Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth chapter of The Golden Compass, everyone is forced to deal with learning what intercision is and what the Gobblers are doing in Bolvangar. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Golden Compass.

Despite that it might not feel any different for all of you, I am back! My fourth outing on the AIDS/LifeCycle was a wonderful success, as I had my quickest riding time almost every single day and I raised over $3,400 for essential services for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Again, thanks to all of you for the help, the promotion, and any of the money you donated. I already signed up for ALC 11, which takes place next summer, and I’ll be sure to keep you all in the know when fundraising opens up this winter.

It’s been weird to be “away” from the Internet for eight days straight because so much of it consumes my life. I won’t lie, though: it was rather nice to not have to be online or texting or on the phone or reading email and just riding my bike for seven days straight. At the same time, I am fucking exhausted. I always forget how emotionally and physically overwhelming this ride is, despite having now ventured from San Francisco to Los Angeles four times. (It’s ok; it’s still an absurd concept to me, and I’ve done it.) I’m already starting to miss the weird bubble of a community that the ride creates out of nothing and that lasts seven days, but I am also very, very happy to return to all of you. I HAVE SO MANY COMMENTS TO CATCH UP ON.

But seriously, seriously, I could not have left off on a worse part of this book than ending at chapter twelve and sticking to my plan not to read ahead or write while on the AIDS ride. And I did it! And it was VERY PAINFUL AND TORTUROUS because WHY THE FUCK ARE THE GOBBLERS CUTTING AWAY DÆMONS HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE

So, suffice to say: I am so unbearably excited to continue reading. Shall we?


Pullman has no qualms about taking us to an incredibly, wholly grim place and keeping us there, and it’s still shocking and jarring to me how dark this book has gotten in terms of what we’re dealing with. It’s one of those things that, in hindsight, does seem sort of obvious: How many times was I told how important dæmons were? How weird it was not to have one? How painful it was to experience even the slightest physical distance from one? It’s almost like it was all spelled out for me in terms of what the definition of intercision was. I knew all along, but I had not thought about it once.

But what Pullman chooses to do with Lyra is to not only refuse to ignore the fact that this very notion of being physically removed from your dæmon is actually repulsive, but that Lyra possesses a heart so wide and so desperate to love that she can put aside what seems to be a perfectly natural reaction to what she witnesses here with poor little Tony Makarios. Even right from the start, as Tony mutters constantly about his “Ratter,” completely unable to accept that what has happened to him is even really possible, Lyra is quick to comfort him. She’s totally shocked by the horror of the process, even having to step out of that shed to collect herself, but she moves quickly to get Tony out of this place and back to the gyptians. What I love about Lyra’s reaction is that she immediately feels this desire to protect Tony in a way, both because she understands that what was done to him was awful, but also because she knows the people of this small town have not come to his aid, that they just reacted with disgust and left it at that. Tony is already alone without his dæmon, and now he’ll be alone in the world if there isn’t someone to care for him.

So she makes it a point to do what she can to make him feel loved and cared for, even if it is superficial when compared to the companionship of one’s dæmon. She flares up with anger when the same local villager who pointed out the location of the child demands payment for the fish that Tony is now clutching to, his only physical companion at the moment. (Seriously, what a gut-wrenching mental image.) She climbs up on Iorek’s back with Tony to ride with him back to the gyptians, and she makes the choice to accept this child as he is:

In Lyra’s heart, revulsion struggled with compassion, and compassion won. She put her arms around the skin little form to hold him safe.

Love you, Lyra.

What’s also great about this is that I get the sense that Iorek understands the severity of this situation and the immense compassion that Lyra does show for taking this boy back with them. When they arrive back to the gyptians, it’s clear that these men cannot believe what Lyra has brought back, and even John Faa is terrified of what he sees. As no one aside from Faa steps forward to help, Iorek speaks angrily to the crowd:

“Shame on you! Think what this child has done! You might not have more courage, but you should be ashamed to show less.”

