Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of The Golden Compass, Lyra and Pantalaimon escape from Mrs. Coulter’s party, finding themselves lost in the confusing streets of London, where ever person seems like a malevolent stranger. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Golden Compass.

IS THIS BOOK EVER GOING TO SLOW DOWN. my god utterly unprepared forever


First of all, I DO NOT LIKE THE NAME OF THIS CHAPTER. god what are throwing nets, are they exactly what i am imagining.

Pullman’s choice to explore this new avenue so rapidly into the novel is exciting to me. It’s keeping me on my toes. I’m used to novels settling in before this much action, intrigue, and mystery, but Pullman (so far) is much more interested in dropping us into one hell of a mess and forcing us to figure it all out. I imagine that’s not at all that far from what Lyra is feeling right now, too. She knows what she is doing is right, and I love that. She knows this is not an entirely practical decision, yet it’s what she feels she should do. That doesn’t mean she is also entirely comfortable with it all as well:

If only she knew London as well as she knew Oxford! Then she would have known which streets to avoid; or where she could scrounge some food; or, best of all, which doors to knock on and find shelter. In that cold night, the dark alleys all around were alive with movement and secret life, and she knew none of it.

I think Pullman does a fine job of taking this concept and elaborating on it in realistic ways. I’m impressed with the way he builds this atmosphere as Lyra uses Pantalaimon as a guide through the dark and confusing streets. Knowing the power that Mrs. Coulter has, the two of them become hypersensitive to every noise or laugh or ruffle that leaps out at them on those streets. At the same time, it is kind of an adventure of her own, too, as Lyra had gotten no time at all to simply explore this new city by herself. In this sense, it’s a moment where she can remember what it was like to spend so much of her time in the streets when she lived at Oxford College.

Her and Pantalaimon make a brief stop at a small coffee stall (which, incidentally, just made me start craving a cup of coffee) to get a coffee and some food, and they have an experience that is somehow even creepier than Mrs. Coulter’s “kiss” scene. A man in a top hot offers to pay for Lyra’s purchase, and she figures there’s no harm in that. As she stares out at the theater crowd that’s just gotten out, the man begins to ask her questions about who she is. Then:

“Let me put a drop of this into your coffee…warm you up…”

He was unscrewing the top of a silver flask.

“I don’t like that,” said Lyra. “I just like coffee.”

“I bet you’ve never had brandy like this before.”

Not only are you wrong, sir, but WHAT THE HOLY FUCK ARE YOU DOING OFFERING BRANDY TO AN ELEVEN-YEAR OLD. At first, when he started talking to her, I worried that he was some kind of ~secret agent~ for Mrs. Coulter, but by this point I guessed he was just a gigantic creep. Lyra, ever the continual badass, concocts an obviously-absurd-yet-magnificent story about how she’s waiting for her father, who, by the way, is a professional murderer, because, by the way, she has a clean set of clothes because he’s probably currently covered in blood.

Bless her soul forever.

Pullman, as far as I’ve gotten, has this amazing gift to fill our heads with miniature stories and images in just a few sentences, utilizing brief descriptions to paint poetic masterpieces:

Endless streets of little identical brick houses, with gardens only big enough for a dustbin; great gaunt factories behind wire fences, with one anbaric light glowing bleakly high up on a wall and a night watchmen snoozing by his brazier; occasionally a dismal oratory, only distinguished from a warehouse by the crucifix outside. Once she tried the door of one of these places, only to hear a groan from the bench a foot away in the darkness. She realized that the porch was full of sleeping figures, and fled.


I was worried that they’d get caught pretty early on, as I expected Mrs. Coulter’s dæmon to have already picked up on the fact that they were gone. But at this point, they must have been far, far away from that flat, miles at least, and the reality of their decision hangs over their heads. They know only Mrs. Coulter way out here in London, so where on earth are they going to sleep? Pantalaimon suggests a nearby canal, and it seems the place is just dark enough to leave them unexposed to anyone who might be trying to find them. They come across a small hut and peer inside, watching a lone man as he puts a kettle on a stove for tea. When Lyra asks Pantalaimon if they should ask the man to let them inside, she notices that he is rapidly changing forms, a sign that something is incredibly wrong.

And it is, as she turns to see two men running at her with a throwing net in one of their hands.

WHAT. WHAT. How did they find her???

As the two dart away, determined not to get boxed in and trapped, Pantalaimon shouting directions at her, but it’s futile. Pullman describes these throwing nets as “loathsome tarred strings” and now I’m curious. Lyra says they actually sting her, so I assume the nets are treated in some way? What a horrifying concept.

