Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 11

In the eleventh chapter of The Golden Compass, Lyra assist Iorek in getting back his armor, and we watch as utter chaos breaks loose. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Golden Compass.



God, I am just enamored with this. I still haven’t figured out how any of this can be viewed as a “controversial” book, but I am still halfway from the end of the first novel in a trilogy, so maybe all of that stuff comes later. I’m wondering both how I didn’t read this before and why EVERYONE EVER hasn’t already read it. THIS IS SO FASCINATING. THIS IS SO ENTERTAINING. I AM QUITE PLEASED WITH MY JOURNEY THROUGH THIS BOOK. I also must admit I am just happy to read a book that has real sentences again. Oh god oh god.

Honestly, thanks to each of you who have pestered me since I finished Harry Potter to start this trilogy. I am just SO HAPPY READING IT RIGHT NOW.

Ok, enough gushing. MOVING ONWARDS.

I am now very aware of the unique power that Lyra has in this because of her possession of the alethiometer. I was so excited to learn more about it, but at this point, I worried that some sort of training session might weigh things down too much or make it feel over-explained. In that sense, it feels very natural to the flow and pace of the story that Lyra is simply understanding the alethiometer and how it works. I think that in any other context, this might have been seen as a rather convenient device to move the story along, but for once, it actually doesn’t feel that way. It’s also fascinating as a way to give Lyra power in a situation that would otherwise leave her completely powerless. As all of the men of the gyptians meet to host a conference about Iorek’s ultimatum, Lyra has already determined exactly where the bear’s armor is and why it’ll be hard for anyone to acquire it. And that sort of shift of power is actually a rad story device and I imagine that if I was eleven when I read this, it would be very empowering to me.

Lyra decides not to tell John Faa or Farder Coram about her discovery, and as she spends time on her bunk thinking of such things and the life of Iorek, she brings up something I’d not thought about. Having a dæmon means that you have an eternal companion who is largely in tune with just the kind of person you are. She remarks that Iorek’s life must be lonely without a dæmon, and I realized that not once had Lyra ever talked about the sort of loneliness one in her position should have felt, given her upbringing at Jordan College. Throughout it all, she’s always had Pantalaimon with her, protecting her and indulging her sense of humor, and it’s at this point that I desperately wish I had my own dæmon. Honestly, that just sounds so pleasant to me. Where is my dæmon 🙁 🙁

The story takes a shift towards something that is absolutely NOT shrouded in terror or doom or intensity for once, and I will graciously accept this moment. That night, Lyra wakes suddenly and, seemingly for no reason, she heads above deck and is shocked when she realize the Aurora is up in the sky:

The sight filled the northern sky; the immensity of it was scarcely conceivable. As if from Heaven itself, great curtains of delicate light hung and trembled. Pale green and rose-pink, and as transparent as the most fragile fabric, and at the bottom edge a profound and fiery crimson like the fires of Hell, they swung and shimmered loosely with more grace than the most skillful dancer. Lyra thought she could even hear them: a vast distant whispering swish. In the evanescent delicacy she felt something as profound as she’d felt close to the bear. She was moved by it; it was so beautiful it was almost holy; she felt tears prick her eyes, and the tears splintered the light even further into prismatic rainbows. It wasn’t long before she found herself entering the kind of trance as when she consulted the alethiometer. Perhaps, she thought calmly, whatever moves the alethiometer’s needle is making the Aurora glow too. It might even be Dust itself.

I’ve never seen the Northern lights and I would love to before I pass from this world. This just sounds so amazing that I understand why it would bring Lyra to tears. That being said, I feel like this is a huge deal and I was unsure what this meant to the larger mythology of The Golden Compass. Why did Lyra feel such a connection to the Aurora and why did her brain go straight to Dust? (I still don’t fully understand Dust myself.)

It doesn’t help that Lyra then gets a chance to witness what her father had spoken about way back in chapter two: the city in the lights. I don’t understand this, and it gives me chills. Is she looking at a real city or just a representation of one? UGH NOTHING IS EXPLAINED YET I WANT TO KNOW SO BADLY

This also marks the arrival of Kaisa, Serafina’s dæmon. (I had to remind myself that witches could send their dæmons far away from their bodies, since this confused me the first time around.) Kaisa, a magnificent gray goose, comes to ask Farder Coram why he is interested in speaking with Serafina. He notices Lyra and asks who she is, and upon learning her identity, the conversation takes a strange turn. Why, I wonder, does Kaisa immediately ask if Coram has come for war right after learning who Lyra is? That seems like a bizarre implication to me.

As the conversation continues to unfold, Kaisa refers to the Oblation Board as DUST HUNTERS. What the hell??? And they’ve been in the North for ten years. And then this, about Dust:

“What is certain is that when people become aware of it, a great fear comes over them, and they’ll stop at nothing to discover what it is.”

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS. But that’s ok, because it’s clear I’m going to find out soon, as Kaisa relates the wonderful news: because of Farder Coram’s due obligation, Kaisa will tell them how to find the Dust hunters. And on that topic, too, it sounds like the Dust hunters have set up an elaborate system to do whatever it is they do up in the north. Oh, and this:

“We don’t know what they do, but there is an air of hatred and fear over the place and for miles around. Witches can see these things where other humans can’t. Animals keep away too. No birds fly there; lemmings and foxes have fled. Hence the name Bolvangar: the fields of evil.”

