Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of The Golden Compass, BRAIN EXPLOSION. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Golden Compass.

what is even happening


I promise I won’t skip to the end I promise I won’t skip to the end I promise I won’t skip to the end I promise I–

Pullman is perhaps the best world-builder I’ve come across out of anyone I’ve “reviewed” for Mark Reads, and before we get to all the unbearable mind-melting, I want to spend some time appreciating just how richly detailed this world is.

Lyra sets off on a new adventure with the Costas, doing what she can to show her appreciation for taking her in by helping out as much as possible around the boat. Lyra may be rude and a brat at time, but I think that in her heart, she knows what to do to make things right, and I found this routine she sets herself into to be immensely respectable. I mean, she’s eleven and she already understands this sort of thing? That’s honestly really rad, and I like that it’s so natural to her.

But Pullman injects an odd sense of impending doom to all of this. I absolutely trust the gyptians taking care of Lyra, especially the Costas, but as I read through chapter seven, I couldn’t quite understand why they were so interested in her, and why they were so worried about her being spotted. Pullman does provide a bit of context:

…there was a rumor that they were searching for a missing girl. And that in itself was odd, considering all the kids that had gone missing without being looked for. Gyptians and land folk alike were getting jumpy and nervous.

And that is rather weird. Had Mrs. Coulter already sent out the news that Lyra had gone missing to all the proper channels? I know she’s part of the Church, so I imagine she has a lot at her disposal.

And there was another reason for the Costas’ interest in Lyra; but she wasn’t to learn that for a few days yet.


The routine continues for days as they push north towards their meeting point with John Faa, and Lyra continues to hide whenever there is the possibility of her being discovered. (Neat fact: cedarwood is soporific! omg sleeping pantalaimon WANT FOREVER) The boat slowly makes its way around up to the marshland in Eastern Anglia (I GOOGLED THAT AND I NOW KNOW WHERE THAT IS), called the “fens,” which is where they gyptains are located. I think I understand now how the gyptains are meant to represent a marginalized culture more than ever before, and Pullman is great at not only explaining how people look down on them for their culture, but how that relates to their lack of power in society. Perhaps the best way that Pullman elaborates on this is describing how Lyra begins to assimilate gyptian culture into herself AND how that can be problematic.

At first, it’s in terms of the way she speaks (and we get better examples of how her manner of speaking and her syntax change dramatically when she’s talking to John Faa), and then by adopting Fen-Dutch words into her vocabulary. Ma Costa is keen to notice this and I was absolutely shocked (in a good way!) that she literally explains what cultural appropriation is to Lyra:

“You en’t gyptian, Lyra. You might pass for a gyptian with practice, but there’s more to us than gyptian language. There’s deeps in us and strong currents. We’re water people all through, and you en’t, you’re a fire person. What you’re most like is marsh fire, that’s the place you have in the gyptian scheme; you got witch oil in your soul. Deceptive, that’s what you are, child.”

Lyra was hurt.

“I en’t never deceived anyone! You ask…”

There was no one to ask, of course, and Ma Costa laughed, but kindly.

“Can’t you see I’m a paying you a compliment, you gosling?” she said, and Lyra was pacified, though she didn’t understand.

I MEAN SERIOUSLY, COULD THERE BE ANY MORE OF A PERFECT EXAMPLE. A culture is not made up of singular things that are for the taking, and the gyptian culture is not simply something you “learn” and then MAGIC, you are one of them! IT’S LIKE A GAME, Y’ALL. Oh gosh, young people read this, that is so amazing.

The Costas arrive at the Zaal (a mooring in the Fens), “the sun…about to set in a splash of bloody sky,” and everything gets incredibly weird incredibly fast. I’ll be honest: I could not figure this out. Tony and Kerim Costa are excited about an event called “The Roping” and they tell everyone the strangest thing:

“And they’re a saying in the town–what d’you think of this?–they’re saying that the missing child’s on a gyptian boat, and she’s a going to appear tonight at the Roping!”

Is this a good thing??? Why so much excitement and, more importantly, how does the rest of the town know? My anxiety crept up just a bit because I wasn’t sure of the intent of the gyptians at this point. They’ve certainly demonstrated to Lyra that they genuinely care for her and are trying to protect her, but why is everyone so weird around her? Why is she so important? (This does feel a tad like Harry Potter’s fame, doesn’t it? Only Lyra knows nothing about it, which is a fascinating dynamic.)

The thing is, Tony Costa wasn’t exaggerating, as Lyra experiences first-hand just how much anticipation the gyptians have for her visit. At first, it’s just stares and pointing, but Pullman describes the group as literally parting the way for her as she moves with Ma Costa to the front of the group. The spacious hall is light by “naphtha,” which I assume is a reference to coal tar, and creates this neat effect where only those on the ground are lit and the roof of the place is dark enough to seem as if it stretches forever. At the end of the hall, a platform with eight chairs is then filled with the leaders of the gyptians, with John Faa arriving last, a crow dæmon adorning his shoulder. (I still haven’t figured out why certain men have crows as dæmons and what that represents. Oh gosh, dæmons are so intriguing to me.)

As far as I understand it, The Roping is just some sort of meeting between all of the gyptians, as I don’t think it’s explained otherwise. But John Faa begins this all with a very intentional, direct message, knowing why they’ve all gathered: someone has been stealing children from them and the landlopers. But he makes it clear that those on land have put out a steep reward for the return of Lyra, and that any gyptian who thinks of even entertaining that notion does not belong among them. And then my heart swelled because I no longer had any reason to worry about the intentions of these people, because that is one amazing thing to say about Lyra.

He continues to explain why they’ve all met up, that the Gobblers are a destructive force on their society, and that both the police and the clergy seem bent on helping abduct children. Now that is probably the most fascinating thing I’ve read yet, even more so than anything later in this chapter. Why on earth would the clergy be intrinsically interested in kidnapping children and sending them to the north? What is it about the Dust that threatens either them or the world?

John Faa insists that the gyptians must send a group of fighters to the north in order to rescue the children who are captured there. One of the gyptian men asks Faa if he means to rescue all the non-gyptian children as well, and Faa’s response is pretty spectacular:

“Raymond, are you saying we should fight our way through every kind of danger to a little group of frightened children, and then say to some of them that they can come home, and to the rest that they have to stay? No, you’re a better man than that. Well, do I have your approval, my friends?”

SIMPLY AMAZING. Holy shit, that is so awesome!

The gyptians overwhelmingly approve this idea and Faa outlines plans for taxes and levies to raise funds for the expedition (SEE TAXES ARE GOOD), giving the gyptians three days’ time before he meets with them all again to outline what their plan is. After this, Tony Costa takes Lyra to meet with John Faa privately to discuss…well, I was still unsure why he needed a private meeting with her. Why was she so important to the plan?

There’s such a ridiculous air of tension, mostly on Lyra’s part, as she meets privately with John Faa and Farder Coram, an older man who sat on that same platform with the other leaders of the gyptians. I know that Lyra is nervous about what this whole spectacle is about, and I was too. I knew at this point that it wasn’t something bad, but it was just the uncertainty that pinged at my stomach.

John Faa starts off by asking the obvious: Did Lyra run away from someone in London  and who was that person? Lyra begins to grow much more trustworthy of the man before her and begins to tell him what she knows of Mrs. Coulter, the Oblation Board, and how that relates to the Gobblers. As I said in the last review, the very nature of the Gobblers has created a sense of confusion, spawning this disparate stories of who the Gobblers are and what they do. I imagine that the Oblation Board intended for this to happen and probably spread some rumors of their own to keep people misinformed and confused. That’s why this meeting of the minds is so intriguing, because it allows Lyra and John Faa to combine their stories to make more sense of the disappearing children.

