- Iorek: "You tricked Iofur Raknison?"
- Lyra: "Yes. I made him agree that he'd fight you instead of just killing you straight off like an outcast, and the winner would be king of the bears. I had to do that, because—"
- Iorek: "Belacqua? No. You are Lyra Silvertongue."
- — Iorek Byrnison awarding Lyra the surname Silvertongue[src]
Lyra Silvertongue, previously known as Lyra Belacqua, was a young girl from Oxford in Brytain. Her dæmon was Pantalaimon, who settled as a pine marten when she was twelve years old. During her childhood, Lyra had the unique ability to read an alethiometer without formal training.
Lyra's mother was Marisa Coulter, a beautiful scholar who was married to the politician Edward Coulter. Marisa fell in love with the famously rich explorer Lord Asriel and had an affair with him. It was clear that when Lyra was born, she was not Edward Coulter's daughter. Fearing the wrath of her husband, Marisa told everyone that the child had died and hid her daughter. She sent Lyra to Oxfordshire, where Lyra's father Lord Asriel had several estates, and placed Lyra in the care of a Gyptian woman while she was there.
However, it wasn't long before someone told Edward about his wife's actions. He found his way onto Asriel's land with the intent to kill Lyra. Although Asriel was away hunting, he received word of this and was able to return home in time to defend his daughter and her nurse. Asriel killed Edward during the battle between them, but as a result, Asriel lost all his wealth to fines. Marisa wanted nothing more to do with her daughter and the girl was put in the care of Godstow Priory in Wolvercote.
During the flooding the following year, Lyra was rescued by Malcolm Polstead and Alice Parslow. They took the infant Lyra on a long and dangerous journey along the flooded Thames to reach Lord Asriel in London. Lord Asriel wanted Lyra to be raised at Jordan College and brought the three back to Oxford in his gyropter. Lyra was given scholastic sanctuary at Jordan College.
Life at Jordan CollegeEdit
Lyra was brought up at Jordan College, with the scholars, the professors, and the servants all acting as a sort of collective family. She was raised believing that her father was a Count, both her parents had died in an airship crash, and that Lord Asriel was her uncle. She later learned the truth about her parentage from John Faa, leader of the Gyptians.
Lyra lived a generally undisciplined life in Oxford. She was clever and curious, but extremely independent; as a result, her education was patchy because she applied herself only to subjects that caught her interest. A natural leader, Lyra spent much of her time adventuring in and around the college with her friend Roger Parslow.
One evening, Lyra and Pantalaimon went into the Retiring Room, which is forbidden to women, to spy on what goes on in the room. From her hiding place in a wardrobe, Lyra saw the Master of Jordan College poison a bottle of Tokay, meant for Lord Asriel. As Asriel was about to take a drink from it, Lyra shouted, 'No!' to save her uncle's life, but alerted Lord Asriel to her hiding place. Asriel scolded Lyra but Lyra told him that the wine was poisoned. They were interrupted by a knock at the door and Asriel told Lyra to return to her hiding place. Concealed inside the wardrobe, she listened to Asriel talk to the scholars about Dust.
On the day of the Horse Fair, Lyra went to play with the Gyptians. However, she found that one of the Gyptian children had been kidnapped by the Gobblers, a group rumoured to be kidnapping children from all over. When she returned to the College in the evening, her friend Roger had also been kidnapped.
Living with Mrs CoulterEdit
The same night Lyra realized Roger was missing, Lyra met Marisa Coulter, a charming female scholar. Lyra was very taken with Mrs Coulter and was enraptured by her tales of travelling North. When the Master of Jordan College proposed that Lyra go to live with Mrs Coulter, Lyra was very excited. Before she left, the Master gave her an alethiometer, letting her know it was extremely important that Mrs Coulter never saw it.
During the first few weeks being Mrs Coulter's assistant and living in her flat, Lyra learned all kinds of things. She was introduced to high-society living and mannerisms. She also learned navigation and mathematics during her time there. As the weeks dragged on, however, both Lyra and Pantalaimon grew restless in the confines of their new "home." Pantalaimon constantly cast doubt on Mrs Coulter's plans to take them to the North with her. After a while, Lyra herself saw that Mrs Coulter was probably not going to follow through on her promise. They noticed that Mrs Coulter's dæmon was constantly spying on them and had probably discovered the alethiometer that Lyra had hidden in her room.
Lyra lived with Mrs Coulter for six weeks. She ran away during a cocktail party shortly after finding out that her new guardian was the leader of the General Oblation Board, aka the Gobblers. On the streets of London, Lyra wandered about before being attacked by a group of Turk traders. She was rescued at the last minute by Kerim, Jaxer, and Tony Costa. They took her back to Ma Costa's boat, explaining that the Gyptians had thought she had been taken by the Gobblers.
Voyage to the NorthEdit
Lyra and the Costa family travelled to the Fens to attend the Byanroping. During this time, the entire country was on the lookout for a blonde child matching Lyra's description. Thus, Lyra had to stay hidden most of the time. At the Byanroping, the Gyptians and their leader Lord Faa decided to travel to the North to rescue the children who had been kidnapped. After this decision, Lord Faa spoke with Lyra and revealed to her the truth about her history. That she was the daughter of Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter, and Ma Costa had nursed her when she was young.
Initially told that she would not be going North with them, Lyra focused her attention on reading the alethiometer with the help of an elderly gyptian named Farder Coram. During her practice, she tried asking about the gyptian spy Benjamin de Ruyter. She interpreted the alethiometer saying death, which proved to be true when the gyptian Jacob Huismans showed up and confirmed it. This was Lyra's first accurate reading of the alethiometer. Once Lyra showed she was able to read the alethiometer, Lord Faa announced that she would be joining them.
With the country still searching for her, Lyra continued to remain hidden as they travelled. One night before reaching the Smokemarket in Colby, Farder Coram granted Lyra permission to go outside for the first time in weeks. During her brief time on the deck of the ship, Pantalaimon was attacked by a couple spy-fly. Thankfully, the tillerman was outside as well and his daemon saved Pan. Alongside Farder Coram, they captured one of the spy-fly but the other one got away. It became clear from an earlier alethiometer reading that it was Mrs Coulter who sent the device. They arrived in the Smokemarket and joined the rest of the gyptians for the journey. Because she was the only female on board the vessel, Lyra was given her own room (although it was more like a closet space). They headed out over the German Ocean and started their journey North.