RIGHT? Now I know that Iorek, by his very nature, seems to be pretty emotionally closed off. As we’ll learn later, his past is marred by violence and an act of brutality that got him exiled from the Svalbard bears. He seems content to merely do as he is told, to drown his memories with alcohol, and to now be free of the work he was doing before. But he’s still so distant from Lyra. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a point in the future (and maybe not even in this book) where the two of them will get the chance to grow closer.

Still, for now, everyone must deal with the confirmation that the Oblation Board / The Gobblers are for some unknown reason cutting children away from their dæmons. I cannot possibly guess as to the reason why, nor how this relates to Dust or why this is being done in Bolvangar either. THIS IS ALL VERY CONFUSING TO ME. And I can tell it is not only confusing to Lyra, but exhausting, too. As John Faa takes Tony away, it’s difficult for her to do anything at this point but fall asleep. She awakes the next morning, realizing she’d not told Farder Coram about the exodus of witches, and as she spots him outside, anxious to share this and how she’d misunderstood the altheiometer’s previous reading, he stops her short: Tony has died.

“He couldn’t settle, he couldn’t stay in one place; he kept asking after his dæmon, where she was, was she a coming soon, and all; and he kept such a tight hold on that bare old piece of fish as if…Oh, I can’t speak of it, child; but he closed his eyes finally and fell still, and that was the first time he looked peaceful, for he was like any other dead person then, with their dæmon gone in the course of nature.”

Oh, hell, that is so depressing. A question, though: Where do dæmons go when a person dies? Do they disappear too? Hmmm.

Lyra, overcome with the sadness of it all, tells Farder Coram she’d like to see Tony’s body one last time before he is created, and Coram obliges. His silent, lonely body lay under a checkered blanket and she pulls Pantalaimon close to her at the very thought of him being forcibly taken away from her, knowing that in the end, all this boy had was a piece of fish. She realizes that this specific fish that he had picked up in the shack is gone, and in a moment, she flies into a rage about it. These men do not understand what that meant to him, and she knows it was all he had in his final moments. As she confronts the men and one grins as if this is all just a childish joke, she snaps. And it really is yet another example of the core moral system that operates within Lyra, something that Pullman has built into Lyra, who is not a perfect character herself, but one who, like the alethiometer, can still read situations like a gauge, ascertaining what is right and wrong, and these ethics she naturally possesses tell her that taking this poor boy’s fish is wrong. Unfortunately, one of the men has already fed the fish to his dog, so she does what’s left for her to do: She honors Tony like those Jordan Scholars buried deep beneath the school, placing a golden coin with the name of his dæmon in his mouth.

I know I am honestly a broken record at this point, but I remember absolutely none of this during the movie. How the hell do you fuck up such evocative and beautiful imagery? This is such a fantastic way to have Lyra deal with both death and intercision in a way that only she can, and WHY WOULDN’T YOU FILM THIS IT’S BASICALLY WRITTEN PERFECTLY ALREADY. Oh god OH GOD THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD.

There’s now an impossible sense of dread draped over the book at this point, and the gyptian crew pushes forward into an unknown that must surely be terrible. If this–the revelation of what the Gobblers are doing–is this early into the book, then surely we are dealing with a horror much worse than what we’ve already been given. Farder Coram’s insistence that there are many things which concern the witches that could explain their mass flying doesn’t make me feel any better, and the violent, terrifying weather that the group faces certainly doesn’t either.

Parallel to this, Lyra’s thoughts wander back to the spy-fly that Mrs. Coulter had sent after her, something I’d definitely forgotten about. While I can’t figure out what the hell they’re supposed to do with it, it does give Pullman a chance to further explore the relationship between Iorek and Lyra. As I’d wondered earlier in the chapter, I couldn’t help but think about how these two would continue to interact with each other, and the following scene (referenced by the chapter’s title) does not really make things easier to predict.

Lyra goes to Iorek to help construct two identical tins so that she can keep the spy-fly on her own person instead of with Farder Coram. I’m not really sure this is a good idea, but I’m also not sure this is a bad idea either. For the time being, though, it is a chance to see just how skilled Iorek is with metal. It just comes natural to him and, within just a few moments, he is able to produce the exact tins that Lyra requests, despite that both are much, much smaller than just one of his paws. WHAT! That is amazing.

