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This page relates to characters originating in the book series His Dark Materials, and continuing with Lyra's Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North, and the sequel/prequel series The Book of Dust.

For the characters as portrayed in the 2019 television series, see here.

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Lyra Silvertongue (originally Belacqua)

The trilogy's main character. Lyra is a free spirit, a twelve-year-old orphan who has been more-or-less adopted by the bachelor Scholars of Jordan College. Between her hodgepodge education, Lyra roams wild over the College and the streets of Oxford. She is passionate, optimistic, and high-spirited — a natural leader and a gifted liar. She has a great destiny awaiting her, of which she must remain entirely ignorant — and it almost seems supernatural how almost everyone who meets her at once likes her and wants to help her. Played by Dakota Blue Richards in the 2007 film The Golden Compass and Dafne Keen in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • The Chosen One: She is the only one that can read the alethiometer; the only efficient one at least. Others need to train for years and then be surrounded by books to figure out what it says. She can immediately know what it is trying to say by grace.
  • Consummate Liar: Beginning with the stories she would make up to tell the other kids when she was younger. She thinks it's her greatest, and perhaps only, talent. Triumphantly justified when she brazenly lies her way out of Mrs Coulter's custody at Bolvangar, and when she deceives Iofur Raknison into believing she's an artificial dæmon and giving Iorek Byrnison a proper duel. The latter causes Iorek to give her the name Lyra Silvertongue, which she takes as her legal name since "Belacqua" was a fiction anyway.
  • Determinator: No matter what, she will somehow reach the Land of the Dead and apologize to Roger for causing his death.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: She mentions on her memories to enjoy being barefoot on the rivers's mud.
  • Growing Up Sucks:
    • When it means you can't use your MacGuffin anymore, boy does it ever.
    • Initially believed by Lyra as she didn't want Pan to stop having the ability to change, as adult's dæmons become fixed.
  • Guile Heroine: As mentioned: she is an excellent liar, and is good with people.
  • Heroic Bastard: Born out of wedlock to Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter.
  • Heroic BSoD: She has one in the BBC/HBO series when she finds Billy Costa after he's had his dæmon removed and is basically catatonic.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be somewhat brash and rebellious.
  • Jumped at the Call: She stowed away with Gyptians so she could go adventuring with her father. Though they are initially reluctant to let her keep on with them, her ability with the alethiometer convinces Farder Coram of the larger part she had to play.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Her father and Will are described somewhat similar: dark complexion, dark hair, fierce dark eyes.
  • Little Miss Badass: A pre-teen that can fool kings and can travel to the land of the dead and return to tell the tale.
  • Living MacGuffin: Becomes this, especially in the third book. Being born to Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel bequeathed her with her great significance, changing worlds in the process no matter what she tries to do.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: It is prophesied that Lyra will change the fate of the worlds, but only if she doesn't know about her destiny and what she will have to do to fulfil it.
  • Meaningful Rename: She sheds the name Belacqua because it was a false name and is rechristened Silvertongue for her talent at spinning stories. Iorek gives her the name after she lures his worst enemy into a fight to the death.
  • Morality Pet: For her mother, Mrs. Coulter. While still a sadistic child murderer and master manipulator, Marisa genuinely loves Lyra and wants to protect her.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Desperation early in The Northern Lights teaches her to fall into a meditative state where she can read the alethiometer. As soon as the adventure is over and the need is gone, she completely forgets how to do it.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: A variation of this trope with Pantalaimon. It's never made clear what dæmons are, but they obviously represent a part of one's personality. And suffice to say, Lyra and her dæmon have fights and disagreements more than often.
  • Parental Abandonment: In the backstory she was told, her parents died in an airship accident. This was a lie and the real truth was far more complex. Both are alive but do not want her to know they are her parents. The man she knew as her uncle is actually her father and her mother never contacted her for eleven years and even then didn't tell her the truth.
  • Punny Name: Lyra = Liar. The harpies in the land of the dead play with this.
  • Shoot the Dog: She isn't afraid to do this, even to herself in the land of the dead.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Will.
  • Street Urchin: A rare voluntary example. She was born and raised among the posh, wealthy nobility of Oxford, but she spends her days fighting against the kids from the other neighborhoods, stealing stuff from the docks, and climbing and sneaking around Jordan College during the night.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: A rare female example at the end of the first book, when she finds Lord Asriel is not impressed by her exploits.