It’s also confirmed outright here that whatever happens to a person’s dæmon can cause them harm, as one of the men’s dæmon, a fox, harms Pantalaimon in a way that causes pain in Lyra’s flesh. I read in horror, realizing just how awful and hopeless this situation was, until I got to the line about the puddle and the arrow and I had to read it again. Just like the characters, this took a second look to understand.

One of the men is bleeding out from an arrow wound in his neck. What???

Pantalaimon sat up and blinked, and then there was a soft thud, and the net man fell choking and gasping right across Lyra, who cried out in horror: that was blood gushing out of him!


More men arrive, but these ones cut away at the net strings, and they address Lyra by name. In one fantastic OH SHIT moment, we learn it is Tony Costa, Ma Costa’s son. Why on earth they are all the way in London is beyond me, but that isn’t they point. They invite her to stowaway on their ship. The narrative shifts into an unbearable system of frustration, and I don’t mean that as an insult. The situation is indeed quite confusing to Lyra, since so much has just happened in a short length of time, the least of which was her recent encounter with the men with throwing nets who were just killed in front of her. She has a lot of questions (as do I), but the Costa family is unwilling to talk about what the hell is going on just yet. Pullman uses this as a wonderful way to build tension amidst a whole lot of waiting.

On the boat, Ma Costa approaches Lyra, who is quietly worried that Ma Costa will remember that this girl helped capture her boat on the day her son disappeared. Instead:

But the boat mother set her hands on either side of Lyra’s face, and her dæmon, a hawk, bent gently to lick Pantalaimon’s wildcat head. Then Ma Costa folded her great arms around Lyra and pressed her to her breast.

“I dunno what you’re doing here, but you look wore out. You can have Billy’s crib, soon’s I’ve got a hot drink in you. Set you down there, child.”

OMG MA COSTA. <3 <3 <3 please come hug me forever.

And thus the waiting I spoke about begins. Lyra heads to bed and awakes the next morning to more tender care from Ma Costa, but is met with the same answer to her questions about what is going on: Be quiet. Keep out of sight. Not yet. In this instance the next morning, Ma Costa actually says, “There’s trouble.”

Trouble in what sense? I wondered. It seems to me that there is a convergence of problems and perhaps Lyra’s troubles are related to them.

We do finally get a chance to learn what is going on when the boat leaves the Grand Junction Canal and Tony Costa comes below deck. Unsure of what they’re to tell Lyra about the situation, they ask her to tell her side of the story, since everyone assumed she’d been taken by the Gobblers.

She relates the full story, aside from the alethiometer, to them, confirming outloud that Mrs. Coulter is The Gobblers, or at least she’s the one leading them.

Tony tells Lyra that they know that kids are being kidnapped to be experimented on, apparently. I’m still utterly confused about what is going on, though I assume that Pullman intended this all along. It’s fascinating to me how the story of the Gobblers has a different meaning for everyone involved, and despite that Lyra was right at the heart of it all, she still doesn’t know what the truth is. The gyptians aren’t sure, but they hear stories of Tartars and political maneuvers and Nälkäinens.


“That’s a kind of ghost they have up there in those forests. Same size as a child, and they got no heads. They feel their way about at night and if you’re sleeping out in the forest they get ahold of you and won’t nothing make ‘em let go. Nälkäinens, that’s a northern word.”

Then there are Windsuckers, which clump in trees and suck the power out of you.

Oh, and there are Breathless Ones, warriors half-killed by the Tartars in a process where the North Tartars SNAP OPEN THEIR RIBS AND PULL OUT THEIR LUNGS AND THEIR DÆMONS KEEP THEM ALIVE BY MANUALLY BREATHING FOR THEM.

could pullman and suzanne collins just hang out and create fucked up creatures to haunt our nightmares forever

The conversation turns to Lord Asriel when Tony mentions the panserbjørne, and he also takes time to elaborate on what they are. Literally, the only thing I can remember from the movie version of The Golden Compass was the badass polar bears, so this section was not much of a surprise. But I was more interested in why Tony was so obsessed with the North, and Pullman provides that answer immediately (for once!).

Turns out that the gyptians actually caught one of the Gobblers and forced them to talk, which is how they found out that these kids are being taken north. They were in London to gather supplies; it’s at this point that Tony reveals that the gyptians are the hardest hit. I was not surprised that those in power would choose one of the poorest groups to loot children from.

This chapter ends with a new name: John Faa, king of the gyptians. (They have a king??? AWESOME.) The gyptians are determined to head north to rescue those that have been stolen from them. And guess who invites herself along?

Love you, Lyra.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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100 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 6

  1. @ladylately says:

    Pullman/Collins/Moffat/RTD in a mood for Midnight teamup.

    • flootzavut says:

      Egad! Scary thought….

      • samibear says:

        Love you for the use of the word 'Egad!'. Why don't people say that anymore? I'm now determined to bring it back

        • enigmaticagentscully says:

          I keep trying to reinstate the word 'Gadzooks!' for common usage.