First, though, John Faa outright confirms that the gyptians, and especially him and Farder Coram, know quite a bit about Lyra herself. He states that he knows “news” about her on top of news about the disappearances. Lyra is quick to assume that her own personal judgment day has arrived, that John Faa is talking about her siege on Ma Costa’s boat the day her son disappeared, and Faa and Coram have a hearty laugh at how clueless and naive Lyra is. Not only do they know about that, but this has nothing to do with it.

That is when John Faa says a sentence that perplexes me:

“I were saying, Lyra, as we knew about you from a child.”

I’m sorry. What? How? Why????

If you will allow me the indulgence, it’s from this point on that I literally had to keep stopping because I thought my brain was going to explode from the sheer info dump that Pullman provides us. I’m not a big fan of recapping exposition-heavy dialogue like this because it’s boring to write, but I am a big fan of lists. And I need to talk about at least forty things at the same time, so, again, indulge me, please.

Solely From Lyra’s Conversation With John Faa

  1. Lyra’s father did not die in an airship accident, and he knows this because she has met her father more times than she can count. HER FATHER IS LORD ASRIEL. I’m sorry WAS THIS IN THE MOVIE VERSION BECAUSE I DO NOT FUCKING REMEMBER THIS AT ALL. I honestly had to get up and walk away for a second because I was so flabbergasted by this reveal. HOW IS THIS FUCKING POSSIBLE.
  2. Oh, Lord Asriel totally had an affair with a married woman who gave birth to Lyra and it was so obvious that Lyra was not her mother’s husband’s child that Lord Asriel took Lyra to be put in the care of a gyptian nurse in Oxfordshire.
  3. Oh, but wait, then the husband found out and went to the cottage where she was being hid so he could…be in a murderous rage? IDK HE WAS REALLY, REALLY MAD.
  5. Lord Asriel is sued? Perhaps the British use of the word “lawsuit” is different than ours, but the court is completely perplexed as to how to punish him because the law is complicated, but they eventually decide to punish Asriel by TAKING ALL OF HIS PROPERTY AND LAND AND LEAVING HIM COMPLETELY POOR. oh god why 🙁 🙁 🙁
  6. Lyra’s mother? WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH HER. So the gyptian nurse petitioned to take care of Lyra, but the courts were BIG BLOODY RACIST ASSHOLES and instead she gets placed in a priory.
  8. Oh, and the gyptians never stopped looking out for Lyra, as they had a “spy” of sorts at Jordan College, and it was totally Bernie Johansen, the kitchen servant who Lyra freaked out to in chapter three when Roger disappeared. what even is this book. I mean, seriously, Pullman is already tying up loose ends in CHAPTER SEVEN. how am i ever going to be prepared for the future.
  9. The gyptians learned that Lord Asriel was imprisoned and knew this was awful because now he was no longer around to protect Lyra from bad things, and oh, that bad thing is that it’s only then that the gyptians remembered the name of the man that Lord Asriel killed: Edward Coulter.
  10. MRS. COULTER IS LYRA’S MOTHER. Which now makes me want to die forever and ever (in a good way) (how is that good) (stop describing things) because every appearance of her in the past has now been re-contextualized and that kissing scene is possibly the creepiest thing in all of existence.
  11. The alethiometer. I am combining all revelations about that wonderful instrument into one section because I am utterly shocked that Pullman outright describes exactly how it works so early into the book. Farder Coram is well aware of how rare it is and how powerful it is. He explains that each of the thirty-six images represents at least three levels of meanings, and can go as deep as NEVER ENDING. So you ask the alethiometer a question by turning three of the dials to symbols that best represent whatever it is you need to know, and the fourth hand will point to symbols that give you the answer. Oh, and it works only if the user does some weird concentration shit in their brain? I mean…I’m going to need to see this in action to fully understand this, but HOLY SHIT.
  12. This fucking fantastic quote from John Faa broke my brain because it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever read: “I see the Master as a man having terrible choices to make; whatever he chooses will do harm, but maybe if he does the right thing, a little less harm will come about than if he chooses wrong. God preserve me from having to make that sort of choice.” GOOD GOD.
  13. As if all of that was not enough to thoroughly put me completely into Philip Pullman’s hands, it is revealed that the woman who cared for Lyra after she was born and protected her from certain death was Ma Costa.

I can’t. I cannot even. This is just simply incredible. AND I AM BARELY A THIRD THROUGH THIS BOOK.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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190 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 7

  1. KristinAdele says:

    yay! I knew refreshing every 30 seconds would work =)

  2. Sparkie says:

    This chapter completely puts everything that came before in a new light. Seriously, it's just reveal after revelation after head-asplosions!

  3. Kira Wonrey says:

    This is fantastic ^^ I loved this chapter, is amazing.

  4. elusivebreath says:

    Man, I was reading this chapter last night and I totally forgot that the reveal about Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter came so early in the book. I already KNEW it and I was still floored, lol. I've read the book twice already and I still wasn't prepared!

    • KristinAdele says:

      I was re-reading along with Mark, but over the weekend I got too restless and so I had to finish it. I went back to see what happened in today's chapter, and I was like, Mark is going to find out who Lyra's real parents are!! But it seems so early in the book! And still so shocking …

    • roguebelle says:

      I know, I definitely had this idea that it came much later on — I guess because *muttermumblespoilersmumblemutter* 😉

      • Mia says:

        Me too – I was rereading along with Mark as well, and I was just like WTF? I know this is the case, but does Lyra really know THIS SOON? I clearly do not remember the series well enough. I may get restless and finish it all again. Not that that's a bad thing 😀
        Oh and I totally get your *muttermumblespoilersmumblemutter* thing 😉

        I don't remember if it was mentioned in the film, but I like to pretend the film doesn't exist anyway. It was HORRIBLE (well parts were good, but overshadowed by the AWFUL.)

  5. Saphling says:

    Mark, sorry to have to tell you this (no, I'm really not) but… just copy how much your mind is blown from this chapter and paste it as each review for every chapter after this.

    You are not prepared, hon. You're really not. ^__^ And I love your review because you have seen glimpses of what will be revealed later, and your flail is my glee, because it makes me remember my flailing when I first read this book.

    This may make me a bad person. >__>

    • Kate says:

      oh I am in your boat – it's been nine years since i first read this and i am so full of glee at mark discovering this incredible world!

  6. Lexi says:

    I’ve been waiting for this chapter for awhile, simply for one line that you didn’t specifically talk about because (understandably) you were wrapped up with the info dump.

    Anyway, the line is about Bernie Johansen, the pastry cook. And it says “Bernie was a kindly, solitary man, one of those rare people whose daemon was the same sex as himself.”

    Does anyone else think this is Pullman’s way of denoting that Bernie is gay? It’s always stood out to me, and I’ve always wondered what other people thought of it, or if they’d ever even noticed it at all?

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Darth_Ember says:

      Presumably it's like… I don't know, yin-yang. Masculine and feminine side and stuff. If your two sides of your nature are either really balanced or slightly tilted the other way than expected your daemon might counterbalance that.
      Daemons, as we've seen, disappear on death. So they're a bit less physical, so viewing them in terms of energy might make sense.
      Yes I know this is not scientific but this is a fantasy series where a little girl has a talking shapeshifting animal companion. So why not masculine/feminine energy?