Lyra's dæmon, her more sensible and grounded other half. He prefers musteline and feline shapes. Voiced by Freddie Highmore in the 2007 film The Golden Compass , Archie Barnes and Kit Connor in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • The Cassandra: Has an eerie habit of predicting exactly what will go wrong with Lyra's stupid ideas. Lyra never listens.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not so much in the original book, but he tends to gains a very notable sarcastic edge in the adaptations, most notably the BBC radio drama.
  • The Heart: He generally acts as Lyra's conscience. While more down to Earth and less prone to flights of fancy than she is, he is more empathetic and has a much stronger moral compass than she does.
  • Meaningful Name: His name means "All-Compassionate" or "All-Forgiving," and he's named after a saint in the Orthodox church.
  • The Smart Guy: Pantalaimon fills this role whenever Serafina Pekkala isn't around.
  • Weasel Mascot: He prefers to adopt musteline shapes, and eventually settles as a pine marten.


Will Parry

The trilogy's other main character. Will, a twelve-year-old boy from our world, has spent much of his time taking care of his mentally ill mother and avoiding the authorities who would separate them. As such, he's developed into a fiercely independent, protective, determined, and above all suspicious boy. His mother told him that one day he will "take up the mantle" of his father, John, and to that end Will embarks on a dangerous quest to find out the truth of his father's disappearance, and allies with a strange girl from another world.His dæmon lives inside of him, invisible, for the majority of the series, which alarmed Lyra the first time they met. After his ordeal in the Land of the Dead in The Amber Spyglass, his dæmon is torn out of his body and later settles on the form of a subtly-coloured cat named Kirjava. Played by Amir Wilson in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Accidental Murder: What spurs him to run away from home in the first place.
    • Much ado throughout The Subtle Knife is made of Will being a murderer; ironically, he is not a murderer by anyone's imagination. The man he "kills" dies after Will runs into him, causing him to trip over Will's cat and fall down the stairs, breaking his neck. Will is only responsible at worst for involuntary manslaughter.
  • All the Other Reindeer: In his back-story he was often bullied by his classmates because of his mother's mental illness, until he snapped.
  • Body Horror: Before they heal, his finger stumps appear to let out far more blood than they would from a normal wound. It's strongly implied the Subtle Knife is the cause of it.
  • The Caretaker: To his mother due to her mental illness.
  • Cats Are Superior: His dæmon is eventually revealed to be a cat.
  • The Chosen One: Wielder of the Subtle Knife.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Has a long experience in street fighting and/or improvised combat.
  • Creepy Child: Having to mature rapidly to deal with his mother's mental illness causes him to edge into this territory from time to time, coming off as very intense and quietly dangerous. Even witches are afraid of him.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Has a Red Right Hand and is carrying one of the most dangerous objects ever created; despite this, Will himself is a good person.
  • Disappeared Dad: Turns out his dad's been wandering around in an Alternate Universe.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: He throws away his shoes and socks in Cittàgazze and does not bother to get footwear until he has to go to his world again. It highlights that the city is now his new safe place, as well as one where he does not need to follow social conventions.
  • Extremely Protective Child: He's fiercely protective of his mother, to the point of getting into fights with his schoolmates for teasing her.
  • Handicapped Badass: After losing two fingers to the Subtle Knife. He still has one good hand so it doesn't slow him down.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover:
    • Once he runs away from home, he wonders what will become of his pet cat, Moxie, now there's no one around to feed her. And guess what form his dæmon ultimately settles on?
    • He saves a cat from children who believe that Cats Are Mean. It turns out to be the same cat that Will saw entering into Cittàgazze through the window.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Shatters the Subtle Knife when he is distracted by a memory of his mother mid-cut. He later breaks it deliberately when he has accomplished his task because it is a dangerous tool.


