Locations in His Dark Materials
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This article covers the fictional locations in the ''
His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; published as ''The Golden Compass'' in North America), ''The Subtle Knife'' (1 ...
'' trilogy and related works by
Philip Pullman Sir Philip Nicholas Outram Pullman (born 19 October 1946) is an English writer. His books include the fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional univ ...
.


Locations


Jordan College

Jordan College is a fictional college. It exists in
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
in a universe parallel to our own and is the home of the trilogy's young heroine,
Lyra Belacqua Lyra Belacqua (), also known as Lyra Silvertongue, is the heroine of Philip Pullman's trilogy ''His Dark Materials''. In ''His Dark Materials'' Lyra is a young girl who inhabits a universe parallel to our own. Brought up in the cloistered world ...
. The location and layout of Jordan College is analogous to the location of Exeter College,
Philip Pullman Sir Philip Nicholas Outram Pullman (born 19 October 1946) is an English writer. His books include the fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional univ ...
's
alma mater Alma mater (; pl. arely used) is an allegorical Latin phrase used to identify a school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the directio ...
, at the
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...
. However, unlike the fictional college, Exeter College is not the oldest ''(it is the fourth-oldest)'', nor is it the largest or richest college at Oxford. Jordan College is an exaggerated version of the real Exeter College, rambling above and below ground in a motley arrangement of buildings, cellars and tunnels constructed over several centuries: :''What was above ground was only a small fraction of the whole. Like some enormous fungus whose root-system extended over acres, Jordan (finding itself jostling for space above ground with St Michael's College on one side, Gabriel College on the other, and Bodley's Library behind) had begun, sometime in the Middle Age, to spread below the surface. Tunnels, shafts, vaults, cellars, staircases had so hollowed out the earth below Jordan and for some yards around it that there was almost as much air below ground as above; Jordan College stood on a sort of froth of stone.''
(Pullman, '' Northern Lights'') The name 'Jordan' was inspired partly by the area of
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
known as
Jericho Jericho ( ; ar, أريحا ; he, יְרִיחוֹ ) is a State of Palestine, Palestinian city in the West Bank. It is located in the Jordan Valley, with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. It is the administrative seat ...
, through which the
Oxford Canal The Oxford Canal is a narrowboat canal in central England linking the City of Oxford with the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Village, Hawkesbury (just north of Coventry and south of Bedworth) via Banbury and Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby. Completed ...
passes; an area called 'Jericho' also features in ''Northern Lights'' as a mooring point for the Gyptians's boats. The location of Jordan College used for the film, ''The Golden Compass'', was
Christ Church, Oxford Christ Church ( la, Ædes Christi, the temple or house, ''wikt:aedes, ædēs'', of Christ, and thus sometimes known as "The House") is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Founded ...
. The location used for filming Jordan for the TV series was New College.


Trollesund

In Lyra's world, Trollesund is the main port of the country of Lapland, which
Lyra Lyra (; Latin for lyre, from Greek language, Greek ''λύρα'') is a small constellation. It is one of the 48 listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and is one of the modern 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical ...
and her Gyptian protectors visit during their journey to Bolvangar. Trollesund has a witch consulate, which the Gyptians go to in order to get support from the
witches Witchcraft traditionally means the use of Magic (supernatural), magic or supernatural powers to harm others. A practitioner is a witch. In Middle Ages, medieval and early modern Europe, where the term originated, accused witches were usually ...
. In Trollesund Lyra first meets Lee Scoresby, an aeronaut and prospector who has been stranded in the town as a result of a failed expedition, and Iorek Byrnison, an exiled armoured bear whom the townspeople had tricked into working for them as a metalworker with alcohol as payment. Both Lee and Iorek leave Trollesund with Lyra.


Svalbard

In Lyra's world, Svalbard is the location of the panserbjørne palace and the centre of the ice bear government, Iorek Byrnison lives there, Svalbard takes its name from a Norwegian archipelago in our world.


Bolvangar

In Lyra's world, the far north location of the research facility where the Magisterium conducts experiments with intercision, a process which involves severing the link between a human and their dæmon, children are kidnapped and brought to Bolvangar for this to happen. The name Bolvangar means 'Fields of Evil'. In
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and t ...
, " bǫl" means ''bale'' or ''evil'' and " vangar" is a plural word meaning ''fields'' or ''meadows''.