    • Brieana says:

      I thought that he was gay when I first read it. Pullman said that that isn't the case and I think another opinion within the fandom is that he might be transgender.

      • Avit says:

        Closeted Bernice? Huh, that makes more sense. No provision for nonbinaries, obvs., but as far as we know daemon-form might be settled in part or whole by the human's attitudes, and there certainly would be no thought of anything beyond man or woman in Ambiguously Old-Timey England. Nor really very much in Unambiguously Now-Timey England, I'd venture to guess 😛

        • sauce. says:

          Or maybe daemons would reflect non-binaryness in other ways… like be neutered if you were bigendered or bigendered if you were agendered or something. That is, of course, a gross oversimplification of a complicated subject (made no less complex by the insertion of magical talking animals), but something along those lines isn't impossible. I mean, we are talking about… magical talking animal familiars.

    • t09yavorski says:

      Yes! This!

      Though I understand why Mark missed this because this was a big chapter.

      I really like to believe this is the case (that Bernie is gay). Since daemons are a constant companion, with a seeming intimate connection with their people, it makes sense to me that their gender would be affected by something like that.

    • sauce. says:

      I've always personally been of the opinion that same-sex daemons mean you're trans, not gay. Of course, this is all up in the air as fanon since I think Pullman's been asked about this and said (I am paraphrasing) 'sure, why not, whatever you think, guys'.

    • James says:

      He outright said it's not meant to denote sexuality. I doubt it would be so rare if that were the case. I know it's a different world, but I can't imagine it's *that* different. I just always assumed trans people's daemons would be the "same sex", so they're still the opposite gender.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      I've always sort of wondered if perhaps there are intersexed daemons (clownfish, for example, are sequential hermaphrodites), and what that would mean for the human connected to it. There's also the question of animals who change sex due to environmental factors (like a dominant male clownfish that becomes female if there are no other females in their area*), and whether or not that means that the daemon would change in the same way or perhaps even be able to change sex at will.

      There's also a question of whether or not other humans would even know if another person's daemon is the same sex as its human. There are some species of animals were sex differentiation is easy to see at a glance (like cardinals), but there are other species where you'd basically have pick the thing up and examine the sex organs (which, given what we know about the daemons' connection to their humans, would be incredibly awkward), and still others where we really can't tell the difference without genetic testing. As such, it might be the case that whoever came up with the idea that daemons are usually the opposite sex of their human was just doing a cursory, at-a-glance count, and where the sex was indeterminate it was just assumed to be the opposite of the human its with, in a sort of confirmation bias. Of course, rather than having a character say it and possibly be wrong in their assumption, the narrator confirms the rarity of same-sex daemons directly, but I'm perfectly willing to have the narrator be wrong on this one. 🙂

      *I may or may not want a morphologically correct version of Finding Nemo.

    • awildmiri says:

      "TB: There was one point about demons which – you say, I think, right at the beginning of Northern Lights, that somebody’s got a demon of the same sex as themselves, and this is very rare. Now, does that indicate homosexuality? Or what?

      PP: I don’t know. There are plenty of things about my worlds I don’t know, and that’s one of them. It might do! But it might not! Occasionally, no doubt, people do have a demon of the same sex; that might indicate homosexuality, or it might indicate some other sort of gift or quality, such as second sight. I do not know. But I don’t have to know everything about what I write."

      I love Pullman for basically saying "you can just make of it what you will" to his readers. He's all for interpretation of the text and it is beautiful.

      • notemily says:

        "I don't have to know everything about what I write." That's awesome, especially coming from someone who obviously did a LOT of research in order to create this alternate world. Even with all that planning, there's still room for mystery.

    • pica_scribit says:

      That was my thought, too. If so, then it's a really subtle, clever way for Pullman to say "people are born this way, and there's nothing the Church or anyone can say about it in this world, so NYAH!"

    • mal612 says:

      I read this as saying the Bernie was gay–only not in so many words. I suppose I'd say the equivalent in my head as I was reading, was the old saying: "not the marrying kind." The world of HDM feel so old-fashioned to me in so many ways, I just read it as a fact that homosexuality was not something that people were very open about however, just as a child would notice that the nice man up the street as never been married, Lyra notices that Bernie's daemon is that same sex as himself.

    • 42Kayla says:

      I hadn't thought about the (potential) exclusion of other sexual preferences (aside from homosexuality) in this chapter… I just assumed he was gay and moved on. Assuming this is what was being implied, I absolutely love that it was thrown in there.

      However: the comments saying they got the impression that he is a transvestite totally work also…. Probably better than the homosexual assumption, because sexuality tends to be more fluid than "I like boys (or girls), 100% of the time." Also: bisexuals, asexuals, etc….
      OR maybe if the sexual preference is the cause of the daemon's gender, maybe other sexualities weren't presented because there just wasn't a place for them? Or maybe Pullman didn't think about it… Who knows.
      Interesting points, I've been excited for this part of the conversation!

      That line has stuck out in my mind since reading the book years ago.

  7. amandajane5 says:

    I re-finished the book over the weekend (somehow my determination to read along with Mark never lasts more than five or six chapters) and then tried to find my copy of The Subtle Knife and CANNOT FIND IT!

    But thinking about it, I'm pretty sure I know where it is – many years ago my boyfriend's brother picked up my copy of The Golden Compass because he'd heard interesting things about it and finished the whole thing in the weekend he was down to visit us and I think I lent him my copy of The Subtle Knife to take with him and never got it back. 🙁

    I love all of the reveals about Lyra's past that happen in this chapter, they're so shocking but make just SO MUCH SENSE!

  8. Jenny_M says:

    I noticed something in this chapter that I had never noticed before – Bernie Johansen's daemon is the same sex as himself. How much do I love that Pullman put that in there and never made a big deal out of it. It was just matter-of-fact.

  9. Kaci says:

    I started reading this book years ago, and then for some reason, I stopped fairly early on, but I don't remember what chapter. I think I also saw the movie, but again, I barely remember it. So now I'm listening to the audiobook one chapter a day to read along with you and my reaction to this chapter was !!!!!! WHAT!!!!?!akdjfadfkj! and then about five minutes later, something pinged in my brain and I went, "Oh, right, I already knew that. BUT WHAT?!?!?! AHHHH MORE NOW."

    I share your frustration with limiting yourself to only one chapter a day because I NEED MORE.

  10. monkeybutter says:

    Lord Asriel is sued? Perhaps the British use of the word “lawsuit” is different than ours, but the court is completely perplexed as to how to punish him because the law is complicated, but they eventually decide to punish Asriel by TAKING ALL OF HIS PROPERTY AND LAND AND LEAVING HIM COMPLETELY POOR. oh god why

    I think lawsuit simply means that it was a civil action, and the book says that it was the dead man's lawyers who were pursuing the case. So, essentially Lord Asriel was sued for killing a man in defense of his home and child, Mr Coulter being there to "avenge the violation of his wife." Mrs Coulter's honor and body are equal to Lord Asriel's home under the law, though I suppose the verdict means that the right of a man to kill in defense of his wife supersedes the right of a man to kill in defense of his home, so that's something. To me, this is not only in general reference to the status of women as property, but also a specific reference to the 10th commandment that one should not covet his neighbor's house, wife, donkeys, and other property.

    On a happier note, yay, this chapter is so good! I love how quickly everything develops, and that Lyra's past is dealt with so openly. It can only mean lots more excitement in the future!