Iorek Byrnison

A panserbjørn, or armoured bear. Panserbjørne, specific to Lyra's world, have opposable thumbs, can talk, and have a habit for rampaging around in heavy plate armour. Their armour is sacred to them, as each bear must forge his own out of sky-iron. Like all bears, Iorek is a Proud Warrior Race Guy with a fierce sense of honour. Unlike most bears, Iorek has a chip on his shoulder: he was once the prince of the bears of Svalbard, and his throne and armour have been stolen from him. When Lyra Silvertongue recovers his armour, Iorek Byrnison allies himself with her forever and always. Voiced by Ian McKellen in the 2007 film The Golden Compass and Joe Tandberg in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Bears Are Bad News: To his enemies, big time. Good thing he's pretty reasonable.
  • The Big Guy: Being an allied polar bear makes him much larger than the rest of the cast.
  • The Blacksmith: When he's first found he is working in a town fixing metal objects; he also made his own armour (what he calls his soul) out of meteor metal. Later on, after Will has shattered the Subtle Knife, Iorek is the one who repairs it. That it is the only knife like that to have ever been made in all the Multi Verse ever barely even gives him pause.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Iorek has counted Lee Scoresby as a friend for many years. When Scoresby perishes making a Heroic Sacrifice for Lyra, his body is found and preserved by the witch Serafina Pekkala. Iorek travels north to find Lee's remains. To honour his friend, he then eats Scoresby's body and leaves the leftovers to feed the earth. To be fair, though, Iorek hadn't eaten for days while searching, and he knows Lee wouldn't have minded. He even thanks Lee for saving his life before he feeds.
  • Living Lie Detector: Can't fool an armoured bear.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: A Sentient Armour-Wearing Polar Bear Warrior King.
  • Noble Fugitive: He was a King before becoming The Exile.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The armoured bears don't have any dæmons, unlike most of the rest of the world. They consider their specially constructed armour as their soul.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: "War is the sea I swim in and the air I breathe."
  • The Stoic: There is hardly anything that gets under his skin. Even repairing the Subtle Knife barely phases him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Lyra gave him back his armor (which he considers his soul) and made it so that he could take down the bear who stole his throne. He owes her literally everything. He repays that debt several times over.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Suffers from this several times.


Lee Scoresby

A New Danish aeronaut - balloon pilot - from the country of Texas. He's lived a long and colourful life, and loves flying better than anything. He does his best to temper bravery with caution, not always successfully. Despite his aversion to spiritual mumbo-jumbo, he finds himself getting tangled up in some pretty supernatural dealings. He is fiercely loyal to his allies old (Iorek Byrnison) and new (Lyra Silvertongue). His dæmon takes the form of a tough, lean hare — an Arctic hare, no ordinary jackrabbit — named Hester. Played by Sam Elliott in the 2007 film The Golden Compass and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Cowboy: Incongruous; a cowboy in the far polar regions recruited by a troupe of gyptians, but Lee's the cowboy sure enough. His mercenary aspect and his love for travel in his hot-air balloon give him elements of The Drifter.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed Trope. He manages to shoot 7 bullets out of his 6-shooter before being forced to reload.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He prevents the Muscovites (Russians) working for the Church from getting to John Parry and Lyra by fighting them off from behind a rock until the zeppelin carrying the Muscovites falls, exploding and killing everyone in its vicinity.
  • Indy Ploy: Gleefully improvises all through the second half of Once Upon A Time In The North.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Embarks on the quest that eventually leads to his Heroic Sacrifice because he wants to do something right by Lyra. He feels that she has been poorly treated by her real parents (a very accurate appraisal) and takes it on himself to protect her. He doesn't get the chance to do so until after his death.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Grumman secures Scoresby's help by giving him a ring - a keepsake of his mother's that Lee had lost almost forty years previously.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: After being separated from Lyra in the balloon crash towards the end of the first book, Lee does not get to see her again before he dies. He does, finally, meet Lyra again in the final book while he is a shade in the underworld.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Zig-zagged. Lee goes questing for Grumman because he believes he knows the whereabouts of an object that could protect Lyra - the subtle knife. While Lyra does come under the protection of the knife and its wielder, Will Parry, that happens as a part of a completely different chain of events and happens several chapters before Lee's Heroic Sacrifice. Instead Lee delivers Grumman, real name John Parry, to see his son for the first time in twelve years. However, it's not entirely pointless, as Grumman is the only one who knows how to treat Will's Wound That Will Not Heal.
  • Southern Gentleman: Not only is he from the country of Texas, he goes to great lengths in some conversations to avoid offending his hosts. He already has this trait as a twenty-four-year-old in Once Upon A Time In The North, when he's unfailingly gracious and polite to various very abrupt and rude characters.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the stage play, he has a smaller role, pretty much vanishing from the story before the scene of his death. As he is not present in the world of the dead, it has to be assumed that he survived.