After this is done, Lyra begins to question Iorek about being an armored bear and his lack of a dæmon, and I love Iorek’s succinct answer:

“So I don’t know what lonely means either. Bears are made to be solitary.”

I do believe Iorek when he says this, but when Lyra presses him further about his past as a Svalbard bear, I get a sense that there is something missing. We learn that he was exiled by the Svalbard bears because in a moment of anger, he killed another bear. And while Iorek probably doesn’t understand loneliness in the same way Lyra does, I do feel that the way he talked about his armor before and the way he talks about the bears now suggests he misses that, that perhaps his camaraderie or community is something he wishes he were a part of.

There’s a lot here that feels like bits and pieces of what’s to come, too. Lyra gets the idea of traveling to rescue her father via balloon, though it’s just an idea at this point. She also learns the name of the king of the bears: Iofur Raknison. It’s the same name she’d heard wayyyyyyyyy back in chapter two from the Palmerian Professor, and while she cannot remember what he said, I believe that I remember: Didn’t the Professor say that Iofur Raknison wanted a dæmon??? WHICH IS NOT POSSIBLE I BELIEVE. Hmmm.

At this point, a whole collection of ridiculous ideas are brewing in Lyra’s head, and now she starts to convince herself that if the bears could not be defeated, perhaps they could be tricked.

Iorek insists this is impossible, and offers up Lyra the chance to trick him by fencing with him. While she initially doesn’t take it seriously, as she tries to stick him just once, she becomes more and more frustrated at his ability to seemingly predict and anticipate nearly every single one of her acts. It’s certainly one of the strangest scenes in the book, and it demonstrates just how different Iorek is from Lyra. But he thinks that it also shows how they are similar: Bears can read human fighters as Lyra, a child, can read the alethiometer.

Ugh. I’m at that point in the story where I feel like I’ve been given so many of the pieces, but I’m lacking all the important ones to put this together properly. As I try to figure out Iorek and why Lyra is so good at the alethiometer, Lyra’s conversation with Lee Scoresby (who is leaving to use his balloon to spy on Bolvangar) makes things all the more confusing. She (sort of) pitches her idea of flying to Svalbard, but Lee is quick to shoot it down. He does say that it is possible to carry Iorek in the balloon, since he did it before when he was captured by the Tartars. And it’s here that we get a bit of a cultural lesson from Lee about the Tartars, proving that what we’d known before was completely misunderstood: They give each other the holes in their skulls, not as an act of violence, but one of PRIVILEGE AND RESPECT.

So. OK. Why the hell did Lord Asriel lie to the Scholars? Is Grumman dead or not? what the hell is going on


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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80 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Golden Compass’: Chapter 13

  1. Pip_Harper says:

    Good God, poor Tony.

    I find Iorek's comments about being 'meant to be solitary' very interesting. In that manner, we as a race have more in common with the bears than with the humans of this universe – what are physical differences to literally sharing your life with someone, never ever knowing what it is to be utterly alone, never having to face the certainty that you will die alone?

    Unless the gobblers get you… *shivers*

  2. @Arachne110 says:

    This chapter made it impossible for me to stop reading. I consumed the rest of the book in less than an hour after this…
    I wish I could be Phillip Pullman when I write 0_0

  3. Ryan Lohner says:

    The reason you don't remember this is because the film completely wimps out at this scene, with Ma Costa simply saying "We'll get you another daemon." Yes, they'll just make another soul for him. I hesitate to blame the writer/director too much, since from all accounts he wanted to make a faithful adaptation but was stymied at every turn by nervous studio execs, but that is just a whole new level of stupid.

    • pica_scribit says:

      I cannot understand nervous studio execs. Seriously, has anyone ever complained about a film being *too* faithful to its source material? But no, they go ahead and make a "safe" film that has no guts to it and alienates all the fans of the books. If they lost money on it, it's their own damn fault. Pansies.

