List of His Dark Materials characters
- 1 Main characters
- 2 Other characters
- 2.1 John Faa
- 2.2 Farder Coram
- 2.3 Ma Costa
- 2.4 Bernie Johansen
- 2.5 Serafina Pekkala
- 2.6 Lee Scoresby
- 2.7 John Parry
- 2.8 Iofur Raknison
- 2.9 The Authority
- 2.10 Balthamos
- 2.11 Baruch
- 2.12 Chevalier Tialys
- 2.13 Lady Salmakia
- 2.14 Lord Boreal
- 2.15 Ruta Skadi
- 2.16 Xaphania
- 2.17 The Master of Jordan College
- 2.18 Father Gomez
- 2.19 Fra Pavel
- 2.20 Roger Parslow
- 2.21 Metatron
- 2.22 The Palmerian Professor
- 3 See also
- 4 External links
- 5 References
Lyra Belacqua, who later acquires the surname Silvertongue given to her by Iorek Byrnison, is a young girl who inhabits a universe parallel to our own. She is the daughter of Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter. Brought up in the cloistered world of Jordan College, Oxford, she finds herself embroiled in a cosmic war between angels and a pseudo-deity called The Authority when she prevents Lord Asriel's death and allows him to further his studies on Dust. She is able to read the Alethiometer (an instrument of divination), and is known to the witches as "Eve, the mother of all", who will eventually "bring about the end of destiny". In the end, Lyra is forced to separate from Will Parry (her beloved and bearer of the Subtle Knife), returning to her own world in order to, in her father's footsteps, build the 'Republic of Heaven'. Lyra's dæmon, Pantalaimon, changes shape throughout the majority of the trilogy, but eventually settles as a pine marten.
In the unabridged audiobooks, Lyra is voiced by Joanna Wyatt, and in the BBC Radio dramatisation she is voiced by Lulu Popplewell. In the 2008 movie adaption, she is played by Dakota Blue Richards.
Will Parry is the son of John Parry, an explorer, and of Elaine Parry, a woman who suffers from mental problems including obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. Will does not remember his father, a former Royal Marine, who has not been heard of since he vanished on an expedition to the Arctic when Will was an infant, and who we later learn has wandered into another world and is unable to find his way back. Will becomes the companion of, and ultimately falls in love with, Lyra Belacqua, and also becomes the bearer of the Subtle Knife by winning a fight, in which he loses two fingers on his left hand. At the end of the third book, he must leave Lyra Belacqua and live entirely in his own world, where he is taken care of by Mary Malone and his cat dæmon, Kirjava (which means mottled in Finnish).
Lord Asriel is a member of the English aristocracy in a parallel universe dominated by an oppressive organisation known as the Magisterium. He is described as being "a tall man with powerful shoulders, a fierce dark face, and eyes that seem to flash and glitter with savage laughter". Possessed of enormous determination and willpower, he is fierce in nature and commands great respect in both the political and academic spheres, being a military leader and a fellow of Jordan College in his world's version of Oxford. Later, it is discovered that he is Lyra's father, while her mother is Marisa Coulter. His dæmon is a snow leopard called Stelmaria.
Marisa Coulter (ordinarily called Mrs Coulter in the books) is the head of a secret project of the Magisterium, known as the General Oblation Board (called the "Gobblers" by Gyptians and street urchins). She is initially driven by a desire for power; under her guidance, the Oblation Board has been secretly kidnapping children from Lyra's world, and then proceeding to use them as subjects of their experiments at their laboratory in Bolvangar. The Oblation Board thinks that by cutting away the child's dæmon, (a process referred to as Intercision), they can prevent the child from knowing original sin. She is also Lyra's mother. Her dæmon is a golden-coloured monkey, who, in the books, is neither named and only speaks once (he is called Ozymandias in the BBC Radio adaptations).
She is cruel and merciless at times, stopping at nothing to get what she wants. She is deceptive, full of grace and beauty, and uses these qualities to get her way. However, when she finds her daughter in peril at Bolvangar, she experiences a sudden realisation of intense love and a wish to care for Lyra which outweighs her previous loyalty to the Church, and thereafter she goes to great lengths in the effort to shield her from the events around her.
In the unabridged audiobooks, Mrs Coulter is voiced by Alison Dowling; in the BBC Radio dramatisation she is voiced by Emma Fielding; in the film, The Golden Compass, she is played by Nicole Kidman.
Iorek Byrnison is a male armoured bear (panserbjørn in Norwegian), a race of polar bear-like creatures. Like all panserbjørne, Iorek follows a very strict code of conduct, and will not, in any situation, betray a promise he has made. He possesses incredible strength, and like many of his kind is an expert metal-worker. He is a great friend to both Lyra Belacqua and Lee Scoresby.
During the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, Iorek Byrnison is found shaping metal for humans in an Arctic port town. These humans had deceived Iorek by giving him spirits, then stole his sky-iron armour while he was intoxicated: this left him no choice but to work for the humans. He tells Lyra Belacqua that if he had his armour, he would kill the humans that stole it, but that without it he would simply be gunned down attempting to get it back. Upon hearing this, Lyra decides to use her alethiometer to find the location of his armour, so that he can break free and join her quest.
