Dust is a cosmic computer.More or less. Dust is a cosmic computer that came about from emergence, and its "programming" determines the physics of any particular universe. It's also "in" "the bulk" (M-Theory).
The Subtle Knife is based on Death's Scythe.Specifically, the Death of Discworld's scythe, which is sharp enough to sever the connection between a person and their corpse after death, sharp enough to glow from the thaums being split on its edge, and sharp enough to cut through the 4th wall, slicing into the very words on the pages. Somebody tried sharpening a knife made of special alloys over and over, until it was sharp enough to cut the boundary between worlds.
The Abyss isn't just a void.Or, if it is, it wasn't always. One possibility: It's a universe that was entirely consumed by the Specters.
The Abyss is the Abyss from Mage: the Awakening.The Angels are the humans who invaded the Supernal and became the Exarchs and Oracles; in doing so, they lost their bodies. The rebel Angels are the Oracles; the Authority is run by the Exarchs. Lord Asriel is a member of the Silver Ladder, invading heaven to set up an anthrocentric cosmos. The people who are left in the wrong universe when the Oracles close all the gates that pass through the Abyss don't all die; just their flesh dies. They Ascend and become the rulers of the reality that they're stuck in.
Narnia and our world (the Earth the "Friends of Narnia" inhabit) are also part of the Multiverse.Dust is also the key to traveling between worlds in Narnia's multiverse, as discovered by Andrew Ketterly in The Magician's Nephew.
"Baby" Dæmons are formed through Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action.The fact that Dæmons are incarnate spirits rather than normal animals makes this theory a little easier to take. In Lyra's world, as two humans have sex and concieve a child, so their Dæmon counterparts concieve that child's Dæmon. Said Dæmon may even be born from a Whale Egg or something as the child is born. There is a scene late in the first novel and a small scene in the second novel that comes ascloseasthis to stating this outright. (Personally, I am hoping this will be Jossed in The Book Of Dust.)
There is a Scientific Explanation for Dæmons.We know that they have some relationship to Dust. We know that Dust is especially attracted to humans and their activities. Dust in turn has some form of sentience and awareness. So Dæmons are colonies of Dust that have, over the eons, formed a symbiotic relationship with humans. One so strong that, while a Dæmon is not literally his counterpart's soul, he might as well be. The colonies of Dust also gained human-like intelligence thanks to this relationship. This helps explain the Shapeshifter Baggage issue, the eating issue, the Not-Quite-Furry-Confusion-But-Similar Dæmons vs. domestic animals and pets issue, and (perhaps most importantly, for our sanity) the baby Dæmon issue: the latter simply form out of the Dust attracted by the newborn human.
None of the divination tricks really work.Every possible outcome of every chance event exists in some Universe. When Mary Malone casts the I Ching, most versions of her get useless results, but the story only follows the version who gets an answer that makes sense. Ditto for the Navajo ring which supposedly brings Lee Scoresby to Will's father and the alethiometers themselves. When the story reaches a satisfactory conclusion, this doesn't matter anymore, so we start following a version of Lyra who doesn't get answers from her alethiometer. Naturally, she believes that it's the alethiometer which has stopped working, when in fact the needle was always just spinning at random.
If what the books say about the multiverse and imagination is taken into account, then EVERY SINGLE fictional universe actually exists!Think about it, the whole "imagination and dreaming is a way to make contact with alternate realities" can only mean that.
Lord Asriel is Jesus.No, really! From his perspective, the whole plot of the first book is, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me." Right? And then, in the third book, we find out that Metatron is the ascended version of Enoch, whose desire for the solidity of human flesh is driving him psycho (and makes him easy prey for Mrs. Coulter). Given his sleazy libido, Metatron is basically Sin with wings, and Lord Asriel dies in defeating him. Get that? Lord Asriel dies to save the world from Sin! Stretching this really far, you could say that the reason the Church in the trilogy isn't a warm and fuzzy organization is because the books describe a timeline in which Christianity never diverged from the Old Testament fire-and-brimstone business, and it had to take a Heroic Sacrifice to set things right. . . .