Serafina Pekkala

Queen of a witch clan and a viewpoint character in The Subtle Knife. She is at least three hundred years old, and still young and beautiful, with fair hair and a crown of spring flowers. She keeps herself at some reserve from non-witches, knowing that she shall outlive them all. Despite her mystical air, is a fierce and passionate fighter, with an ironclad sense of justice. Her dæmon is a snow goose named Kaisa. Played by Eva Green in the 2007 film The Golden Compass and Ruta Gedmintas in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Action Mom: Had a son with Farder Coram, that died at a young age.
  • Aerith and Bob: A Greek first name and a Finnish second name.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Apparently in the book, as witches are said to be barely dressed by some pieces of cloth. The movie doesn't show her feet at all. Played straight in the HBO adaptation.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Was in love with Farder Coram and had a child by him as well. He frets about seeing her, as he has become a frail old man and she is just as she was in his youth.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: If a Witch has the hots for you... just go along with it, you'll live longer.
  • Our Souls Are Different (even In-Universe). Witch's dæmons have abilities that other characters find unsettling — most pointedly, the ability to travel hundreds of miles away from their humans without suffering harm.
  • Really 700 Years Old: She is three hundred or more, which is not even half the oldest a witch can live to be.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: When she was in love with Farder Coram, she felt something like this, saying she would have gladly given up her life as a witch to be by his side.


Lord Asriel

A ferociously wilful man who sets the events of the books in motion when he makes an appearance at Jordan College. He lives as if he is above the law, and this has earned him as many allies as enemies. He is naturally, intensely charismatic, as well as a brilliant scholar. His exact goals are unclear for the large part of the trilogy, but we do know that he somehow wants to cross between worlds and get at the heart of all Dust — no matter what the cost. His dæmon is a fierce and beautiful snow leopard named Stelmaria. Played by Daniel Craig in the 2007 film The Golden Compass and James McAvoy in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Big Good: Subverted: Because he is the leader of the forces opposing the Big Bad, Lord Asriel could be said to fill this role, despite being pretty firmly an Anti-Villain. Because the other leaders are not so morally questionable (as far as we know), all of them could more easily be said to be the collective Big Good.
  • Broken Pedestal: For Lyra. She adores him throughout the first book, but killing Roger truly put paid to that.
  • Byronic Hero: Parts of his backstory even seem to be directly based on Byron, such as having an affair with the Prime Minister's wife, and more importantly with Mrs Coulter and witch queen Ruta Skadi. He's a Guile Hero and Really Gets Around, in addition to being very handsome and intelligent.
  • The Chessmaster: Like Mrs Coulter, he betrays whole organisations as well as his own family for his goals to cross worlds.
  • Determinator: A lot of Asriel's stunning feats are attributed to the sheer force of his will.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: He does truly love Lyra and wants to keep his daughter safe. But he doesn't understand that he would have won her respect if he had simply spent time with her rather than declare war on Dust and later God. Or maybe he shouldn't have sacrificed her best friend to achieve his goals, which led her to disowning him and Mrs. Coulter forever. He made his journey so much harder in that Lyra refuses to stay in one spot and be safe.
  • Fate Worse than Death: It's suggested that those who fall into the Abyss between worlds will never escape - and that extends to their souls, as well. He is trapped, falling with Metatron and Mrs. Coulter, even after he dies. Forever.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Throws himself into the Abyss while gripping Metatron to take the angel out of the picture forever.
  • Improbable Age: Pullman rarely gives his character's physical descriptions in the text, only that Asriel is constantly described as powerful and with an aura of authority. But during the Gyptian leader's summation of his back-story to Lyra, the alert reader can do the maths and realise that Asriel must be in his sixties. He is very active for someone his age.
  • Ironic Name: Asriel, Hebrew for "Helped by God". An interesting name for someone who directly opposes God.
  • Karmic Death: He sacrificed Roger, Lyra's best friend, to access other worlds. It was ostensibly in the name of protecting Lyra. Rather than gain refuge in the Underworld, he's going to die in an abyss with his lover and worst enemy after his Heroic Sacrifice which was again to protect his daughter.
  • Knight Templar
  • Manipulative Bastard: Epitomized by the end of the first book when he kills Roger to open the portal between worlds.
  • Masochism Tango: With Mrs. Coulter. Just read the ending of The Golden Compass/Northern Lights.
  • Mirror Characters: While he and Mrs. Coulter are on opposite sides of a political and theological conflict, they both love their daughter, however terrible they are at showing it, and balk at hurting her — while willingly sacrificing other children to achieve their goals.
  • Nay-Theist: While he initially sets out to destroy Dust, he later changes his mind and takes aim at the Authority instead.
  • Only One Name: Only seems to go by Asriel, as both first name and surname, but certain guides to the book universe have him down as Asriel Belacqua, which has sense.
  • Panthera Awesome: His dæmon is a snow leopard.
  • Papa Wolf: As seen below, he's never that obviously close to his daughter, Lyra - and in fact pretends to be her uncle for most of her life - but he killed Mrs. Coulter's husband to protect her when she was a baby; he removed her from the influence of the Church and placed her at Jordan College to make sure she grows up at least relatively happy and free; the only time he ever really, visibly loses his cool in the series is when he thinks Lyra's been sent to him as the sacrifice he needs to leave his world; and, in the end, he and Lyra's mother, Mrs. Coulter, sacrifice themselves to stop Metatron, so that Lyra will be safe.
  • Parental Abandonment: To Lyra, who until the middle of Book 1 thought that he was her uncle.
  • The Sociopath
  • So Proud of You: In a manner of speaking; he never says this to Lyra herself, but in The Amber Spyglass he states how proud he is that he brought a child like her "who tricked the kingdom of the bear king out of his paws!" into the world. And this tear-jerker: "Did we know what we were taking on when we started this rebellion? No. But did they know—the Authority and his Regent, this Metatron—did they know what they were taking on when my daughter got involved?"
  • Unscrupulous Hero: He aims for freedom for the people of all worlds oppressed by the Authority, but will sacrifice anyone to that end.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He kills Roger to create the portal between worlds he needs for his plans.

