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In the world of Ci’gazze, Lyra awakes before Will. She goes to Will’s Oxford without him and visits Mary Malone. Some officials from Will’s world are already there in search of Will, and Lyra accidentally reveals that she knows him. Lyra flees and is picked up by the man she met in the museum the day before. His name is Sir Charles Latrom, and he takes Lyra to the window that leads to Ci’gazze. Before he drops her off, Sir Charles steals her alethiometer.
Lyra returns to Ci’gazze to tell Will what happened. She is devastated. That morning, the alethiometer had told her to help Will find his father, and instead she went off on her own mission. She vows that as soon as they get the alethiometer back, she will devote herself to helping Will.
Together Lyra and Will go to Sir Charles’s house, where Sir Charles tells them that he will give back the alethiometer if they get him a knife that is being held by a man in Ci’gazze, in the Torre degli Angeli (Tower of the Angels). Lyra and Will go to the Torre and see Angelica’s older brother Tullio trying to use the knife. Tullio has ambushed and beaten an old man named Giacomo Paradisi and stolen the knife from him. Tullio wants to use the knife to defeat the specters and to travel between worlds. Will and Tullio fight for the knife. Tullio cuts off two of Will’s fingers but Will wins the fight and keeps the knife. Tullio escapes. Giacomo explains that a knife bearer is known by his absence of two fingers. He also explains that the knife was made 300 years ago and that the scholars from the Torre degli Angeli have been using it to cut into other worlds ever since then.
Giacomo teaches Will both how to cut through to other worlds and how to close up the holes again. Specters attack Tullio and eat his soul. Later that night, Lyra and Will return to Will’s world, planning to use the knife to steal the alethiometer. While they’re at Sir Charles Latrom’s house, Mrs. Coulter arrives. Lyra realizes that Sir Charles Latrom is actually Lord Boreal, a man from her own world, not Will’s. Like Tullio, Lord Boreal wants the knife so he can travel between worlds without fearing the specters.
When Will takes Lyra to confront Sir Charles Latrom, he sees that Sir Charles has a small snake—his daemon—in his sleeve. Will barely manages to get the alethiometer. Mrs. Coulter’s monkey daemon chases them, but Will and Lyra escape.
Back in Lyra’s world, Lee Scoresby finally finds Stanislaus Grumman, who is now a shaman in a group of Tartars. Lee discovers that Grumman’s real name is John Parry and that he is Will’s father. Parry is now trying to find the knife bearer so that he can tell him something important. Lee agrees to take John to the world of Ci’gazze in his balloon. Back in Ci’gazze, Will and Lyra are attacked by a group of angry children and are almost killed, but Serafina Pekkala and her clan rescue them and bring them away from the city. Serafina notices that Specters seem to be afraid of Will’s knife.
In Will’s world, Mary Malone figures out a way to talk to the Shadows through the use of her computer. The Shadows tell her to go into Ci’gazze. Mary’s fate is somehow connected with that of Will and Lyra and she realizes that she has to play the role of the serpent by bringing about a new fall from grace. Mary leaves her world and enters Ci’gazze. The witches attempt to heal the wound Will incurred during his fight with Tullio, but their spell doesn’t work. While she is trying to cure the wound on Will’s hand, Serafina says that she is afraid of Will because he is so fierce.
Lyra, Will, and the witches travel north toward the rent in the sky that Lord Asriel created. Ruta Skadi returns to Serafina’s clan and reports that Lord Asriel has built a magnificent fortress in another world, and creatures from every world have joined him in his war against God. Ruta overheard cliff ghasts say that something called Æsahættr is the only thing that could destroy God. After the children go to sleep, Serafina discovers that angels have come on a pilgrimage to see Lyra.
In this section, Will and Lyra realize that the man who calls himself Sir Charles Latrom is originally from Lyra’s world, where he is known as Lord Boreal. The fact that Sir Charles is a wealthy, important man in Will’s world implies that he has been traveling back and forth between the two worlds for many years. It also suggests that perhaps there are many people who live in more than one world.
Lyra first met Lord Boreal at the party at Mrs. Coulter’s house, which is why he recognized her in the museum and knew she had the alethiometer. Lord Boreal is one of the people in charge of the General Oblation Board. Some people on the Board participate out of religious interest, but Lord Boreal seems more interested in power and in winning Mrs. Coulter’s affections. He knows about Ci’gazze and knows that he needs the knife to survive there.
Will’s battle with Tullio for the knife is not as important as the knife itself. We learn that ever since its creation 300 years ago, the knife has been used to cut though to other worlds. We also learn that the knife is somehow connected to the specters. The man that Serafina Pekkala encounters while she is looking for Lyra and Will mentions that the world of Ci’gazze was once a prosperous and peaceful world and that specters didn’t exist until about 300 years ago—exactly when the knife was created. Specters are afraid of the knife: both Tullio and Sir Charles Latrom wanted the knife so that they could travel in the world of Ci’gazze and not be harassed by the specters.
Lyra realizes that she got both herself and Will into trouble by ignoring the alethiometer’s instructions to help Will find his father, and she decides to devote herself to Will’s cause when she gets her hands on the alethiometer again. The witches, because they have come to help Lyra, also have to help Will. The alethiometer is what leads them north.
When Serafina Pekkala meets Will, she notices his unusual fierceness and gravity. Lyra is lovably impulsive and wild and openhearted, but Will is dignified and almost adult in his composure. Throughout the trilogy, many people remark that Will’s single-mindedness and sense of purpose make him almost fearsome. Still, in many ways Will is just a boy looking for his father.
Biblical and Miltonian themes run through this section. When Mary figures out how to talk to the shadows, they tell her that she has to “play the serpent” for Will and Lyra. This is a reference to the Book of Genesis, in which a serpent tempts Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. It is also a reference to Milton, whose version of the story depicts the serpent as Satan in disguise.
Ruta Skadi’s reports of Lord Asriel’s fortress echo Milton’s description of Satan’s rebellious army of angels. The angels’ pilgrimage also recalls biblical stories of people making pilgrimages to see holy events. The fact that angels travel from afar to keep a momentary vigil over Lyra suggests that Lyra is a figure of the highest importance.
Ace your assignments with our guide to His Dark Materials!