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His Dark Materials

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title The His Dark Materials trilogy, consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass

author  Philip Pullman

type of work  Novels

genre  Fantasy; young adult

language  English

time and place written  1990s; Oxford, England

date of first publication

 · 1995 (The Golden Compass)
 · 1997 (The Subtle Knife)
 · 2000 (The Amber Spyglass)

publisher  Scholastic Children’s Books

narrator  Omniscient third person

point of view  In The Golden Compass, the narrator focuses primarily on what Lyra is thinking and doing. In The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, the narrator describes the thoughts of several characters.

tone Serious, sympathetic

tense  Past

setting (time)  Present day

setting (place)  Many different worlds, including our own, the world of the dead, the world of the mulefa, the world of Ci’gazze, and Lyra’s world

protagonist  Lyra Belacqua

major conflict  The attempts of the Church to subjugate all conscious beings

rising action  Lord Asriel kills Roger and opens a window into another world; Lyra escapes into the other world; Lyra and Will meet; Lyra meets Mary Malone; Will meets his father; the Church discovers that Lyra is the new Eve; Will and Lyra free the dead

climax  Lord Asriel’s forces battle Metatron’s forces

falling action  Lyra and Will escape into the world of the mulefa and discover that they are in love

themes Will and grace; freedom through knowledge; the importance of sex to maturation

motifs Destiny; innocence; physical pleasure

symbols Daemons; feeding; the aurora borealis

foreshadowing  Throughout the books, characters refer to Lyra’s mysterious destiny.