    Mrs. Coulter 

Mrs. Marisa Coulter

A woman who hungers for power and seeks to get it by exploiting the hierarchy of the Church. While she initially charms and captivates everyone she meets (except for the strongest-willed), a closer look will reveal her absolutely mercenary intentions. In addition to charm (unnatural persuasion abilities) and beauty, she possesses a mind like a razor and no such thing as a "conscience." She has only one true weakness - her daughter, Lyra. Her dæmon is a golden monkey that is never named in the books, but is called Ozymandias in the radio play (Pullman doesn't like this name, however). Played by Nicole Kidman in the 2007 film The Golden Compass and Ruth Wilson in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Abusive Parents: She is highly manipulative of Lyra, on top of being a murderer. She also does love her.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The icy blond Nicole Kidman caused quite a kerfuffle in the fandom when she was cast, as Marisa Coulter is described explicitly as having dark hair. Philip Pullman, on the other hand, said that the casting was perfect and he had been "wrong" about Mrs Coulter's hair colour. Ruth Wilson, who plays her in the television adaptation, is brunette.
  • Ambition Is Evil: She yearns for power and worship above all else, manipulating just about everyone and every hierarchy to do so.
  • Brainy Brunette: Has a PhD and is a noted scholar.
  • Character Development: Faux Affably Evil -> Anti-Hero. Interestingly, even after her character development, Metatron scours her soul and finds no goodness in her at all, making it possible for Asriel to spring his trap. Consummate Liar indeed.
  • Consummate Liar: Like mother, like daughter.
  • The Dreaded: To children. Her dæmon is this to dæmons.
  • Fate Worse than Death: It's suggested that not even angels or souls can escape after falling into the Abyss between worlds. Even death is not an escape. In their mission to save their daughter, Lyra, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel defeat Metatron but in doing so, all three of them fall forever through the Abyss, never to leave again.
  • Femme Fatale: Literally everybody notes how beautiful Mrs Coulter is, and she is attractive to almost all of the male characters, notably Lord Asriel.
  • For the Evulz: When hiding out in a cave, the golden monkey is seen mutilating a bat for no apparent reason other than this.
  • French Jerk: It's implied by her relatives, who appear in The Secret Commonwealth, that Mrs. Coulter is originally French, with her maiden name being Marisa Delamare. To call her a jerk would be a huge understatement.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Inspired by Love Redeems.
  • Light Is Not Good: She is first seen standing on the steps of an oratory (a church), bathed in its light, with her yellow fur-trimmed coat tied close around her.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Her motherly love for Lyra is described by Asriel as a serpent without venom.
  • Love Redeems: Her love for Lyra is what enables her defect from the Church, successfully lie to Metatron and buy her daughter time to free the ghosts from death. She ultimately sacrifices herself to save Lyra.
  • Mama Bear: Though she's not a very nice mother at all and enjoys torturing other children, Mrs. Coulter is protective of her daughter, Lyra, and won't allow anyone to harm her. Learning that the Church intends to experiment on children alarmed Mrs. Coulter so much that, against her loyalties to the Church, she steps in to protect Lyra from the Church and plucks Lyra from danger each time they pose a threat to her. In The Amber Spyglass, Mrs. Coulter defects from the Church and abandons her power-hungry ambitions to save Lyra. She and Lyra's father, Lord Asriel, ultimately sacrifice themselves to save their daughter from the Metatron, who intended to kill her.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Her dæmon is a scary golden monkey.