Lord Faa and the gyptians decided to head to the port town of Trollesund in Lapland in order to meet with the consulate of the witches. During the journey, Lyra met a man aboard the ship named Jerry and learned several things from him (e.g. how to stay busy on a ship, how to sew). Doing these things distracted her from her seasickness.
Once they arrived in Trollesund, Lyra and Farder Coram went to the house of Martin Lanselius, the Witch-Consul. After agreeing to send a message to the witch Serafina Pekkala on Coram's behalf, Dr Lanselius revealed that a local company was importing children on behalf of the General Oblation Board. He then recommended that the gyptians find a way to employ an armoured bear, a prospect that Lyra was very excited about. Lyra proceeded to show Dr Lanselius her alethiometer and he tasked her with answering a question about the Tartars. She did so easily, and he then tasked her with using the alethiometer again to pick out Serfaina Pekkala's cloud pine from a pile of them. During her time doing so, Dr Lanselius revealed to Farder Coram that Lyra Silvertongue was the child mentioned in a centuries-old witch prophecy. A child destined to save the world. Lyra returned to the room with the correct cloud-pine, so Dr Lanselius broke a piece of it and gave it to her as a parting gift.
After consulting with Lord Faa back on the ship, the idea to employ the bear Iorek Byrnison was approved. Lord Faa also revealed that he employed a stranded aëronaut named Lee Scoresby. Later that night, Farder Coram and Lyra went over to Einarsson's Bar, where they had been told Iorek would go after work. They spoke to the panserbjørn about employment with the gyptians. Iorek explained that he would like nothing more than to return to war and fighting, but he could not do so without his sky-iron armour. The town once let him drink until he fell asleep, then stole his armour away. He explained that the price of employment with the gyptians would be getting his armour back.
Lyra and Farder Coram returned to the ship with this information. She consulted the alethiometer on her own and discovered that Iorek's story about the townspeople was true. After falling asleep, Lyra awoke in the middle of the night with a strange feeling. She went onto the deck of the ship and saw the Aurora for the first time. She even saw a city in its lights. During her time admiring the Aurora, she noticed a shape coming towards her and it was soon revealed to be the grey goose dæmon of Serafina Pekkala, Kaisa. Lyra fetched Farder Coram and John Faa from below, and they all spoke of the journey ahead. Kaisa revealed that some witch clans were working with the General Oblation Board, aka "Dust-hunters," and he also revealed that the children being sought were held in a place called Bolvangar. Serafina Pekkala's clan was not associated with the Dust-hunters, so Kaisa came to show the gyptians how to find them. He told them of Bolvangar's defense and layout, as well as the rumours of what was being done to the children there.
Kaisa also revealed that the witches believe there are millions of other worlds that cannot be seen or heard except in the Northern Lights. He explained this is why Lord Asriel was imprisoned at Svalbard. He intended to use Dust to create a bridge between this world and the one seen in the Northern Lights, the idea of which scared the Magisterium. The conversation briefly turned to Iorek Byrnison and whether to employ him. John Faa heard that Iorek was a criminal, but Lyra made a passionate plea on his behalf. The night ended with Kaisa telling the gyptian men exactly how to get to Bolvangar while Lyra fell asleep.
The next morning is when Lyra met the aëronaut Lee Scoresby for the first time. Having heard that John Faa went to talk to the town Sysselman, Lyra had been sitting around chatting with Tony Costa and his friends. Lee joined them and distracted the other gyptians with a game of cards while his dæmon Hester quietly advised Lyra to go straight to Iorek and tell him where the armour was. The townspeople were planning to move the armour.
Lyra went straight to the sledge depot and found Iorek hard at work mending metal. She was scared at first, only moving closer when Pantalaimon began to tug at the bond between them by moving towards the bear without her. She quickly ran after him when the pain between dæmon and human became too much to bear, and after reuniting with Pan, she addressed Iorek. Lyra made Iorek promise not to take vengeance on the townspeople before telling him it was hidden in the basement of the priest's house. In return for locating his armour, Iorek agreed to join their journey.
Lyra followed Iorek to the priest's house, falling behind because of his powerful strides. She arrived outside the house long after Iorek had entered, and she heard many roars and shouts inside. From her place outside, Lyra noticed a police force forming. The sentry that had followed Iorek inside came back outside to join the rest of the forces, and they all fired when Iorek came out of the house fully armoured. Iorek hardly batted an eye at the bullets, and instead attacked the sentry. He would have killed the man if Lyra and Pantalaimon had not stepped forward and grabbed Iorek's fur. She reminded him of his promise not to hurt the townspeople after retrieving his armour, and she convinced him to release the man. She walked with him down to the harbour where the gyptian boat was docked. Iorek removed his armour and slipped into the waters.
As the other gyptians gathered around to see what was going on, the rest of the town had appeared and was approaching the harbour as well. Lee Scoresby appeared with a pistol aimed at the Sysselman, protecting the armour until Iorek returned with a dead seal in his jaws. Lyra watched in fascination as Iorek expertly opened the seal, cut off its blubber, and rubbed the blubber all over his poorly-cared-for armour. The Sysselman and police force announced that Iorek was free to leave with the Gyptians, but he was not to return. With that, most of the crowd dispersed and Lord John Faa announced to the Gyptians that they would be moving out. Everyone piled into the hired sledges and they were all soon headed North. Before Lyra fell asleep in her sled, Pantalaimon got an uneasy feeling that something was following them.
During their first stop to eat, John Faa asked Lyra to use the alethiometer and find out more about the defenses around Bolvangar. Lyra confirmed Kaisa's description of the defenses, but found that the alethiometer was telling her even more than what she had asked. It described a nearby lake village that was troubled by a ghost. John Faa ignored this information and asked for more about the defenses. From her description, the older gyptians deduced that a group of the Sibirsk Regiment must have been hired to defend the place.
As John Faa consulted with Lee Scoresby and the other warriors, Lyra spoke to Iorek about going to the nearby village to investigate the alethiometer's information. Iorek explained he could easily take Lyra and Pan, but he would not do so without the permission of Lord Faa. Lyra spoke to the gyptian king and, with help from Lee, managed to convince him to let her go with Iorek. They were instructed to catch up with the rest of the gyptians as soon as they got the information they needed.