Using the Alethiometer, Lyra discovers that the humans have his armour hidden in the cellar of the local priest's house. Almost immediately upon hearing this, Iorek rushes off to find his armour, waiting only to finish his work hours. The humans, suddenly realizing his intent, try to kill him; Iorek is about to crush one of the attackers' heads when Lyra convinces him that it would be better not to hurt the man, as this would lead to more fighting and delay their voyage.
Later, Pullman reveals that by bloodline, Iorek would have become King of the bears in his homeland, Svalbard, had it not been for his exile. This exile was mainly the fault of Iofur Raknison, Iorek's successor as King, who was suspected, but never explicitly proven to have used drugs on another bear in order to make him act unusually. This befuddled bear went up against Iorek Byrnison in a ritual of dominance to win over a female bear. In his drugged state, however, the bear went against normal procedures and would not back down when any bear would normally have done so. This situation ended in Iorek killing the bear, which condemned him to exile. When he returns to Svalbard, Iorek fights and kills Iofur Raknison, reclaiming his rightful place.
Later, he is forced to take his bears on a voyage down to the Himalayas because the climate in his home country of Svalbard has become inhospitable due to Lord Asriel's unintentional changing of the climate by opening a rift between two worlds. He later demonstrates his skill as a smith, repairing the Subtle Knife – including its magical properties – with no specialist equipment and only the aid of Lyra and Will. He and a regiment of his subjects fight on Lord Asriel's side in the battle on the plains; as part of this he takes Lyra and Will to find their lost dæmons. At the end of the Amber Spyglass, it is revealed that he returns to Svalbard and reigns as king of the bears.
Dr. Mary Malone
Dr. Mary Malone is a physicist from Will's world. She is investigating dark matter, known also as Dust, and is told she must play the part of the Serpent for the second Adam and Eve. She is a former nun, having become an atheist after an encounter with a man from Italy and the taste of marzipan later reminds her of her first romantic encounter. She first appears early in The Subtle Knife and continues to the end of the trilogy.
Lyra Belacqua, upon arriving in Will's world, meets Mary when she tries to find an "experimental theologian" (physicist) in the hope of discovering more about Dust. Mary is amazed by Lyra's knowledge of dark matter, especially after Lyra demonstrates her ability to speak of the unknown by use of the alethiometer.
Mary, inspired by Lyra's abilities, utilises the supercomputer which she and her colleague, Dr. Oliver Payne, have designed to study Dust by writing a program that allows her to communicate with Dust using words on a screen, instead of through symbols. The Dust subsequently tells Mary to travel from her own world, through the window that Will found at the beginning of The Subtle Knife. The Dust tells her that she must "play the Serpent". The Dust also warns her to destroy the computer before she leaves. Mary travels through Cittàgazze to yet another world, where she will eventually 'become the Serpent'.
She spends most of The Amber Spyglass with creatures known as the Mulefa, trying to see Dust, which the Mulefa can see naturally. Mary uses tree sap lacquer to construct a viewing lens (the source of the book's title) which enables her to see Dust.
At the end of the final novel, the witch Serafina Pekkala reveals to Mary both how to see her dæmon and also its form – that of an alpine chough. She offers to help Will upon their return to their own world.
Mary Malone does not appear in Nicholas Wright's stage adaptation of the novels due to the difficulty of portraying Mulefa onstage. The role of the tempter was given to Serafina Pekkala, who was also the bearer of the spyglass, which had been created by Jopari as a device to view Dust.
John Faa, sometimes known as Lord Faa, is the Lord of the western Gyptians who appears mainly in Northern Lights. Despite his advancing age, he is a brave warrior, respected by all his followers, open to advice, and considerate of all. He is a good friend of the elderly Farder Coram. His dæmon is a black crow.
When the Oblation Board starts kidnapping children, he leads 170 of his men to save them. Though initially against the idea, John Faa eventually decides to take Lyra to Bolvangar, to rescue the missing Gyptian children. He is wounded in an ambush, when they were attacked by Samoyeds where many of his Gyptians are killed, despite the action of Iorek Byrnison, his hired panserbjørn or armored polar bear. However, he carries out his mission successfully, retrieving the children Lyra helped rescue, and taking them back to England.
Faa re-appears briefly at the conclusion of The Amber Spyglass when he and other Gyptians are briefly drawn into the world of the Mulefa to bring Lyra home before the worlds separate once again. The Gyptians and the Mulefa share a meal and trade objects in memory of their meeting before the Gyptians return to their world.
Farder Coram is a respected, elderly Gyptian. He acts as adviser to the Gyptian King John Faa, who describes him as "a wise man … a seer". In the book Farder Coram has a large, unusually beautiful, golden-brown cat dæmon named Sophonax. Coram mainly appears in Northern Lights.
More than fifty years prior to the start of the trilogy, Coram travelled to the north, where he witnessed a witch, Serafina Pekkala, being attacked by another witch's dæmon. Farder Coram shot the rogue dæmon and rescued Serafina, thereafter they became lovers and had a son, who was killed in his youth by a disease from the east. After the son's death, Serafina Pekkala returned to her people as the clan-queen, and Coram returned to the Gyptians.