  11. leighzzz31 says:

    Mark, I am so, SO glad that sorry excuse of a film version flew completely over your head so I could enjoy all the brain explosions and lists and key smashes! I am really glad you got to properly appreciate the revelations about Lyra's parents in this chapter!

    Also, I'm thrilled you love Pullman's world-building abilities. I wasn't so much aware of this as a kid (what ten-year old really understands things like this?) but I could still conjure up incredibly detailed images of Lyra's world just by Pullman's descriptions. I mean, he even gives us hints of what the politics are like in the community of the gyptians which is something a Political Sciences student always appreciates. [This book provides something new to me everytime I read it, it's amazing!]

    “You en’t gyptian, Lyra. You might pass for a gyptian with practice, but there’s more to us than gyptian language. There’s deeps in us and strong currents. We’re water people all through, and you en’t, you’re a fire person. What you’re most like is marsh fire, that’s the place you have in the gyptian scheme; you got witch oil in your soul. Deceptive, that’s what you are, child.”

    I knew you'd make a note of this, Mark! And it's so incredible that Pullman is able to slip something like that into th narrative without making it forced or heavy-handed or overly-preachy. It's commentary on cultural appropriation and marginalised groups and he eases it into a conversation that the eleven year old protagonist (and potentialy eleven year old reader) can make sense of! Funny thing is, I distinctly remember this particular paragraph from my first read when I was ten and I'm equally sure it's made some kind of difference in the way I see things like this. [I've said it before and I'll say it again:THIS BOOK HAS SHAPED MY LIFE!]

    As for the revelations, yeah, pretty much head explosions everywhere, though of course it makes perfect sense in hindsight; Lyra seems to have many qualities her parents are admired for. And, we finally figure out what the alethiometer is; which I can now proudly say I'd guessed from when it was first mentioned. Aletheia is the greek word for truth, as Farder Coram says, and I spotted that immediately.

  12. Noybusiness says:

    I spent the past several days in anticipation of how your head would asplode when you got to these revelations! It's so exciting to read someone going through this!

  13. akaSunshowers says:

    Aslkjfsjkls;jkal;s it makes me so happy that this book is making you so happy.

    And I love that something another author might have made a ~big reveal~ out of comes so early in this book.

    "Yeah, old news, dad."

  14. eleventysix says:

    This Chapter!! I can't seem to settle on a sufficiently positive description for my love of this chapter. (Re)reading chapter-by-chapter may be slow, but it's definitely helped me appreciate little things more than I did the first time I blew through this book (the 13 year age difference may also help…). First off – I really adore Pullman's writing. Most of the time, it's just descriptive enough to convey the plot and keep the reader involved in the world of the story; but every so often he slips in a beautiful description of a scene or an emotion that makes me sit up and just want to soak in the words. Example? Okay!:

    She looked fierce and stubborn as she sat there, small against the high carved back of the chair. The two old men couldn't help smiling, but whereas Farder Coram's smile was a hesitant, rich, complicated expression that trembled across his face like sunlight chasing shadows on a windy March day, John Faa's smile was slow, warm, plain, and kindly.
    Those sound like two amazing smiles, and in a way, I envy Lyra for getting to see both of them.

    In addition to the info dump (which, really, well done, Pullman. I was in fits about that the first time), this chapter raises some pretty interesting questions about people getting along with other people. Lyra's history suddenly makes all of her previous relationships more complicated, at least for me. She tortured the Costas – along with all the other Gyptians – because that's basically what she was taught: solely by virtue of where and how she was living, she was better than them. And yet, they are in some sense also her family, she owes her existence to them; so how is she going to reconcile these ideas? Does she think she needs to?
    I also think her interactions with her parents (!) are more interesting now. She inherently trusted both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, and at some point fantasized about them meeting and getting married and taking her to rescue Roger. Now that she knows the truth, is there some sense of rejection or betrayal that she's going to have to work through? Can she choose another family, make her own?

    Random end thought: I've definitely been more aware this time around how Lyra's speech will (consciously? not so much?) shift depending on the people she's interacting with, and the persona she wants to convey in that situation, even with seemingly small things, such as the different ways she spoke to the female scholars vs. Mrs. Coulter at dinner. I wonder how much this is a (passive) defense mechanism for her – being able to blend in most comfortably across different environments – and how much it's due to her (more active) phenomenal ability to lie.

    Oh, and as usual: Mark, you're not prepared; but some may argue that it's even better that way 🙂

  15. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Most screwed up family ever y/y??

    I really love John Faa in this chapter. He's just so blunt. Like 'Yeah we're gonna go to the north and fight the gobblers and rescue all the children. Problem?'

    The whole Mrs Coulter and Lyra relationship is seriously fucked up. Actually, I was kind of reminded of the Disney movie Tangled with Rapunzel and Gothel. There's a similar sort of conflict – between really really hating someone, but still knowing that they are your mother and feeling like that should make a difference…
    Characters in this book are so ~deep~ y'all.

    • FlameRaven says:

      I dunno, I still think the Fire Nation royal family gets major points towards being the most messed up. Or possibly the Lannisters (yes, I'm rereading Game of Thrones).

      Gothel is a fascinating Disney villain, she's both much more subtle and much more effective than most Disney villains, and it honestly makes her more terrifying. Her relationship with Rapunzel is straight-up emotional abuse most of the time, which, having been witness to such a relationship, gives me chills every time I watch it. And yet, I'm fascinated by the way she manipulates everyone in the entire movie so elegantly. She plays them all to get exactly the result she wants. And yet… as much as she views Rapunzel mostly as a 'thing' to grant her youth… I have to think she cares for her at least a little.

      The Lyra/Mrs. Coulter relationship is pretty different, mostly because of Lyra's childhood and stronger personality, but I can see the parallels. Mrs. Coulter seems like a very similar type of woman- very controlling, very powerful, very manipulative, but… again, as much as she wants to control Lyra and, I'm sure, use her for her own goals, she must care for her at least a little. It feels like she's got everyone out looking for Lyra both because she's angry that Lyra managed to escape her influence AND she's genuinely worried for the girl's safety.

      • hummingbrdheart says:

        Can you imagine what Lyra would have become if she'd been raised by Mrs. Coulter? I've wondered that forever. And it is a chilling thought, no?

        • FlameRaven says:

          I'm sure Mrs. Coulter would have tried to mold her into the perfect porcelain little "pet" version that Pantalaimon complains about during the time they're in her care. Whether she would have succeeded is another thing altogether.

      • elusivebreath says:

        I'm rereading GoT too 😛

        • FlameRaven says:

          I blame the HBO episodes. I was enjoying the episodes, following along with what I remembered… and then they ended at a point where I could not remember what happened next, and I had to go dig out my copy of the book.

          Then I didn't have the other three books, so I had to go get them.

      • monkeybutter says:

        The Targaryens and Cleganes are sad to be excluded. Honestly, we could probably fill out a tournament bracket entirely with ASOIAF families for the Most Screwed Up title. God, I love those books. 🙂

        • FlameRaven says:

          I mentioned the Lannisters specifically because they're all main characters, where the Cleganes are more side characters and the Targaryens are all gone (with a few notable exceptions). We get a lot more insight into the Lannisters than any of the other messed up families in Westeros (and oh, there are so many.)

          • monkeybutter says:

            Haha, yup. The list is basically "everyone except the Starks, who also have some issues of their own."

            • FlameRaven says:

              Indeed. But then, that's really the point of the series, that these might be knights and royalty, but they're still just people, full of all the faults people are prone to.