      • hpfish13 says:

        I didn't see this movie, but this is how I feel about the Percy Jackson movie. They took out everything that made the books so unique (in particular the modernized version of the gods and goddesses), took out everything related to the larger narrative and made a fairly boring teenage adventure film with some mythical creatures thrown in. It lost all of the quirks that made the books so enjoyable.

      • notemily says:

        I think the first two Harry Potter movies were a bit too faithful to the books. It was cool to see EVERYTHING on screen, but I like the later ones (especially Prisoner of Azkaban) much better. The first two were kind of uninspired.

        I will talk more about book to movie adaptations once we get to Lord of the Rings, though.

        • NightFly says:

          The Prisoner of Azkaban made absolutely no sense if you hadn't already read the books! Which I think a the films are generally rather poor when compared to the books, at least they can usually stand on their own two feet, and even if you know nothing about Harry Potter, you'd still think they were good films. The 3rd one? NOT AT ALL!

          Sorry, not really relevant…

          • notemily says:

            I suppose I can't really compare because I had already read the books so I have no idea what kind of impression someone who hadn't would get from PoA. But I think Cuaron is a genius; he brought some great ideas here–the visual themes, the clocks everywhere, the way the kids looked and acted like real adolescents instead of having their uniforms perfectly tucked in all the time. The way magic just happened in the background, without needing to have attention called to it every time. Plus there was Groovy New Dumbledore.

            The fourth one, on the other hand, I didn't like very much.

            • hazelwillow says:

              I totally agree about Prisoner of Azkaban (and this stands for LoTR too); it's an excellent adaptation of books and they are that way because the writers/directors seemingly understood the thematic backbone of each book and used that to create their own film out of. It doesn't matter if certain specifics aren't the same if the emotional and intellectual meaning of the story is there, along with the tone…
              So yeah, I agree. I think there are two ways of making book-to-movie adaptations: the literal way where you reproduce the physical details of the story, and the more figurative way where you use the story as a source to make a good movie. The latter to me usually feels more faithful, even if more details have actually been changed.
              GoF was just… weird.

              • notemily says:

                There's also the third way, where you go "people like X in movies! Let's add lots of X even though it's not in the book and doesn't fit with the book's tone at all!" and then you get stuff like, say, Ella Enchanted.

          • redheadedgirl says:

            I disagree about PoA (it's my favroite book and favorite movie of the seven so far), but absolutely agree when it comes to Goblet of Fire. Goblet of Fire was like, "Harry Potter and Scenes from GoF" and they didn't explain things like "priori incantatem," they jsut had Gambledore say it and fade to black.


    • Brieana says:

      Yeah, I don't think Ma Costa offered to crochet little Billy another daemon. I think she meant that they'll find his other one.

      It does make no sense to me that the studio would be so scared to be faithful to the books. Why did they agree to adapt them in the first place?

      • Brieana says:

        By "his other one" I meant the one that was cut away…
        I should probably get an account one of these days so that I can edit my own comments.

  4. stellaaaaakris says:

    You're back! I'm glad, especially that you'll have GC reviews on Monday-Wednesday, the only days I can really comment to my heart's content. There's only so much you can say about My Immortal. I work Thursday and Friday at a bike place, which offers classes and rides (I do want to get more involved in the bicycling community) and, while I can read reviews, I have very little time to comment. Plus I was unable to stop myself and am halfway through the third book on my 12th reread.

    Are we allowed to answer your questions that have already been answered in the book? I forget. Because we know, sort of, what happens to a daemon when their person dies. I won't say anything explicitly just in case, but we witnessed it firsthand in the chapter with the throwing nets.

    Iorek: <3

    Lyra, I less that 3 you as well. I love that Lyra has such a strong idea of right and wrong and while she does things that I might consider wrong on a shallow level (switching the daemon coins in the Jordan cellars is something I would consider really disrespectful, but like Mark says, she's not a perfect person which is fantastic and realistic), on the really important things, it's so obvious to her what needs to be done. And I 100% agree with her. Lyra, you keep being you.