Lyra grows to love Coram, as he, more than any other Gyptian, respects her and sees her potential. He guides her in mastering the alethiometer, encouraging her and soon realizing her amazing talent. Lyra accompanies him in Trollesund, a northern town, where he runs such errands as meeting the town's witch consul, so that the Gyptians may ask for Serafina's help. We clearly see how much Farder Coram wishes to meet Serafina again, when Lyra is asked, by the Witch Consul, to identify which branch of cloud-pine Serafina once rode. Lyra herself notes how he touches the branch with longing upon his face before they depart. His voice is described as "rich and musical, with as many tones in it as there were colors in his dæmon’s fur."
Coram re-appears briefly at the conclusion of The Amber Spyglass when he and other Gyptians are drawn into the world of the Mulefa to meet Lyra and bring her home before the worlds separate once again, the Gyptians and the Mulefa sharing a meal and trading various objects in memory of their singular meeting before they return to their worlds; Coram even briefly rides on a Mulefa when they note his discomfort walking.
It is not clear whether 'Farder' is a dialect variant of 'Father', honouring his role as 'Elder' to the Gyptians. Thomas Coram was a noted 18th Century philanthropist, whose surname is still linked in the UK to charities for orphans and other children, though whether this is the source of the name is not known.
Ma Costa is a Gyptian woman whose son, Billy Costa is abducted by the "Gobblers" early in Northern Lights. A year before the beginning of the book, Lyra and her friends had 'hijacked' her family's boat and sailed it to Abingdon, the next town down river. In spite of this, Ma Costa rescues Lyra when she is running away from Mrs Coulter and takes her to John Faa.
She is described as having "hands like bludgeons", and also "a mighty voice" … … with lungs of brass and leather". She had "clouted Lyra dizzy on two occasions but given her hot gingerbread on three". Her family are "noted for the grandeur and sumptuousness of their boat", and for being "princes among gyptians". Lyra comes to admire her greatly and to long for "Ma Costa’s broad arms" and to "smell the friendly smells of flesh and cooking that enfolded you in her presence".
When Lyra is hiding with the Gyptians, she discovers that Ma Costa had in fact nursed her, when she was a baby. Ma Costa’s dæmon is a hawk.
The name "Costa" is phonetically identical to 'coster', who were street traders renowned for their rough manner, disregard for authority and loud voices.
A minor character whose dæmon has the rare quality of being the same sex as himself. Half-gyptian, he was tasked with watching Lyra for Lord Faa while working as a pastry chef at Jordan College.
Serafina Pekkala is a witch queen from a tribe in Inari, Finland, who first appears in Northern Lights and last appears in The Amber Spyglass. She rules over certain clans in the Lake Enara district. Serafina appears throughout the fantasy trilogy and is closely associated with Lyra Belacqua's and her companions' journey. Serafina Pekkala's dæmon is Kaisa, a large grey goose.
She once had a child by the Gyptian Farder Coram, who saved her life when she was attacked by another witch's dæmon. For witches to fall in love with men appears common. There are men within the witch society who serve the witches, or who are taken as lovers or husbands. Witches are said to be capable of appreciating men for their beauty, intelligence, and bravery; but due to the witches' long life-span, the men appear to grow old and die almost at once. This is said to cause the witches great emotional pain. When witches give birth, their female children inherit magical powers and an extensive life-span, while male children do not and are therefore soon sent to live with their fathers.
According to Serafina, witches live for many hundreds of years. Serafina claims to be three hundred years old or more, and states that her clan's "oldest witch mother" is nearly a thousand. Witches own nothing, and so have no means of barter save mutual aid. They have no notions of honour, and therefore insults mean nothing to them. Temperature extremes appear not to harm witches: although they feel the cold, wrapping up against it would prevent them from experiencing other things that the humans of the text may not feel, such as "the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora". Witches fly on branches of Cloud-Pine and equate flying to living; as Serafina states, "A witch would no sooner give up flying than give up breathing. To fly is to be perfectly ourselves". Witches see themselves as subject to fate, yet argue that they, and all people, must act as if they possess free will. They believe that when they die Yambe-Akka, the goddess of the dead, comes to collect them.
Pullman claimed on the BBC World Service programme World Book Club in December 2005, that Serafina's name came from a Finnish telephone directory. In context it is obvious that Pullman was teasing the audience, however the claim has since been repeated on several fan-sites. Later in the same programme and in a speech made in Dundee, he said that the name came from a list of politicians living in Copenhagen.
Lee Scoresby is a skilled "aeronaut" balloonist from the country of Texas. In the novella Once Upon a Time in the North, which is a prequel to His Dark Materials, Lee is twenty-four years old. He meets Iorek Byrnison when the two of them help a Dutch captain, van Breda, escape with his cargo from the Muscovy harbour town of Novy Odense. Lee is an old Arctic hand, and extremely skilled with his balloons. He is skilled at using a gun, though generally nonviolent. He is intelligent, and likes to present himself as more mercenary than his behaviour reveals him to be. His dream is to sell his balloon and buy a ranch back in Texas. His best friend is the armored bear Iorek Byrnison. They had fought together, and he once saved Iorek's life. From details in the novella, it can be deduced that Lee is fifty-nine years old at the time of his death in His Dark Materials.