  16. Maya says:

    Oh man, I forgot how EARLY they reveal Lyra's parentage!!! I don't know if they mentioned Mrs. Coulter being her mother in the movie, but I'm pretty sure they brought up Lord Asriel being her father, although that movie was so messed up I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to leave it out.

    Basically, John Faa is awesome, Ma Costa is awesome, Mrs. Coulter is providing years of psychotherapy for Lyra, and Lord Asriel is both terrible and a badass. Talk about character development….

    • In the movie, Mrs. Coulter tells Lyra she's her mother, and it's not till near the end, I don't think?

      • tigerpetals says:

        I think it was near the end, because I remember the scene being combined dramatically with this other scene that I can't talk about for fear of spoiling.

      • Noybusiness says:

        Correct. Lyra then guesses that Lord Asriel is her father and Mrs. Coulter confirms it.

  17. MichelleZB says:

    "Lyra begins to grow much more trustworthy of the man before her…"

    You mean trusting, Mark, not trustworthy.

    Why must I nitpick? It is a compulsion…

    • Mark does have a recurring issue with lightning bugs and lightning, doesn't he? (Please imagine me saying this in the nicest, lovingest way possible! IT IS ADORABLE.) I spent the whole weekend reading all of Mark Watches Doctor Who — well, the Nu Who Reviews, anyway — and there were a few times I had to slap my mouse hand to stop myself from giving in to urges born in a Type-A copyeditor's soul. I mean, if I'm going to nitpick, it ought to be while the blog entry is still current…

      • mal612 says:

        I hear ya! I LOVE reading the Mark Reads/Watches blogs but I was an english major and I work in publishing.

        THIS>> John Faa outright confirms that the gyptians, and especially him and Farder Coram, know quite a bit about Lyra herself. <<KILLS ME. I can't help it, my soul dies a little bit each time Mark does this (which is kind of a lot). And as Mark is critiquing literature/writing, basic grammar rules shouldn't be ignored. Or that least, they should be acknowledged with the good intentions of someone just trying to make a great blog better. 🙂

        That being said, I am very happy that Mark has created this little fan-oasis of the internet, and little grammar issues are not going to stop me from enjoying his posts and the great environment of the blog.

  18. John Faa arriving last, a crow dæmon adorning his shoulder. (I still haven’t figured out why certain men have crows as dæmons and what that represents. Oh gosh, dæmons are so intriguing to me.)
    Maybe they've all committed MURDER! And if you have a lion, it means you have a lot of PRIDE. And if you have a swan, you strive to hear the LAMENTATION of the women. And if you have a goose, you like to…GAGGLE.

  19. @Shoganate says:

    Does anyone else remember Lyra's previous wish/daydream that Lord Asriel & Mrs. Coulter would meet and fall madly in love and then adopt her?? Well that's not EXACTLY what happened, but maybe she should be a bit more careful with what she wishes for?? y/y/y/y

    • Danika the Lesbrarian says:

      I wanted to comment on that, too! Especially because Mark was like "… pretty sure that's not going to happen." But it kind of already did? Oh, Pullman. So clevar.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      When the Master was talking to the Librarian after their failed murder attempt, the Librarian asked if Lord Asriel has something to do with the Oblation Board and the Master answers that it's being run by someone who "has no love for Lord Asriel."

  20. dbmacp says:

    I know this is probably like the nerdiest thing ever, but I really need to suggest the audiobook to all and sundry here. There are three amazing full-cast recordings for this trilogy, which my family and I used to listen to (all available on iTunes. I have them on my iPod to this day), and even as much as I love reading the books myself, the voice actors are phenomenal, and Pullman himself is the narrator. How much better can it get?

    Also Mark, inasmuch as your mind is blown right now, you have in no way prepared yourself for the future. I can't even.

    • Seconding this recommendation! All the characters have the best voices; I can't (re)read these chapters with Mark without hearing John Faa and Farder Coram (best name ever) and the other gyptians, with their distinctive accents and strong, proud voices. I can't imagine how expensive a full-cast recording must have been, but it's so, so worth it.

      how am i ever going to be prepared for the future.

      Oh, Mark. You aren't.

    • 42Kayla says:

      As a rabid audiobook consumer, I can whole-heartedly agree with this! Very well-executed.

  21. TreasureCat says:

    I heart this info dump, I really really do.
    Its like Pullman went: "Right, I have a bunch of stuff that needs to go into this chapter. Hmm, I could just make it a necessary but tedious info dump like most authors would…but actually I think Ill make it a beautiful, vivid, totally awesome, brain-esplodey info bonanza! *puts on sunglasses and triumphant music plays*"
    This is obviously the exact thing that went through his head, natch.

  22. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    I absolutlely loved this chapter. I'm so glad Pullman is willing to answer so many questions so early in the book.

    Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel are Lyra's parents.
    <img src=" "/>

    I never saw the film but didn't Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig play the respective characters? They would make such a good-looking couple.

    • eleventysix says:

      I saw the film…after being bullied into taking the younger sibling by parents. And despite general dismay, I thought those two were actually quite well cast, especially Kidman.

      P.S. you get extra special bonus points for one of the most appropriate uses of a Doctor gif in the history of ever. Well done.

      • Kidman was ridiculously awesome in the movie. Pity it stinks in most places, but the casting, they really did that right.

        • flootzavut says:

          They made a heinous mess of the story but boy, the casting was GOOD. Pretty much spot on all round.

      • knut_knut says:

        I LOOOOOOOOOVED Kidman as Mrs. Coulter! In general I thought that casting was pretty good (except maybe for Eva Green? Maybe that was more of an acting problem…) it was the plot or lack thereof that ruined it for me 🙁

  23. eleniel says:

    I don't even know what to say about this chapter. SO MUCH OMG

    First of all, love to John Faa and the Costas* for being TOTALLY AWESOME AND AMAZING

    Love to Lyra for telling the truth for once and the fast mutual trust between her and Faa and for generally being great this chapter

    Love to Asriel for being a BAMF


    It's pretty mind-blowing, but it perfectly explains why Mrs Coulter came to Jordan for Lyra in particular, or even knew about her in the first place. And it does somewhat explain some of the Master's actions, which I appreciate, because he has been the most baffling person to me so far.

    There are just so many answers already in this chapter, it makes me so excited for even more awesomeness down the road!

    *Edit: PS. This is the name of my new steampunk band

  24. knut_knut says:

    I had no idea you posted yesterday and therefore didn't read this chapter 🙁 BUT POOR LYRA AND HER FUCKED UP FAMILY (MOSTLY MOTHER) 🙁 🙁 🙁 The fact that Mrs. Coulter is Lyra's mother seems SO OBVIOUS when re-reading the book, especially because at the cocktail party everyone keeps saying Lyra looks like Mrs. Coulter. The first time I read it I just assumed the guests were being polite and not wanting to offend this random child Mrs. Coulter seemed to have acquired, but nope, guess they actually do look related.

    • muzzery says:

      You know what is great about the cocktail party? One of the guests actually refers to Mrs Coulter as Lyra's mother. And then when Lyra explains about her "parents" Count and Countess Belacqua, the woman gets all confused. Oh Pullman, you put it right there in front of us you tease.

  25. who_cares86 says:

    Not sure about what this Fen-Dutch is supposed to mean. My best guess is that fen is a misspelling of ven meaning mere (a shallow but broad lake). Zaal is correct dutch for room or hall whereas landloper is dutch for vagrant or tramp.