Lyra mounted Iorek and they took off for the village over a nearby ridge. An hour into the otherwise uneventful journey, Iorek instructed Lyra to look up. When she did, she was amazed to see hundreds upon hundreds of witches flying north back-dropped by the Aurora. Iorek mentioned that if they were flying to the aid of the enemy, then the gyptian forces should be afraid. They continued their journey and finally reached the nearby village. A couple minutes away, Lyra explained that she wanted to retrieve whatever ghost or spirit was haunting the place, then bring it back to the gyptians for information.
Lyra determined that they should continue onwards into the village, so Iorek walked along the paths of the village to its centre. Once there, a man with a wolverine-dæmon and a rifle appeared from his house speaking a foreign language that Iorek could translate. When asked, the man quickly directed them towards the fish-house for what they were looking for - a child that the village was afraid of. Lyra followed Iorek to the narrow wooden shed by the jetty feeling very nervous. As soon as Lyra opened the door to the shed, Pantalaimon became incredibly frightful and scared. He urged Lyra not to go in and to turn away. An older man from the village came down with a lantern and told them that this child was not the first of its kind - many had wandered close by and many died in the nearby forests. He gave Lyra his lantern and stood back so she could investigate further. It was in this shed that Lyra realized what intercision was. The boy she found huddled in the back clutching a fish had no dæmon - it had been cut away by the Gobblers.
Lyra immediately wanted to run and be sick, but she stuck it out long enough to learn the boy's name was Tony Makarios. His dæmon's name was Ratter. She exited the shed, sat down and sobbed with Pantalaimon clutched in her arms. After a few moments, she got to her feet and asked Tony to come out of the shed so they could take him someplace safe. She led him onto Iorek's back and followed him up there. After a brief internal struggle, her compassion won against the revulsion and she wrapped her arms around Tony as they headed back through the village and across the tundra to catch up with the gyptians. It was a long journey back, but they made it there safely.
Upon arriving back in the company of the gyptians, everyone was in shock by the child with no dæmon. Iorek chided them all for showing less courage than Lyra, and soon enough everyone was focused on warming the two children. After such a long journey, Lyra found herself incredibly tired. Pan helped remind her to have Iorek pass on the message about the witches before she fell asleep.
When she woke up, Farder Coram explained to her that Tony had passed away in the night. She asked to see his body and grew furious when she realized his fish was gone. She caused a bit of a scene before finding out that one of the men had fed it to his dogs. She got the idea to carve Tony's dæmon's name into a gold coin of hers from her time in the Jordan College catacombs. She placed the coin in Tony's mouth before returning to Farder Coram's side and eating some food. Later, she observed Tony's funeral pyre alongside the other gyptians. Then, they set off again on their journey.
During one of their pit stops, Lyra questioned Farder Coram about the spy-fly they had captured on their way to Colby. Farder Coram explained that it was still buzzing away in a smoke-leaf tin that had been soldered shut. She retrieved it from the bag when Farder Coram was not looking, and had Iorek craft two flat cylinders. Both were the shape of the alethiometer, but one was slightly bigger so that the spy-fly tin could be put inside and its noise muffled by moss and lichen. She kept the one with the spy-fly and put the empty one back in Farder Coram's bag.
Lyra then had a long talk with Iorek about his history with the bears of Svalbard. He revealed a history that Lyra found similar to her father's: Iorek was once wealthy and high-ranking, but because he killed another bear, he was exiled and stripped of his rank and fortune. She learned many things about Svalbard and the panserbjørne during her talk with him, including the fact that Iofur Raknison was king there. She also learned just how different armoured bears are from humans, about their strength and how difficult they are to trick.
As they continued on their journey, Lyra sat in a sledge with Lee Scoresby and questioned him about his balloon. She asked many questions, and soon the conversation turned to the Tartars. She asked about trepanning, and Lee revealed that it was a great honour among the Tartars. She brought up the topic of how her father showed the Scholars at Jordan Stanislaus Grumman's trepanned head, and Lee theorized that it may not have been Grumman's head. And if it had been his head, the Tartars wouldn't have been the ones to kill him. Lyra fell asleep soon after this conversation.
During another routine stop in their journey, a thick mist of fog descended on the group. Suddenly, a volley of arrows killed three gyptian men. Another volley of arrows brought about action from the gyptians, and John Faa was suddenly shouting orders. Lyra was pushed to the ground by Pantalaimon to make her less of a target, and she could only watch in semi-darkness as the gyptians struggled to return fire. Suddenly, she herself was under attack and being kidnapped by some of the attackers. Her hands were bound and a hood was placed over her head before she was thrown into a sledge and taken away from the battle.
After a long time, her hood was removed and she was propped up against the sledge. One of the Samoyed hunters who kidnapped her asked her name, and she lied saying it was Lizzie Brooks. He talked about taking her to a nice place with nice people, and asked about the gyptians. She lied again and said they were just traders. They were still riding along the landscape, and it was dark and cold, so Lyra laid back down and fell asleep.
When she woke up, they were riding smoothly between a row of high light poles, on a path directly to Bolvangar. They went through a metal gate at the end of the lights and into a wide open arena-like space. Outside of a low building Lyra was finally cut free of her restraints and brought to her feet. A man came out from one of the buildings and the Samoyeds spoke to him in their language. After asking for proof that Pantalaimon could still change shape, the man from Bolvangar handed the Samoyed coins. The Samoyeds left and she entered Bolvangar with the man. Pantalaimon suggested that Lyra act slow and dim-witted.
Lyra was placed into the care of Sister Clara, a nurse at the station. Sister Clara seemed to lack all qualities of curiosity and imagination, and showed Lyra to an exam room. Lyra showered and was examined to assure she was healthy, all while acting like dim-witted Lizzie Brooks. She was given pyjamas and allowed to keep the alethiometer because she passed it off as a toy. When Clara wasn't looking, Lyra also retrieved the spy-fly tin from her boots. She was then led to the canteen where she was given food by the man who first brought her inside. Once she was done eating, the man questioned Lyra about where she had come from and, of course, Lyra told the same lies she told the Samoyeds. She was led to a dormitory and promptly fell asleep.