In His Dark Materials, Lee and his dæmon, Hester the Arctic hare pledge their support to John Faa and the Gyptians on a mission to destroy Bolvangar and save its captive children. He is delighted to learn that Iorek has been hired too. As the Gyptians finish destroying Bolvangar (which Lyra set on fire) and helping the rescued children into sledges, Mrs. Coulter attacks with some Tartars to capture her daughter, Lyra. Lee rescues Iorek from another part of the battle, and is just in time to save Lyra and Roger Parslow from Mrs Coulter. The four, helped by witches, escape.
On this journey, Lee expresses his concern to Serafina Pekkala, the queen of the witches, about the whole situation. He is worried about the war which he is about to be caught up in, and unsure who to support, however, he promises loyalty to Lyra. He is disturbed by the witches' idea of destiny.
The party is attacked by cliff-ghasts on the way to Svalbard, whereupon Lyra falls out of the balloon. Iorek and Roger go to rescue her as soon as the balloon can be put down. As Lee floats with the witches, Lord Asriel tears the path into another world open. Buffetted by winds, Lee and the witches are swept far away, but manage to regroup for a witch council. Lee is given the unique privilege of joining it.
Lee informs Serafina and the others that he has heard of an object which can protect the bearer. A mysterious figure called Grumman knows of its whereabouts. Lee intends to seek out Grumman and then take the object (the Subtle Knife) to Lyra. On his mission, he is forced to kill a servant of the Church. He takes his ring, which can command some power and authority. Lee and Hester find Grumman, and learn that he is really John Parry, from our own world. John has become a shaman and can command magic. He claims that he drew Lee with his mother's ring. The pair set off to find the Bearer of the Subtle Knife, Grumman to inform him of his task and Lee to get Lyra under his protection. They use the Church's ring to regain Lee's confiscated balloons.
As the pair make their escape, they are pursued. The shaman's magic destroy three of the enemy's four zeppelins, but Lee loses his balloon in the process. The forest in which they hide is set alight and they are forced to come out into the open, away from the trees. Escaping from the last one, they are pursued into a narrow gorge.
Lee holds the pass as Grumman escapes, killing all of the enemies and blowing up the zeppelin. He is killed in the process. Lee says goodbye to his weeping dæmon, embracing her tenderly until she disappears. Moments before dying, he calls for Serafina Pekkala with the flower she gave him, but she arrives far too late to save his life. Instead, she places a protective barrier around his body to protect him from carrion beasts.
Iorek comes across Lee's body several days after his death, perfectly preserved due to the witch's spell. In an act of final respect for his friend and ally, the bear thanks him, then devours his body, giving him strength to pursue and save Lyra, which was Lee's greatest wish.
Regarding Lee Scoresby's name, Phillip Pullman said "the Lee part comes from the actor Lee Van Cleef … because I thought my Lee would look like him, and the Scoresby comes from William Scoresby, who was a real Arctic explorer.".
Colonel John Parry, aka Dr. Stanislaus Grumman, or Jopari, is the father of Will Parry and the husband of Elaine Parry.
Prior to the start of the trilogy, John Parry had been a famous English explorer and a major in the Royal Marines in Will's world. At one point, he had gone on an archaeological exploration of Alaska. There he had hoped to find a portal to a different world. He was unsuccessful at first, but he, and his companions, eventually found a portal by accident, and went through it during a blizzard, entering the world of Cittàgazze. His two companions were killed by the Spectres shortly thereafter.
John then travelled through Cittàgazze and found a portal to the world of Lyra Belacqua. When he arrived there, he met his own dæmon Sayan Kötör the Osprey. He changed his name to Stanislaus Grumman, because he needed a name that seemed natural to that world. Later, he attended the Berlin Academy. He became a famous explorer, though slightly notorious for his strange areas of study. He showed specific interest in Dust.
Thereafter, many in both Lyra's and Will's worlds believed he was dead, although there were other rumours. The members of Jordan College believed he was dead because Lord Asriel had shown them a frozen, severed head and tricked them into believing it was Grumman's. Grumman however remained in the village of the Yenisei tribe as their shaman.
In The Subtle Knife, Lee Scoresby is sent to find Grumman. He eventually finds him among the Yenisei tribe, although Grumman claims that it was he who called Lee to find him. Lee takes Grumman to Cittàgazze as Grumman wishes to find the bearer of the Æsahættr ("God-destroyer" in Old Norse).
As they make their way to the knife-bearer, they are chased by soldiers in four zeppelins. Grumman uses his powers to create a storm to destroy one of them. During the night, he destroys the second by making a Spectre attack its pilot. Sayan Kötör commands the birds of the forest to destroy the third. With all his strength sapped, Grumman is unable to destroy the fourth zeppelin. Lee stays behind to fend off the men while Grumman escapes, he promises Lee that he will protect Lyra.
Grumman finds the bearer, Will, on top of a mountain and fights with him after Will attacks him in the darkness. Grumman uses some bloodmoss, (a lichen used to stop bleeding) to heal Will's wound. He tells him of the great destiny that has been bestowed upon him as the bearer of the subtle knife. He tells him that he must defeat the Authority, breaking his oath to Lee Scoresby and not mentioning Lyra. When light arrives, he sees Will's face and they both realise who the other is. An arrow shot by Juta Kamainen, (a witch Grumman had spurned due to his love for Will's mother), pierces Grumman's heart and he dies immediately after realising that Will is his own son.
