Locations in His Dark Materials
The location and layout of Jordan College in the parallel universe is analogous to the location of Exeter College, Philip Pullman's alma mater, in the real city of Oxford. However, unlike the fictional college, Exeter College is not the oldest (it is the fourth-oldest), nor is it the richest college of the University of Oxford.
As described by Pullman, the college is something of an exaggerated version of a real Oxford college, rambling above and below ground in a motley selection of buildings, cellars and tunnels constructed over several centuries:
- What was above ground was only a small fraction of the whole. Like some enormous fungus whose root-system extended over acres, Jordan (finding itself jostling for space above ground with St Michael's College on one side, Gabriel College on the other, and Bodley's Library behind) had begun, sometime in the Middle Age, to spread below the surface. Tunnels, shafts, vaults, cellars, staircases had so hollowed out the earth below Jordan and for some yards around it that there was almost as much air below ground as above; Jordan College stood on a sort of froth of stone.
(Pullman, Northern Lights)
Trollesund is the main port of the country of Lapland, which Lyra and her Gyptian protectors visited during their journey to Bolvangar.
The village has a witch consulate, which the Gyptians went to in order to get support from the witches during their journey. Also, there were two people of interest who lived in the town prior to the Gyptians visit who later left with them: Lee Scoresby, an aeronaut and prospector who had been stranded in the town as a result of a failed expedition, and Iorek Byrnison, an exiled armoured bear whom the people had tricked into working for them as a metalworker with alcohol as payment.
The far north location of the research facility where the Magisterium conducts experiments with intercision; children are kidnapped and brought there to be subjected to the process.
The first reference to the city appears in the first volume of the trilogy, Northern Lights, as 'the city in the sky': the city visible in the Aurora borealis, an occurrence which, according to the novel, thins the barrier between the dimension in which the story takes place and the dimension of Cittàgazze. The most expansive description of the city is given as Lyra and Will venture into it and other surrounding universes in The Subtle Knife. It is also mentioned in the final volume, The Amber Spyglass. The city is located within a parallel universe different from most others mentioned in the trilogy, and is reached through a "window-between-worlds" created by Lord Asriel at the climax of Northern Lights.
Cittàgazze is a seaside town, reminiscent of those near the Mediterranean, which seems to have Italian roots. Its main features are quaint restaurants, parasols hung over circular tables beneath trailing plants, wide cobbled roads, and ancient architecture. However, it should not necessarily be considered "old-world". There is mention of electric devices such as lights and refrigerators and places such as department stores. Thus, the world appears to be similar to ours in some technological achievements while vastly inferior in others such as modern medicine and transportation.
Perhaps its most significant feature is the tower called the Torre degli Angeli (Tower of the Angels in Italian), in which the Subtle Knife resides in the second book. However, the city is also plagued by deadly, ghostly beings called Spectres. They are invisible to pre-adolescents, but once individuals are old enough to see them the Spectres take an interest in them, eating away people's dæmons (sometimes believed to represent the soul), thus leaving them zombie-like and lifeless. Hence, the city is entirely devoid of adults, but is populated by small rag-tag gangs of children. Spectres cluster around children approaching adolescence and consume them the moment they come of age.
The multitude of Spectres in the world of Cittàgazze is due to the constant use of the Subtle Knife in its vicinity. While the knife can create windows to other worlds, each occurrence of this creates a new Spectre. Asriel's opening of the passage from his world to Cittàgazze caused a massive surge in Spectre population, swarming the world with the soul-devouring wraiths.
The world in which Lyra and most characters in His Dark Materials come from. Northern Lights takes place entirely in this world.
- A world inhabited by the Mulefa, and Tualapi, large white birds. Savannah and prairie climate. Explored in The Amber Spyglass.
The Cittàgazze world
The Land of the Dead
- The underworld, explored in The Amber Spyglass. Anyone who has ever died is sent here, and their ghosts are guarded by Harpies.
- A world inhabited by humans and Gallivespians. They are at odds.
Republic of Heaven
- The name given to the world in which Lord Asriel builds his army in preparation with war against The Authority. The only known inhabitants prior to the Republic forces are cliff ghasts, like those in Lyra's world. The land is mountainous and shows signs of volcanic activity. Not to be confused with the metaphorical Republic of Heaven.
- Three worlds are briefly glimpsed when Will is experimenting with the knife in The Amber Spyglass. One contains a desert, the second contains an industrial city where the factory workers are in chains, and the third contains a meadow inhabited by blue bison-like grazers.
- Will, Baruch, and Balthamos escape from the Regent Metatron by cutting through to a moonlit beach in yet another world.
- Will opens a world with a tropical rainforest when demonstrating the subtle knife's powers to Iorek Byrnison. While rescuing Lyra from Mrs. Coulter's cave in the Himalaya of Lyra's world, he cuts through a world where the moon shines brightly over insect-infested ground the colour of bleached bone.
- Will, Lyra, Tialys, and Salmakia reach the world of the dead from a world with what looks like a Dutch or Danish farmstead, where the villagers have just been massacred by armed soldiers and their village razed (this conflict is never explained).