No, seriously, I need to know what the hell is going on. Oh god, this is MAKING MY STOMACH HURT. So whatever the Oblation Board is doing in the north involves:

  1. Sawing children in half???
  2. Burning tons of coal???
  3. Hunting for Dust???
  4. ?????
  5. Possible profit??? LOOK I DON’T KNOW

Oh god this book and the things it does to me. Kaisa gives the three of them information about how the place is defended (poorly, I might add), allowing them to feel a rush of hope for their mission. Lyra, who has nearly exploded with excitement at this point, finally gets a chance to ask Kaisa why he said the witches talk about her.

“Because of your father, and his knowledge of the other worlds,” the dæmon replied.

WHAT???????????? I would like to describe to you what my face just did through a GIF:

[Image description: GIF of Jamie Foxx from his appearance on Sesame Street. I cannot describe what the purple and pink thing is in the background because I honestly don’t know what it is, but it looks animated? More important: Jamie Foxx’s face. The GIF animation goes like this: Jamie expresses utter fucking shock and confusion at something off-screen but then is very pleased by something else, so his face turns into the most awkward smile of all time. No, he only pulls up his upper lip above his teeth and it’s not a particularly wide smile and it just makes me feel these things in my stomach that I am not sure I like.]

I can’t breathe. I love time travel more than most things, but I also love parallel universes just as much.

Naturally, everyone aside from Lyra balks at this suggestion? Surely you mean the stars, right?


So you mean the spirit world, right?


And Lyra says it’s the city in the northern lights.

“Yes,” he said. “Witches have known of the other worlds for thousands of years. You can see them sometimes in the Northern Lights. They aren’t part of this universe at all; even the furthest stars are part of this universe, but the lights show us a different universe entirely. Not further away, but interpenetrating with this one. Here, on this deck, millions of other universes exist, unaware of one another….”



And this is not even the best reveal we are about to come upon. As Kaisa demonstrates what he means by flapping his wing and “brushing” ten million worlds at once, I am just ecstatic and I can barely sit in my seat and Kaisa further explains how the charged particles in the Northern Lights thin the matter between worlds and I just want to punch myself and we learn that the Dust hunters imprisoned Lord Asriel and

“They think he intends to use Dust in some way in order to make a bridge between this world and the world beyond the Aurora.”

LET ME DIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Lord Asriel is imprisoned by armored bears because the Oblation Board does not want him to use Dust to enter a parallel fucking universe.

I am feeling nothing but pure joy right now. I am so, so, so happy I quit My Immortal because now I get to freak out whilst I am on the AIDS ride because I WILL HAVE TO WAIT A REALLY LONG TIME TO CONTINUE READING BEYOND CHAPTER TWELVE.

my god

The plot continues to twist further and further as we learn just how complicated this situation is, as the many groups who have an interest in such a bridge are all going to be inevitably in conflict with each other. That is fascinating to me, because it doesn’t posit this as just a simple Team A vs. Team B. I imagine that’s going to make this a whole lot of fun as we progress towards the North.

But this all leads to a conversation about Iorek, as Lyra questions what side the bears fall on. We learn that Farder Coram is not so certain that they can actually acquire the services of the armored bear. What makes this all so complicated is the fact that no one can deny Iorek’s violent past and nature. Lyra is right, that Iorek’s anger and rage was justified, but John Faa isn’t budging. He’s worried that even if they do get him, they won’t be able to control him. I do love, though, that Lyra is able to bring the conversation to an utter halt when she reveals that she knows exactly where Iorek’s armor is.

And I think that goes back to my comment about how Lyra now has power, and how that power can frighten those who around her. It’s unsaid here, but I am getting the sense that John Faa and Farder Coram are a bit unsettled by Lyra’s use of the alethiometer. I hope that they are not hiding anything, but maybe that’s my mind getting ahead of itself.

Lyra acts further on that power the next day when she decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands. She has this powerful sense of moral rightness and, combined with her faith in the alethiometer, she sets out to see what she can do. She gets a chance to meet Lee Scoresby, the aeronaut that John Faa had picked up, and she learns that he actually fought alongside Iorek Byrnison at one point. Unfortunately, he says that Iorek is a “problem.” There’s not much to go off of that, but I got worried. Would this be much more complicated than I hoped?

Lyra doesn’t concern herself with this, though, as she and Pantalaimon learn from Scoresby’s dæmon that they need to move quickly and directly. And so Lyra heads to the sludge depot to find Iorek, which is not hard to do, considering he is a gigantic fucking bear who works in a sludge depot. The very sight of him strikes “cold fear” in Lyra, and Pantalaimon heads in by himself at first, hoping to calm Iorek, but Lyra begins to feel that pull from her dæmon she described earlier. It’s described in much more detail here, and it’s a combination between “physical pain deep in the chest” and “intense sadness and love.” In fact, it’s so bad that Lyra cannot stand it and she rushes past the gate she was hiding behind to grab her dæmon and feel the relief of his presence.

The girl and the dæmon looked up at the solitary bear. He had no dæmon. He was alone, always alone.

Why hello there, most depressing sentence in all of The Golden Compass. It is rather nice to meet you.

Obeying Scoresby’s dæmon’s recommendation, Lyra is extremely forward with Iorek, plainly stating that while Lord Faa and Farder Coram are going to negotiate to get his armor back, she knows exactly where it is.