In the Amber Spyglass, (the final book of the trilogy), he and Lee Scoresby are set free by Lyra from the world of the Dead. Instead of following the other dead people, they both remain to fight their final battle with the Authority.
Iofur Raknison is a Panserbjørn – an armour-wearing, intelligent polar bear. He appears prominently in the first book, Northern Lights. He is the king of all the panserbjørns and ruler of Svalbard, but wishes for more. He wants to be the equal of a human: that is, to have a dæmon and be baptised a Christian. To this end, he has commanded the bears to build a palace of stone, and began to wear gold and silver ornaments, which they had traditionally despised.
Iofur conceals the fact that he has killed his own father, but Lyra Belacqua divines this with the use of her alethiometer in order to convince Iofur that she is the dæmon of Iorek Byrnison. This knowledge convinces Iofur that she really is a dæmon, and she persuades him that challenging Iorek to single combat is the only way of making her his. Although Iofur begins the fight in fresher condition than Iorek – who, prior to combat, ran a great distance to find Lyra and recover her from Iofur's fortress – Iorek manages to defeat him. He does this by exploiting Iofur's desire to be human, rendering him able to be tricked, feigning injury to lure him in for a powerful attack. After Iofur's defeat, Iorek is proclaimed the king, and his first command is that the bears discard their pseudo-human trinkets and tear down Iofur's palace.
The Authority was the first angel to come into existence; as did the subsequent angels, he formed and condensed from the substance known as Dust. He led other angels and, later, humanity to believe that he was in fact God the creator of the multiverse. This false claim legitimised his taking political power in the Kingdom of Heaven. The angel Xaphania later found out the truth about him, whereupon he banished her from the Kingdom (a reference to the legend of Lucifer). Xaphania and some other angels later started a rebellion against him. The Authority would assume several names, including "Yahweh", the "Lord", "El", "Adonai", and "the Almighty".
He ruled his various churches, organisations, and universes from the Clouded Mountain, a mobile city believed by many in that universe to be Heaven. As the Authority grew older and weaker, the Mountain became more and more obscured by cloud.
In his old age, the Authority appointed the tyrannical archangel Metatron, to act as Regent of the Kingdom of Heaven. Eventually Metatron grew more powerful than his master. The two are opposed by Lord Asriel, who allies with "fallen" angels such as Xaphania in an attempt to overthrow the divine monarchy and replace it with a Republic of Heaven. During the final battle, the Authority is carried away from the Clouded Mountain on the orders of Metatron. He is imprisoned in a crystal box, which keeps him alive but trapped. Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry free him with the subtle knife, not knowing he is too weak to survive outside his box. He drifts apart and dies in a moment of happiness following other characters' precedent by merging with the cosmos.
The Authority appears only in The Amber Spyglass.
Balthamos and his same-sex partner, Baruch, are both angels in rebellion from the Kingdom of Heaven. They seek to become part of Lord Asriel's army of angels and overthrow Metatron, the acting Regent of The Authority.
Both angels find Will Parry at the end of The Subtle Knife; because Will is the bearer of the subtle knife, they hope to bring him to Lord Asriel. However, Will's companion Lyra Belacqua has been kidnapped and Will refuses to go to Asriel until Lyra is found. The angels agree to accompany Will without question until she is found.
This decision proves to be dangerous; both Baruch and Balthamos are aware the Regent is after them, especially now that they are being accompanied by Will. An unfortunate encounter leads to Baruch being fatally wounded. Balthamos and Will are separated from Baruch, who has gone to Lord Asriel in his wounded state. Before dying, Baruch provides Asriel with all the information he and Balthamos have discovered about Will, Lyra, and the Regent.
Baruch's death is immediately felt by Balthamos as a result of the strong bond of love they shared. Stricken with grief, Balthamos promises to aid Will in every way possible to honour Baruch's sacrifice. When Balthamos is unable to do so, he runs away, grieving over Baruch's death and feeling guilty about abandoning Will. The angel does not appear again until the end of the book, when Balthamos confronts Father Gomez, an assassin hoping to kill Lyra by tracking Dr. Mary Malone. However, by the end of his confrontation with Father Gomez, Balthamos neither has the strength or the will to continue existing, and the particles that make up his being separate.
Of the two angels, Balthamos is the more cautious of the pair. He admits that Baruch is the courageous one and whenever Balthamos fails at something important, Baruch is the one to help him fix things. Balthamos has a sarcastic personality, and his relations with Will are conducted with an air of ironic contempt.
As angels of low rank, Balthamos and Baruch's abilities are limited. They appear as luminous humanlike forms, which are barely visible to human eyes even at night. The angels also possess the power to transform, which Balthamos uses to masquerade as Will's dæmon when traveling in Lyra's world. They are capable of flight though their wings do not have a corporeal form.
Baruch and his same-sex partner, Balthamos, are both angels in rebellion from the Kingdom of Heaven. They seek to become part of Lord Asriel's army of angels and overthrow Metatron, the acting Regent of The Authority.