In the midst of the night, Lyra was woken by the other children in the dormitory. They suspected she had been given sleeping pills through one of her drinks. They questioned how she got there and Lyra asked what the people here do to them. The girls hypothesised that the people measure Dust. Lyra spoke with Annie, Bella and Martha about the situation here. They revealed that there are boys at Bolvangar too, but the two genders are usually kept apart. The three also revealed that whenever Mrs Coulter would visit, kids would go with her and not return. The girls speculated all sorts of things that might happen to the children that went missing. It was revealed that Mrs Coulter would be coming again in just two days, something Lyra was panicked about.
The following morning, Lyra told herself that the gyptians would definitely come and rescue her and the others before long. In the meantime, she focused on the prospect of seeing Roger. At half-past seven, the nurses had the children wash, dress and go to the canteen all together. It was there that Lyra was finally reunited with Roger. She wasn't able to speak to him, though, until one of the snack times later that day. While their dæmons spoke, they stayed in their own respective groups - boys with boys, girls with girls. Amidst many conversations, a girl named Bridget McGinn revealed that she had been with Tony Makarios before he was taken away. She told her side of the story, claiming that the nurse said all they do is a simple cut in order for children to become grown-up. Before she could continue her story, Sister Clara and a doctor called Bridget's name and asked her to come with them.
Later that day during lunchtime, Lyra was able to speak freely with Roger and Billy Costa, who was joyous to hear that his brother and the other gyptians were coming to free them. They all exchanged information and Roger told Lyra about a crawl space in the ceiling. During the rest of the afternoon, Lyra and four other girls were tested for Dust. Lyra was taken into a laboratory setting and told to do all sorts of things with the measuring instruments.
In the middle of one of the tests, the fire-alarm rang for a fire drill. They all hurried outside into the arena-like space from before. Lyra met up with Roger and Billy again, and they decided to take a look around the Experimental Station during the chaos of the drill. Lyra started a snowball fight and the three children slipped away from the adult supervision.
They came across a small building disconnected from the rest of the Station with a sign saying 'DO NOT ENTER' on its door. Before they could investigate, the witch's dæmon Kaisa appeared. He told Lyra he had been following her, waiting for her to have a moment alone so they could talk. Kaisa told Lyra that the gyptians were mostly safe, but they were still a day away. In turn, Lyra explained to Kaisa her current situation - she had a feeling that the building they were in front of had to do with the Gobbler's cutting away the children's dæmons. Lyra told the two boys to keep a lookout, and Kaisa unlocked the door to the building. Pantalaimon became fearful and buried himself in Lyra's chest.
Inside the dimly-lit building were cages upon cages of dæmons without their humans. It was clear by their ghost-like demeanor that they were the dæmons of the severed children. There were five empty cages with name cards, and one of them read "Tony Makarios." Lyra became enraged and desperately wanted to smash all the glass and release the dæmons, but Kaisa advised against it. He insisted that they must make it look like someone accidentally forgot to lock the cages, so he asked Lyra to grab some snow and blow some into each cage's lock. As Lyra did this, Kaisa made a clicking noise in his throat and each cage unlocked. After they had all unlocked, Lyra set them all free. Kaisa told Lyra to return to the other children while he would help the lost dæmons find their humans. As Lyra left, Roger saw all the dæmons coming out of the building and was shocked. Meanwhile, Kaisa told all the dæmons to change into birds and cautiously led them up and away. Lyra advised Roger not to tell anyone about the dæmons and they joined Billy and the other children back in the arena-like space. She told them to let the other children know that they needed to be prepared to escape as soon as she signaled. The signal would be the fire-bell.
Lyra noticed that the adults were very slack in organizing the fire drill. She figured she could use this to her advantage in the future. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a zeppelin which belonged to Marisa Coulter, whom Lyra saw in the cabin window. Lyra immediately ducked under her hood and went inside with the rest of the children. She hid her outdoor clothes and her alethiometer above one of the ceiling panels before rejoining the children in the canteen. She spread among her girl friends that there was a rescue mission in place, and to be ready when the next fire-bell rang. She spent the day remaining inconspicuous, constantly aware of Mrs Coulter's presence in the building.
At bedtime, Lyra told the other three girls she was going to look around, then headed up into the ceiling. She wanted to find the conference room, where she had heard that the adults gather and talk. She found it soon enough and listened in on a conversation that four adults - two unidentified men, Dr Cooper, and Mrs Coulter - were having while eating dinner. They were discussing the release of the severed dæmons, but soon went on to discuss a new method of intercision. Mrs Coulter left after this discussion, and the men began to discuss news of Lord Asriel. Lyra let out a noise of anxiety when they spoke of how Mrs Coulter had been keen to watch children and dæmons be torn apart, and she was quickly discovered in the ceiling. One of the men pulled her out of the ceiling and she struggled desperately until she felt an extremely foreign feeling. One of the men had grabbed hold of Pantalaimon, breaking one of the biggest taboos in the world. She was in such shock that she fell completely limp and weak in the other man's arms.
In order to silence her, the staff decided to use intercision on Lyra. When she finally made it to the chamber where the procedure would happen, Lyra found her voice and screamed. She put up a fight alongside Pantalaimon, but it was two against six. She was soon thrown into the guillotine intercision contraption with Pantalaimon on the other side. Moments later, Mrs Coulter entered the room in confusion but, to her horror, quickly recognized Lyra and stopped the procedure. Mrs Coulter and her dæmon pulled Lyra and Pan out of the mesh cage and Lyra was soon reunited with Pan. They clung to each other desperately, hardly noticing as Mrs Coulter led them out of the room and into a bedroom.
Lyra sobbed and sobbed once she was in bed and Mrs Coulter tried to soothe her. Lyra made an effort not to shrink away from Mrs Coulter, reminded by Pan that they had to pretend they had been kidnapped. Lyra drank the chamomile that Mrs Coulter made for her, then told her story of lies about being kidnapped from the flat in London and being taken by the Gobblers. After her story, she continuously asked why the Gobblers were cutting away dæmons and how they could do something so cruel. Mrs Coulter told Lyra intercision is a good thing for children, but Lyra threw up when she thought about Tony Makarios. Mrs Coulter continued to try to say intercision was a good thing, but dodged Lyra's question that if it was such a good thing, why did Mrs Coulter save her from the procedure.