“So if I tell you, will you come with us and help rescue the kids from Bolvangar?


THAT SIMPLE. But Lyra makes sure that Iorek promises not to take vengeance on the people here, and he agrees; then she reveals that it is in priest’s cellar. As the sun sets and Iorek tells Lyra that he owes her a debt, the transformation that occurs still gives me goosebumps. The sheer, awesome power of this rejected panserbjørne is something I can barely comprehend. His speed and dexterity is not something I would have expected from him as he bounds down the street towards the priest’s house.

The scene at the priest’s house scares me; Iorek’s capacity for destruction is shown here, as he enters the house with his armor and makes the entire house shake and then he tears a window apart and climbs out.

this is the greatest thing ever committed to paper

Unfortunately, though, Iorek does not stop after retrieving his armor and, disobeying Lyra’s request that he not take revenge, he lashes out violently to the citizens around him, finally grabbing a sentry and placing the man’s head in his jaw. In a moment of foolish, beautiful panic, she finds one of the only uncovered spots within reach and digs her fingers into Iorek’s fur and gives an AMAZING LITTLE SPEECH.

“Iorek!” she said in a fierce undertone. “Listen! You owe me a debt, right. Well, now you can repay it. Do as I ask. Don’t fight these men. Just turn around and walk away with me. We want you, Iorek, you can’t stay here. Just come down to the harbor with me and don’t even look back. Farder Coram and Lord Faa, let them do the talking, they’ll make it all right. Leave go this man and come away with me…”

It’s a nice sign of Lyra’s power that’s divorced of her alethiometer, too. She can be a forceful person as she needs to be, and I adore the certainty that she has here. As Iorek moves away from town and towards the harbor, there’s a clam relief in the way that Lyra feels about what’s just happened. I mean…she just got Iorek his armor, convinced him not to kill someone, and got him to agree to accompany her on a journey to Bolvangar. UTTER PERFECTION.

(Side note: There’s not much of him here, but I’m enamored by Lee Scoresby and how he factors into this. He seems like such a tiny character here, but his ties to Iorek suggest a much larger story at hand. I WOULD LIKE MORE, PLEASE.)

I am now aware just how much this book is coming together; I’ve just passed the halfway point and we’ve now got a full cast of characters heading to the north, the least of which is now Iorek Byrnison, who is wearing freshly lubricated armor, swimming alongside Lee Scoresby’s sledge. Pullman uses the word “thrill” here at the end of chapter eleven, and I cannot think of a better word. There is nothing that I have ever read like this, and the sense of adventure, combined with an intriguing mythology about parallel universes, has never quite made me anticipate a story as much as this.

[Pantalaimon] could tell her when they woke, and it was probably a marten, or a dream, or some kind of harmless local spirit; but something was following the train of sledges, swinging lightly from branch-to-branch of the close-clustering pine trees, and it put him uneasily in mind of a monkey.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in His Dark Materials, The Golden Compass and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

163 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 11

  1. Kira Wonrey says:

    Yay! I'm so happy you have returned to The Golden Compass ^^

  2. Partes says:

    The description of the aurora is beautiful. Brian Cox sees it in this video, which is both entertaining and educational:

    I'm so glad you're reading this instead of My Immortal again, Mark. I didn't like to read about abject awfulness, which is probably why I skipped Mark Reads Twilight. It's your infectious enthusiasm which makes this site such an enjoyable experience for me.

  3. Sparkie says:

    I am so happy you are so happy about this book! HAPPY!! 😀 😀

  4. Saphling says:

    OH MARK, YOU ARE NOR PREPARED. This book. There are so many reveals yet for you. I CANNOT WAIT.

    But the main point of this chapter is this: Lee Scoresby is freaking awesome.

    • arctic_hare says:

      I edited this because the other name you mentioned has not been revealed in the book yet.

  5. redheadedgirl says:

    The Northern Lights, if you've never seen them before and don't actually know what you're seeing, can be terrifying.


    • cait0716 says:

      This reminds me of the scene in Local Hero when MacIntyre sees the Northern Lights for the first time. He's trying to describe the strange phenomenon to his boss and is just so blown away that he can't, but his boss knows exactly what's happening.

      Also, if anyone hasn't seen Local Hero, you need to do that right now.

    • Natasha says:

      I used to live up in the Northwest Territories and the Inuit legend in the area I was in was that the deceased ancestors were up in the Aurora, looking down on you. Sounds lovely right? The thing is that if you look back at them THEY WILL STEAL YOU AWAY. So kids were cautioned not to look at the Aurora, because DEAD GRANDMA WOULD TAKE YOU WITH HER.

      There was one amazing night when the Aurora was like a green gash in the sky, ripping from horizon to horizon, threatening to burst open like an unhealed wound, that I understood the fear.

    • ferriswheeljunky says:

      When I was about ten, there were a couple of nights when the Northern Lights were going to be visible where I lived. My dad got really excited about it, and he woke me up in what seemed like the middle of the night (probably about half ten in reality) and said, "Get your coat on! We're going to see the Northern Lights!" We got Thermos flasks of tea and drove out into the countryside, and sat in the car in the darkness to see if the Northern Lights appeared. They didn't. So we found a nearby village and bought chips there instead.
      It's one of my favourite memories; I'd still love to see the Northern Lights, but back then, midnight chips seemed like the best thing in the world.

