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“His Dark Materials: Northern Lights”


About the author Philip Pullman (born 19 October 1946) is an English writer from Norwich. He is the best-selling author of several books, most notably his trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials, and his fictional biography of Jesus, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. The first of His Dark Materials has been turned into the film The Golden Compass and the first two books from his Sally Lockhart series have been adapted for television. In 2008, The Times named Pullman in its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945"

His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials is a trilogy consisting of Northern Lights (titled The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Northern Lights won the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in the UK in 1995. The Amber Spyglass was awarded both 2001Whitbread Prize for best children's book and the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in January 2002, the first children's book to receive that award. The series took the third place in the BBC's Big Read poll. Pullman later wrote two companion pieces to the trilogy, entitled Lyra's Oxford, and Once Upon a Time in the North. In 2005 Pullman was announced as joint winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature.


The plot “Northern Lights” is the first novel of “His dark materials” trilogy. It is a fantasy book that consists of thee other parts. The first part, called “Oxford”, is about the life of the young heroine in Oxford and the events that bring her closer to the North. The second part is “Bolvangar” and says about the journey to North Pole and also the achievement of her first goal. In the third and last part, which is called “Svalbard”, we can read on how she saves her uncle and learn about a treason that leads to a new big discovery in science. Our story takes place in a universe parallel to our own, in a world that looks like ours but is different in a lot of ways. Humans for example, are somehow connected with spirits, which stand always by their sides, in forms of animals and are called “Dæmons”. They can never really be separated from each other and in a way these spirits are a deepest dimension of their people, since they reflect their deepest emotions and feelings.

1. Oxford In Oxford, a city of England of her world lives a supposedly orphaned 11year-old girl named Lyra Belacqua with her daemon “Pantalaimon”. There she lives an intense life full of adventures, violence and clashes. She fights with gypsy children, with children of the town or children from other colleges. She climbs up the roofs of the “Jordan” college, where she stays in, along with her friend Roger and discovers old graveyards and cellars underground. The story starts when she secretly enters and hides in the forbidden 'Retiring Room' in the college. There she becomes a witness of the attempt of poisoning her uncle, Lord Asriel who she eventually saves, in a way that he will only know. He allows her to stay hidden if she will spy on the Master at his upcoming meeting. There she hears of the mysterious elementary


particles called Dust which is actually the source of all the problems that have come up. A lot of children are being kidnapped by people, called “Gobblers” who want to do experiments on them. After that a series of mysterious events will follow. A victim of such a kidnap will be Roger as well as Billy Costa, one of her gypsy friends, while she is planning to leave for London with the mysterious but also attractive Mrs. Marisa Coulter. She feels guilty about that but she only has the chance to look for them when she understands that Mrs. Coulter is not a very nice person and runs away. After that she meets a gypsy family that will help her solve the mystery and find all of the missing children. They lead her to the King of the Gypsies, Lord John Faa who decides to send an army to fight the Gobblers. With a little help from the wise Farder Coram, Lyra learns how to operate the alethiometer, a machine the Master of her college gave her, that can show the truth. With the alethiometer the Gypsies learn a lot new facts and then after hiring Lee Scoresby, an aeronaut, begin their journey to North. 2. Bolvangar

While the Gypsies reach Trollesund, Lyra hears of a panserbjørn, an armed bear that lives in the area. She decides to approach the bear and ask for help. In contrast with what she expected, Iorek Byrnison is a rather disappointing bear which has been tricked by people. She is very dangerous, though. Lyra helps Iorek get back his armour and gains his trust and respect and enlists his aid. After departure from Trollesund, the Gypsies and Lyra continue north to the destination of Bolvangar, where they believe the Gobblers are keeping the children. On the way, Lyra stops at a village in response to her alethiometer readings, looking for a child. She finds a boy, Tony Makarios, who had been separated from his dæmon, Ratter. Lyra then realizes that "intercision" carried out by the Gobblers is actually a process that severs the tie that binds children to their dæmons, effectively removing their soul. Not long after Lyra is being captured by local men who eventually lead her to Bolvangar as a new “experiment”. There she finds her friends and makes schemes on how to escape with them all. She finds out that Mrs. Coulter is about to arrive in the place so gets ready for the achievement of her plan. She relishes some daemons that were held on a lab and then makes a small


revolution. She puts fire on the building just the time the Gypsies arrive in Bolvangar with Iorek as their leader. Serafina Pekkala and a tribe of witches are involved to help them. Lyra takes Roger and Iorek and gets away, when everyone is safe, in order to reach Svalbard with Lee Scoresby’s zeppelin.