Lyra was not soothed by her mother's claims, noticing instead that Mrs Coulter's dæmon was growing impatient. Suddenly Mrs Coulter asked Lyra about the alethiometer and wanted Lyra to give it to her. She grabbed the belt around Lyra's waist and pulled out the spy-fly tin. Mrs Coulter thought it was a tin holding the alethiometer, and did not wait for confirmation as she opened the outer tin and the inner tin. Lyra ran as soon as the spy-fly was let loose, and she hit as many fire alarms as she could on the way. She went into the kitchens, turned on the gas and threw flour into the air to cause an explosion. Lyra fetched her outdoor clothes from the ceiling in the dormitory, then blended into the crowd of children so she could make it outside.
At this point, an explosion had gone off and there was a lot of flames. Children were panicked and Lyra fell a couple times making her way outside. Finally, she reunited with Roger outside in the cold, and told him to tell everyone about the Gobblers cutting away dæmons. This motivated everyone to collectively follow Lyra as she ran for the exit of the compound. The building behind them was falling apart as they ran, and adults shouted after them. They came to a standstill when a line of soldiers from the Sibirsk Regiment appeared with their wolf dæmons. Lyra had the idea to throw snow at them and nail them in the eyes, and soon everyone was doing this. The children continued running while the soldiers were getting snow out of their eyes, but they soon heard the rifles of the soldiers being loaded and aimed. Thankfully, a bunch of witches suddenly started raining arrows down on the soldiers in aid of the children. In addition, Iorek Byrnison suddenly appeared and attacked the soldiers, making quick work of them.
The children continued running the way Iorek had come from. They travelled for a long while, and the Bolvangar station was soon a little light in the distance. Children talked of losing faith in Lyra, but she urged the children forward. Finally, Lyra reunited with the gyptians. The men pulled children into the sledges and covered them in warm furs and gave them jerky to chew on. Lyra spoke briefly with Farder Coram, wondering about a buzzing sound.
Suddenly, Lyra was thrown from one of the gyptian sledges and was in the hands of Mrs Coulter, who was dragging her to a nearby motorized sledge. She was thrown into the sledge by one of the Tartar soldiers, and Roger was trying to rescue her. In a flurry of movement, suddenly Lyra was being pulled upwards, and she had the wits to grab Roger and take him with her. It was a witch who pulled them up out of the grasp of Mrs Coulter, and they were taken to Lee Scoresby's balloon nearby. It was only on the ground thanks to the efforts of three witches holding it down. Lyra and Roger made their way into the balloon, and were soon joined by Iorek Byrnison. Lyra shouted to Farder Coram that she was safe, and that they should take the other children home. With that, the witches released Lee Scoresby's balloon and they shot into the air at an unbelievable rate.
Once up in the air, Lyra admired the view from above. They were quickly above the clouds, and looking down, Lyra saw many witches helping Lee steer to the North. It was up in the balloon that Lyra finally met Serafina Pekkala herself, and it turned out she was the one who saved Lyra and Roger from Mrs Coulter minutes before. She spoke to the witch briefly before falling asleep alongside Roger and Iorek.
When Lyra woke up later, Lee had fallen asleep as well. Lyra had a long conversation with Serafina. The witches, Serafina's love for Farder Coram, Lord Asriel, the panserbjørne, Iorek Byrnison, and Dust were a few of the things they spoke about. Lyra learned that Serafina had been so in love with Farder Coram that she wanted to give up her witch ways and live beside him as a gyptian wife, but it just hadn't been possible. Lyra also learned that Iorek was exiled because he killed a bear during a fight over a she-bear. The other bear would not back down as most bears do, and instead of wounding him, Iorek let his rage get the best of him and he ended up killing the other bear. After a while, Lyra told Serafina that she was too cold to continue talking and she laid back down beneath the furs in the balloon basket and slept.
When she next woke up, Lee Scoresby and the witches were in a bit of a panic over the rocking and jolting of the balloon. They were being tossed this way and that while the winds buffeted the basket. Lee Scoresby made the balloon descend, declaring that they were too high, but soon the balloon was being attacked by cliff-ghasts. Iorek defended the basket as they made a rough descent to the ground, but they were still being tossed about in the basket. After one particularly large jolt, Lyra was thrown from the basket into a snowbank. The fog of snow was so thick that she couldn't see the balloon or the cliff-ghasts, but she could hear the latter and was quite frightened. As she tried to make her way through the snow, she encountered a foreign armoured bear who roared and was joined by other bears. They led her to Svalbard as a prisoner.
Once they arrived at the palace, the bears led her to a prison cell. One of the bears knocked her off her feet inside and locked the door before she could tell what was happening. Once left alone, Lyra consulted the alethiometer and found out that Iorek was on his way to rescue her with Roger. She was startled at once when suddenly a man's voice came out of the darkness of her cell. There was an old man chained in the corner of the cell. He revealed his name to be Jotham Santelia, the Regius Professor of Cosmology at the University of Gloucester. Jotham revealed an instant hatred for P. Trelawney, the Palmeranian Professor whom Lyra knew from Jordan College. She used this knowledge to her advantage and agreed that Trelawney was a fraud and Jotham was far more clever. She convinced the imprisoned man to teach her about the ways of the bears.
Once Lyra had questioned him about Iorek Byrnison's standing in the kingdom, and Lord Asriel's residency there, the professor promptly fell asleep. It was at this time that Lyra suddenly remembered something that Professor Trelawney had said back in the retiring room - what Iofur Raknisson wanted more than anything else was a dæmon. Lyra knew she could use this information to her advantage, and came up with a plan that would convince Iofur to give Iorek a fighting chance. Just as she was on the verge of sleep, one of the armoured bears opened their cell to feed them.
Lyra was able to convince the bear and another that she had an urgent message for their king, Iofur Raknisson. It was only easy to convince the bears because Iofur had been introducing so many foreign customs that all his bears were confused by how to act at times. She was taken into the Palace where bears consulted higher-up bears and argued over whether to let her see him. Finally, Lyra was allowed into the king's throne room and saw Iofur Raknisson for the first time. She almost backed down from her plan at the sight of him. She only felt safe again when she noticed that Iofur had a doll on his lap, pretending that he had a dæmon. She approached and told him she wanted to speak to him about Iorek Byrnison and dæmons, which prompted the king to send the other bears out of the room.