    • Ellalalalala says:

      That area of East Anglia is called the Fens though, in Britain as well as Brytain! Which presumably comes from 'ven', but not so much as a misspelling as a linguistic adaptation into English. Assimilation? What's the right word? There is a word. Let's pretend I used it.

      Interesting about landloper! I'd assumed it was literally 'land-walker' – as in, not Gyptian, kind of like 'landlubber' for non-sailor. Landloper is used in that context isn't it, about non-Gyptians, or have I misremembered? (I'm going to have to start taking the book into work!)

      • who_cares86 says:

        Yeah it landloper literally means landwalker. Guess which people are meant by that term? The Dutch term for landlubber is landrot. Rot as in dry-rot and the process of decomposition.

      • Vikinhaw says:

        Well it's not quite a adaption into English from Dutch, it's because Dutch and English come from the same language family (West Germanic). Though English has been influenced by many other languages and developed into something very different, it originally came from the same region as Dutch. Old English, which is unintelligible to a modern English speaker had, alot more similarity to Dutch.

        Basically the word fen comes from Old English word 'fenn'. Both words may have the same root. There are a number of other cognates for example Landloper makes sense in English too because 'lope' is an English word means walk easily. So 'person who walks on land' is what I got from it.

        I wonder how the Gyptians got called 'Gyptians' when they seem to be Dutch.

        • Avit says:

          Welp, the people who get called "gypsies" in our world aren't Egyptian either….

          • Ellalalalala says:

            Yeah, I assumed it was a reference to their nomadism and possibly ethnic identity. I don't get the impression they're Dutch though – but influenced by Dutch culture, certainly.

            • Vikinhaw says:

              Maybe since many 'Hollanders' settled in the Fens, the Gyptians were influenced by them, even picking up their language. This is totally pedantic and besides the point but I love doing this so much!

          • Vikinhaw says:

            Yes but they got called that because Romani, being from the Indian Subcontinent were darker-skinned that the people they meet in Europe. The Gyptians, being Dutch, are presumably white so assuming they're from Egypt isn't quite logical. Oh well, discrimination doesn't make much logical sense in out world either.

        • Ellalalalala says:

          I bow to your superior linguistic/historical knowledge!

        • tigerpetals says:

          I love this thread.

  26. who_cares86 says:

    Finally caught up again. I got two chapters behind but I'm back . There's been too many revelations to count. The holy shit quotient is going through the roof. Lyra has left Mrs. Coulter rather sooner than I expected. One thing that irks me is that Lyra seems far too trusting and reveals crucial information to the gyptians way to easily. How can she be so trusting of people she barely knows in matters that are clearly of great importance and secret for a reason.

    • rumantic says:

      I think she trusts the gyptians in general, because they have always been loyal to her. And also, she's 11, she can't have developed much of a sense of cynic-ness (I have no idea what that word should be) yet. She still has this very innocent, childish view of people – if someone shows kindness to you, that means they are a good person, unless they do something specific to change that view. Her sense of something being not quite right is extremely good for her age though, as illustrated with the creepy sandwich-buying guy (and she trusted him buying her a sandwich at first, remember) and this is also where Mrs Coulter made her biggest mistake. She expected Lyra to accept any treatment of her once she had gained her initial trust, as most children would, she didn't expect her to kick off when she revealed her true colours.

  27. Ellalalalala says:

    You win many things for your awesome etymologising.

    That's not a word? Who knew?

  28. warmouth says:

    Brain Explosion time!

    Head exploding from John Faa and how he totes protects Lyra and will rescue all the children. Because really, are you gonna leave them?

    <img src=""&gt;

    Head explosion from info dump backstory ZOMG.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Also, y u hate on gyptians everyone else? It's clearly because they're on a boat.

    <img src=">

    Also, I asked the alethiometer if I was prepared and it punched me in the face.

  29. SporkyRat says:

    I think you're right and they did say something about being able to walk for miles (and miles) on the boats.

    I keep thinking they do that down on the coast too, some of the very small shrimpers.

  30. fakehepburn says:

    Oh God unorganized flail comment GO:





    Also, so you know what a great writer/ hint-dropper Pullman is, here's a snippet from your Chapter 5 review:

    The one thing that kept her polite and attentive to Mrs. Coulter was that tantalizing hope of going north. Perhpas they would meet Lord Asriel. Perhaps he and Mrs. Coulter would fall in love, and they would get married and adopt Lyra, and go and rescue Roger from the Gobblers.

    I’m guessing that…this won’t happen? At all? Nice try, though, Lyra.


  31. Ellalalalala says:

    Oh how I loved this chapter! John Faa, I knew you would be awesome based solely on your name. Farder Coram, you and your daemon are wonderful and I trust you implicitly. Philip Pullman, I approve heartily of your world-building and how intricate the social milieu is, yo. Plus, bang-on descriptions of intangibilities like a person's presence or smile. THERE IS SO MUCH TO LOVE.

    I was totally going to call Mrs Coulter = Lyra's mother, the moment Lord Asriel was revealed as the father! I was all yeah yeah Pullman, I have totally got your amazing plot twist which will happen right at the end haha I have all the smarts …for the whole of half a page. Which makes me apprehensive that any BIG REVEALS at the end are going to come so out of left-field that my brain will actually explode and dribble out of my ears.

    I'm probably going to express this badly, but I really like how Farder Coram is clearly very scholarly and educated, but still speaks like a Gyptian. I'm so used to getting a bit frustrated with books where some characters speak in dialect or use slang or at the very least their speech is written to reflect speech and speech's grammar, but anyone who has any sort of education or intellectual authority appears to speak Standard Written English. WHICH NO ONE, NOT EVEN THOSE ON THE TOP SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL RUNG, ACTUALLY SPEAKS. Written dialogue can be really problematic and irksome if it's inconsistent or deterministic, and I'm liking how Pullman is using it.

    PP, you are damn cool.

    • tigerpetals says:

      I'm probably going to express this badly, but I really like how Farder Coram is clearly very scholarly and educated, but still speaks like a Gyptian. I'm so used to getting a bit frustrated with books where some characters speak in dialect or use slang or at the very least their speech is written to reflect speech and speech's grammar, but anyone who has any sort of education or intellectual authority appears to speak Standard Written English. WHICH NO ONE, NOT EVEN THOSE ON THE TOP SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL RUNG, ACTUALLY SPEAKS. Written dialogue can be really problematic and irksome if it's inconsistent or deterministic, and I'm liking how Pullman is using it. <i>
      I hadn't noticed that before, thank you. Sometimes I've thought I must sound stupid for not speaking "properly," and it never occurs to me to think that nobody speaks properly, even though I actually know this.

      • tigerpetals says:

        Damn my italics.

      • Vikinhaw says:

        Sometimes I've thought I must sound stupid for not speaking "properly,"

        Aw, this is quite sad. To try and completely assure you, from a person who studies language, there is no such thing as 'proper' English. People go on about spelling, pronunciations and dictionary definitions of things but in reality (and in linguistics) the correct way to speak a language is defined by it's speakers, not books or colleges or various institutions. Dictionaries and institutions are almost always out-dated. A new word or meaning appears, people complain about the state of the language today and eventually the dictionary definition changes, not the way people speak it.

        You probably already knew this but it bears repeating whatever kind of English you speak, however 'gramtically incorrect' or 'badly pronounced' the English you speak is correct because people talk that way.

        • Ellalalalala says:

          Damn straight, yo! All language is dialect; the distinction is that a language has an army and navy. (Apologies to Weinreich; I dinna recall the quote!)