  6. Maya says:

    Iorek and Lee Scoresby <333333333 forever.

    God, Iorek is SUCH A BADASS.

  7. dbmacp says:

    Wait… why are you going to have to wait for a long time after chapter twelve??

    If it's to read My Immortal, your life is terrible and sad beyond my capacity to express to you in words or actions.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      Mark wrote these last week. This week he's riding a bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Tomorrow's review will be the last he wrote and queued up. So all this week he will have been riding and anticipating what happens in chapter 13, which he'll probably read and review on Sunday – and then queue up to appear on Monday.

      • Saphling says:

        What a chapter to have to pause on, too! I don't know if I could do it.

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          I'm not commenting as much because I'm halfway through The Subtle Knife on my re-read.

          I thought, knowing what was going to happen, I could stick with Mark's pace – but I didn't manage it once they arrived in the North.

  8. monkeybutter says:

    I want to see the Northern Lights before I die, too. I mean, it'd be great to have a daemon, but this chapter makes me long for things that are actually possible.

    I like how Lyra doesn't have a good or bad impression of Scoresby, but a strong one. He's awesome. He has a balloon, he fought along side an armored bear in Siberia, and just sitting around calmly is enough to scare an entire village into submission. And Iorek is terrific in his own way. Ah, I love these books!

  9. cait0716 says:

    I read this chapter a week ago, so it's a bit fuzzy, but I'll try to remember everything I wanted to talk about.

    I love that when Lyra asks what side the witches are on, Kaisa replies that it's not that simple. It can be so easy, especially in children's fantasy (and even the real world, come to think of it), to give a single purpose to an entire group of people and define them by that. But Pullman shows that it's always a lot more complicated. There are allegiances and opinions to be sorted out. People agree with one side or the other or neither. It makes the witches so much richer to have them divided about the war.

    And we finally get a definition for what daemons are: souls. That simple word helps crystallize everything we've learned about them up to this point. And Pullman does a great thing in showing us Lyra's reaction to then equating that bond to what Iorek Byrnison feels with his armor. It makes him so much more tragic and the townspeople seem so much more evil. They aren't just holding his armor captive, they've separated him from his soul and are keeping it from him. No wonder he spends so much time drunk. No wonder he can't bring himself to leave the town where he knows his armor is still housed. No wonder he goes on a complete rampage to get it back.

    The description of the Aurora is breathtaking. I, too, really want to see it before I die.

    • flootzavut says:

      I love the whole explanation/clarification of how Lyra feels about Pan, and Iorek feels about his armour.

      Also I think that Pullman's description of the aurora – and especially the city – is just beyond magnificent. Wonderfu, wonderful bit of writing.

      I've been lucky enough to see the aurora borealis 3 times in my life, and even the least exciting version (a green light around the horizon) was breathtaking.

      I highly recommend searching out a TV programme called (ish) Joanna Lumley and the Northern Lights. She goes into the far reaches of Norway, and even on a TV screen or a computer screen, the Lights she sees are absolutely breathtaking and awe inspiring.

  10. God, I am just enamored with this.
    Not enarmored?

    One time, the Northern Lights were visible as far south as Ann Arbor, and…they truly are magically spectacular. These bizarre brushstrokes of green in the night sky. It felt like aliens were invading.

  11. Ellalalalala says:

    Too many questions, too much awesomeness – AND SO MUCH HAPPINESS THAT MY IMMORTAL IS NO MORE!

    – IOREK'S RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION IS RIGHTEOUS (though, y'know, don't tear sentries' heads off, yeah?)
    – Lyra is badass and has a moral compass to match her golden compass
    – Lee Scoresby's dialogue is great. I think I may love him. Plus hares are made of win.

    The best scene for me, though, was the badger scene. I found it incredibly moving, the idea of testing the limits of such a profound connection. The physical pain of it, the 'intense sadness and love' – for me, it evoked the feelings I associate with really deep listening of an impossibly beautiful or meaningful piece of music or song, which, at that time and through your experience of it, is entirely yours but that you can never fully possess.

    Also, badgers are so beautiful.

    But really, the million pound question is this: is Mrs Coulter a witch?! Can she send out the evil golden monkey to do her bidding? If so, I DO NOT WANT.

  12. cait0716 says:

    Lee Scoresby is the best. I love that he redirects the attention of all the gyptians so Lyra can get away and rescue Iorek. He's such a magician.

    Also, shuffling cards one handed? Super impressive.

  13. muzzery says:

    YAAY for more HDM!! 😀

    Also, I believe this chapter is the first time it EXPLICITLY STATES what a daemon actually is. I'm quite surprised you never mentioned it, Mark.

  14. tardis_guy says:

    I started reading along with you mark and was really enjoying the experience, but once I finished this chapter i could not hold off anymore. Waiting was not an options. I devoured the book and OH MY GOD!!!

    Can't wait for more reviews from you. They make my work day so much more enjoyable. Thank you so much!

    I am doing my best to wait before starting book 2.