Once she was alone with Iofur, Lyra told him that she was the dæmon of Iorek Byrnison. She quickly explained how she came to be, and that she did not want to be Iorek's dæmon, she wanted to be Iofur's dæmon. She told him that the only way for her to become his dæmon was for him to defeat Iorek in single combat, rather than having him killed on sight as would normally happen to outcast bears. Iofur paced a bit before demanding that Lyra prove she was a dæmon. She claimed that dæmons could find out anything, so he asked a question only he knew the answer to: what was the first creature he killed? Lyra then went into the room's antechamber and used her alethiometer to find out when Iorek would arrive and to find out the answer to Iofur's question.
When she returned to the throne room, Lyra flattered Iofur by acting impressed that the first creature he killed was his own father. He asked another question: What did Mrs Coulter promise him during her last visit? Once again, Lyra went into the antechamber and she quickly deduced that Mrs Coulter had promised him the opportunity to be baptised as a Christian. Lyra told Iofur that Mrs Coulter had been lying because no one could be baptised without a dæmon, but once he had Lyra as a dæmon, then he could definitely get baptised. Soon enough, Lyra had convinced Iofur of everything she had said, and he ordered his bears not to attack Iorek on sight. Instead, under Lyra's suggestion, he claimed to the other bears that he called Iorek Byrnison there himself and was intent on the winner ruling over Svalbard forever.
The combat-grounds were swept, Iofur's armour was cleaned and his claws were sharpened in preparation for the battle. Lyra became fearful for Iorek as she watched the preparations made for Iofur, especially when she witnessed him test the sharpness of his claws and the strength of his paws on a seal. She consulted the alethiometer again, which merely told her to trust in Iorek, but it did little to assuage her fears. Soon enough, the combat-grounds were crowded with spectators, including a separate section for the she-bears. She stayed modestly close to Iofur as he asserted himself over the lesser bears. Lyra felt sick when she saw how much better Iofur's armour looked compared to Iorek's.
Soon enough, the watch-bears roared at the arrival of Iorek Byrnison. Lyra reminded Iofur that she would go to his side and "pretend" to still be loyal to him, which Iofur thought would make the fight more entertaining. She walked towards the watch towers and eventually Iorek had bounded up to stand beside her. She apologised profusely for the current circumstances, but Iorek thanked her for giving him the opportunity to face Iofur in single combat. It was here that Iorek bestowed on Lyra the surname Silvertongue, for her skill at lying and managing to trick a panserbjørn.
Lyra watched in fear as the battle took place, catching her breath at times and finding it hard to breathe. At the end of the battle, though, Iorek Byrnison stood victorious. As the bears immediately began to follow Iorek's orders to rid the palace of all things human - the marble, the gold, the riches - Lyra demanded that they release the human prisoners in the dungeons before they were killed. She then insisted on helping Iorek tend to his wounds, and did so by pressing bloodmoss into his wounds, and using snow to freeze the flesh back in place. She saw a dozen or so of the prisoners exit the palace, but decided against talking to them. Instead, she found a spot in the corner of the combat-grounds, covered herself in snow, and went to sleep.
When she was woken up, she was nearly frozen to death. The young bear that woke her offered to let her ride him so they could meet with the king, who was asking for her. They arrived in a steep hollow where Lyra was reunited with Roger, and the other former prisoners were making a fire. Lyra and Roger were invited to eat, and she ate a seal kidney raw along with some blubber. After eating, she was taken to see Iorek who was meeting with his counsellors.
It was during this meeting that Lyra learned from Søren Eisarson about Mrs Coulter's plans to create an even worse version of Bolvangar on Svalbard. She had apparently maintained a great influence over Iofur during his rule. Lyra was asked by Iorek to use the alethiometer and deduce what Mrs Coulter was up to. She learned from the instrument that Lee Scoresby and the witches were safe. She also told the bears that Mrs Coulter was on her way in a zeppelin armed with machine-guns, joined by a fleet of Tartars arriving by sea, and they would soon learn of Iofur's defeat from an opposing witch-clan. Lyra also learned that Mrs Coulter was going to where Lord Asriel was in order to kill him and prevent him from accomplishing whatever he was planning. Lyra also deduced that Mrs Coulter was after something that Lyra had with her, but it didn't appear to be the alethiometer, although that was her best guess.
Lyra felt entirely drained as she announced that she must take the alethiometer to her father. Iorek said he would go with her, and she fell asleep as he made preparations. They set off after they woke her.
Lyra, Roger, Iorek and a squad of bears set off across the mountainous terrain of Svalbard. Lord Asriel resided in a house that had been built especially for him with a laboratory and experiment equipment. When they finally reached his affluent dwelling, Lyra and Roger went up to the door and were greeted by Thorold, Asriel's manservant. When Asriel laid eyes on Lyra, he yelled at her to leave and get out, but after a moment when Roger joined her, he calmed down quickly. Lord Asriel went to talk to Iorek Byrnison as Thorold ran a bath for the children. As Roger bathed, he revealed to Lyra that he was scared of her father. He didn't like the way that Lord Asriel had calmed down only after seeing Roger at Lyra's side. Lyra dismissed his worries and the children were soon both clean, warm and fed.
Thorold came to them and told Roger to go to bed while Lyra was instructed to join her father in the Library. She found him in a wide-windowed room reclining in an armchair. He beckoned her into a seat beside him and told her that Iorek was resting outside. She asked why he lied about being her father, and why he wasn't happy to see her. She was almost in tears as she ranted to him about travelling all this way to bring him the alethiometer, but he wasn't even grateful towards her. She claimed that he didn't love her, and Asriel did nothing to prove otherwise. He instead asked that she tell him of her journey and how she had ended up here. So, Lyra told him everything. At the end of her long tale, she asked him what Dust is and why everyone feared it so much.
Lord Asriel told her about how the Church had always known about Dust, but it wasn't always called that. Asriel told her of Boris Mikhailovich Rusakov, who discovered an elementary particle and had to announce his findings to the Magisterium in Geneva. The Magisterium decided that Dust was the physical evidence for original sin. Asriel reminded Lyra about the story of Adam and Eve, and read her a passage from the bible. He talked to her about Mrs Coulter's General Oblation Board as well, claiming that Mrs Coulter had only set up this agency in pursuit of power. He also revealed that intercision had been Mrs Coulter's idea in the first place, for she had travelled to Africa and learned of dæmon-less humans known as zombi.
As she pondered over everything she was learning, Lyra acknowledged that she truly did not love Lord Asriel, but she did admire him. Lord Asriel revealed his plan was to travel across the worlds and reach the city in the Aurora, find the source of Dust, and destroy it. Finally, Asriel dismissed Lyra to bed after explaining that he was uninterested in the alethiometer. This left Lyra extremely puzzled, but she soon fell asleep.