Lord Asriel Has the Power to Summon Things, But Only OnceIn book two, Ruta Skadi speaks admiringly of Lord Asriel and all he's accompliced. She thinks that he bends time to his will, and says that he's able to bring, or summon what he needs from all over the world. As a matter of fact, most of Book One is the effect of him "summoning" Lyra to bring Roger to him - a child whom he needs to split open the sky. Lyra can't explain exactly what she's supposed to do or give to her father, she just knows she has to see him and help him. After Book One, she appears to be more or less indifferent to him, even though in Book Three he's expounding all his resources to retrieve her. Why doesn't he summon her again? Because the summoning only works once. After that one time, he has to work on keeping what he has summoned by him. He unwittingly spent the one chance to call her to him (and got Distracted by the Coulter, and now has to try and make everyone else bring her to him.
Daemons are a metaphor for the inner selfThink about it: Children have not yet settled on their future personalities so their daemons can change form, people touching someone else's daemon is a taboo, since it implies that their minds are being tampered with and daemons fight and play with each other due to conversations causing people to get to know another person's inner self. Children separated from their daemon also lose their personalities, and die quickly (lack of activity in the brain). It is implied that the people of Will's world still have daemons, and possibly that every conscious being has one, again relating to the idea that they represent someone's true personality.
Daemons don't die when their human does.They go to the world of Alera where they attune their selves to nature or new people, transforming into elemental Furies.
Xaphania is still loyal to Authority and MetatronUpset at her side's loss she arrived to the children in order to try and force a happy end into a bittersweet one, mostly by shutting down completely viable ideas.
Intercision will be perfected accidentally via an overdose of electricity and become known as Delightfulization....Successfully depriving a person of their individuality without killing them but turning them into a soulless zombie obedient to all authority... designed chiefly for use on kids.
There is a reasonably practical alternative to the Subtle Knife that takes slightly less than "a lifetime" to get the hang of.Sentimental reasons aside, the way this possibility was Jossed and the resulting Downer Ending added nothing to the book except either a very Broken Aesop... or a Sequel Hook.
Balthamos and Baruch were the only pairing to have a happy endingThink about it. Angels are made of Dust, right? And Dust tends to condensate, otherwwise there would be no angels, right? Also, the third book implies that, after human souls leave the shithole that The Nothing After Death is their ghosts, as they disperse as atoms across the universes, reunite with their daemons and loved ones, so it isn't too far fetched that Balthamos and Baruch reuniated after dying and having their Dust particles spread everywhere. The same will probably happen to Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel though, if they actually die
Baruch is named after Baruch SpinozaThe guy who regularly critizised the Church and had a concept of God similar to Pullman's Dust? Sounds like someone Pullman would give a Shout Out to.
Willing intercision subjects are less severely harmed by the severing than unwilling ones.Willing subjects who have been severed from their daemons are able to live fairly normal lives, be it without any imagination or ability to question the world around them, while those who have been forced through the process tend to be virtually demolished by the procedure.
The Intention Craft is based on Psychoframe/Psycommu technology Asriel picked up from the universe of Mobile Suit GundamAsriel had many highly skilled engineers from many worlds at his disposal didn't he? Who's to say some former Mobile Suit and Mobile Armor technicians from the Universal Century universe didn't rework newtype mobile weapon technology to take advantage of the physical daemons present in Asriel's homeworld.
Will and Lyra will meet againThis troper always thought that the reasons for separating the protagonists were a little contrived. However, if you look closely there is a way they can be together. The angel tells them there is a way of traveling between universes but it could take "a lifetime" to learn. However, she mentions earlier (not to Will and Lyra) that they have become like witches. The time they spent in the underworld away from their Daemons "stretched" their connections. It's conceivable that this granted them other witch-traits including longevity. While it will take a human lifetime to learn how to travel to each other's worlds, once they do they may have several more lifetimes to spend together.