  • Manipulative Bitch: An understatement. She plays everyone around her like fiddles if there's something she can gain from it.
  • May–December Romance: With both Lord Boreal and Lord Asriel, who are both in their sixties whereas she herself is in her mid-thirties. Pullman says that she chooses all her lovers based on how influential they are in her world.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: She is able to command Spectres without getting her consciousness eaten. It's quickly lampshaded with the logic that they know she will lead them to more prey than they can get themselves. Her remarkable influence over the Spectres is so great, she can even tell them to do things that even they didn't know they can do (as far as a mindless creature can know things) such as her telling them they can fly, and them suddenly being able to do so.
  • Parental Abandonment: Wants nothing to do with her illegitimate daughter, Lyra. At least, not initially...
  • Pet the Dog: The affection she develops for her daughter. Lyra is her soft spot and Mrs. Coulter does protect her throughout the series but, for the first two books, Mrs. Coulter still does whatever she wants (like performing grisly experiments on her daughters' friends) and only saves her daughter so it's hard call Lyra her Morality Pet. Although, her love for Lyra is what inspires her Heel–Face Turn in the final book of the series.
  • Redemption Equals Death: She sacrifices herself to Metatron.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: She speaks in a low and charming voice, and she enjoys watching children have their souls removed.
  • The Vamp: Manages to charm even Iofur Raknison and Metatron.
  • Villainous Rescue: Pulls this more than once.
  • Villainous Parental Instinct: Marisa Coulter, who had children brutally experimented on and mutilated in the name of the Magisterium, kidnapped her daughter Lyra to save her from her employeers and later throw herself with an angel into the void to save her again.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Unless said child is Lyra. She kidnaps many children and is described as taking a perverse pleasure in watching children have their souls cut from them.


Roger Parslow

Lyra's best friend in Oxford, he was a servant of Jordan College where he worked as a kitchen boy. His dæmon's name is Salcilia. Roger was taken by the Gobblers to the North. His faith in Lyra to help him was undying. Played by Lewin Lloyd in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Distressed Dude: He's one of the victims of the Gobblers, and Lyra takes it upon herself to save him.
  • Living MacGuffin: He is one motivating factor for Lyra to want to go North—to save him. He serves a similar function in The Amber Spyglass despite not being alive anymore. In that book Lyra's goal is to get to the world of the dead so that she can apologize to him for unwittingly causing his death.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: His death is used to open the portal between Lyra's world and Cittàgazze.
  • Sidekick: Served as one to Lyra during their normal lives at Oxford.
  • Undying Loyalty: That surpassed even his own death.

    Dr. Malone 

Dr. Mary Malone

When Lyra first tracks down this "scholar" (in the parlance of Lyra's own world) in Will's Oxford, she's surprised to meet an eccentric woman instead of a grave and serious gentleman. But Mary Malone is a more than capable astrophysicist who knows about Dust, or Shadows, or Dark Matter, however-you-want-to-call-it. And when adventure calls, Mary answers it, and proves she has greater depths of ingenuity, courage and wonder than even she thought possible.