          I've had some success with 'gosh' and 'golly' but they weren't as far gone anyway. 😛

    • LittleCaity says:

      …Wow. I think my heart stopped in sheer terror for a few seconds there.

  2. Pip_Harper says:

    Oh god, shit feels like it is getting real, but compared to what has yet to happen in this series, SHIT HAS BARELY EVEN BEGUN TO MOVE BEYOND THE INCORPOREAL.

    And those Nälkäinens and Breathless Ones… I mean, NIGHTMARES FOREVER. Why, Pullman, why????

  3. Anseflans says:

    Ma Costa's dæmon is a hawk? In the Dutch version he's a grey wolfhound. Or maybe you just mistyped it. I can't see a hawk licking Pan anyways. 😛

    In other news, I got my dad into reading The Book Thief, and he's loving it so far, just started this morning and is halfway through already. <3 I'm determined to make everyone in my family read that book.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      It's a hawk in my (non-ebook) edition, though like you I'm perplexed at how a hawk would successfully lick clean a wildcat.

      • Sparkie says:

        My version (UK version) says "a great grey wolf-like dog." Sirius?

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          I just looked it up on a few His Dark Materials wikis, and it says that earlier British editions had a mistake regarding Ma Costa's daemon. Apparently, in the scene when she's just realized that Billy's missing her daemon is a hawk, and then in this scene it's described as a dog. Later editions changed the dog to a hawk, but seemingly didn't catch the problem with the licking.

          • Sparkie says:

            Oh yeah! I had forgotten we had already been told about her daemon. Thanks

          • Tilja says:

            Yes, I've got one of those faulty first editions (boxed edition and all) and it's right. I can't find another mention of the daemon but I believe the next one must be a hawk as well.

          • Kat says:

            I wonder why they went with the hawk? Because that means her and Tony have the same daemon form. If it was up to me I would have kept the wolf-like dog, I think it suits her more. And the licking would have made sense :P.

          • Not that hawks can't lick, of course. Presumably, if they have tongues, they know how to use them. (I used to have a budgie that would lick my nose.)

        • StarKidNutty says:

          My version (UK version) says "a great grey wolf-like dog." Sirius?

          Isn't Sirius a black bear-like dog?

      • Anseflans says:

        Hmm. That's Ood.

  4. meguca says:

    Lyra's story about her ~murderer father~, and the man's reaction to it, made me laugh. Go Lyra, creeping out the creepy guy.

    The description of those Northern ghosts made me shudder – although there was a moment when I wondered about whether or not it was biologically feasible for a daemon to manually pump someone's lungs. (I don't know a whole lot about the workings of the human body, but it seems unlikely??) Still, NIGHTMARES FOREVER. Thanks, Pullman.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Sorry if this comes off lecturey, but you're right that would be pretty difficult for the daemon to do. The movement of air in and out of the body is dependent on the air pressure inside the lungs versus outside the body. So, when we inhale, it's because the diaphragm and external intercostal muscles contract (the diaphragm flattens and the intercostal muscles raise the rib cage), which increases thoracic volume and decreases thoracic pressure, so air rushes in. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes, thoracic volume decreases, pressure increases, and the air flows out. It seems like it would be pretty difficult for the daemon to manipulate the diaphragm and muscles from outside the body, and I don't know if they're capable of forcing air in through the mouth. It would definitely be a lot of miserable work!

      • meguca says:

        Not lecturey at all! Thanks for confirming my suspicions 🙂
        Although I suppose that the Breathless Ones are supernatural creatures that may be only legends, so physical possibilities probably don't entirely apply, haha.

  5. Ellalalalala says:


    Ahem, sorry.

    Basically, there's a Scottish ballad (well, there are loads and loads of variants from all over the British Isles, but they think it originates in Scotland because many versions refer to Lady Cassellis and blah blah blah I am a bore) which is one of my FAVOURITES EVER because it is beautiful and miserable and awesome, in which a lady runs away with Johnny Faa, a gypsy laddie.

    The name Johnny Faa is strongly associated with Scottish Gypsies (I am using 'gypsy' here because this was how it was taught to me, and a differentiation was made between Travellers and those called 'Egyptians' who were banished from Scotland in 1540) and I believe there was a self-governing community near Roslin in the Scottish Borders called Little Egypt, on land granted by charter by the Scottish King, which was ruled by Johnny Faa who was known as 'king of the gypsies'. The Faas continued to be a really high-standing family in the Gypsy social hierarchy throughout the early modern period. But I am really, really rusty on this because I haven't thought about it for years, except for singing the ballad.

    – UNTIL NOW! Philip Pullman, I love you for pilfering and adapting bits of lore and history and naming. It's like JKR and her use of folktale motifs.

