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Along with Will Parry, Lyra is the protagonist of the His Dark Materials trilogy. She is a young teen whose small, insular world is shattered by her parents’ various schemes. Lyra is the daughter of Marisa Coulter and Lord Asriel, who had an affair before the events of the His Dark Materials series. Due to various betrayals, Lyra distrusts both her parents and operates independently of their plans.
The war against the Authority hinges on a mysterious decision she must make at the end of The Amber Spyglass, and consequently, both sides are furiously trying to find her. Though she’s renowned for her natural ability to read altheiometer, a compass-like device that tells the truth about the past and future, she’s also famous for potentially being the next “Eve.” Both the Authority and Lord Asriel’s rebels believe that she alone has the power to destroy the Authority forever. They believe that she will choose to reintroduce original sin into the world, forever destroying the Authority and the Magisterium.
Lyra is a talented liar. She’s clever enough to make up stories on the spot. While this helps her in many difficult situations, it eventually becomes an issue in The Amber Spyglass, and throughout the novel, she is forced to tell the truth in a variety of situations.
Lyra is adventurous and brave. She embarks on a journey to the World of Dead, despite knowing that she may be killed or separated from her daemon. Her courage wins the respect of many characters, especially Iorek Byrinson and Lee Scoresby.
Pantalaimon is Lyra’s daemon. In His Dark Materials, daemons are parts of humans’ inner selves that take the form of animal companions. Pantalaimon changes shape throughout the story, but eventually settles as a pine marten. He is often more cautious and nervous than Lyra, though when she calls
Like all the daemons of children, Pantalaimon changes shape throughout the story, but eventually settles as a pine marten. He is often more cautious and nervous than Lyra, though when she calls on him for help, he’s always willing. Being separated from each other causes both Lyra and Pantalaimon enormous pain.
Will is from Earth. He is one of the protagonists of the His Dark Materials trilogy and first appears in the series’ second book, The Subtle Knife. In The Subtle Knife, he accidentally finds a window to another world, Citagazze, while fleeing after killing a man who was harassing his mother, Elaine Parry. Will’s father, John Parry, was an Arctic explorer whose discoveries about Dust led agents of the Authority to seek out Elaine. In Citagazze, he meets Lyra and becomes her ally.
Will is a fighter. He’s willing to be ruthless and cruel in order to protect his friends and family. He often acts in a more practical and mature way than other children his age, which earns him the respect of his traveling companions. Since his mother suffers from depression, it is likely that Will learned some of his maturity from taking care of her.
Will owns the Subtle Knife, a unique instrument that creates openings between worlds. His concern about his mother often complicates his ability to use the subtle knife.
Though he does not see Lyra as a romantic interest until The Amber Spyglass’s end, he is fiercely loyal to her throughout the entire novel.
Kirjava is Will’s daemon. Since Will is from our earth, Kirjava is not usually visible. In Lyra's world, Kirjava takes the form of a large cat.
Roger was Lyra’s childhood playmate in Oxford, where he worked as a kitchen boy. He was captured by Mrs. Coulter and killed at the end of The Golden Compass, despite Lyra’s best attempts to save him. At the beginning of The Amber Spyglass, he appears in Lyra’s dreams and pleads with her to save him from the world of the dead. Lyra’s guilt over Roger’s death motivates her to free all of the dead.
Marisa Coulter is Lyra’s mother. She has an extraordinary talent for lies and double-crosses. She uses her extraordinary beauty and keen intelligence to manipulate weaker characters.
While she works for the Magisterium throughout The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, she balks at the Magisterium’s plans to kill Lyra in The Amber Spyglass and eventually joins forces with Lord Asriel. Marisa Coulter is ruthless and cruel. However, she is protective of Lyra, despite the fact that Lyra despises her.
Lord Asriel is Lyra’s father. He is aristocratic, powerful, and wealthy. Lord Asriel aims to overthrow the Authority and create the Republic of Heaven. He detests the Magisterium in his world, but his bravery and determination lead him to seek to destroy its overall source: God. In order to do so, he gathers allies from multiple universes, bringing them together in a huge fortress.
Like Marisa Coulter, Lord Asriel will stop at nothing to achieve his aims. He believes that his final goal will benefit every living creature, and consequently, breaks many moral laws to triumph over his enemies. Cold and distant, he is obsessed by his quest and pays little attention to those around them. His coldness towards Lyra eventually backfires, since he doesn’t believe her capable of contributing to his cause. In fact, she’s essential to the Republican of Heaven.
