William 'Will' Parry (b. approx. June 1984)[4] was the temporary and last bearer of Æsahættr. He was the sole child of John Parry, an explorer, and Elaine Parry. Although not born in Lyra's world, after he visited the Land of the Dead his soul became a dæmon named Kirjava. Not long afterwards, she settled as a cat at the touch of his first love, Lyra Silvertongue.


Early life

During the first months of his life, Will's father left on an expedition to the Arctic known as the Nuniatak dig, from which he never returned. Will lived in Winchester with his mother, who suffered from mental health problems. He spent his childhood caring for her.

At age six, he and his mother dressed smartly to visit an elderly couple in a large house.[5] Their cold attitude and contempt made his mother cry and it was only when he was older that he realised they were his paternal grandparents.[6]

When Will was twelve years old, agents began to turn up at his house and question his mother about her husband. Will entrusted his mother's safety to his former piano teacher, Mrs. Cooper. He retrieved what the agents were searching for, a writing case filled with letters from his father, but while fleeing accidentally killed an agent. He escaped to Oxford where he found a window to the world of Cittàgazze.

Travelling between worlds

In Cittàgazze, Will met Lyra Silvertongue, a girl from yet another world. The next day, they returned to Oxford together. Will searched for information about his father, but with little success. Upon reading his father's letters, he learnt that John Parry was an explorer who discovered an 'anomaly' on his expedition.

Soon after, Lyra's alethiometer was stolen by Charles Latrom, who only agreed to return it on condition that they brought him Æsahættr. Will fought Tullio for the knife, losing the ring and little fingers of his left hand. Giacomo Paradisi informed him that this was the sign that he was the bearer of the knife, and taught him how to use it.[7] Using the subtle knife, Will stole back the alethiometer.

The next morning, Will and Lyra were attacked and chased by the children of Cittàgazze, who had been rallied into a mob by Angelica and Paolo. Lyra and Will were saved by Serafina Pekkala and her clan of witches, who accompanied them on their search for Will's father. One night Will went for a walk away from the camp, where he met a mysterious man who he realised was his father. Moments later, John Parry was killed by Juta Kamainen. Will shouted at the witch, who then killed herself. When Will returned to the camp, he found that Lyra had been kidnapped.

Later life

Will later went to medical school, where the state of mind needed to use Æsahætter also allowed him to make diagnoses with ease. During his education, he often had to make wrong diagnoses when he knew the correct one to avoid looking supernatural. Once he was qualified, he felt able to go directly to the right answer.[3]

Physical appearance

Will had dark hair and straight black eyebrows. His eyes were notably fierce and wide, whilst the rest of his face was well-defined by a jutting jaw and broad cheekbones.[8]

Personality and traits

Will was responsible and mature from a young age, behaving more like a adult than a child for a large portion of his youth. Will had a strong sense of morality, which he exemplified in paying for goods in the abandoned city of Cittàgazze. He felt it was his obligation and duty to look after his mother, and often sacrificed his own enjoyment or well-being for her sake. Will was also practical and sensible, able to competently deal with problems, and he seemed to posses good foresight and troubleshooting ability. He was generally quiet, serious and courteous - but, in extreme situations (such as the murder of his father and when Lyra's confessed that she had told police officers she knew him), he was capable of intense anger.

Secretive and cautious by nature, Will was not one to look for trouble and his fierce independence often made him reluctant to both seek and accept help from others. However, he was also a confident child and, although he disliked fighting, was always willing to stand up for himself and what was important to him. Many grown-ups found themselves feeling uncomfortable at the thought of looking him in the eye, owing to his imposing and unchildish demeanor, and he was quite able to dominate in a situation involving those older than him.

As a result of his morality and sense of duty, he was prone to guilt, frequently concerning both his perceived murder of one of the agents sent to retrieve the writing case and leaving his mother to live without his protection. Furthermore, despite being outwardly controlled and strong, he was prone to worrying about the well-being of those he loved and felt uncomfortable with the idea that he had killed for a long period of time.

Abilities and skills

  • Bearer of Æsahættr Will was the final bearer of Æsahættr, the only person who was able to use the subtle knife.
  • Intuition: Will had a strong sense of intuition which allowed him to easily make diagnoses in his medical career.[3]


Will's dæmon, when found and formed, took the shape of a large queen cat named Kirjava.


Will did not initially have a visible dæmon, as he was not born in Lyra's world. After travelling to the Land of the Dead, however, his dæmon was torn from him and left on the shores of the suburbs. She was named Kirjava, a Finnish word meaning 'mottled' or 'multi-coloured,[9] most probably in reference to her coat, by queen Serafina Pekkala, who guided her and Pantalaimon back to their humans. Later, at her reuniting with Will, she had taken corporeal form and settled as a large multi-coloured cat. During her time separated, she and Pantalaimon travelled through the multiverse and learned many things which they later shared with their humans. As with Pantalaimon, after this separation Kirjava developed a witch-like ability to travel distances much further than ordinary dæmons.

Appearance and personality

Kirjava settled as a cat who was larger than a usual cat, though smaller than a jaguarundi,[10] and featured fur in an array of colours, described similarly to the colours of the Subtle Knife.

Not much is known of Kirjava's distinctive personality, other than she most probably took on board qualities such as independence, common to cat-dæmons.


Since Kirjava settled only shortly after being separated from Will, she was not seen in many forms. When startled by Serafina Pekkala in the forest in the mulefa world, both Kirjava and Pantalaimon turned into wolves. They then flew with her, and Kirjava took the form of a nightingale.[11] When she finally returned to Will, she was a white dove with a crest of dark red feathers.[12]


Lyra Silvertongue

Lyra Silvertongue was Will's first love. After being tempted by Mary Malone's story about marzipan, they realised they were in love. When Will and Lyra broke the taboo and touched each other's dæmons, they took on their settled forms.


Philip Pullman chose Will's name because he embodies the quality of will.[13]

Behind the scenes

  • In the BBC radio dramatisation of the His Dark Materials series, Will was played by Daniel Anthony.
  • In the National Theatre's production of His Dark Materials in 2003, he was played by Dominic Cooper.
  • Although Will's killing of the agent is several times referred to as 'murder', in fact Will did not intend to kill the man, so is probably at worst only guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


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HDM Wiki has 4 images of William Parry.

Notes and references

  1. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 3
  2. The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 8
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Amber Spyglass, Lantern Slide 4
  4. The last letter of John Parry's is dated 24 June 1985 and Pullman states 'Will had been a year old when that letter was written' (The Subtle Knife, Ch. 5 'Airmail Paper')
  5. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 7
  6. The Subtle Knife, Lantern Slide 4
  7. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 8
  8. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 1
  9. Kirjava - English-Finnish Dictionary
  11. The Amber Spyglass, ch. 36.
  12. The Amber Spyglass, Ch. 37
  13. Scholastic - Philip Pullman Interview Transcript