    This chapter was cool. I spent most of it being terrified and traumatised, but then Johnny Faa was mentioned and I became a happy bunny. I've got a feeling everything's going to be all right.

    • summeriris says:

      I loved the gyptians in this book. As a Scottish Travaler/Gypsy I just loved it. The long boats sound so much like vardys or caravans to you Goirgias. It is one of the most positive examples of the Travalers in fiction and it is accurate, except th there is no King of the Gypsies, never has been.

      • Ellalalalala says:

        That's really interesting, thanks for replying! I've seen 'King of the Gypsies' (and 'Lord Egypt', for that matter) used in reference to the Faas and the Scottish Court under James V, but now I'm wondering whether it was a moniker exclusively used by the Scottish Court about Johnny Faa, and not actually reflecting the hierarchy within the community? More procrastinatory fact-checking needed!

        I'm really glad the Gyptians in this book are portrayed so positively – I can't wait to read more!

    • muzzery says:

      Whut? I am Scottish and I never knew any of this. This just makes the gyptians even more epic. It's also shows how incredibly knowledgable Pullman is about such a wide variety of things. Wow.

    • Wow, I never knew that! How cool! I also didn't realize there was an Egypt in Scotland. What.

    • @Chiparoo says:

      Hey, that's really cool information! Stuff I was totally unaware of when I first read through this series!

      … This just makes me wish Mark/Mark's fans would read Gunnerkrigg Court even more though, considering the appreciation for folktale motifs.

    • summeriris says:

      That song is known as the 'Whistling Gypsy', but at the end it's revealed the the Gyps is really a lord. Probably because true gypsy/trvelers don't have kings or anything like that. Although my Grandfather's word was law in the family.

  6. leighzzz31 says:

    There’s a distinct feeling you’re running away with Lyra as the chapter begins. The streets of London, as Pullman describes them, blend into each other, each alley looking identical and in complete contrast to his previous depiction of Oxford. What really struck me though – on my first read when I was younger and now – was how utterly fearless Lyra is. She’s in an unfamiliar city, having just escaped from an abusive guardian, and she’s genuinely unafraid. She feels overwhelmingly free to be out of Mrs. Coulter’s reach and the only things that interrupt her joy are mundane practicalities such as where she’s going to sleep and how she’ll find her way through London. It’s impossible not to admire her for that.

    And then she proves once again that she can survive on her own with the scene at the coffee stall. She by no means trusts the man who offers to pay for her food; instead, she makes use of him. I’d like to think any other child would run away from someone like that but Lyra is simply being practical. She even makes sure to scare him off by lying expertly about her ‘murdering father’. This is where I started to love Lyra; she uses everything and everyone and plays on her strengths to ensure her own survival.

    Finally, I’d just like to mention how UTTERLY terrifying those legends of the North were. The one that stuck with me the most was the story of the Breathless Ones; half-dead, half-alive, with only their daemons keeping them breathing. Nightmare stuff, right there. In hindsight, it’s these small stories and details that make Pullman such a compelling author. He gives us so many images in just a few sentences that fully construct the world we’re in. he makes you want to know more about everything, even these horrifying creatures.

  7. Partes says:

    I found it adorable that Lyra was scared Ma Costa would remmeber she tried to pull the plug out of the boat. THERE'S MORE IMPORTANT STUFF GOING ON RIGHT NOW DEAR, like the fact that you were almost kidnapped by evil men with nets.

    Did anyone else imagine a small boat with a giant throne making one end of it sink slightly when they read about the Gyptian King? Because I did. And that would be awesome.

    • Patrick721 says:

      Did anyone else imagine a small boat with a giant throne making one end of it sink slightly when they read about the Gyptian King? Because I did. And that would be awesome.

      I am now.

  8. Mauve_Avenger says:

    So apparently I don't really remember this chapter as well as I should have, except in very broad strokes and a few details that I thought were interesting because I'm weird like that. For one thing, here we get confirmation of the existence of tramcars that "hum and spark under their anbaric wires," as well as the existence of taxi cabs, neither of which I remembered from before.

    "Pullman describes these throwing nets as “loathsome tarred strings” and now I’m curious. Lyra says they actually sting her, so I assume the nets are treated in some way? What a horrifying concept."

    Umm…treated with tar? I don't really know, but I would think that the tar itself would dry onto the strings and make them very hard, which could easily cause the stinging that Lyra felt. I sort of imagined it as the difference between missing a step with a cloth-type jump rope as opposed to missing a step with a stiff plastic one.

    "Oh, and there are Breathless Ones, warriors half-killed by the Tartars in a process where the North Tartars SNAP OPEN THEIR RIBS AND PULL OUT THEIR LUNGS AND THEIR DÆMONS KEEP THEM ALIVE BY MANUALLY BREATHING FOR THEM."