They seek to bring the bearer of the Subtle Knife, Will Parry, to Asriel and accompany Will without question when Will agrees to go to Asriel only after finding Lyra Belacqua. Baruch's courageous and dedicated nature leads to a fight with the Regent. Fatally wounded and separated from Balthamos and Will, Baruch goes to Lord Asriel, after providing Asriel with critically important information, he dies. The last word he utters is "Balthamos!", the name of his angelic partner.
Baruch appears in The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. In Arabic-Christian legends, the name Baruch is identified with Zoroaster. The prophecy of the birth of Jesus from a virgin, and of his adoration by the Magi, is also ascribed to this Baruch. Whether this is relevant is not known.
The Chevalier Tialys is a character in The Amber Spyglass. He is a Gallivespian, a race of small beings described as being as tall as the length of a human hand. He serves as a spy to Lord Asriel and, along with his partner the Lady Salmakia, a loyal, if originally reluctant aid to Will Parry and Lyra Belacqua. He has dark hair, and is described as looking 'strong, capable, ruthless and proud'. He wears capri-length silver trousers and no shoes on his spurred feet.
Tialys first encounters the children when, along with Lord Asriel's forces, he arrives with Lady Salmakia to Mrs Coulter's cave, under orders to take the children to Lord Asriel. Lyra first realises that the Gallivespians are a force to be reckoned with when Lady Salmakia attacks Pantalaimon and holds her spur to his leg, in retaliation of Lyra's disrespect towards her. Unfortunately the spies are forced to back down when Will grabs hold of Tialys, and threatens to dash his head against a rock. It is not a good start, and the two parties heavily resent the other one. Tialys, however continues to flare up at being told what to do, but he has very little choice but to obey the children throughout. Tialys is an expert with a lodestone resonator, and uses it to secretly communicate to his superiors, despite being forbidden to do so by Will. Will is furious at the Chevalier's actions, and Tialys is forced to apologise, knowing he is in the wrong.
Later on in the novel, Tialys and Salmakia accompany the children to the world of the dead. Tialys and Lyra have a heated confrontation in the suburbs. Tialys tries to make Lyra do as he tells her to do as he says but Lyra launches into a tirade about how Tialys knows nothing about her and how she feels. After this is over Tialys is, once again, forced to back down. Tialys never grows to really like the girl, but begins to admire her courage, and she his. While entering the world of the dead, Tialys tries to kill No-Name the Harpy, to defend Lyra. Later, he bargains with the Harpies, and Lyra marvels at his nerve; the harpies could kill him with one slash of their claws and yet Tialys remains proud and fearless.
Tialys dies when attacking a cliff-ghast, having dug his spurs deep into her neck. Will in particular is stricken with grief, and openly cries heavily. Tialys was buried in a small grave alongside the Lady Salmakia.
The Lady Salmakia is a character and Gallivespian spy in The Amber Spyglass. She, like her partner the Chevalier Tialys, is sent to guide Will Parry and Lyra Belacqua, but she is determined instead to obey them. She is described as "strong, capable, ruthless, and proud". She is also a much more calm and diplomatic individual than her partner, the Chevalier Tialys. When Lyra looks at her properly for the first time, quite a while after meeting her, she strikes Lyra as possessing a distinct maternal quality. The Lady Salmakia is not beautiful, but her face is exactly one that a suffering person would be happy to see, and her voice has a current of laughter that is also ideal, Lyra thinks, for reading to a child. Salmakia wears a similar costume to Tialys, spurred feet and a green blouse but with a silver skirt.
The lady first meets the children at the same time as the Chevalier, and takes a dislike to them, Lyra in particular. She attacks Pantalaimon after Lyra laughs at her tiny size, and holds her spur against his leg. Lyra sees this as a violation. The Lady later goes on to defuse the situation between Tialys and Iorek Byrnison, when it revealed that the spies have been double-crossing the children.
Later on, when on the boat crossing into the world of the dead, Salmakia wonders if Gallivespians have dæmons too, since the journey causes her and her partner terrible pains in their hearts. When entering the world of the dead, she also sneaks up on No-Name the harpy, spurring her in the foot, but this has no real effect. She bargains with No-Name later, agreeing that the ghosts should tell No-Name and her sisters true stories about the real world. Even later the situation becomes even more reversed when No-Name saves Lyra's life; Salmakia begins to thank No-Name again and again. Salmakia, true to her kindly face and almost motherly demeanour, is the voice of encouragement to cross the Abyss.
Lady Salmakia dies very shortly after Tialys, when the last of her energy has run out. She, like the Chevalier, has made a lasting impression on the children. She was buried in a grave next to Tialys.
Lord Carlo Boreal, or Sir Charles Latrom, CBE as he is known as in Will Parry's world, serves as a minor character in Northern Lights, but is a main antagonist in The Subtle Knife. He is an old Englishman, appearing to be in his sixties. He normally wears pale suits and is described as smelling sweetly.
Lord Boreal is first seen in Lyra Belacqua's world at the cocktail party of Mrs. Coulter. He interacts shortly with Lyra. He is also mentioned just before Lord Asriel crosses the bridge to Cittàgazze in Northern Lights as being a lover of Mrs. Coulter's.
