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The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass Chapter 20 Summary

Mortal Combat

  • Iofur prepares for combat. Lyra is a little worried about Iorek, who will be tired from travelling. Can he win?
  • Iofur puts on his armor, covering his whole body with chain mail. Lyra feels sick, thinking that she has "betrayed" Iorek (20.10). How can he possibly win against the bear king?
  • Iorek arrives and Lyra tells him about her plan. Iorek is stoked and not worried at all. He calls Lyra "Silvertongue" (20.25).
  • Iorek announces himself and gives the terms of combat: if he wins, he will become king of the bears. Also, the bears will pull down all the gold, marble, and other humanlike things in the castle and throw it all into the sea.
  • Iofur says that if he wins, Iorek will be torn apart by cliff-ghasts. Harsh.
  • The narrator tells us that the two bears represent two different ways of seeing the world. Iorek is small but tough. His armor is his soul. He wants bears to be bears. Iofur has fancy armor and wants bears to be human. This fight, then, will take the bears in one of two different directions.
  • The fight finally begins. Lots of action here.
  • Iorek goes for the neck, then Iofur crashes into him. Iofur's armor starts coming off, but Iorek is bleeding.
  • It's not looking good for Iorek, who's starting to limp. But wait. We learn the limp is a trick. Because Iofur is no longer acting like a bear, he can be tricked.
  • Iofur leaps onto Iorek thinking he is wounded. Iorek surprises him and rips his jaw off. It's pretty graphic.
  • Then he goes for the throat. Victory!
  • Iorek slits the bear open and EATS HIS HEART. Okay, sorry for the caps, but that scene is INTENSE.
  • Iorek is made king again! Lyra reminds him to free the prisoners from the castle before they tear it down. Then Lyra sleeps.
  • When Lyra wakes up, she is reunited with Roger (who fell out of the basket with Iorek) and given seal meat to eat. She's then taken to Iorek.
  • Iorek has found out that Mrs. Coulter was the one who got him exiled. She gave the bear king a drug to use on Hallmark Hjalmurson, the bear Iorek killed. The drug made Hjalmurson forget himself, which is why he fought Iorek to the death.
  • Mrs. Coulter planned to use Svalbard as another Bolvangar. She wanted a camp in Svalbard so she wouldn't have to follow human laws.
  • Lyra consults the alethiometer and learns that Lee Scoresby is safe in the skies over Nova Zembla.
  • She also learns that Mrs. Coulter is on her way and will soon find out about Iofur. Tartars are coming by sea as well.
  • The alethiometer tells Lyra that Mrs. Coulter is set on killing Lord Asriel because he's going to do something that she herself wants to do.
  • Mrs. Coulter is after Lyra again because she has something necessary for the experiment. Lyra thinks it's the alethiometer, but she isn't completely sure.
  • Lyra decides she must take the alethiometer to Lord Asriel, and Iorek says he will take her. She sleeps, then they set out.

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