    The funnyhorrifying thing is that Pullman is basing this on something that might have actually occurred in our own world. We don't know if it was ever actually performed on a person, but what Tony describes as the North Tartar practice of making Breathless Ones is actually a practice documented in Norse literature called the Blood Eagle.

    Nälkäinen is a real word, but unlike the Breathless Ones it doesn't seem to correspond to a real-world myth or legend. If you want to know the meaning, click here.

    There are also two sort-of throwaway words that I like here. The Chthonic Railway Station, which Mrs. Coulter thinks is too low-class for Lyra to go on, gets its name from the Greek word for "underground," "chthonios." (Mainly, I just like saying the word "chthonic.")

    The word "cauchuc" used in this chapter is from the Quechua word "kauchuk" and/or the Tupi word "cau-ucha," both meaning Para or india-rubber, which in turn informed the French word "caoutchouc" and the Spanish word "caucho." So the cables the narrator describes are coated in some sort of rubber insulation. In our own world, the first attempts at creating underwater telegraph cable used cables insulated with tarred hemp and Para rubber, but the most successful (and the ones that were commercially reproduced) used a different kind of rubber, from the gutta-percha tree. Gutta-percha-insulated cables became the basis of the first transatlantic telegraph lines, and weren't replaced until the 1930s with the invention of polyethylene.

    So, yeah. Research: ur doing it rite. ETA: formatting and linkage: Im doing it wrong.

    • Partes says:

      This is all really interesting, especially about the Blood Eagle. Thanks for posting!

    • notemily says:

      Oh, thanks for all this etymology! I LOVES IT. One of my favorite things in alternate worlds is alternate names for things.

    • FuTeffla says:

      Oh God, I remember reading Susan Price's YA book Elf King which features a character having the Blood Eagle done to them. A BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS, PEOPLE. I was about 13 when I read it. The whole book was awesomely gory.

  9. Jeb says:

    The man with the brandy makes me shudder. I assumed he roofied it somehow and was going to try to kidnap her. I love how resourceful Lyra was to get out of the situation!

    • theanagrace says:

      But if it was roofied, would he have put it in his own drink? I just always thought he was a creeper trying to make her more dozy and compliant. But I did love how Lyra just came up with a terrifying backstory on the spot, making Mr. Creepy Top Hat take a step back.

  10. Heather says:

    Oh, Mark. You are so not prepared!

    Man, that creepy dude with the brandy. I love that Lyra is so good at coming up with stories! Yeah, they're lies, but they're 89432759438753498 times better than anything I could come up with spur of the moment. Am I jealous of a fictional 11 year old? Yes.

  11. Heather says:

    For future reference, if a word has accents I can't reproduce, I copy it and paste it from the source (or look for it in Wikipedia). When you do, it still has the accents! 😀

  12. arctic_hare says:

    When I first read this a few years ago, I didn't really think too much about the guy at the coffee stall who pays for Lyra's food and questions her a bit afterwards. Upon reread, however, I found that, given the description provided, I can only picture him thus:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    As I'm sure you can imagine, this was distracting and hilarious. 😀 (Image credit goes to the wonderful swimmingtrunks, who was kind enough to Photoshop it after I mentioned on the spoiler blog that I had this mental image while flipping through my copy and spotting this scene.)

    I love how damn good Lyra is at coming up with cover stories on the fly. And speaking of stories, omg those tales of the North Billy Costa told her. Horrifying.

    • Sami says:

      OMG! Internal conflict over creepy guy being The Doctor, and the Doctor (with Momo) in HDM!

    • notemily says:

      HEE HEE HEE top hat + lemur = awesome

    • warmouth says:

      This is canon until I'm told otherwise.

    • Patrick721 says:

      Heh. The Doctor would totally have a Lemur daemon.

      And Uncle Iroh's would be a…actually, I have no idea. Maybe a panda. Or something that just chills most of the time, but can seriously ruin someone's shit when it's angry. I guess the best way to decide on Iroh's daemon is to figure out what would be the coolest animal to drink tea with.


      • tigerpetals says:

        This made me think Snorlax. He's a giant Pokemon who sleeps most of the time and loves food. Very powerful when angry.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Hehe, this makes me ridiculously happy!

  13. meguca says:

    Seconded. For some reason seeing that little definition just made me shudder.

  14. flootzavut says:

    "Pullman (so far) is much more interested in dropping us into one hell of a mess and forcing us to figure it all out. I imagine that’s not at all that far from what Lyra is feeling right now, too."

    I suspect that's exactly why he's using the technique.

    Damnit, gonna have to find my copy of Northern Lights again. My favourite of the trilogy and the only one I own, I've been thinking I'd like to read it again but NOW I MUST!