Serafina Pekkala is the leader of a witch clan and Lord Asriel’s ally. She is over three hundred years old. Like all witches, she is exceptionally beautiful. She also has extraordinary abilities. She can withstand any weather, make herself unnoticeable, and communicate through telepathy.
Balthamos is an angel and Lord Asriel’s ally. His short temper and air of superiority make him a reluctant helper to Will, whose stubborn independence angers Balthamos even further.
He only truly loves Baruch, whom he views as purely innocent, a bright spot in an otherwise cold and cruel world. When Baruch dies while defending Will, Balthamos is disconsolate. His love for Balthamos motivates his final sacrifice when he stops Father Gomez before he can kill Mary Malone.
Baruch is an angel who rebels against the Authority. He was once a man. He is the brother of Metatron, the main villain of His Dark Materials. His goal is to bring Will Parry and the subtle knife to Lord Asriel. He is fatally wounded after a fight with Metraton. His true love is Balthamos, and his last words are Balathamos’s name.
Father Gomez is an assassin sent by the Magisterium to kill Dr. Mary Malone. Father Gomez is a fervent believer who follows his church superiors’ orders without question. He believes that by killing Dr. Malone he will prevent a new version of fall of man, saving the world and the church in the process. He sees Dr. Malone as a tempter who will somehow convince Lyra to recreate the biblical Eve’s sin.
Father Gomez lacks compassion, and he views other creatures with suspicion. For example, he sees the mulefa, an intelligent and wise species, as uneducated and barbaric. Unlike Mary Malone, who works hard to communicate with the mulefa and learn from them, Father Gomez only thinks of ways to intimidate and manipulate the gentle mulefa. He’s more interested in the tualapi, the villains of the mulefa’s world, who wantonly destroy their villages and ransack their seedpod stores. Father Gomez views these creatures’ cruelty as intelligence while disregarding the gentle wisdom of the mulefas.
Father Gomez believes in preemptive penance. He believes that by punishing himself for a long time, he has made his soul clean enough to kill Mary Malone. According to this thinking, the assassination will not be a sin.
Dr. Mary Malone
Dr. Malone is a human from Earth. Dr. Malone was once a Catholic nun, but rejected her role when she fell in love on vacation.Though this love didn’t last, she found her true calling as a scientist. Her investigations in physics lead her a rudimentary understanding of Dust. In The Subtle Knife, Lyra consults her about dust during a short visit to Earth, which leads her into the conflict between Lord Asriel and the Authority.
She’s a passionate and curious observer. Her travels throughout the universes lead her to the world of the mulefa, a species of intelligent four-legged creatures. She learns the mulefa’s language and pledges to help them fix their broken world. She creates the amber spyglass itself, a device that allows her to observe and analyze the flow of Dust. She discovers that Dust is leaking out of the world.
Iorek Byrinson is the leader of the armored bears. To humans, he appears gruff and curt, mainly because his concerns as the armored bears’ leaders are so different than those of humans. However, as the conflict between Lord Asriel and the Church intensifies, he becomes one of Lord Asriel’s strongest allies.
Though Iorek holds few connections to the human world, he forms a strong attachment to Lyra. He feels genuine concern for her safety, even though her survival has little impact on the future of the armored bears.
Salmakia and Tialys
Tialys and Salmakia are Gallevespian spies who serve Lord Asriel. The Gallevespians are no taller than an average human’s hand.Their short lifespan only lasts several months. In their world, they face oppression from regular-sized humans, who persecute them and view them as unnatural demons. This leads them to join Lord Asriel’s side and fight the Authority. Despite their small size, the Gallivespians demand respect, mainly because they carry a deadly (or least incapacitating) poison in their heels! They also have lodestone receptors capable of transmitting messages between worlds, as well as dragonflies for transportation.
They are sent to spy on Lyra and Will and eventually guide the children to Lord Asriel. Though they initially strongly dislike the children due to their stubbornness and disrespectful attitude, they become strong allies for Lyra and Will, particularly when they decide to enter the world of the dead.
Metatron is the antagonist of The Amber Spyglass. Metraton was once a human, supposedly Enoch, an actual character in the Old Testament.
He was a servant of the Authority but eventually gained power over the Authority, trapping him in a crystal prison. Since he was once a human, he is subject to human desires and failings. This helps Marisa Coulter defeat him through deception and manipulation.
The Authority is an angel. The Magisterium worships him as their supreme god, but according to Lord Asriel’s forces, he is not the ultimate creator of universes. His extreme old age and weakness make it easy for his Regent, Metatron, to control him and commit horrific acts in his name. At the end of The Amber Spyglass, he is so feeble that he dissolves into thin air when Will and Lyra liberate him from his crystal prison.
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