  15. meguca says:

    Such a relief to get this back after all those days of My Immortal. 😀

    Yeah, I don't really have anything interesting to add, I just need to bask in the awesomeness of The Golden Compass mmmmmmm

  16. Arione says:

    Told ya Lyra could heal your pain. I love these books incredibly much. Definitely up there in my favourites, although that's always so hard to qualify. I can't type all that much about anything, but I'd like to say that what you're experiencing right now, that mixture of anticipation, interest, fucking fuck off curiosity, well… you're still not perpared in the slightest. Sorry… You're going to have sooo much fun.

  17. fakehepburn says:


  18. Brieana says:

    Shouldn't it be considered spoileresque to discuss content that Mark hasn't read yet? I mean I know you're not saying "oh, this person dies and the trilogy ends this way" but still.

  19. burningpumpkins says:

    This is probably one of the most beautiful videos I've ever seen. This guy shoots nature in HD and it's breathtaking. He has an aurora video too, but… this one is better in my opinion. It features a sandstorm and the movement of the stars. Absolutely astonishing in HD.

    • majere616 says:

      That is…incredible. Thank you for linking this.

    • Sparkie says:

      :O Breathtaking!

      • ldwy says:

        Ahhh, gorgeous. I've seen that video before, and some of his others. So beautiful. I hope someday to see the real versions of so many beautiful places on earth, but until then, art like this is a wonderful substitute.

    • Billie says:

      Oh wow. Beautiful things mixed with emotional music always make me cry. That was amazing.

  20. @sab39 says:

    Kaisa gives the three of them information about how the place is defended (poorly, I might add), allowing them to feel a rush of hope for their mission.

    Really? That's the opposite of how I took it. They have TARTARS and ANBARIC FENCE and possibly other defences that even the WITCHES don't know about. I figured that the hope she gave them was to do with the fact that she gave them directions to get there, which they hadn't had til now, but I didn't take it as "poorly defended" at all, quite the opposite. Those defenses sounded quite intimidating to me.

    • blis says:

      Every time i read about the 'Tartars" my mind immediately goes to tartar sauce and then I want fish and chips.
      Its like the Simpson" Land of chocolate bit.

      Anyway, I also thought that the defenses the Dust Hunters had were sirius business.

  21. ComputerizedWoman says:

    Can you see why this is my favorite series EVER?!

    I am really excited for you to read the second and third though. The third was m most favorite of the books.

  22. Patrick721 says:

    I love Lee Scoresby so much, and I'm sure you will come to feel the same way. Mostly because of the way I imagine him just chillin', sittin on top of Iorek's armor with a big ol' pistol. And because my mental image of him, for some reason, is this:
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Bruce Campbell Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

    Oh, and Mark, I learned something absolutely amazing that relates to this book the other day. Back in 2004 or so, there was a stage production of this book in England. And Timothy Dalton was Lord Asriel. Timothy Dalton Was Lord Asriel.

    • Partes says:

      The idea of Timothy Dalton as Lord Asriel is actually awesome. I met him once, and he's insanely charismatic, which I can imagine translating to his portrayal.

    • Brielle says:

      The entire cast for the National production was awesome. Anna Maxwell Martin and Sam Barnett as Lyra and Pantalaimon? YES.

    • ldwy says:

      You have an excellent imagination 🙂

      But I'm loving the Lee Scoresby character so far and I hope we learn more!

    • Weston says:

      Hello, Brisco. /bly

  23. arctic_hare says:

    Instead of immediately talking about this chapter, I'm going to translate my feelings about it into GIF form; the Eleventh Doctor shall speak for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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


  24. George says:

    Ah! Back to TGC at last! Shit is most definitely starting to get real!

    On a separate note, I just watched the first ten minutes of AVPM (just cos…well why not!?) and WHEN ARE WE LIVEBLOGGING AVPS!!!

  25. majere616 says:

    Iorek is Forever Alone : (

  26. warmouth says:

    Parallel worlds? Eh, I've seen it before.
    <img src=""&gt;

    A cool Texan guy. Eh, I'm starting to follow you, but I want something more.

    <img src=""&gt;


    <img src=""&gt;
    Not even using that phrase sarcastically. And god I HATE THAT MONKEY

    Edit: I just remembered, but I've seen the northern lights. There was wicked solar activity some years back and I was able to see them amazingly here in southern Michigan. My dad woke me up at 3 am to see them and it was amazing. Seriously, I have no words to describe it. Hope you can see it sometime.

  27. warmouth says:

    Parallel worlds? Eh, I've seen it before.
    <img src=""&gt;

    A cool Texan guy. Eh, I'm starting to follow you, but I want something more.

    <img src=""&gt;


    <img src=""&gt;
    Not even using that phrase sarcastically. And god I HATE THAT MONKEY

    Edit: I just remembered, but I've seen the northern lights. There was wicked solar activity some years back and I was able to see them amazingly here in southern Michigan. My dad woke me up at 3 am to see them and it was amazing. Seriously, I have no words to describe it. Hope you can see it sometime.

  28. SEVERAL years ago, due to some strange phenomenon that i won't begin to explain, you could actually see the northern lights in /buffalo, new york./

    they were not nearly as huge and magnificent as they are in well, the places you'd expect it to be, but it was fascinating to me to sit in my backyard and get to see these lights change color and like… wiggle around. it was bizarre; i don't know how to explain it.

    i didn't see a city in them, though. D':

  29. Sparkie says:

    Wow I hate people like that…so rude! But..I'm fairly sure you mean a different Brian Cox, I don't think this one has ever been in a play! 🙂

  30. BradSmith5 says:

    I'd have to say "no" to wanting a dæmon if they have to stay within a few feet of you at all times. I mean, I enjoy the freedom of being alone. And if my well-being was dependent on another creature or person, again, I'd rather be alone. This is a sickening concept to me, and I am also disturbed by the fact that anyone without a companion is seen as something to be pitied or "wrong."