  15. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I've been thinking about this chapter quite a lot over the weekend, so here's thoughts on daemons, Turks, and gyptians. (I think the Tartars will have to be a separate post.)

    In this chapter, we get a second, more definite confirmation that Lyra can feel Pantalaimon's pain (this time, when he gets attacked by the fox daemon). We also have the sentence "Lyra walked delicately through it all, her senses magnified and mingled with Pantalaimon's," which suggests that Lyra might actually be able to feel every sensation that Pantalaimon feels. Another aspect of the fight with the fox daemon seems to suggest that it takes quite a bit of energy for Pantalaimon to change forms, and that he's forced to stay in his last previous form when he's too exhausted to transform again. I'm guessing (since we haven't seen any evidence of daemons eating for themselves) that daemons get their energy via their humans, and that the daemons of children who are sick or malnourished might therefore show a diminished ability to change form.

    Here it's also revealed that daemons simply disappear after their human dies, rather than retaining physical forms that would decompose alongside their humans. Now we seemingly get to the importance of the carved coins in the Jordan College crypt; because a daemon leaves behind no body or bones after death, its existence must be remembered in other ways, by recording its image and name.

    We've seen Pantalaimon change forms in quite a lot of situations, but some of them seemingly only make sense in context of this world he lives in. He was a moth in the first chapters in the Retiring Room because it kept him from being seen, became a dragon to intimidate the other children, became a hedgehog when he wanted to piss Lyra off, and imitated Mrs. Lonsdale's goldfinch daemon when he wanted to be an annoyance, and became a moth again when he didn‘t want to give away Lyra‘s state of mind. But we also have Pantalaimon becoming an ermine, a type of weasel, "out of politeness," and then transforming into a different type of weasel, the polecat, when he's angry and wants to take a stand against Mrs. Coulter. Most of the forms Pantalaimon takes in this chapter make sense from our perspective. He becomes a wildcat to see in the dark, moves quickly between the forms of a bat, owl, and wildcat when he's nervous and looking around (again, dark), and then between various rather ferocious forms during the encounter with the throwing nets. But what exactly informs Pantalaimon's decision to become a sparrow when Lyra’s asking for food? Is it something logical and practical that informs his choice here, or is there perhaps some sort of in-world etiquette involved?

    I think it's interesting that we've only ever heard of Turks in the book in relation to keeping or selling slaves, and that we've so far only encountered two of them, at most, and none for any good period of time. Tony says that the men who were trying to capture Lyra were probably Turk traders, though we don‘t really know if Tony really knows what he‘s talking about. The main point of interest for me in the throwing nets scene is that though Lyra obviously saw her would-be captors clearly (she saw them coming at her, then one of them collapsed on top of her bleeding, then she saw their corpses), the narration itself never really describes them. During that scene, they’re only ever described as “the men,” “the man,” “the net man,” and later on “the dead men.” This, in contrast with Lyra’s saviors in the scene, who immediately upon their introduction are described by the narrator as “three dark men.”

    Also in this chapter, we find out that the gyptians have apparently been keeping some sort of tally of children suspected of being kidnapped, and that gyptian children are disproportionately prone to being stolen. It was said in an earlier chapter that the Gobblers found poor children “easy enough to entice away,” but that the police were “stirred into reluctant action” and the kidnappings halted for a short time before starting up again. So why would gyptian children make a large proportion of the children stolen? One possibility is that gyptians could tend to be poorer and therefore more likely to be enticed by Mrs. Coulter’s methods of targeting lone, hungry children (though the facts that gyptians are characterized as very watchful parents and that one of the kidnapped was Billy Costa, who Lyra describes as a prince among gyptians, might tend to contradict this idea). Another possibility, which to me seems more likely, comes from the next bit: perhaps the police can’t be stirred into reluctant action when it comes to gyptian children. Perhaps there’s nobody in power who’s willing to uphold the legal protections of the gyptians. Or perhaps those legal protections aren’t being upheld because they simply don’t exist where gyptians are concerned.

    • Ellalalalala says:

      Really interesting points!

      Re the Gyptians, do we know anything about how they're perceived by the rest of the population? I assumed that the Gyptians would be more loathe to report disappearances to the police, but I could just be applying this-world assumptions to that-world. In Lyra's world, I can't remember any reference to Gyptian/non-Gyptian tensions other than the Oxford kids all uniting to fight the Gyptian kids when they arrive, but (as someone pointed out a few days ago) they seemed also to get along pretty well at the fair so the fighting could be more for the sake of fighting someone different (Jordan vs other colleges; kids connected to the university vs the townie kids; then Oxford vs the Gyptian incomers) than indicative of widespread discrimination. Or have I missed some?