Cittàgazze

Cittàgazze, sometimes abbreviated to Ci'gazze (), meaning "City of the
Magpie Magpies are birds of the Corvidae family. Like other members of their family, they are widely considered to be intelligent creatures. The Eurasian magpie, for instance, is thought to rank among the world's Animal cognition, most intelligent crea ...
s" in Italian, is a fictional city within a parallel universe which is reached through a "window-between-worlds" created by Lord Asriel at the climax of the first volume of the trilogy, '' Northern Lights''. It is in Cittàgazze that the two central characters, Lyra and Will, first meet in ''
The Subtle Knife ''The Subtle Knife'' is a young-adult fantasy novel published in 1997 and the second book in Philip Pullman's ''His Dark Materials'' trilogy. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua (now known as Lyra Silvertongue) recounted in the ...
''. The first reference to the city appears earlier, as 'the city in the sky', the city visible in the ''
Aurora borealis An aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae), also commonly known as the polar lights, is a natural light display in Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large list of l ...
'', an occurrence which, according to the novel, thins the barrier between the universe in which ''Northern Lights'' takes place and the universe of Cittàgazze. Lord Boreal describes it as having previously been a crossroads between all the worlds. Cittàgazze is a seaside town, reminiscent of those near the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the e ...
, which seems to have Italian roots. Its main features are quaint restaurants, parasols hung over circular tables beneath trailing plants, wide cobbled roads, and ancient architecture. However, it also has electric lights, refrigerators and department stores, thus, this world appears to be similar to ours in many respects while inferior in others such as medicine and transport. Its most significant feature is the Torre degli Angeli (''Tower of the Angels'' in Italian), in which the Subtle Knife is first encountered. The city is plagued by ghostly beings called Spectres. Spectres are invisible to pre-adolescents, but once individuals are old enough to see them, the Spectres eat away their dæmons, leaving them
zombie A zombie (Haitian French: , ht, zonbi) is a mythological undead wikt:corporeal, corporeal revenant created through the reanimation of a corpse. Zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works. The term comes from Culture of ...
-like and lifeless. Hence, the city is entirely devoid of adults, and populated only by small gangs of children. Spectres cluster around children approaching adolescence and consume them as soon as they come of age. The multitude of Spectres in the world of Cittàgazze is due to the constant use of the Subtle Knife in its vicinity. The knife can create windows between worlds, but each window creates new Spectres. Asriel's opening of the passage from his world to Cittàgazze caused a massive surge in Spectre population, swarming the Cittàgazze world with the soul-devouring spirits.


St Sophia's School and College

St Sophia's School is where Lyra goes to study the alethiometer after the events of ''The Amber Spyglass''. She then goes on to study at St. Sophia's College. Its location is approximately equivalent to
Lady Margaret Hall Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, ...
in Oxford.


Worlds

The following are the known worlds in the
Multiverse The multiverse is a Hypothesis, hypothetical group of multiple universes. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, information, and the physical laws and Physical constant, consta ...
:


Lyra's world

The world in which Lyra and most of the characters in ''His Dark Materials'' come from. '' Northern Lights'' takes place entirely in this world. There are six known planets in this world and the month of April has an extra day.


Will's world

Our own world. It is the setting for much of the early part of ''
The Subtle Knife ''The Subtle Knife'' is a young-adult fantasy novel published in 1997 and the second book in Philip Pullman's ''His Dark Materials'' trilogy. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua (now known as Lyra Silvertongue) recounted in the ...
'' and features briefly at the conclusion of ''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; pub ...
''. It is the home of Will Parry, his parents Elaine and John Parry,
Mary Malone This is a list of characters from the two Philip Pullman trilogies, ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern ...
and several minor characters. While they still exist in this world, Dæmons are invisible here.


The Cittàgazze world

A modern Mediterranean world with beautiful seas and temperate weather. It is the setting for much of ''
The Subtle Knife ''The Subtle Knife'' is a young-adult fantasy novel published in 1997 and the second book in Philip Pullman's ''His Dark Materials'' trilogy. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua (now known as Lyra Silvertongue) recounted in the ...
'' and parts of ''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; pub ...
''. The Cittàgazze world serves as the crossroads to the worlds because all the windows lead here. The Spectres have been common in this world for generations.