      • Kate says:

        I come from a place that has a distinctive English dialect that is roundly mocked by the "mainlanders" (people not from the island), to the extent that subtitles are often included on television, which is a little condescending to say the least. In fact, the reason we (well, many of us) sound so different is that we set off from England in the early 1700s and isolation stalled the evolution of the language – Newfoundlanders sound straight out of 18th century Devon, which, if you think about it, is a "purer" English than the modern North American version.

        • hazelwillow says:

          Yay Newfoundland! I hope to go there one day…

          Quebec French gets put down in a slightly similar way, despite the fact that it's older than France-French, as it was isolated and so retained things defensively that France let go years ago, like what you're saying about Newfoundland English. A friend of mine who is a linguist told me she loves Quebecois French because it's got a lot of interestingly older words in it. I get really defensive whenever anyone puts it down, despite the fact that only half my family's francophone and I was raised anglophone myself. Just stop it with the snobbery, peeps! I am a big believer in the reality of language i.e. what's correct is what's spoken.

    • sabra_n says:

      I'm so used to getting a bit frustrated with books where some characters speak in dialect or use slang or at the very least their speech is written to reflect speech and speech's grammar, but anyone who has any sort of education or intellectual authority appears to speak Standard Written English. WHICH NO ONE, NOT EVEN THOSE ON THE TOP SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL RUNG, ACTUALLY SPEAKS.


      *has ragey thoughts about The Help*

    • notemily says:

      Farder Coram's daemon! I want an AUTUMN-COLORED CAT that is big and badass. Yes plz

  32. drop_and_roll says:

    What, no gifs after the list? Your brain must be super broken, Mark.

  33. Vikinhaw says:

    what's the point of writing it as "an'" for just one character?
    It's an easy way to 'other' the character and let the audience know that 'yes this person is to be looked down on and you English is the 'correct' one'. I've actually seen this in magazines and news reports!

    (I know it was a rhetorical question. This just makes me very angry)

  34. BradSmith5 says:

    Oh man, I would have complained so much if an "I am your mother" scene would have happened. It's nice to see this kind of reveal in an undramatic situation. I mean, you got your lord of gyptians, a table, some guys––let's talk about it.

    Still nice to see Mark freak out about it though. 😉

  35. instead of ~dramatically revealing~ it later via one of the parents themselves. That'd be so Darth Vader, wouldn't it?
    YOU MEAN LIKE IN THE MOVIE? *rolls eyes*

  36. Brieana says:

    Remember that time when Lyra dreamed of Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter falling in love and maybe adopting Lyra? hehe. [Also, is Asriel his last name? What's his first? Is Asriel both his first and last name like Heathcliff or McLovin?]
    It is in the movie, but told differently so maybe that's why people don't remember. Or maybe they just really hate the movie and want to forget it. I was completely disappointed with the adaptation, but it reminds me of a story that I love to pieces so I still watch it from time to time.

    • Neet says:

      It depends what kind of lord he is. Lord Asriel could be short for ____ Asriel, nth Baron/Viscount of Asrielshire, which would make Asriel the surname eg. Lord Carrington (hereditary member of the House of Lords and former foreign secretary) is actually Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington.

      If Asriel is the younger son of a duke or a great grandchild of a monarch (such as Lord Freddie Windsor, son of Prince Michael of Kent and great-grandson of George V) he can be formally address as "Lord Asriel" without the surname.

      Unless the rules are different in Pullman's world. Or in case I've missed some things out, which is more than likely (I've always been fascinated by the monarchy and aristocracy of the United Kingdom, but there's rather a lot to know).

      That's if

    • @Arachne110 says:

      I had read the books before the movie, and when they got to the reveal in the movie all I could think of was UGH they made it SO "Star Wars-y"! I hated the movie too, so I did all I could to forget it as well.

  37. SporkyRat says:

    Oh Mark. This is only the beginning to just how not prepared you are.

  38. I really like the "cultural appropriation is bad" message from Ma Costa; but I admit that, because of what Mark Watches is doing these days, my first thought with that passage was, "Lyra's a fire person? I knew it — she's a firebender!"

    Lyra and Zuko: compare and contrast!

  39. Brieana says:

    " that kissing scene is possibly the creepiest thing in all of existence."

    Really, Mark? Really?
    Who do you think is creepier: Edward Cullen or Mrs Coulter?

    • gembird says:

      I think we should add President Snow and the Weeping Angels to the super-creepy shortlist.

      Or not, because NIGHTMARES FOREVER.

      • brieana says:

        ha, but Mr Cullen and Mrs Coulter both have that seductive type of creepy going on. So many young people under their spell.

    • pica_scribit says:

      The scene where Mrs C tells Lyra to kiss her always reminds me of Livia and her sons in "I, Claudius". The cold, offhand manner in which she says, "And now you may kiss me and take your leave".

  40. Many Rainbows says:

    i do not think it is spoiling to say: yes, the issue of Lyra's parentage was touched upon in the movie.. but.. not verbally. In the movie Lyra asks Farder Coram something and he tells her to use the alethiometer to find the answer? And it simply shows a starry/shadowy image of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter to answer the question of Lyra's parentage. (if i remember the movie correctly. its been a few months since i last watched it)

    • Brieana says:

      I saw it a month ago. That's not what happened with the parentage reveal, but I do know what you're thinking of.

  41. ComputerizedWoman says:

    You make me want to re-read the series for a fourth (or is it fifth?) time. You are not prepared for anything in these books. It will only get worse in the unpreparedness as you go through each book. Which is awesome and why I really love these books. I cannot wait til you finish the series because I want to say something about the books overall.

    Until then I shall be waiting for the next review.

  42. meguca says:

    So, all I could think when I read Ma Costa's bit about how Lyra is ~cunning~ and ~deceptive~ (in a good way) was LYRA CONFIRMED FOR SLYTHERIN HOUSE. y/n??

    • Ellalalalala says:

      I reckon Gryffindor would put up a fight for her, but yeah, Slytherin seems to fit!

    • Brieana says:

      Fo' shiz!
      A few days ago, I wrote about how she could have been a Slytherin, but I can't tell you everything obviously because that would be spoilery.
      Mark, do take note. Not all Slytherins are Death Eaters and they shouldn't all automatically be expelled from Hogwarts.

  43. Mauve_Avenger says:

    "Ma Costa is keen to notice this and I was absolutely shocked (in a good way!) that she literally explains what cultural appropriation is to Lyra…"

    To paraphrase Elon James White, I may have tried to high-five my book when I read that.

    Also, I love that Lyra lies about lying, but there's no one to come to her defense (to her, because there's no one else there, but to us it's because in that respect, she's indefensible).

    In addition, can I just sit back and appreciate John Faa here:

    "She's a landloper child, and she's in our care, and there she's going to stay. Anyone tempted by those thousand sovereigns had better find a place neither on land nor on water."

  44. Ellalalalala says:

    I struggle with that, I'm afraid. Can you define 'precise'? My point is that spoken language doesn't always and consistently conform to the rules of written English – and that this is not a 'bad' use of English, or a 'lazy' understanding of grammar to, for example, change direction mid-sentence or use the occasional double negative or obsolete repetition or vocalised filler for the sake of emphasis or to better express meaning within the spoken context. In my experience of transcribing spoken language, even the most 'well-spoken' (whatever that even means; yay language politics!), educated, articulate speaker has not consistently produced a verbal form of Standard Written English, like characters in books tend to do. Written English – and written English's prescriptive grammar and punctuation – struggles to do justice to how people flexibly and creatively speak language. Moreover, everyone has an accent – which can be made a pastiche of in written English according to the whim or agenda of the writer. No one's voice is entirely neutral because our definitions of what constitutes neutrality are so subjective; I think that's a safe absolute.