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        I'm probably reading far too much into this, but I noticed earlier that teams for the wars Lyra wages tend to be divided by things that would also easily divide adults in their community. Though I don't think there's any solid evidence that it's the case, I wouldn't be surprised if they were partially aping the views of the adults around them, but in a more playful, inconsistent way because they're almost all children. And also because the type of play they engage in would probably tend to select for more rebellious kids, and select against children who actually pay consistent attention to the adults around them. ^_^

        As far as widespread attitudes toward the gyptians are concerned, I think we've only seen one scene that could possibly count as an example. When Lyra goes to the teenagers to ask about the missing market girl:

        "They're always disappearing, gyptians. After every horse fair they disappear."
        "So do horses," said one of his friends.

        This is read by some people as an accusation that gyptians steal horses, though that interpretation never occurred to me when reading.

        And then later, the spitting sixteen-year-old:

        "Gobblers," said Lyra's acquaintance, whose name was Dick. "It's stupid. These gyptians, they pick up all kinds of stupid ideas."

        • rumantic says:

          I always thought that sentence was a reference to the Gyptians stealing horses. (Though what use a horse is on a boat, I don't know. Maybe folk-demonisation again?) It just sounded like the kind of comment someone would make in our world about gypsies. You can almost hear the contemptuous tone of voice they use to talk about them.

    • notemily says:

      I would guess that the gyptians are disproportionately targeted because they're nomads. So the local police would be less likely to look for gyptian children, because by the time police action was taken, they might be on their way somewhere else already. They're a very insular community, so yeah, they might not be under the same police protection as the rest of England.

      I love the scenes of Pan guiding Lyra through the dark streets, especially the bit where he bristles at a dark alley and she decides not to go that way after all. Daemon as intuition. Pan does seem to notice things before Lyra does, and his noticing something gets Lyra to notice too, so daemons very well could function as our intuition in the sense that they see and process things faster than our conscious brains can. They see the things we only notice out of the "corner of our eye," and call our attention to them.

    • Darth_Ember says:

      Sparrows aren't seen as eating much. A sort of "Just a few crumbs, please" thing, perhaps.

    • ldwy says:

      Amazing comment! A lot of the things I was thinking about while reading, and also really great food for thought!

  16. TreasureCat says:

    Ma Costa could give Mrs Weasley a run for her money in the Absolute-Best-Amazing-Awesome-Fantastic-Literary-Mum-Or-Mother-Figure awards. You cant help but want big giant hugs from both of them forever <3

  17. stellaaaaakris says:

    FEED ME!

  18. sabra_n says:

    Ah, Lyra the Liar. As has been mentioned, she is such an unholy terror of a child, but there's something about her ferocity and morbid imagination and courage that make her a really fun heroine. For me, a good protagonist isn't someone I want to be but someone I want to watch. And I want to watch Lyra (and Pan), very much.

    Mark, if you think things are getting crazy now? Well. Heh. Just. You. Wait.

  19. Brieana says:

    I like how Lyra wasn't a victim in the brandy man situation. She used that man to get a few sandwich and coffee, and when he started to turn on the creep, she was able to quickly get the fuck out of there.
    I love Lyra.

  20. stellaaaaakris says:

    I didn't know there was going to be a review today! Yay!

    I love how Lyra creeps out the creepy man. She is amazing. I love her. I still don't like walking by myself through cities I don't know by night. I'm sure I look incredibly sketchy since I think I look/act really paranoid.

    Something not mentioned that really stuck out to me: The disappearing daemons of the net throwers. I assumed daemons disappeared when they died, but it made me sad that we can actually see the exact moment when they die. I obviously don't like the net throwers, but it always gets to me when animals in movies and books die, and I guess I need to add animal-shaped daemons to the list.

    I love the audiobook of TGC. It's a full cast and Pullman is the narrator. Here are youtube links to the two parts of Chapter 6 (POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILER WARNING: the image is of the movie cover of the DVD. It's mostly just the image of the actors, but there are hints about things we haven't seen yet. If you don't care about that, go ahead and click, or you can close your eyes or pull up another tab.)

    Chapter 6 Part 1
    Chapter 6 Part 2

    • Patrick721 says:

      God, the audiobooks are so amazing. I love it when they have a full cast for audiobooks.

  21. warmouth says:

    Time to pic spam now!

    I totally forgot about that creeper trying to spike Lyra's drink. I mean, I know alcohol drinking isn't nearly a big deal in Europe and especially in ~*~whatever~*~ time this is based, but still so creepy.

    <img src=""&gt;


    I do remember freaking out about the net guys the first time I read them. OMG RUN AWAY LYRA THEY'RE PROBABLY GOING TO MAKE YOU READ TWILIGHT FANFICTION OR SOMETHING.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I think we all know what this means.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Oh Ron, let me clear it up for you.