    There ya go, man: CONTROVERSY!

    • FlameRaven says:

      Yeah, daemons are not like an animal familiar, daemons are the physical representation of a person's soul in this world. It seems like they can go a reasonable distance away (I always pictured it as 20-30 feet), and you're not really "dependent" on them. You're still depending on yourself, just… the other half of yourself. Like the little voice in your brain that represents "you".

      Likewise, the reason it's weird to see a person without a daemon (or a daemon without a person) is because you're seeing that person without their soul. Since your daemon only disappears when you're dead, it's basically like seeing a zombie. They're dead, but they're still walking around. It's gross.

      Basically, what muzzery said. This is just how this world is.

    • cait0716 says:

      I'm with you, Brad. I like my alone time and even my cat manages to crowd my space from time to time. It might be one thing if I could send the daemon away for a few hours or take a vacation or something. Maybe if I had been born in that world I'd think differently, but I was born in this one. A constant companion would get on my nerves

      Also, what if you daemon is something small, like a beetle or an ant, and no one can see it? Are you just ostracized or do you to let everyone you meet know that you just have a tiny demon?

      • Partes says:

        It's not a companion, though. It's you. It would be like losing your own thoughts on a matter, as they merely represent a part of you that is already there in a comforting, loving form. I don't even know if you can class them as crowding your space, considering you feel everything they do, and what's yours is theirs.

        Also, there's a fascinating Social Network crossover fic that deals with this concept:

        I wouldn't read that if you haven't finished with the first book, only because it deals with some concepts not brought up yet, although thinking about it I don't think it would matter too much. There's nothing there that hasn't been implied already anyway, but maybe better safe than sorry. But there are no 'spoilers', and it's a beautiful story. I don't think any knowledge of the Social Network is really needed.

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Yes, yes, I just can't stand having someone around all the time. I even love cats! But they'd have to be in the apartment with me, so I always convince myself that I'd snap and boot them out the window some day. Man, an ant––that could be workable! Or a houseplant! I love plants, and how they just sit there, not needing my attention at all. Carrying a pot around would be good exercise, too!

        And even if the dæmon IS me––as Partes says below––I'm not even sure I'd want THAT around. I'd get tired of a little kitty making sarcastic remarks about Harry Potter books pretty fast, ha,ha,ha.

        • monkeybutter says:

          Or a houseplant! I love plants, and how they just sit there, not needing my attention at all.

          I think a cactus would be perfect for you.

      • rumantic says:

        I wondered about the "unseen daemon" thing. Pantalaimon is a moth sometimes, and they tend to blend in with the background and not show up unless they move. So wouldn't you just assume if you saw someone without a daemon that the daemon was blending in with the background or hiding in their pocket or really small or something? So I wondered whether perhaps there is some kind of detachment the witches have when their daemons are far away which is immediately obvious to an onlooker, kind of an unconscious sense, like you sometimes see zombies in horror movies depicted not as being rotting etc, they appear just as a normal person, but with this awful dead look in their eyes or a kind of complete abscence of emotion on the face which immediately gives them away to any conscious person.

        Or maybe it's just a social convention in Lyra's world that daemons are in view at all times, even if they have an unobtrusive form. It would be funny if there was a fashion in that world for teenagers to go around hiding their daemons to rebel or shock others, kind of like the goth fashion with intent of looking pale to imitate being a vampire.

        Perhaps your daemon would be something like a moth or a chameleon which blends in with the background and is barely noticeable until you need him or her.

  31. Tingojr says:

    I want to offer an interesting tid-bit. No spoilers. I promise. Panserbjörne roughly translates to tank (as in huge war machines, as in German Panzer) bears, you probably figured this out, but I thought it was fitting and thought to tell you if you hadn't figured out. Also, all the mystique of the names of the places up north is lost to me because it's all just badly spelled Icelandic, and being Icelandic I understand the names.

    I do love that you are reading these books. Please never read shit like My Immortal ever again, it hurt's my brain and this isn't even my first language.

  32. Where is my dæmon 🙁 🙁

    Here we are, Mark!

  33. bradycardia says:

    More Lee Scoresby you say? Well, just so you know, whenever you finish the trilogy, there are a couple of other companion books by Pullman, including Once Upon a Time in the North featuring Lee and Iorek.
    I won't say more, for fear of spoilers, except that it's awesome. And comes with a board game!

  34. Billie says:

    I'm so happy that you're back to HDM. Like, really, really happy. Like, getting emotional while reading your review happy. For the last few nights I'd get all excited before going to bed because I would wake up to a new chapter. Except that it started being My Immortal and I would rage at my boyfriend and he would bemusedly pat me on the head but now it's back and I will never rage again!

    P.S. You are not prepared Mark, and I don't think I am prepared for your unpreparedness.

    P.P.S. I live in New Zealand and I think we have Southern Lights over here. I've never seen them and I'm not sure if you can see them anywhere here but…I think it would be something so incredible that I kind of don't want to see them. I might have a panic attack from being filled up with too much emotion.

