oh, but I love you,
    Ooooh, I love you

    Take care of yourself,
    I’ll miss you

    The nights are long alone,
    I sit alone and moan
    Oh, ’cause I love you
    Ooooh, I love you

    Take care of yourself,
    I’ll miss you

    And no more tears to cry,
    I’m out of goodbyes

    It’s time for us to part,
    Although it breaks my heart
    Oh, ’cause I love you
    Ooooh, I love you

    Take care of yourself,
    Take care of yourself,
    Take care of yourself

    I love you

    And so I cried even harder.

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