Lyra's Oxford
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''Lyra's Oxford'' is a short book by
Philip Pullman Sir Philip Pullman, CBE The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or ins ...
depicting an episode involving the heroine of ''
His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected and can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature Literature broadly is any coll ...
'', Pullman's best-selling trilogy. ''Lyra's Oxford'' is set when
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 wor ...
is 15, two years after the end of the trilogy.Lyra's Oxford, page 30: "Since she and Will parted two years before" The book consists mainly of an illustrated short story, "Lyra and the Birds". A fold-out map of "Oxford by Train, River and Zeppelin" is bound in the book, a fictional map of the Oxford that exists in Lyra's world. It also includes some advertisements for books and travellers' catalogues. Two pages from a ''
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'' published in Lyra's world (including entries for the Eagle Ironworks, the
Oxford Canal The Oxford Canal is a narrow canal in central England linking Oxford with Bedworth (between Coventry and Nuneaton on the Coventry Canal) via Banbury and Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby. Completed in 1790, it connects to the River Thames at Oxford a ...
, the Fell Press and the Oratory of St Barnabas the Chymist, all in the
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 sea ...
area of Lyra's Oxford), a postcard from the character
Mary Malone This is a list of characters from the two Philip Pullman trilogies, ''His Dark Materials'' and ''The Book of Dust''. Introduced in ''Northern Lights'' Lyra Belacqua Lyra Belacqua, later known as Lyra Silvertongue, is the central character of '' ...
, and a brochure for the cruise ship ''Zenobia'' are also included. The postcard contains four images of sites in the ''His Dark Materials'' trilogy: the physics lab in which Mary Malone works, the house occupied by
Lord Boreal This is a list of characters from the two Philip Pullman trilogies, ''His Dark Materials'' and ''The Book of Dust''. Introduced in ''Northern Lights'' Lyra Belacqua Lyra Belacqua, later known as Lyra Silvertongue, is the central character of '' ...
, the row of
hornbeam Hornbeams are hardwood trees in the flowering plant genus ''Carpinus'' in the birch family Betulaceae. The 30–40 species occur across much of the temperateness, temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Origin of names The common English n ...
trees where Will first discovered a window between the worlds, and the bench where Lyra and Will have pledged to visit each other in spirit once a year. The preface by Pullman begins:


"Lyra and the Birds" plot summary

Lyra is looking at a flock of birds from the tower of Jordan College in her Oxford, when she notices that the birds are attacking what turns out to be a dæmon in a bird shape. This dæmon must be a witch's because there is no human near. Lyra saves the dæmon, called Ragi, from the flock, and he urges Lyra to help him find a man called Sebastian Makepeace. Lyra cleverly figures out where to find him and that he is the last remaining alchemist, and promises Ragi to bring him to the alchemist after school. In the evening, Lyra escapes from St Sophia's School and leads Ragi from outside Jordan College (
Turl Street Turl Street is a historic street in central Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) ...
) to Juxon Street where Sebastian Makepeace lives. Ragi flies above Lyra and hides on roofs to avoid suspicion. On the way, Ragi is attacked by some pigeons, but manages to save himself. Ragi also tells Lyra why he needs Sebastian Makepeace's help: his witch, Yelena Pazhets, is seriously ill. This new illness causes witches to die while not affecting their dæmons, leaving them alive and lonely after their witch's death. Lyra is shocked by this. Reaching Makepeace's house at the end of Juxon Street, near the
Oxford Canal The Oxford Canal is a narrow canal in central England linking Oxford with Bedworth (between Coventry and Nuneaton on the Coventry Canal) via Banbury and Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby. Completed in 1790, it connects to the River Thames at Oxford a ...
, Lyra's dæmon Pantalaimon manages to look through Makepeace's window without being noticed by Ragi. Pan sees the alchemist lying on the floor and witch's instruments nearby. Sensing something is wrong, Lyra continues walking, past Makepeace's house, at which Ragi cries for his witch. Lyra realises it was a trap and now finds herself being attacked by the witch. She moves towards the canal and decides to fight the witch, because this is what Will would do. When Yelena charges, a swan rushes past Lyra and attacks the witch. The witch dies shortly after. Lyra carries the swan back to the canal, after which a recovered Sebastian Makepeace takes her into his house and explains that Yelena wanted to kill Lyra and blame him for the murder: Yelena was once Sebastian's lover and their son died in the war that was waged in ''
The Amber Spyglass ''The Amber Spyglass'' is the third novel in the ''His Dark Materials ''His Dark Materials'' is a trilogy A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected and can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. ...
''. Yelena blamed Lyra for her son's death. Sebastian helps to get Lyra away unnoticed (the dead witch in the middle of the street caused some consternation) and she gets back to St Sophia's. Back home Lyra and Pan contemplate that day's events: the birds were actually helping her and, looking for some meaning behind the events, Lyra feels that Oxford is protecting her.


References

{{Philip Pullman 2003 short stories His Dark Materials books Short stories by Philip Pullman Fantasy short stories Novels set in University of Oxford Alfred A. Knopf books 2003 children's books es:El Oxford de Lyra