    • dirigibleplum says:

      I feel the same re: seeing the aurora (in the southern hemisphere it's called aurora australis!) one day. I know that before I read this book I wouldn't really have been able to grasp the beauty of it, but now there's … so much STUFF attached to my perception of it. And just look at Pullman's description of Lyra seeing the northern lights for the first time. It's literally breathtaking.

  35. BradSmith5 says:

    You must forgive my staggering ignorance; I am new to this story's world. I have no idea how you get a dæmon, or even if any choice is involved. I've just seen the characters going "Ew, no dæmon," so I figured some sort of prejudice was at work.

    Thank you for your informative clarifications.

  36. You Are Not Alone says:

    OK. Maybe 'silly' is not the word he used, but he was unenthused:
    "I didn't choose that name and to be frank I don't think I would have done. I imagine that the scriptwriter did get it from Shelley's poem, but you'd really have to ask her why she went for that name."
    [-PHILIP PULLMAN WEBCHAT, BBC4, Jan 23 2003]

  37. enigmaticagentscully says:

    As Iorek moves away from town and towards the harbor, there’s a clam relief in the way that Lyra feels about what’s just happened.

    I…I know 'clam relief' is obviously just a typo, but because you were talking about a harbour anyway my mind got all confused and I had this weirdly adorable mental image…of some really relieved clams watching what was happening.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      I find that watching Genesis of the Daleks provides clam relief for all my stresses and strains.

      Apologies to anyone who unfamiliar with original run Doctor Who

      …but that's a pretty good place to start putting that right.

  38. pica_scribit says:

    One thing I love about daemons that I've not seen addressed elsewhere is that, as a constant and beloved companion, as well as a sort of external manifestation of the self, Pullman has created a system wherein self-loathing is nearly impossible. I wonder how that affects basic human psychology in this universe?

    • hazelwillow says:

      I've thought about this too. I don't think self-loathing would be impossible, I just think it would be much more obvious (and the backfiring, painful result of being cruel/negative to yourself would be much more obvious too, so maybe people would be less inclined to treat themselves badly). Having the daemon part of yourself be external makes your relationship with yourself very explicit. So hating yourself without realizing it would be much harder to do… and I think people often do hate or undermine themselves without realizing that's how they've been relating to themselves (I've had that experience, anyway. I usually need to remember to love myself).
      Basically, having a daemon would make it unavoidable to cultivate a relationship with yourself.
      That's my view, anyway.

      • notemily says:

        There's a neat scene in the movie where Mrs. Coulter slaps the golden monkey, and the slap marks appear on her own face. It's one of the few Things Changed from the Book that I actually like.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      I think at least part of the inspiration comes from Jung:

      And from that, to drift away from your point somewhat…

      Jung's ideas are pretty problematic in their implications about the underlying realities of sex, sexuality and gender. Pullman has a stab at mitigating that by having a few people with deamons of the same sex – but that still figures male/female as rigidly binary on an essential level and I'm not sure that there's strong evidence for that idea (obviously there's a binary distinction between XY and XX but biology as a whole is at least malleable and probably more varied than just that chromasome pair would suggest).

      Still, we're talking about a fantasy world here and, as with the class stuff, I think you can read the text as a metaphor as well – and there's no doubt that our current cutural constructions of sex, sexuality and gender are strongly binary.

      I think I'll return to this in more detail when we have the whole trilogy to consider.

  39. Nomie says:




    SO not prepared.

    When I was in college in upstate New York, the aurora was visible once. My friend and I stood outside behind the campus center just watching these wispy sheets of green and red float across the sky, till our faces went numb and our necks ached. I literally don't have words for the majesty of it.

  40. CuriousApe says:

    The girl and the dæmon looked up at the solitary bear. He had no dæmon. He was alone, always alone.
    This makes me sad and I want to hug someone, preferrably Iorek. Or maybe I want to be hugged, not sure. But I live alone so all I get to do is hug my pillow and pretend it is my dæmon.

    But! Northern Lights! So beautiful. I got to see them when I was really really young so I hardly remember more than the feel of the night. Infinity and beauty and soft lights and safety in my father's arms.

  41. Taryn says:

    Everyone should have a dæmon!

    If I had one (WHY DON'T I, UNIVERSE? GOSH), it would be a red fox fo' sho'.

    What do you think yours would be Mark? Anyone who sees this post, go ahead and reply with what species your dæmon would be too.

    • Ellalalalala says:

      I'm often likened to a meercat (a real one, not like Aleksandr Orlov and that bizarre franchise) but I like my alone-time too so I'm going for an otter! Or an otter/meercat hyrbid. WITH ARMOUR.

      That's allowed, right?

    • rumantic says:

      A squirrel!

      When I was in labour with my son, I was in the early stages for around 48 hours. Over 2 days without sleep and being in pain every 5-10 minutes is pretty draining. Anyway, I was at home during this time and every time I looked out of the kitchen window, a squirrel was sitting there. Literally for the whole time. We had no trees in our garden, and we didn't feed the birds or anything, so there was no reason for it to be there. My mum is really into symbology and things like that, so she got me to look up the meaning of squirrel, and it was about gathering your resources and/or energy for hard times ahead, which was relevant at the time. Then I looked up more on it later and got that they are playful, trusting, chattery, hoarding, and good at problem-solving. Which fits me pretty well ^_^ I like to think my little birth-squirrel was my daemon, come to check up on me.

