The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

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Chapters 18-20 Summary

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Serafina Pekkala is talking with Lee Scoresby. The Texan aeronaut is keen to learn how he will be financially compensated should his transport of Iorek into Svalbard be interpreted as an act of war. The witch queen explains that people are already at war and that both she and Lee are on Lyra’s side. She explains to Lyra that Iorek was a prince of the bears but that he wrongly killed a rival bear and was exiled. She goes on to explain that this was a scheme of Iofur Raknison, the current king of the bears. Lyra also declares that she intends to deliver the alethiometer to Lord Asriel and that she will rescue him. Then cliff ghasts attack Lyra and her companions before they arrive.

When Lyra comes to after the attack, she discovers that she has been separated from her companions. A bear takes her prisoner and escorts her to Iofur Raknison’s stronghold. Iofur’s seat is a palace gaudily laced with gold. However, Lyra has little time to think about it because she is imprisoned with a madman, Jotham Santelia. He was once a professor of cosmology for the University of Gloucester, and he explains how Mrs. Coulter managed to trick Iofur. Lyra realizes that although Iofur is a bear, he can be tricked because he wants to be like a human with a dæmon. Lyra tells a guard that she has important information about Iorek Bynison and is granted an audience with the unusual bear king.

Lyra explains to Iofur that she is Iorek Byrnison’s dæmon and that she can read thoughts. Using the alethiometer, she is able to tell Iofur secrets that no one else could know, such as that Iofur killed his own father. She promises him that she can transfer her dæmon bond from Iorek to himself if he defeats Iorek Bynison in single combat with the stakes as the kingdom of the bears. However, when Lyra watches massive Iofur begin preparing for battle, she worries that Iorek Byrnison will be unable to win the fight.

When Iorek arrives, he is impressed by what Lyra has accomplished and calls her Lyra Silvertongue. The combat between the two bears is exceptionally violent, and it seems that Iorek is losing the fight. However, it turns out that Iorek is pretending to be injured to trick Iofur. He is using the information Lyra discovered of Iofur’s desire to be human against him. The gamble pays off and Iorek defeats Iofur. The kingdom is returned to the rightful king.

Afterward, Iorek asks Lyra to read the alethiometer to see what will happen next. Mrs. Coulter is coming with an army of Tartars to overthrow the bears. She hopes to kill Lord Asriel so she can enter the city in the sky herself. Lyra also learns that both Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel require something in her possession. Although the alethiometer does not refer to itself, Lyra decides that it must be the alethiomter that Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel require. They set off to Lord Asriel’s prison.

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