3. Svalbard Lyra is leading to Svalbard to find her uncle and give him the alethiometer. During the journey some strange creatures attack them, though, so they get separated. Lyra is captured again by armed bears which lead her to Iofur Raknison, the King of all Armed Bears. She manages to trick him pretending to be a daemon herself. The daemon of Iorek Byrnison. She arranges a battle between them two, in response to her readings of alethiometer, which said that Iorek was on his way to the palace, hoping that he will help. As soon as he arrives, he learns everything from Lyra and gets excited about fighting with Iofur. He finally beats him after a bloody fight. Then along with Lyra, Pan and Roger leads to the place where Lord Asriel was held. The girl finds him in a rather good condition, but does not know that because of him she is going to be a traitor. She goes after him in order to stop him from harming anyone. In the end, she finds out his new discovery about a bridge that connects the parallel worlds. Will she decide to take the path that leads to a whole new world? Will she start a new journey?


Photos of the film It should be noted that “Northern Lights” has become a popular film, titled “The Golden Compass”, which was relished in 2007, by Chris Weitz.


The characters Lyra Belacqua and Pantalaimon

The principal character. Lyra, has been prophesied by the witches to help the balance of life, but must do so without being aware of her destiny. She is the one who can read the alethiometer, a devise that shows the truth. Despite her young age, she is brave, curious and very clever. She appears innocent about some matters but she is rather tough. She sometimes lies but is goodhearted. She protects her friend Roger and has an intense sense of good and evil. Pantalaimon is Lyra's daemon, nicknamed Pan, and the manifestation of her soul. Because Lyra is still a child he can change into any form he likes.

Roger Parslow

He is Lyra’s best friend. He lives in “Jordan” college as his family works there. He is always willing to follow Lyra to a new adventure, but he sometimes is afraid. When he is kidnapped by “the Gobblers” Lyra does her best to save him.


Lord Asriel

He is a brave scientist that specializes on defining what exactly “Dust” is and Lyra’s uncle –although later he turns out to be her father-. He believes in other parallel worlds and tries to find a way to connect them with his own, but does not release how much he can harm others. He is fighting against the Authority and the “Magisterium”. Although he seems hard, proud and very powerful he has been always protecting Lyra. His daemon is a white leopard, Stelmaria.

Mrs. Marisa Coulter


She is an agent of the “Magisterium” and chief of “the Gobblers”. She had taken Lyra with her in London as her protégé. She is intelligent and very beautiful but ruthless and callous. She turns out to be Lyra’s mother so she is unexpectedly behaving kindly only to her. Her daemon is a golden monkey.

Iorek Byrnison

He is a panserbjørn, an exiled armed bear prince. He is strong and brave and becomes very protective of Lyra. Although he was at a bad condition at first he regained his dignity thanks to Lyra. He and she develop a constructive friendship that is based on trust and respect. Their relationship is closer to father-daughter. He beats Iofur Raknison and becomes the new Bear King. After that, he names Lyra “Lyra the Silvertongue”.

Iofur Raknison

He was the King of Armed bears, but had taken his throne by deceit. He wants a daemon than anything else in the world, so he is always behaving like a human. Although he seems strong and cruel he is very easily deceived. Lyra tricks him into fighting Iorek Byrnison in order to be his daemon instead of his.


Lee Scoresby

He is an aeronaut. At first he was considered to be strange and tough but he is rather helpful. He saved Lyra, Roger and Iorek from the fight in Bolvangar. He and Iorek Byrnison are good friends.

Serafina Pekkala

A witch who follows Lyra. She is aware of Lyra's destiny. Serafina's dĂŚmon is Kaisa, a snow goose, who is capable of physically moving separately from


Serafina over long distances, a quality that only witches' dĂŚmons appear to possess.

John Faa

He is the King of all Gypsies and is well respected by his people. He is brave and willing to help Lyra and wants to set free all the children that had been kidnapped as well as the Gypsy children.

Farder Coram

He is the wise man of the Gypsies and a consultant of John Faa. He is quite old and seems to be related to Serafina Pekkala. He informed Lyra about the alethiometer and advised her for all the difficulties she will face.


Billy Costa

A Gypsy boy and a good friend of Lyra’s. He was captured by the Gobblers with Roger.

Other characters that appear in the story are: The Master of “Jordan” college, the librarian, Mama Costa, Tony Costa (mother and brother of Billy Costa), Tony Makarios (a boy who was also a victim of the Gobblers), and Mr. De Roiter (a Gypsy spy).


My favourite part of the book One of my favourite parts of the book is when Lyra dresses Iorek Byrnison’s wounds after his fight with Iofur Raknison. It’s the most affectionate moment between the little girl and the armed bear in which we can see how much they love each other. Another great moment is when Lyra meets her friends and finally sets them free.


The worst part of the book The book was wonderful but I felt sad when I read that little Roger dyes in the end, despite Lyra’s tries to stop it.

Recommendations “Northern Lights” is a great fantasy book that develops your dreams and imagination. Whatever your age is, you will be stunned by the turn of events and the exciting and adventurous things that happen during the story. You will enjoy it and never get bored, from the beginning of the book till the end. If you like fiction books, then this book is just for you.


Written by: Eleftheria Reppa

Trilogy: The Northern lights  

Novel by Philip Pullman

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