  42. theanagrace says:

    Yay Ottawa!
    I also have wanted to go to the Arctic for a long time, ever since I learned my Dad did surveying work up there before I was born, and my Grandad sailed the Northwest Passage as the Captain of his ship and spent a lot of time up there. It's pretty much a requirement now, to be in my family, you have to do something awesome in the Arctic. 😀
    Fun Fact of the Day; It is just as, or less, expensive for a Canadian citizen to go to Australia as it is to go up north. (Did I say fun? I meant kinda depressing)

  43. Valykos says:

    I don't know which of those I'd like to have! Maybe peregrine falcon, they're my favorite of the birds of prey…ever since Animorphs….*ahem*

    But a big snow leopard or tiger I could curl up against and cuddle with would be amazing. Ohhh decisions.

  44. Ash says:

    They stole Iorek soul, that’s quite a chilling thought.
    I suppose it is one of the downsides of having your soul on show for the world to see. It does not bode well.

  45. @Leenessface says:

    Lee Scoresby <3

    Iorek <3

    Lyra <3

    I love these fucking books so much. I love all the characters. I love Lee Scoresby because we share a first name. I love his daemon.


  46. BradSmith5 says:

    Yeah, and I DO like how the dæmon stuff has been presented so far; I hate it when everything is spelled out in some unnatural way. Just, in this case, my deductions lead me astray: thinking that there's some "anti-loner" vibe going on when there may not be.

  47. daisysparrow says:

    Being from Texas, I feel the need to add the obligatory FUCK YEAH LEE SCORESBY comment 🙂

  48. dirigibleplum says:

    Regretting not bringing my copy of The Golden Compass with me to school because (1) I am dying to read along with you and feel every thrill again (PARALLEL WORLDS, MY GOD) and (2) I want to re-read how Lee Scoresby is introduced to see why you [and Lyra] were so impressed by him! Because he's absolutely my favorite character. Whenever I even see the name my heart swells up. 🙂

  49. avmin says:

    Wait? Was Serafina's daemon male? Damn >_> Of course I knew people usually have a daemon of the opposite sex but 'Kaisa' is a very definitely female name. I wonder if I realized that when I read the books…

    • Brieana says:

      Kaisa is male.
      Hang on, am I allowed to answer that? Oh well. I should be more in the habit of rereading so I know what questions I can and can't answer.

      • Sparkie says:

        Definitely male, quote from chapter 11, "He's waiting on the deck! He flew here all by hisself – I seen him coming in the sky -"

        But I agree with Kaisa as a girl's name. I knew a Kaisa and am fairly sure it's a girl's name. The question is if Pullman knew that it was a girl's name, or just liked the name.

    • notemily says:

      I was confused on that bit for a while too, but they definitely use male pronouns for him.

  50. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    Compare and contrast:

    Anna's been busy and won another BAFTA for best actress (for Poppy Shakespeare) as well as spending six months in the lead in a West End musical. She just hasn't had a breakout movie hit that's given her a Hollywood career, but that's not a sign of doing very little. She also had a baby in 2009.

    Edit: however, if you're in the US a lot of the stuff she's done probably never got there, so its undertandable that it looks as if she hasn't done much.

    • notemily says:

      Yeah, I am in the US and I don't get to see British plays and musicals 🙁 or… any plays and musicals with well-known casts really.

  51. monkeybutter says:

    There are a lot of us ~Independent Souls~ around here, haha.

    Having a snow leopard like Lord Asriel would be pretty great. We totally have the best daemon selection.

  52. flootzavut says:

    "most depressing sentence in all of The Golden Compass"

    Wanna bet?

    • drippingmercury says:

      I think the sentence about Tony Markarios's alcoholic mother chapters ago was more depressing. Don't have the exact quote, but she only occasionally sobers up long enough to remember she had a son, but when she realizes he's gone she thinks he ran away and blames herself. UTTER SADNESS.

  53. notemily says:

    We had Wisconsin history as part of our regular history class, but I got the impression from my Texan friends that it was a much bigger deal in Texas. ICBW, YMMV, etc.

  54. rumantic says:

    I'm pretty sure actually it was this chapter which made me decide I *have* to see the Northern Lights some day. And then I got really into The Rasmus in high school and decided I wanted to visit Finland expressly to see them (the lights, not the band) and possibly even live there for a year. Then I actually got serious about it at some point and started reading up about the language and culture and politics etc and it sparked off a real love of the country. And this chapter started it all <3

    I still haven't been though. But I will!

  55. Stephalopolis says:


    I must say… I LOVE the thought of parallel universes. Sometimes, I like to imagine our dreams are just connections between this world and others and we're getting brief sneak peaks into them.

  56. stefb says:

    I'm late to The Golden Compass party, but since I'm catching up with you I wasn't going to comment on any of the reviews but I had to say something about this:

    "She looked at the newcomer with surprise. He was a tall, lean man with a thin black moustache and narrow blue eyes, and a perpetual expression of distant and sardonic amusement."

    Um, was Philip Pullman describing Clark Gable because that's immediately who came to mind when I first read that sentence and now I will always picture Lee as a young Clark Gable, probably circa "It Happened One Night" and therefore made me biased towards Lee. To loving him, that is.

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