Study Guide

The Golden Compass Chapter 17

By Philip Pullman

Chapter 17

The Witches

  • Lyra and Pan are badly shaken from the guillotine experience, but the fright helps Lyra concoct a believable story about how she ended up there.
  • She tells Mrs. Coulter she was kidnapped from her party, then escaped, then captured by Gobblers, then escaped in Trollesund, then caught by Samoyeds, then went to Bolvangar.
  • Mrs. Coulter buys it. Lyra starts asking about the procedure, Dust, and what's going to happen. Mrs. Coulter tells her not to worry. She says Lyra will never have the cut and that these ideas are way too big and complicated for her tiny little head.
  • Mrs. Coulter reveals that the staff at Bolvangar has had the cut done to them too.
  • Lyra tries to keep her mouth shut and play along. Mrs. Coulter tells her that the procedure makes the daemons into a pet, which is a good thing, because otherwise the daemons cause problems for grownups. They cause "troublesome thoughts and feelings" (17.37)
  • Lyra is sickened. Meanwhile the golden monkey is prowling around impatiently. Lyra knows that Mrs. Coulter wants the alethiometer.
  • You'll remember that Lyra stashed the alethiometer in the ceiling. And guess what she has in her pouch? The spyfly tin.
  • Lyra hands the spyfly tin over. As soon as Mrs. Coulter opens it, it attacks her and the monkey. Lyra runs.
  • She smashes the fire alarms and goes into the kitchen and turns on the gas and flames.
  • Next she pulls on her cold weather furs from the ceiling, grabs the alethiometer, and bolts out the door.
  • Something explodes, and the place is blazing.
  • Lyra gets outside with the kids and tries to round them up. They start to run away but see the Tartar guards. She starts throwing snowballs, and the other kids follow suit.
  • The children run. Before the Tartars can catch them, the witches swoop in with their arrows and take up the fight.
  • Just then Iorek shows up and attacks the Tartars, killing several of them.
  • Lyra leads the children away from the fighting into the dark, snowy wilderness. The kids are whimpering, but she's got to keep them moving.
  • Pretty soon Lyra starts hearing things – and then seeing things. At long last, the gyptians are there, with John Faa and Farder Coram.
  • But then there's a blizzard and noise. Soon Mrs. Coulter arrives on a sledge. She grabs Lyra and Roger.
  • Iorek and the witches show up to help.
  • Lyra is soon lifted into the air by a witch. She clings to Roger.
  • Suddenly Lyra and Roger are on Lee Scoresby's balloon, along with Iorek. They are ascending up into the air like a rocket.
  • The balloon's basket is huge. Iorek and Roger sleep while Lyra talks to Serafina Pekkala.
  • Serafina, the witch queen, is young and beautiful, and she doesn't seem to feel any cold. She says Bolvangar has been destroyed and the kids are safe.
  • The witches are pulling the balloon to the North, to Lord Asriel. Serafina says there are things she must tell Lyra, but first she must get some sleep.