Chapters 12-14 Summary

The gyptians are preparing for their attack and ask Lyra to use the alethiometer to see how the Gobblers are defending their lair. Lyra is able to find the answer, but the compass also tells her that there is a sort of ghost child in a nearby village. At first, John Faa does not see the significance of this information, but he allows Iorek to carry Lyra on his back to see what it is. Along the way they see many witches flying North, though they do not know anything else about them. In the village, Lyra discovers Tony Makarios, a boy who was kidnapped from Oxford. He is grasping a dead fish to his chest in the same way that Lyra holds Pan to her chest. She realizes that he has been separated—“severed”—from his dæmon. This is intercision. Iorek and Lyra return the boy to the gyptians, but he dies soon after.

Lyra continues to explore her friendship with Iorek. He explains that the bears do not have dæmons. They have their armor, which Lyra interprets to mean that they create their own souls. Their skill with metal is impressive. Lyra has Iorek turn a tin holding Mrs. Coulter’s clockwork spy fly into a sort of decoy alethiometer. Between their armor, their claws, and their teeth, bears are fearsome warriors. Furthermore, they cannot be tricked in the same way that Lyra and her alethiometer cannot be tricked. This also means that if the bears are holding Lord Asriel in their home in Svalbard, he will never be rescued.

The Gyptians continue their journey into the North, but they are attacked without warning. During the attack, Lyra is kidnapped. She is taken away to the Gobblers. Lyra pretends to be Lizzy Brooks, a dim-witted eleven-year-old. A woman named Sister Clara bathes Lyra and gives her new clothes; she claims her old clothes will be returned after they are washed. She does not take Lyra’s alethiometer. When Lyra asks about her whereabouts, she is told that she is in the “Experimental Station.” Lyra is not impressed with the answer, but she knows Lizzy Brooks would not question it.

When Lyra meets other children, she continues her act. The other girls explain their theories about the Experimental Station. They also explain that there are boys who are kept elsewhere. One girl thinks that all of the studies, such as weighing dæmons, are related to Dust, though the others are unconvinced. One thing is certain: when Mrs. Coulter comes, children go missing soon after. Mrs. Coulter is due to arrive in two days.