    • Darth_Ember says:

      It's just… yeah. Some ways of critiquing that trope fall into "who talks that way" and edge close to assuming anyone who enunciates or strives for good grammar must be snobbish, or out of touch with society, or otherwise 'flawed' by reason of their intellectual efforts, and those efforts being derided by those people who are proud to be 'anti-intellectual.' It's this icky implication that I'm pretty certain you didn't mean, but that can feel like it's there because it has been there before in similar comments.
      I do understand what you mean, especially now that you've clarified, but… some of us have been looked askance at for speaking 'too well' and are a little touchy about it.
      (The Internet has significantly altered the way I speak and type, especially typing, but even these days I tend to use words that people consider to be showing off just because they don't know them. I'm not showing off! I think in those words! They are part of my mental vocabulary, and I refuse to remove them just because someone feels threatened by my using too many syllables.)

      • Ellalalalala says:

        Ah good, we're on the same page! I certainly didn't mean to uphold anti-intellectualism and apologise that I didn't clarify what I meant better the first time around.

        I'm in the 'some of us' category as well, incidentally, though I think I've been quite lucky only to be an occasional object of gentle mockery (which is still 'inverse'-snobbery, granted) rather than of hostility for the way that I speak.

        TL;DR, but: One of the things I've found really interesting is that some people make assumptions about the nuances of what I have actually said based on what they think I probably said, as someone who 'speaks well', 'has a posh accent', 'uses long words' etc. An example is the 'a' sound in castle etc.: I'm from the Midlands of England and have a flat pronunciation of those 'a' sounds, but because 'posh/educated/southern' people pronounce it broadly that's what people think they've heard me say. Playing back a recording of my actual speech patterns, and folk get quite confused because THAT'S NOT WHAT THEY HEARD. Similarly (and weirdly), I have a (bad) habit of using swearwords as intensifiers, but it's very seldom picked up on because of how I deliver it in my accent. The number of times I've had someone who has known me for years say "My goodness, I've never heard you swear before!" – um, you will have done. I have a potty mouth.

  45. Billie says:

    There is a bit early on in this chapter that makes me so sad and angry, it's mentioned that there are huge amounts of police and stuff looking or Lyra and, just throwaway, Pullman's like "And that in itself was odd, considering all the kids that had gone missing without being looked for." And I just cried for a hundred years.

  46. Puppi says:

    //Lord Asriel //

    I took the test they had on the movie website for a while to find out what kind of daemon you would have.

    I got a Snow Leopard.

    I was stimulusly happy and frightened.

  47. gembird says:

    "The boat slowly makes its way around up to the marshland in Eastern Anglia (I GOOGLED THAT AND I NOW KNOW WHERE THAT IS), called the “fens,” which is where they gyptains are located."



    Oh and I was thinking about crow daemons too! Corvids (crow-y birds) in general are very intelligent, and various cultures have associated particular meanings with them. Death is quite a common one, but so is wisdom- for example, Odin had two ravens called Thought and Memory. John Faa seems like a wise person; maybe that's where the connection is, although I can't remember who else has a crow daemon so I could be completely wrong.

    I guess that's another little bit of worldbuilding from Mr Pullman, anyway 🙂

  48. And don't forget the eye candy of watching children's daemons shape-shifting. Especially during the representative kid warfare scene. I could rewatch the movie just for that, and turn off my brain as far as what they did to the plot.

  49. Kelly says:

    I wanted to touch on your wondering about the crow daemons because I have an idea why there are several important men with them-and mind, this is just pure speculation on my part. We've already seen daemons taking on the characteristics of their masters (would that be the right word?)-servants having dogs, Pan taking on different forms based on what Lyra's feeling or doing at the time, the reporter having a daemon that doesn't show her emotions. Well, crows are incredibly intelligent, cunning, inquisitive birds. In fact (since so many here are also reading/watching GOT) the directors of that HBO series have mentioned that they cut back on scenes with the Stark kids' direwolves because the dogs they used were harder to train than the crows also used. Now as to why Pullman chose crows over any other intelligent creature-it may be because they can fly, it may be their size (I mean, Lord Asriel's daemon is bad ass, but a snow leopard is BIG) but I can see why the leader of the Gyptians or the head of a college would have a crow as opposed to a sheep.

    • notemily says:

      They're also carrion birds, which adds an interesting dimension to the whole thing.

    • Ellalalalala says:

      I am in love with the image of the Gyptians having to share their barges with various cumbersome daemons. A horse, anyone?

      Though actually, that raises an interesting point – would you have to stop being a boat-dweller if it wasn't practical for your daemon? What if your daemon was a fish? Would you have to wander around with it in a goldfish bowl every time you fancied popping to the shop? Or can you leave them behind? I get the impression they stay pretty close to you…


  50. Laura says:

    Gah, I forgot how much I love this book. I'm going to have to get out my copy and do a reread as you review!

  51. AndreaHarper says:

    May I just say that you will not be prepared up until the final chapter of the final book? Pullman is utterly brilliant, and also a very good narrator. The Audio version of this book is excellent.

    But OMG this chapter. This chapter. You think your mind is blown now, but you have no idea. None at all.

    Just wait. It gets better.

  52. indiv says:

    kind of glad you are reading this. need to reread this series. only stuff i rmbed was about the golden dust, book 2 is awesome (can't remember what happens only that it's very very awesome), book three make me go WHAT and book 1 bored the 13 year old version of me 10 years ago.

  53. Jaria says:

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  54. notemily says:

    I saw it as more of an analogue to being gay. As in, this is a trait that most of the population doesn't have, but it's nothing to be ashamed of, it's just that some people have this trait.

  55. Darth_Ember says:

    In terms of world-building, I can't go past Tolkien – his pace may not suit some, but oh dear Eru, the complexity of the world and the languages, and the history and everything…

  56. Avit says:

    Werlllllll. Technically, it is impossible to speak Standard Written English. Because it is Standard Written English. There's no sound in it. Precision and formality alone do not SWE make.

  57. vampireprincess2468 says:

    This book was so so great. Really want to read it again

  58. flootzavut says:

    I was totally waiting for you to get to this info dump and EXPLODE! 😀

  59. Kelly L. says:

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT. That is a LOT of info and WTF WTF WTF wow. Brainsplosions all around.

  60. Stephalopolis says:

    So the past chapters I've been having reservations about Lord Asriel, but now… I have put those aside and have decided I like him 😛

    But… this chapter… that reveal… It makes it even more heartbreaking when you recall in a previous chapter how Lyra was hoping that Coulter and Asriel would meet and fall in love and adopt her. Oh my child, how you have grown in these chapters.

    I fell a little silly though, because this entire time, we knew Lyra was "special" for some reason. I was thinking it was because she's a child of Dust, or that she came from that Dust city or something. Now we know it's because she's a child of two very important people, Asriel and Coulter. Which, doesn't make it bad or anything.. but I think my hypothesis would have been a cool avenue to explore 😛 But.. not complaining. It's all cool. I like the Asriel/Coulter reveal.

    And Ma Costas? So much love. Forever. She is my favorite.

  61. dcpierce says:

    1. John Faa is awesome


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