At the end of The Amber Spyglass, Serafina Pekkala shows Mary how to see her own dæmon — and discovers that he's a little black Alpine Chough.

  • Adapted Out: She and the mulefa are both cut from the stage play. Mary Malone's role is filled by Serafina Pekkala, and the physics-related Techno Babble replaced with mysticism-related Expo Speak.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Not in appearance or methods but in her role in events: she serves a similar role as the Serpent in Eden. And while everyone else refers to Dust as sparkles of light, she initially calls Dust "Shadows."
    • In addition, her dæmon turns out to be an alpine chough - a black bird.
  • Iconic Item: Her own invention, the Amber Spyglass.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted. She admits she knows very little about biology when she sees the mulefa. She does display an understanding of evolutionary biology, chemistry and computer science, but for such an educated person, this is not really unexpected.
  • Parental Substitute: Pullman's notes have her taking the role of Will's guardian when they return to our world.
  • Trickster Mentor: Subverted. She is told to "play the serpent," which is a role associated with tricksters at its most benevolent, in a Biblical context, but Mary's interactions with Lyra are always straightforward.
  • Unfazed Everywoman: Albeit she's a very well-educated nun turned astrophysicist, she is the closest thing the books have to an Audience Surrogate, and she certainly possesses no Weirdness Censor.

    Lord Boreal 

Lord Carlo Boreal / Sir Charles Latrom

A high-ranking member of The Magisterium with an agenda of his own, he spends much of his time in our world. Played by Ariyon Bakare in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Adaptational Badass: Is far more competent and dangerous in the series than he ever was in the books.
  • Arc Villain: He is only a prominent villain in the second book. He has a much larger role in the 2019 HBO/BBC TV series.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil
  • Ascended Extra: He appears much earlier in the television series, where much of the first season is dedicated to his exploits in Our World.


Stannislaus Grumman / John Parry

A man of many talents who is eventually found staying as a shaman with a tribe of Tartars in the north. His dæmon is an osprey named Sayan Kötör. Played by Andrew Scott in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Faking the Dead: The head Asriel waves around in the first chapter of the trilogy? Not actually his.
  • Functional Magic: The real source of Grumman's wholly unique powers is never really explained. Considering that his dæmon can go great distances from him, a trait that is only seen in witches elsewhere in Lyra's universe, he may have undergone as similar ritual to them in order to gain power.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Has a vague illness that keeps him physically weak and reliant on Lee's help, while leaving his magical powers intact. Furthermore, this adds a Find the Cure! element to his quest. The illness is an unpreventable side-effect of living in a universe that isn't your own, and the only cure is to return to your home universe.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: He sees his son for the first time in twelve years and is killed by a witch, whose advances he had rejected years before to stay faithful to his long-lost wife. While it didn't happen precisely mid-sentence, he didn't even know he was talking to his son until after he had been mortally wounded.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Is actually Will's father who stumbled through a window on our Earth, crossing through the world of Cittàgazze before coming into Lyra's world.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Manifests otherworldly powers and is one of the few characters in the books to perform things that seem like real magic - like controlling the weather in Lyra's world. Not bad for someone originally from our mundane Earth.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Averted. Grumman is only middle-aged at oldest, but all of his magical arts cannot keep his illness at bay.


Iofur Raknison

King of the armoured bears of Svalbard in the first book. Except not really - Iorek's the true king, but Iofur tricked him into killing another bear and thus being exiled, so he could take the throne for himself. Voiced by Ian McShane in the film The Golden Compass , Peter Serafinowicz and Joi Johannsson (motion-capture)in the 2019 BBC / HBO series.

  • Adaptation Name Change: He is called Ragnar Sturlusson in the film, to prevent confusion between him and the similar-sounding Iorek Byrnison.

    Tialys and Salmakia 

Chevalier Tialys and Lady Salmakia

  • Good Is Not Nice: Well, more so because Gallivespians are persecuted by a larger race and thus innately have chips on their shoulders, especially when dealing with humans.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Partly due to the aforementioned persecution at the hands of humans and partly due to overall resentment at not being able to get Will and Lyra to cooperate with them and return to Lord Asriel willingly, it takes quite a while for Tialys and Salmakia to genuinely warm up to the young protagonists - particularly Tialys.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: They have natural spurs in their feet, so they don't use footwear.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Will and Lyra. Neither Will nor Lyra could ever truly trust them as Salamakia and Tialys were spies for Lord Asriel and had their own mission apart from and in direct opposition to Will and Lyra. The spies saw the kids as annoying and, with Lyra, bratty and a liar. In the end, both pairs had gained the utmost respect for each other.