Mulefa world

A world inhabited by the Mulefa and Tualapi. It has a Savannah/prairie climate. The creatures here have a diamond-like skeleton. It is the setting for much of ''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; pub ...
''.


The Land of the Dead

The underworld in ''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; pub ...
''. Lyra and Will are carried across a lake to reach its gate by a ferryman reminiscent of
Charon In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon (; grc, Χάρων) is a psychopomp, the ferryman of Greek underworld, Hades, the Greek underworld. He carries the souls of those who have been given funeral rites across the rivers Acheron and Styx, which ...
of mythology. Within the books, anyone who has ever died from any world goes there eternally where their
ghost A ghost is the soul (spirit), soul or spirit of a dead Human, person or animal that is believed to be able to appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visibl ...
s are guarded by
Harpies In Greek mythology A major branch of classical mythology, Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and ...
. The Authority turned this world into a prison.


Republic of Heaven

The name given to the world in which Lord Asriel builds his army in preparation with war against The Authority. The only known inhabitants prior to the Asriel's forces are cliff ghasts, like those in Lyra's world. The land is mountainous and shows signs of volcanic activity.


Gallivespian world

The Gallivespian characters come from this world, but the trilogy itself never goes there. It is a world inhabited by humans and Gallivespians who are in conflict.


Minor worlds

In this section are minor worlds that are featured in this franchise: * Three worlds are briefly glimpsed when Will is experimenting with the knife in ''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; pub ...
'': ** One world contains a desert. ** The second world contains an
industrial city An industrial city or industrial town is a town or city in which the municipal economy, at least historically, is centered around industry, with important factories or other production facilities in the town. It has been part of most countries' i ...
where the factory workers are in chains. ** The third world contains a meadow inhabited by blue
bison Bison are large bovines in the genus ''Bison'' (Greek: "wild ox" (bison)) within the tribe Bovini. Two extant taxon, extant and numerous extinction, extinct species are recognised. Of the two surviving species, the American bison, ''B. bison'' ...
-like grazers. * Will, Baruch, and Balthamos escape from the Regent Metatron by cutting through to a moonlit beach in yet another world. * Will opens a world with a
tropical rainforest Tropical rainforests are rainforests that occur in areas of tropical rainforest climate in which there is no dry season – all months have an average precipitation of at least 60 mm – and may also be referred to as ''lowland equatori ...
when demonstrating the Subtle Knife's powers to Iorek Byrnison. * While rescuing Lyra from Mrs Coulter's cave in the Himalaya of Lyra's world, he cuts through a world where the moon shines brightly over insect-infested ground the colour of bleached bone. * Will, Lyra, Tialys, and Salmakia reach the World of the Dead from a world with what looks like a Dutch or Danish farmstead, where the villagers have just been massacred by armed soldiers and their village razed (this conflict is never explained). * When Will tries to break the subtle knife in ''The Amber Spyglass'', he accidentally opens into a world where a rainstorm is happening.


See also

* ''
His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; published as ''The Golden Compass'' in North America), ''The Subtle Knife'' (1 ...
'' * List of ''His Dark Materials'' and The Book of Dust characters * Races and creatures in ''His Dark Materials'' *'' Northern Lights'' *''
The Subtle Knife ''The Subtle Knife'' is a young-adult fantasy novel published in 1997 and the second book in Philip Pullman's ''His Dark Materials'' trilogy. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua (now known as Lyra Silvertongue) recounted in the ...
'' *''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; pub ...
'' *''
Lyra's Oxford ''Lyra's Oxford'' is a 2003 novella by Philip Pullman depicting an episode involving the heroine of ''His Dark Materials'', Pullman's best-selling trilogy. ''Lyra's Oxford'' is set when Lyra Belacqua is 15, two years after the end of the trilog ...
'' *'' Once Upon a Time in the North''


References

{{His Dark Materials His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy of Fantasy literature, fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of ''Northern Lights (Pullman novel), Northern Lights'' (1995; published as ''The Golden Compass'' in North America), ''The Subtle Knife'' (1 ...