    • Ellalalalala says:

      Completely agree, plus the fact that Pan freaked out so much about the daemon coins indicated to me that she did know deep down that it was really disrespectful (and was testing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, as kids do!) – just as Pan freaking out as she enters the hut illustrates better how torn she was about going in than just writing Lyra was torn about whether or not to go into the hut.

      Not that Pullman would ever write a sentence as crap as that, but y'know!

  5. Sherry says:

    I'm a little over halfway through The Subtle Knife now, and I won't say more than this: These books are not boring.

  6. Kaci says:

    I…don’t think this is a spoiler, because I’m reading it along with you, Mark, so I’ve not seen anything past this chapter, but it is a question that hasn’t been addressed directly in the book yet (I don’t think so, anyway), so um…warning for a observation/question?

    It just occurred to me during this chapter when Tony refers to his daemon as “she” that to the best of my observation so far, everyone’s daemon is the opposite gender of them. I wonder if that’s important? Is it a philosophical statement about our own existence? Or if it’s just one of the “rules” of this universe that isn’t necessarily important to the story?

    Or, entirely possibly, I am way over-thinking this because I took one too many gender studies classes in college. Definitely a possibility.

    At any rate, welcome back, Mark!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Yeah this is a good question. THAT I DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO.

      If this is spoilery, do not answer it!

      • Tilja says:

        As to being spoilery, I don’t think so as it’s already being discussed by you. Still, I will answer only telling you that you’ve got all the answer in your hands. Pullman made it so that the reader will get their own answers along the way. Same as with a lot of the cultural and spiritual themes.

        Just go on your won sweet inclination and give US the answers.

  7. Tilja says:

    Hello, comment from last chapter. Here I repeat you. My extract from one of the first chapters of Jane Eyre. I believe you’ll find it fitting, now and in the future.

    I always took my doll with me; human beings must love something, and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow. It puzzles me now to remember with what absurd sincerity I doted on this little toy, half fancying it alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep unless it was folded in my night-gown; and when it lay there safe and warm, I was comparatively happy, believing it to be happy likewise.

    Appropriate y appropriate.

    It’s almost like it was all spelled out for me in terms of what the definition of intercision was. I knew all along, but I had not thought about it once.

    That’s because the very meaning of it is inconceivable. You can know what the word means in every sense, but it’ll never cross your mind that something so inhuman can even happen using that meaning. We can always imagine the lose of members, or even of sexual organs (we do it to pets so it’s normal), but to go as far as to think of losing a part of your inner self by exernal ripping forces is as unthinkable as to imagine a person being alive without their head. This is where Pullman surpasses all others and becomes so great as a narrator and a story teller; he can take you where nobody ever imagines to go into the world of human and spiritual desecration and consecration (let’s not forget he goes everywhere). He also implies the many taboos ingrained in our very genes respecting certain issues that go far beyond cultural indoctrination and right into the very core of our souls, as exemplified by the daemons’ taboo. Whatever society you can look upon, you will always find there are certain things left untouched by every human being in the world. These are the things discussed here.

    • ldwy says:

      Beautiful comment.

      Thanks for reminding us of that excerpt from Jane Eyre. I had forgotten it (it's been a long while since I read that book) but it is familiar upon rereading. And very fitting and interesting in the context of this story.

  8. arctic_hare says:

    Welcome back, Mark! 😀 Congrats on raising so much money, and having the best riding time! I'm really glad you had fun out there. And we're all glad to have you back. <3

    Poor little Tony. Poor, poor Tony. 🙁 I love Lyra for being so compassionate to him, in life and death; the scene where she rages at the men for taking the fish away and then carves his daemon's name into a coin is heartwrenchingly wonderful. Lyra may be a little terror, and a brat, and a liar, but at her heart she's a kind and caring person, I'd definitely want her as my friend. You just know she'd be a true and loyal friend through thick and thin. She's a really fantastic character. <3

    That quote from Iorek is amazing, isn't it? <3 I love Iorek. And dammit, I want more details on his exploits alongside Lee Scoresby. Those have got to be some epic tales.