Nothing more is heard of Lord Boreal until The Subtle Knife. While Lyra is exploring a museum in Will's world and looking at trepanned skulls, he watches her quietly. He then approaches her, appearing to be a kindly old man whose only interest in her is to discuss the skulls. Lyra remembers seeing him previously, but is unsure of his identity.
Later, when Lyra is being chased by the men who are after John Parry's notes, Latrom is in a chauffeured limousine and offers her a lift, taking her to Summertown in North Oxford. He hands her back her rucksack, from which, Lyra later discovers, the alethiometer is missing, stolen by Boreal. They go to his home, where Will accidentally reveals Lyra's real name, notices a serpent on Boreal's body, and guesses correctly that it is his dæmon. Lord Boreal tells them that they must get the Subtle Knife for him from Cittàgazze and he will return to them the alethiometer.
After retrieving the knife, Lyra and Will attempt to steal back the alethiometer. Will, using the Subtle Knife, breaks into Boreal's house, while Lyra remains outside where she sees Mrs. Coulter arriving at the house. Will listens to a conversation between Coulter and Boreal, and then steals back the alethiometer. Lyra and Will escape as Boreal tries to shoot the intruders, unaware of who they really are.
Boreal next appears in the office of Mary Malone. He tells her, and her colleague Dr. Oliver Payne, that he will fund their studies further and prevent their shutting down if they specifically continue experimenting under his approval. Malone, however, sees the deceit behind his promises.
Later, Boreal is in a tent in the mountains of Cittàgazze and is talking to Mrs. Coulter, who drugs his drink in order to make him tell her about the Subtle Knife, he dies shortly after from the poisoned drink. This is all seen by a witch, Lena Feldt, who then is discovered by Mrs. Coulter and tortured into telling her Lyra's true name: Eve, mother of all.
Ruta Skadi is the Latvian witch queen, and a lover of Lord Asriel. Her dæmon is a bluethroat named Sergi. She is 416 years old (The Subtle Knife), and makes appearances in The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Her second name, "Skadi", is also that of a Nordic winter goddess.
She accompanies Serafina Pekkala and her companions on part of their journey. She leaves, first to see the angels up above her, and she wants to help them because Lord Asriel is with them. She brings news of a mysterious weapon which turns out to be the Subtle Knife after overhearing tell of it from cliff ghasts. She is described as being very passionate, powerful, pitiless and beautiful, and has black hair and large black eyes. She wears a crown made of the teeth of tigers she killed when a tribe that worshiped them offended her. When it is revealed to the witches that Lyra, Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter's daughter, is to become the second Eve, Ruta laments that as Asriel's lover, she did not become Lyra's mother, reflecting on what Lyra would have been like as a witch.
In the stage adaptation, however, she commits suicide after killing John Parry, who had, in the past, rejected her as a lover. In the book this is done by a more minor character (Juta Kamainen) who does not appear in the adaptation.
Xaphania is the leader of the rebel angels allied with Lord Asriel in the war against The Authority.
Xaphania first appears in the third book of the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, at a council of Asriel's commanders. Like all Pullman's angels, she appears naked, winged, and luminous; due to her high rank and great age, she is clearly visible to corporeal beings. As is the norm with members of the angelic orders in the novels, there is a certain ambiguity surrounding Xaphania's exact appearance. She appears both ancient and young, compassionate and austere. Her simultaneous age and youth are remarked on by the witch Serafina Pekkala, who herself appears that way to shorter-lived people.
The angel Balthamos is the first character to refer explicitly to Xaphania. As he explains to Will Parry, she discovered that the Authority had lied to the other angels regarding his status as God the original Creator and so was banished from the Clouded Mountain. This was the start of the first struggle against the Kingdom, Xaphania being the leader of the rebel angels who intervened in human evolution to give mankind its present consciousness some thirty thousand years ago.
Towards the end of trilogy, and after the defeat of the Authority's forces, it is Xaphania who explains to Will and Lyra Belacqua that all the windows between the worlds must be sealed to prevent Dust from leaking away into the abyss, and that the Æsahættr (the Subtle Knife) must be destroyed.
The Master of Jordan College
The Master of Jordan heads Jordan College, part of Oxford University in Lyra's world. Helped by other Jordan College employees, he is raising the supposedly orphaned Lyra. In chapter 1 of The Golden Compass, he tries unsuccessfully to poison Lord Asriel. Lyra sees the Master poison a decanter of tokay wine that Asriel is expected to drink. She warns Asriel, who later "accidentally" knocks the decanter to the floor, blaming a servant for the mishap.
Father Gomez is a priest sent by the Magisterium to assassinate Lyra. The Angel Balthamos kills Gomez before he can reach her. His dæmon is a green-backed beetle.
Fra Pavel Rašek is a representative and alethiometrist of the Consistorial Court of Discipline. He is said to be a thorough but sluggish reader of the truth, requiring weeks or months to take an accurate reading. He was, however, successful in obtaining information useful to the Consistorial Court in a relatively short period of time, according to Marisa Coulter. He appears to be uncomfortable when voicing potentially heretical discoveries. His dæmon takes the form of a frog.