Lyra was woken by a panicked Thorold in the middle of the night. He told Lyra that Lord Asriel must have gone mad, for he had gathered several instruments, batteries, and Roger into a sledge and took off into the night. He explained that Asriel had needed a child to finish his experiment, which is why he reacted with anger when Lyra had shown up on the doorstep. It was at this moment that Lyra realized Lord Asriel was going to use the power generated from the intercision of a child to create a bridge to the other world. And she brought him Roger.
Lyra sobbed and demanded that Thorold help her get dressed. Once she was protected from the vicious arctic winds, she went outside to find Iorek Byrnison. He was quick to let Lyra onto his back and pursue Lord Asriel using the sledge tracks in the snow, and his fellow bears followed closely behind. During their journey, the Aurora crackled into life in the sky, putting on a fantastical display of lights as Iorek ran as fast as he could. He came to a stop when he sensed something was wrong, and then he announced the arrival of witches in the sky. Lyra was excited at first, but it quickly became apparent that these were not Serafina Pekkala's witches. The witches in the sky rained down arrows upon them and were soon joined by reinforcements, including the arrival of Mrs Coulter's zeppelin.
Iorek gave his bears orders to use the fire-hurler they brought. Despite the zeppelin having a machine-gun, the fire-hurler took down its gondola and gas-bag quickly. Once it was collapsed on the ground, though, the soldiers and Mrs Coulter all piled out of the wreckage and fought with the machine-gun from the ground. Lyra and Iorek left his bears to defend the way as he continued up the mountains in pursuit of Lord Asriel. They came to a stop at the edge of a large chasm, where there was a small bridge of compacted snow which Iorek could not cross. Lyra knew she would have to continue on her own, and she thanked Iorek for all he had done for her. She made her way slowly across the bridge, and it collapsed near the end when she made a jump for the other side.
Lyra had to acknowledge her only way back was gone, and once Iorek was out of sight on the other side, she expressed her great fears to Pan. They sobbed together in fear and confusion at what to do when they reached Asriel and Roger. It took a few moments, but finally, Lyra pulled herself together and made her way up the mountain. Pan was able to look over the mountain peak and told Lyra that Asriel was all set up and Roger was trapped, but suddenly the Aurora in the sky went out. She could hear Roger's cries and shouted out words of comfort as she climbed, and then she was finally at the summit.
By the starlight alone, Lyra could see that Lord Asriel's dæmon Stelmaria had hold of Roger's dæmon Salcilia and wouldn't let her go, so Roger could not run away. Asriel had set up all his insruments on the edge of a cliff, a thousand miles above the frozen sea, and suddenly the Aurora flickered back to life. It looked to Lyra that he was controlling the Aurora with his experiment. Pantalaimon rushed ahead to help Salcilia, and together they fought off Stelmaria. Meanwhile, Lyra took Roger's hand and they turned and ran. Suddenly, Roger felt a pain because Stelmaria had once again grabbed his dæmon and wouldn't let go. Before they could turn back, an entire shelf of snow beneath Lyra and Roger collapsed and they fell down.
During this, Roger was violently intercised from his dæmon and a bolt of energy flew into the sky like an arrow. Looking up, Lyra saw a sudden burst of sunlight in the sky, which illuminated the forms of Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter standing up above. They were in an embrace talking of the bridge to the other world that had just been created. Meanwhile, Lyra held Roger's dead body in her arms. Lyra listened to her parents argue about going into the other world, and they even passionately kissed, but in the end, Mrs Coulter chose to stay. As Lord Asriel walked into the other world, and Mrs Coulter went back down the mountain, Lyra felt nothing but anger.
Pantalaimon brought up the idea that because everyone else thought it was bad, Dust must be a good thing. Lyra pondered the idea and agreed, wanting to find it before Asriel could destroy it. So, they turned their backs on the world they were born in, then walked into the sky.
Travelling between worldsEdit
In the world of Cittàgazze, Lyra met William Parry. Will took her through a window into his world where she met Mary Malone, following the instructions of the alethiometer. After visiting Malone a second time, Lyra accepted a ride from Carlo Boreal who stole her alethiometer. After Will became the bearer of the subtle knife, he used it to help her steal the alethiometer back.
Lyra was kidnapped by her mother and taken to the Valley of the Rainbows where Mrs Coulter hid her to protect her from the Church. There, Mrs Coulter kept her daughter in a drugged sleep. Lyra was rescued by Will, who uses the knife to cut into another world. Because he was distracted by thoughts of his mother while cutting, Will broke the knife, but the children were still able to escape.
Land of the DeadEdit
After Iorek Byrnison reluctantly repaired the knife, Will used it create a window into the World of the Dead. In order to cross the river into the Land of the Dead, Lyra, Will, Lady Salmakia and Chevalier Tialys were forced to leave their dæmons behind.
In the Land of the Dead, Lyra bargained with the harpies; their new job would be to guide souls through the land of the dead in exchange for hearing stories about their lives. The harpies helped Lyra and her companions to reach the highest point in the Land and Will cut a window allowing souls to leave into the mulefa world, becoming one with the multiverse.
Lyra and Will began to search for their dæmons in the world where Lord Asriel's battle is taking place. They released The Authority from his prison, who died because he was so frail. The adolescents found their dæmons and travelled to the Mulefa world where they met Mary Malone who told them the story of why she stopped being a nun. This placed the seed in Lyra's mind which led her to later kiss Will. The two realised they were in love and touched each other's dæmons, each one settling into their permanent forms.
After being told that all the windows to other worlds, except the one leading from the Land of the Dead to the Mulefa World, must be closed, Lyra and Will had to say goodbye to one another and return to their own worlds. They promised to meet every 24 June at the Botanic Garden in Oxford to sit on the bench and feel close to one another.
Return to OxfordEdit
After the war, Lyra returned to Oxford. She attended St Sophia's School, a boarding school for girls. Later, she went on to study for a master's degree in economic history at St Sophia's College. She wrote a dissertation entitled 'Developments in patterns of trade in the European Arctic region with particular reference to independent cargo balloon carriage (1950-1970)'.
Lyra was a thin girl who was short for her age. Her hair was dark-blonde and she had pale blue eyes.