    ~still not prepared~

  9. Saphling says:

    Intercision and intercession. Two letters different, and a WORLD AWAY from each other in meaning.

    • Ellalalalala says:

      This vocabulary interlude has made me think – but in such a very jumbled and incoherent way that despite trying over and over to organise my thoughts I cannot commit them to a comment. Dammit I need a pensieve!

  10. Nomie says:

    If this–the revelation of what the Gobblers are doing–is this early into the book, then surely we are dealing with a horror much worse than what we’ve already been given.

    And just think: you have TWO MORE WHOLE BOOKS AFTER THIS. :D!

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

  11. mal612 says:

    I remember reading this and the last chapter, being completely and utterly heartbroken by Tony and his missing Ratter. HEART.BROKEN.

    and then the movie came along and everyone in the movie, as well as viewers, were just kind of "eh" about the whole thing. I remember after seeing the movie with my family (2 members actually FELL ASLEEP in the theatre) I tried to explain daemons and how utterly devastating that scene should have been.

    So much disappoint. This is one case in which I really wish the movie had never been turned way too many people off to the brilliance of the books.

    • nanodragora says:

      My friend's dad bought himself a copy of that terrible movie. I was planning to sneak it off his shelf and shove the book in its place. It was a beautiful plan, but somehow it never came to fruition.

  12. Roonil Wazlib says:

    Welcome back, Mark!

    Now I can't help but think of poor Ratter – where is she? and what must she be thinking?

    I can't wait for you to keep reading!!! You are so not prepared.

  13. pennylane27 says:

    HEARTBREAKING. As I said last week, I'm not sure I believe in souls, but Pullman makes the concept of "losing a part of you is the worst thing ever" so easy to grasp that I can't help getting a bit teary. The man is a genius.

  14. Bacon_Bomb says:

    This was removed by Jesus.

  15. rissreader says:

    I wonder how daemons get their names.
    Poor Tony. Poor Ratter. This chapter is heartbleeding.

  16. flootzavut says:

    "I get the sense that Iorek understands the severity of this situation"

    I think Iorek might understand in a way more than any of the humans. After all, he's spent years separated from his armour, which is his soul.

    And it's good to have you back, Mark… OK back to reading review!!

  17. Saith says:

    Oh wow. This book. This fucking book.
    I love it. The entire series, actually. It's so sad, but in a really good way.
    One of the only books that ever made me cry. <3
    (The other was the Mortal Engine series)

  18. Mauve_Avenger says:

    So now we probably have at least one other alethiometer symbol being used, bird, which means daemon, as well as the knowledge that at least one symbol can be used to mean negation. The way it’s expressed in the novel (“the alethiometer kept saying bird and not”) seems strange; it uses one italicized word that may or may not be a symbol and one italicized word that definitely isn’t a symbol. Most of the time when Lyra interprets the alethiometer, she says something like “it keeps showing Symbol X and Symbol Y, and together they mean Z,” or she simply says the interpreted meaning of the symbols together without mentioning what the symbols actually were (the way she answered the Bolvangar question). Here, though, she’s mixing the two ways of describing the answer and it just seems weird. It would be fairly easy to conclude that the symbol itself isn’t ‘bird,’ but rather that the symbol is something that has ‘bird’ among its many meanings (similar to the ‘not‘), and Lyra simply wasn’t aware (or subconsciously didn’t want to be aware) of that level of meaning.

    I was thinking earlier that it would be very strange/bad if the alethiometer didn’t have a symbol indicating negation, since “no” and “not” are very simple words that would completely change the meaning of an answer, and wondering which of the thirty-six symbols could possibly serve that purpose. I think that out of the ones we know so far, the helmet and baby symbols would be the most likely candidates, helmet being war->against->opposition/opposite and baby being child->difficult->“No!”

