Lyra Belacqua is about eleven years old and lives in Jordan College, Oxford, in a world that seems like our own, only about a hundred years ago, and where people’s souls exist outside themselves as daemons. Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon, is her most trusted companion – literally part of her, and can assume any form of its choice, until around puberty when a daemon will stick with one form.
Lyra’s a normal and adventurous child, abandoned to the college’s care by her uncle, Lord Asriel, and there she roams quite freely in the company of Pantalaimon and her friend Roger. After an evening’s eavesdropping, Lyra hears about ‘Dust’ and, intrigued by the conversation, determines to learn more about it.
When children start disappearing, Lyra suspects ‘the Gobblers’, a group of adults feared by children. But when her friend Roger disappears, Lyra is removed from the college’s care by the mysterious and glamorous Mrs Coulter, but not before the Master of the college bestows on her an alethiometer – a strange gift that Lyra has no knowledge of.
This took me a while to get into, but by the time I reached the second part of the novel – where the mission to the North begins, I couldn’t put it down. It’s an incredibly well written, great storytelling and felt magical in a way few books have in a while, I haven’t sunk so comfortably into a fictional world since Harry Potter.
Very glad there are two more in the series!
London, December 2019