    <img src=""&gt;

    • Hanah_banana says:


      • warmouth says:

        That's definitely a background fish character from spongebob. Lulz.

        • Hanah_banana says:

          I knew there was a reason I hadn't started watching that show…it is staring at me and my soul is scared

          • warmouth says:

            Jesus, I'm not going to be able to watch the show anymore. Everytime my little sister turns it on I'm just gonna think: "Freudian!Fish is watching you sleep…"

  22. Roonil Wazlib says:

    I don't know how you are reading this chapter by chapter! With all the information thrown at you at once, and 8000 happening in each chapter, I remember just desperately wanting to keep reading so I could figure out what the heck was going on! And instead of answers, a lot of the times you just end up with more questions after each new chapter! Fantastic yet frustrating.

  23. theanagrace says:

    On the boat, Ma Costa approaches Lyra, who is quietly worried that Ma Costa will remember that this girl helped capture her boat on the day her son disappeared.

    I think the incident where Lyra helped steal the Costa's boat happened a year or two back, not on the day Billy disappeared. When Lyra was heading to the horse fair she was hoping to get another chance to steal a boat, but was distracted from her goal when she found out Billy was gone.

  24. Kaci says:

    For some reason, when Ma Costa hugged Lyra, I immediately pictured her and Molly Weasley teaming up to be badass, loving, amazing mothers together. Heh.

    Also, like you, the only thing I remembered from the movies was the bears. But they were badass bears!

  25. Hanah_banana says:

    Ah this chapter, it's so awesome. But you can say that about EVERY chapter because in EVERY chapter the shit gets real and unexpectedly fabulous and new things happen. Oh god this book &lt;3

    I've always been hugely creeped out by top hat man. I can never be quite sure if he's a proper creeper, trying to buy the little girl a sandwich and get her drunk and be a Bad Man generally, or if he is legit just trying to be nice to what is clearly a very young child lost and alone and not supposed to be out so late – I mean, if I were at a sandwich cart and there was a little kid there looking lost I'd offer to buy her a sandwich. If I didn't think she had anywhere to stay that night I might even offer her some brandy to keep her warm. (Actually no I TOTALLY WOULDN'T because a) I would never carry brandy around with me lol hipflasks I am not that kind of person and b) it is actually sort of creepy in that it is small child.) SO although he is obviously coming across a bit of a creeper, he may just be a nice man. BUT YOU CANNOT TELL AND THAT ACTUALLY MAKES IT WORSE.



    (I keep editing the cheering arm back into my happy dude and he keeps losing it! Hurrah for one-armed people being able to cheer too I guess!)

  26. Antskog says:

    First of all thanks for another awesome review. I started rereading the book on the weekend and can't understand how you can read only chapter a day. It would kill me.
    It's interesting to find how the way you think about things change when you get older. When I read the book last time few years back I didn't really think how creepy the man who bought Lyra coffee was. And now I was like Lyra please just get away from this man as quickly as posible. Although the lie she tells is awesome.
    I have only read these books in Finnish so it actually made me smile a lot when I read that the scary ghost like things are called Nälkäinens because nälkäinen is Finnish and means hungry. And of course they are called Nälkäiset in the Finnish version but I just thought that it was a translation. It always makes me happy when there's a reference to Finnish things in Foreign books or films or tv shows.( National pride I guess 🙂 )

    • hazelwillow says:

      I can relate, I'm Canadian and whenever I see reference to Canada in non-Canadian books I'm slightly surprised and pleased. Does "Nälkäiset" have a discernible meaning (related to hunger)?

  27. Patrick721 says:

    I Hunger. RUN COWARD!

    Fucking Sinistar, man.

  28. Noybusiness says:

    "Her and Pantalaimon"

    She and Pantalaimon. Adding an "and someone else" doesn't change the pronoun.

    It's really exciting reading your reactions to this book!

  29. vampireprincess2468 says:

    Remember I had a hard time not reading more an more of this. Loved the book

  30. fakehepburn says:

    "Lyra, ever the continual badass […]"


  31. fakehepburn says:

    So Ma Costa is easily one of my favourite characters, because front her first scene on I always pictured her as a kind of itinerant Mrs Weasley, the way she accepts Lyra into her boat/home so easily.

  32. Kate says:

    This series is one of my favorites, and since my first time reading these was maybe nine years ago, it is wonderful watching you discover this world!

  33. dcpierce says:

    Soooo many creepy adults! Thank goodness Lyra has a quick-thinking, sensible brain.

    Not gonna lie: as soon as I read about the first arrow to the baddies' neck I thought "Katniss is here! We're saved!" True story.

    aaaaand then we're introduced to a few more abominations that will surely haunt my nightmares.

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