    Balthamos & Baruch 

Balthamos and Baruch

  • Ambiguously Gay: They are referred to with male pronouns and are in love with each other. Baruch is implied to have been disowned by his family because of his sexuality. However, angel sexuality is implied to be very different from human sexuality.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Poor Baruch is attacked while en route to deliver a message to Lord Asriel, and clings to life just long enough to get the job done.
  • Ascended Extra: Balthamos, kind of, in the BBC radio drama. His role in the story itself has not been expanded, but he's been made the Narrator, and in his role as a "recording angel" and "listener of lives" spends most of the radio drama observing and describing events as he sees them, unheard and unnoticed by the characters. He only begins interacting with them in the Amber Spyglass episode, in which he switches between a "narrator" voice and a "speaking" voice.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: When attacked by the Church, Balthamos abandons Will and Lyra. However, he later returns to kill the assassin/priest pursuing them. He dies after the fight.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Like most lesser fallen angels, they can only be seen at poor light conditions.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Balthamos in the BBC radio drama, with traces of non-humorous Interactive Narrator.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Balthamos dies after fighting Father Gomez, presumably from exhaustion.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Balthamos in the BBC radio drama. As the series' narrator, he survives the fight with Father Gomez -at least all direct references to him dying are cut- but afterwards he returns to just observing and narrating, the way he has been doing all along.

    The Authority 

The Authority and the Angels

  • Alas, Poor Villain: The Authority was a lying bastard of an angel who tried to convince everyone he was God and attempted to take over the multiverse so he could have everyone in existence worship him. That being said, his ultimate fate, being deprived of all his power and locked in a prison where he was forced to suffer for millions of years as he grew weaker and weaker due to his aging and inability to die was quite horrific. By the time of the story, he's been reduced to a decrepit old senile man on the brink of death who can't talk, move, or think coherently. Will and Lyra are horrified to see what's become of him and are completely sympathetic to him despite knowing he was a false God who wanted to conquer the multiverse.
  • Angelic Abomination: They are beings made of Dust that resemble humans, but their real forms are architecture-like in nature.
  • God Guise: The Authority was the first angel to crop up, meaning that it was able to pose itself as the supreme creator of reality and nobody realised that until Xaphania came along. Metatron usurped him and nobody could tell the difference.
  • God Is Evil: God is a lying bastard of an angel that was later replaced by another lying bastard angel.
  • Knight Templar: They are behind the chruch's fanatical actions.
  • Light Is Not Good: Angels are shiny and easily pose themselves as divine beings, but they're also fanatical and both The Authority and Metatron are the Greater-Scope Villain of the series.
  • Multiversal Conqueror: Metatron and his angels. While they apparently do not want to rule physically, they do want to install their religious ideals everywhere. They get defeated by a comparatively small opposing force consisting of locals of "only" a few universes and the final battle of the two armies, while fitted with grand and bombastic visual displays (such as the angelic cloud fortress) seems to be on a smaller scale than World War II and is certainly shorter - hardly worthy of a multiverse-deciding conflict.
  • Not Quite the Almighty: The Authority isn't actually God, which is more an abstract creative force than a physical being. He's just the oldest angel and claims to be such.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Some are created when Dust condenses, while others are humans turned into angels upon their death, their true form is more similar to architecture than human beings and their genders are extremely vague. They also strengthen and then weaken with age like humans, can shapeshift and pass between dimensions, and are extremely difficult to see. They can be most easily perceived at twilight, particularly with smoke to move around their form. Physically they are much weaker than humans.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Metatron is implied to be both homophobic and sexist.
  • Puny Earthlings: A rare aversion when it comes to physical strength, as human having flesh makes humans way stronger than most angels.
  • The Starscream: Metatron usurped The Authority, leaving it to rot.
  • Super Strength: Metatron is far more powerful than most angels, to the extent that he is stronger than most men.
  • Time Abyss: Angels live for thousands of years - possibly billions in The Authority's case.