Roger Parslow, a young kitchen boy and youngest of the Parslow family – who had long been employed as masons for Jordan College – was the best friend of Lyra Belacqua during her early life in Jordan College. Like Lyra, Roger possessed a strong sense of adventure, though he was often the cautioning voice when Lyra got too ambitious, and he and Lyra had explored all over Jordan, from the roofs, over the grounds, to the cellars and crypts. Roger's dæmon, named Salcilia, often appears as a terrier.
Roger is kidnapped by the General Oblation Board ("the Gobblers") and taken to their experimental center in Bolvangar. When Lyra arrives there he assists her in helping the children escape, once more proving his loyalty, and going on with her to see Lord Asriel in Svalbard. However this is his downfall, for which Lyra later blames herself, because Asriel uses Roger to create a hole between worlds by separating him from Salcillia, killing him in the process of channeling the energy from that separation to create the hole.
Roger's character is totally absent in The Subtle Knife, but in The Amber Spyglass, he makes a surprising re-appearance when Lyra encounters him lost and scared, trapped in the Land of the Dead, but eventually she manages to set him free to merge with the Dust in the living worlds. She arranges for this to be a release for all the dead willing to obey the guidelines; but Roger is the first to leave the World of the Dead.
The housemaid Mrs. Lonsdale is related to him. There is also a boy named “Simon Parslow”, but it is not known whether Simon is related to Roger.
Metatron serves as the Regent of Heaven and is the ultimate antagonist of His Dark Materials. Metatron seeks to supplant the Authority, to destroy Lord Asriel and his army, and to kill the heroine Lyra Belacqua. He has immense personal power, and is shown as descending from the sky at one point to demolish a large area of land. He is betrayed by Mrs. Coulter, who promises herself to him as a prize for his victory over Lord Asriel. However, she conspires with Asriel to destroy him; the two sacrifice their lives to drag Metatron into an abyss between the universes to ensure that he can never threaten Lyra again. Like one version of the traditional Metatron, he is stated to have been the Biblical character Enoch, who is in the line between Adam and Noah. He appears only in The Amber Spyglass. The name Metatron is that of a medieval Judaic Archangel.
The Palmerian Professor
The Palmerian Professor is a minor character, possibly presented as a joke by Pullman: The Professor’s initials, P.P., are the same as Pullman’s. The author thus insinuates himself into the gathering of notables who – at the beginning of the story – have come to Jordan College to hear a presentation by Lord Asriel. Pullman is making a ‘guest appearance’ in his own novel.
Pullman is a graduate of Exeter College of Oxford University. Exeter's distinctive landmark and its oldest building is Palmer’s Tower, hence the name “Palmerian”. The Palmerian Professor is the leading authority on armoured bears, just as Pullman is. On the acknowledgements page at the end of the trilogy, Pullman facetiously characterises himself as a plagiarist who has “stolen” ideas from many literary sources. In the trilogy, Professor Jotham Santelia also calls the Palmerian Professor a “plagiarist”.
The Professor’s last name is revealed as Trelawney in Lyra's Oxford, in which a fold-out map shows an advert for a book by Professor P. Trelawney.
- Philip Pullman Author's website
- HisDarkMaterials.com Publisher Random House's His Dark Materials website
- Scholastic: His Dark Materials UK publisher's website
- Randomhouse: His Dark Materials U.S. publisher's website
- BBC Radio 4's His Dark Materials site inc. Dictionary of His Dark Materials and web Q&A with Philip Pullman
- The then Archbishop of Canterbury and Philip Pullman in conversation at the National Theatre, from "The Daily Telegraph"
- BridgetotheStars.net Fansite for His Dark Materials and Philip Pullman
- HisDarkMaterials.org His Dark Materials fansite
- Cittagazze.com French His Dark Materials fansite
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. Scholastic. p. 352. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 121–124. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Subtle Knife. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 313. ISBN 978-0-439-94467-0.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 502–503. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Pullman, Philip, Northern Lights, 2003, BBC Audio, 9781408409411
- "Golden Compass, The". New Line Cinema. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Subtle Knife. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 8–10. ISBN 978-0-439-94467-0.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Subtle Knife. United Kingdom: Scholastic. ISBN 978-0-439-94467-0.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Subtle Knife. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 173–180. ISBN 978-0-439-94467-0.
- "Audiobooks". www.bridgetothestars.net. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 375. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 205–206. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 181–183. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 198–201. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 320–321. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). Northern Lights. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 354–358. ISBN 978-1-4071-0637-3.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 187–194. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. pp. 413–417. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Pullman, Philip (2007). The Amber Spyglass. United Kingdom: Scholastic. p. 518. ISBN 978-0-439-94468-7.
- Greenwell, Amanda M. (2010). "The Language of Pictures: Visual Representation and Spectatorship in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials". Studies in the Novel. 42 (1): 99–120. JSTOR 29533971.
- Northern Lights, chapter 7
- "The World Book Club, Philip Pullman, broadcast December 2005, downloadable mp3 file". Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Brian Jacks (2007-11-14). "'Golden Compass' Director Chris Weitz Answers Your Questions: Part I". MTV. Retrieved 2010-04-29. Chris Weitz says " The only difference is that he is called Ragnar Sturlusson and not Iofur Raknison. Why? I didn't want anyone to confuse his name with Iorek's."