Lyra was a rebellious and unruly child, and often exasperated those who tried to care for her, such as the Jordan housekeeper and her tutors. Though she received little formal education, she was quick-witted and canny.
Abilities and skillsEdit
- Alethiometrist: When she was a child, Lyra was able to read an alethiometer without being given formal training. After she reached puberty, she lost this ability and had to learn again. By the time she was considering her dissertation, she had surpassed the knowledge of her teacher, Hannah Relf.
- Compulsive liar: Lyra constantly lied, introduced in her telling extravagant stories about her parents to Oxford and Gyptian children. This was developed in her sparring with Iorek Byrnison when he told her that bears cannot be tricked by human concepts such as lying. This compulsion found its resolution during Lyra's travels in the Land of the Dead when she tried lying to the Harpy No-Name, and attacked for it - resolving that when future generations reach the Land of the Dead, they must only tell true stories.
Lyra's dæmon was Pantalaimon, sometimes called Pan, whose final form took the shape of a male pine marten.
Pantalaimon was born alongside Lyra and was as dependent as she was whilst a baby and an infant. He shared many of her childhood adventures and often acted as the voice of reason when Lyra would follow her immediate emotions. Their bond was immensely strong, as is between most humans and dæmons, however risked at Lyra's arrival to Bolvangar, where the two were nearly severed by the silver guillotine of the General Oblation Board. Pan shared in the many adventures that Lyra embarked on however could not join her at her entrance to the Land of the Dead and was left in the suburbs, along with Will Parry's hitherto unknown and unnamed dæmon, Kirjava. The separation in this manner caused a great deal of trauma to both Lyra and Pan however granted them the witch-like ability to separate from each other at will later on and travel further than the standard distance. During the time in which Lyra travelled through the Land of the Dead, Pan spent time travelling with Kirjava across many different worlds of the multiverse. At their reunion during Asriel's war, Lyra and Will accidentally grabbed one another's dæmons before escaping into the world of the mulefa, and later touch one another again, leading to intimate feelings of exhilaration and joy and the final settling of both dæmons, Pantalaimon taking the form of a pine marten.
Unlike Lyra, Pantalaimon often expressed a cautious outlook on life, even calling himself a coward. He acted very much as Lyra's conscience, often attempting to keep her safe in frightening situations, such as when Lyra first entered the Retiring Room at Jordan College.
Prior to settling, Pan could like a diverse array of forms, of which he favourite was an ermine. He often took this form whilst sleeping, curling up around Lyra's neck.
Sometimes the forms that Pantalaimon took would be for practical reasons so as to make use of the distinctive abilities that the animal possessed, for example becoming an owl in order to see better in darkness, a mouse to slip through small openings, or a firefly to produce light so that Lyra could read the alethiometer.
Often Pan's form represent his mood. When frightened, he would become smaller, such as a mouse to hide in Lyra's pocket. When Lyra left him on the jetty in the suburbs of the Land of the Dead, Pan became a sad puppy.
During her quest, Pan would often try out new forms so as to explore new environments, for example when sailing north with the Gyptians, Pan became a dolphin and swam in the sea. Once they arrived in Norroway he played in the snow as an Arctic fox. When meeting new dæmons, out of courtesy Pan would imitate their forms, for example becoming a cat when meeting Farder Coram and Sophonax.
Pan was quite skilled at changing form, exemplifying the creative and intellectual limitations of Lyra herself. He would often flicker through a number of forms, sometimes to show off, such as when he became a dragon to intimidate fellow Oxford children, and sometimes in panic such as when Lyra was mastering her fear at the village where she discovered Tony Makarios.
Lyra and Will first met in the world of Cittàgazze. The children soon became fast friends as they travelled between worlds together, eventually falling in love.
Lyra had a rather patchy relationship with her father. She was raised believing he was her uncle, and was frightened of him. Lord Asriel was harsh and domineering, and when he murdered Lyra's friend Roger Parslow, she estranged herself from him forever.
Lyra also had a rather strained relationship with her mother, Mrs Coulter. When she went to her apartment the first time she thought it was a dream come true, but after she learned the truth about Mrs Coulter being the head of the Gobblers, Lyra left, disgusted by her. Pantalaimon, in particular, held a revulsion for the abusive dæmon of Mrs Coulter.
Lyra remained distrustful of her mother. However, when Lyra was kidnapped by her mother, who sought to hide Lyra from the Church in order to protect her, and she was later rescued by Will, Lyra was torn by her mother's pleas to stay with her as Mrs Coulter was the only mother she'll ever have. Nonetheless, Lyra left with Will in tears.  Later, Lyra remembered waking up during periods of this drugged sleep and her mother holding her. She told Will she knows Mrs Coulter has done terrible things, but she felt loved by her mother in a maternal way she had not experienced with her other caregivers growing up. 
Behind the scenesEdit
- In the film The Golden Compass, Lyra is portrayed by Dakota Blue Richards and Pantalaimon by Freddie Highmore.
- In the theatre adaptation at the National Theatre in London, Lyra was played by Anna Maxwell Martin in 2003 and Elaine Symons in 2004.
- Scottish Youth Theatre in July-August 2007 put on the Scottish premiere of the production with Kirstie Steele and Sarah Ord playing Lyra in part one and two respectively.
- In the BBC series His Dark Materials, Lyra will be portrayed by Dafne Keen.
- Our first introduction to the dæmon as a concept appears in Northern Lights with the introduction of 'Lyra and her dæmon moved through the darkening Hall...' Such a concept appears to echo traits found in the idea of one's conscience, guardian angel, witches' familiar or the Freudian ideas of superego (or indeed id), but has its roots in the Aristotelian notion of De Anima: the animating principle of life, that is, the soul.
- Northern Lights
- The Golden Compass (film)
- The Golden Compass (video game)
- The Subtle Knife
- The Amber Spyglass
- Once Upon a Time in the North (Mentioned only)
- Lyra's Oxford
- La Belle Sauvage
- Northern Lights - The Graphic Novel
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ As of Lyra's Oxford.
- ↑ In Chapter 2 of La Belle Sauvage, Lyra is said to be six months old in February, meaning she was born around August of the previous year.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Subtle Knife, Chapter 1
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Northern Lights, Chapter 7
- ↑ La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 25
- ↑ Northern Lights, Chapter 13
- ↑ Lyra's Oxford
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Once Upon a Time in the North
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 12