Mrs. Coulter is Ann Coulter.
Angels are actually Time LordsTheir 'imagination' way of traveling that seems insufficient to Lyra and Will actually works better for the angels. Because they're Time Lords.
Witches are renegade Time LordsThat's why they live so long; they can regenerate. You can 'become' a witch by loosening the link between yourself and your daemon, i.e. becoming a free spirit. The real reason that Lyra and Will aren't full witches is because they weren't Time Lords in the first place. Witches' cloudpine branches are their TARDISes. His Dark Materials take place during the Time Spiral block, where vast imbalances of power due to the many near-godlike Planeswalkers caused rifts in the Multiverse that threatened to destabilize all of reality. The consequences for the realms affected were varied: in the case of the collection of universes where His Dark Materials took place, they suffered from the slow drain of Mana (or "Dust"), resulting in the withering of life and sentience. Contributing to this problem was the Subtle Knife, a device that allows non-Planeswalkers to travel between worlds via creating rifts. The Guild of Cittagaze used this to build up their wealth and power, but the Specters it released were their downfall. (These Specters may or may not be related to the Specters of other universes, such as Hypnotic Specter and others.) The Authority was a very powerful Planeswalker, possibly a protege of Serra's, who went insane and attempted to become like Serra, building a facsimile of Serra's Realm (The Clouded Mountain), creating his own army of angels-slash-Elementals, and attempting to subjugate worlds to his "benevolent" rule. At some point, he went insane and was overthrown by his own creation, Metatron— who was probably a very powerful mage given the privilege of becoming one of the Authority's angels. The Authority's defeat and subsequent sealing turned him into a raving vegetable, allowing Metatron to go about consolidating the Kingdom of Heaven's power by inspiring Corrupt Churches everywhere to work in subtle ways towards his goal of subjugating The Multiverse to his will while exploiting the rifts to gather a multiversal army. Asriel, seeing evidence of a conspiracy on his world, immediately planned to create La Résistance, and hit upon using the energy of a human being's soul to create a rift where the fabric of reality was weakest: the Aurora Borealis. Once that was done, he began gathering forces from every corner of the Multiverse (explaining the variety of creatures and machines in his army). Lyra and Will were caught in the middle of this great multiversal war, although they did not realize what exactly was at stake until the very end, where the concept of the rifts was explained to them. As the Planeswalkers gave up their sparks in the Mending, Will and Lyra gave up the ability to be together and travel the worlds in exchange for removing the capability to create new rifts (and thus, making the Multiverse safe again) by destroying the Subtle Knife. However, there is a silver lining in all of this: the time they spent in the world of the dead may have brought them on the edge of awakening as Planeswalkers (substituting the single, traumatic moment that causes the Spark to ignite with a slow, painful process— tearing away their daemons and spending time without a piece of their soul— that drastically increases the chances of their Sparks igniting) meaning eventually, they will be together. All they have to do is find that moment of truth... and then, find each other. But when you're a Planeswalker, the last part is almost trivial. Oh, and the Amber Spyglass? It's an improvised Prismatic Lens.
The Subtle Knife will returnI'm not exactly sure which law of physics this is, but I remember that "matter cannot be created or destroyed, only changed". MEANING that, somewhere and sometime in the multiverse, the Subtle Knife, which is pretty much made of Dust, which is TECHNICALLY matter, will once again be created. And someone will use it, and we will have the setting for the greatest crossover fanfic of all time.
Mrs. Coulter is either a witch or has witch blood in her family lineThat is, she's not a witch herself, but her father might be witch born or something similar. She is mentioned several times during the first book to have a sort of 'presence' which seems to manifest itself as 'an anbaric force like heated metal' that ends up causing a reporter (Adele Starminster) to almost faint. She's also cold, cruel and hates Lord Asriel because he doesn't return her love, just like witches act towards people they love. This could also explain why Lyra is so special or influential herself, as Ma Costa tells her 'You've got witch oil in your soul. Deceptive is what you are.', hinting at something else she sees within Lyra.