The Golden Compass


All humans in Northern Lights, as well as witches, have a dæmon (pronounced "demon"), which is the physical manifestation of a person's "inner being", soul, or spirit. It takes the form of a creature (moth, bird, dog, monkey, snake, etc.) and is usually the opposite sex to its human counterpart. The dæmons of children have the ability to change form – from one creature to another – but towards the end of a child's puberty, their dæmon "settles" into a permanent form, which reflects the person's personality. When a person dies, the dæmon dies too. Armoured bears, cliff ghasts and other creatures do not have dæmons. An armoured bear's armour is his soul.

  • Lyra Belacqua and Pantalaimon: The principal characters. Lyra is described as having blue eyes and blond hair, along with being short for her age and quite thin but is still quite attractive. She is also brave, curious, and crafty. Her dæmon is Pantalaimon, nicknamed Pan. Because Lyra is still a child, Pan is still capable of changing into any shape he wishes (often a brown moth, a wildcat, a white ermine, or a mouse). Lyra has been prophesied by the witches to help the balance of life, but must do so without being aware of her destiny.
  • Roger Parslow: One of Lyra's friends, a boy whose family works at Jordan College. When he is kidnapped and taken north, Lyra pursues him in hopes of rescuing him, meeting up with him again at Bolvangar.
  • Lord Asriel: Ostensibly Lyra's uncle, though it is later revealed that he is actually her father. His dæmon is Stelmaria, a Moroccan snow leopard.
  • Marisa Coulter: An agent of the Magisterium, who does not hesitate to manipulate the Church to obtain funds for her projects. She is intelligent and beautiful, but also ruthless and callous. She is revealed to be Lyra's mother; as a result, she is unexpectedly kind to Lyra. Her dæmon is a golden monkey who, unusually, is not named throughout the trilogy.
  • Iorek Byrnison: Rightful king of the panserbjørne, armoured bears with human-level intelligence, Iorek has been tricked out of his armour and reduced to a slave of the human village Trollesund. After Lyra helps him recover his armour, he becomes very protective of her and joins the expedition to find the children seized by Gobblers. He gives her the name "Lyra Silvertongue" after she tricks the usurper Iofur Raknison into fighting him.
  • Iofur Raknison: A panserbjørn who has usurped Iorek Byrnison's authority as king. Iofur wants a dæmon and Lyra tricks him into fighting the exiled Iorek by pretending to be Iorek's dæmon, and promising that when Iofur wins the fight she will become his.
  • Serafina Pekkala: A witch who closely follows Lyra on her travels. She is aware of Lyra's destiny. Serafina's dæmon is Kaisa, a snow goose, who is capable of physically moving separately from Serafina over long distances, a quality that only witches' dæmons possess innately. She and Farder Coram had a son together, prior to the trilogy.
  • Lee Scoresby: A Texan aeronaut who transports Lyra in his balloon. He and Iorek Byrnison are good friends and Lee comes to see Lyra as a surrogate daughter. His dæmon is Hester, an arctic snow hare.
  • Ma Costa: A Gyptian woman whose son, Billy Costa is abducted by the "Gobblers". She rescues Lyra from Mrs Coulter and takes her to John Faa. We later discover that Ma Costa nursed Lyra, when she was a baby.
  • John Faa: The King of all Gyptian people. He journeyed with Lyra to the North with his companion Farder Coram.

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