    Thought that’s completely unrelated to this chapter but just now occurred to me: the book constantly contrasts regular dirty dust with the dust that’s of philosophical/theological import by capitalizing the first letter of the latter. The very first time Lyra heard the word used in the Retiring Room, its said that she could tell it had a capital letter, just from the way it was said. It's a pretty common thing to do in fantasy novels, but how does this translate in languages where every noun is capitalized, or languages with no capitalization at all?

    Unrelated news: I just found my Subtle Knife book, which hadn't been thrown away, after all. So instead of having to buy another copy, I used the money to order copies of both Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North, which I never read before because I completely forgot they existed. I am excite.

    • Sparkie says:

      I was also wondering about numbers. Lyra seems able to find very exact numbers eg. the number of soldiers, which seems incomprehensible given she only has symbols. I've always wondered how she's supposed to know.
      Unless I guess maybe there's a number symbol and each level of meaning is a different number. IDK :S

    • hazelwillow says:

      I like these Alethiometer comments of yours. 🙂

    • rumantic says:

      Is it spoilery to use the picture of the Alethiometer from the front cover of the UK 2001 edition to speculate about which symbol could be which?

    • HieronymusGrbrd says:

      but how does this translate in languages where every noun is capitalized,

      German is such a language, so I had expected to see an emphasized "Staub" (but emphasizing is used for foreign language like panserbjørne) or an capslock "STAUB", but my german edition simpy says "Staub", not contrasting it with the dirty "Staub".

  19. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Arctic geography time…
    Svalbard in relation to Nova Zembla (called Novaya Zemlya in our own world, for the most part):
    <img src=""&gt;
    The above map doesn't show it, but just to the east of Novaya Zemlya is the Kara Sea, into which the Yenisei River (where Lee met Grumman) flows.
    The Tunguska region, which Lee has mentioned twice so far, is just to the east of the Yenisei River, as it gets its name from the tributaries of the Yenisei: the Angara (also called the Verkhnyaya Tunguska, or Upper Tunguska), the Podkamennaya Tunguska (the Stony or Middle Tunguska), and the Nizhnyaya or Lower Tunguska. The Podkamennaya Tunguska also gave its name to the 1908 Tunguska Event, which happened nearby.
    Clicking on the image should pull up a larger version:
    <img src=""&gt;

  20. Ms Avery says:

    This chapter seemed, you know, mildly sad to me as a teenager. Reading it now, it is completely horrifying, and I couldn't stop crying.

  21. flootzavut says:

    Pica is right. Levels of unpreparedness for this book are very high. Heck, there are parts I'm almost dreading Mark getting to when I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ALREADY!

  22. Sparkie says:

    Oh my god! What is this? A chapter that doesn't have a mind-melting revelation or twist?!

  23. fakehepburn says:

    You picked up on some things here I was not expecting, and that I certainly missed when I first read the book. (I mean, I was eleven, and a ton of it went straight over my head, but still: good job on the details.)

    And you are not prepared, obviously.

  24. decapitatedhead says:

    "So. OK. Why the hell did Lord Asriel lie to the Scholars? Is Grumman dead or not? what the hell is going on"

    Didn't Lord Asriel show them a decapitated head and declare it to be Grumman's? For whatever reason the Tartars put the holes in his skull, his head is still unattached to his body, so …

  25. hokieblood says:

    now placing bets on how many times mark cries during this series

  26. ldwy says:

    I love historical fiction, so perhaps I'll try Baudolino soon. Thanks for the recs 🙂

  27. Stephalopolis says:

    You know what I realized reading this chapter? I think this is the first book I've read where there's not romantic shipping.

    I mean… Part of that is probably because I've never read this book before, so I'm not involved in the fandom AT ALL. So maybe there is a massive shipping war that I'm not aware of. And to be fair, this is only book 1 in a series, and even Harry Potter, the major shipping didn't start until later in the series.

    Anyway, the reason this thought came to mind was when she rescued Tony, I was thinking "yay! someone her age she can bond with!" and through a series of successive thoughts, made me wonder if they ever got together, or if people paired those two, or if there was a triangle with her and Tony and Roger (not that I condone these things… I am loving the lack of romance in the book especially since SHE IS A CHILD)

    But then Tony died.

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