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Lyra Silvertongue (originally Belacqua)
The trilogy's main character. Lyra's daemon is named Pantalaimon and prefers musteline shapes.
- Action Girl
- Anti-Heroine: In the beginning of the first book, although she gets much better.
- Chickification: After Will's introduction. She gets better, though.
- Consummate Liar
- Guile Heroine As mentioned: an excellent liar, and is good with people.
- Hair of Gold: Described as being a dark blonde.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Little Miss Badass
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Will.
- Street Urchin: A rare voluntary example. She was born and raised among the posh, wealthy nobility of Oxford, but she spends her days fighting against the kids from the other neighborhoods, stealing stuff from the docks, and climbing and sneaking around Jordan College during the night.
- Weasel Mascot: Her daemon, Pantalaimon, who prefers to adopt musteline shapes, and eventually settles as a pine marten.
The trilogy's other main character. Will, being from our world, does not have a daemon outside his body. After his ordeal in the Land of the Dead in the Amper Spyglass, his daemon is torn out of his body and later settles on the form of a shiny midnight black cat named Kirjava.
- Accidental Murder
- All the Other Reindeer/Kids Are Cruel: In his back-story he was often bullied by his classmates because of his mother's mental illness, until he snapped.
- Combat Pragmatist
- Creepy Child: Having to mature rapidly to deal with his mother's mental illness causes him to edge into this territory from time to time. Even witches are afraid of him.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Has a Red Right Hand and is carrying one of the most dangerous objects ever created, and he's a good guy.
- Disappeared Dad: Turns out his dad's been wandering around an Alternate Universe.
- Handicapped Badass: After losing two fingers to the Subtle Knife. It doesn't slow him down: he still has one good hand.
- I Just Want to Be Normal
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: And guess what form his daemon ultimately settles on?
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Shatters the subtle knife when he is distracted by a memory of his mother mid-cut.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Lyra.
- Supporting Protagonist
- Wise Beyond His Years
He is a huge polar bear in exile. Bears in Lyra's world have opposable thumbs, can talk, and have a habit for rampaging around in heavy plate armor. The bears don't have daemons like people though; Iorek says that he forged his own soul - his armor - out of sky-iron. He was also a prince among the bears and was heir to the throne.
- The Blacksmith / Ultimate Blacksmith: When he's first found he is working in a town fixing metal objects; he also made his own armor (what he calls his soul) out of meteor metal. Later on, after Will has shattered the subtle knife Iorek is the one who repairs it. That it is the only knife like that to have ever been made in all the Multiverse ever barely even gives him pause.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Iorek has counted Lee Scoresby as a friend for many years. When Scoresby perishes making a Heroic Sacrifice for Lyra, his body is found and preserved by the witch Serafina Pekkala. Iorek travels north to find Lee's remains. To honor his friend, he then eats Scoresby's body and leaves the leftovers to feed the earth.
- Living Lie Detector: Can't fool an armoured bear.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: A Sentient Armored Polar Bear Warrior King.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- The Stoic
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Suffers from this several times.
A New Danish aeronaut - balloon pilot - from the country of Texas. His daemon takes the form of a tough, lean hare with perpetually laid back ears and half closed eyes named Hester.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He prevents the Muscovites (Russians) working for the church from getting to John Parry and Lyra by fighting them off from behind a rock until the zeppelin carrying the Muscovites falls, exploding and killing everyone in its vicinity.
- Like a Daughter to Me: Embarks on the quest that eventually leads to his Heroic Sacrifice because he wants to do something right by Lyra. He feels that she has been poorly treated by her real parents (a very accurate appraisal) and takes it on himself to protect her. He doesn't get the chance to do so until after his death.
- Memento MacGuffin: Grumman secures Scoresby's help by giving him a ring - a keepsake of his mother's that Lee had lost almost forty years previously.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: After being separated from Lyra in the balloon crash towards the end of the first book, Lee does not get see her again before he dies. He does, finally, meet Lyra again in the final book while he is a shade in the underworld.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Zig-zagged. Lee goes questing for Grumman because he believes he knows the whereabouts of an object that could protect Lyra - the subtle knife. While Lyra does come under the protection of the knife and its wielder, Will Parry, that happens as a part of a completely different chain of events and happens several chapters before Lee's Heroic Sacrifice. Instead Lee delivers Grumman, real name John Parry, to see his son for the first time in twelve years.
- Southern Gentleman: Not only is he from the country of Texas, he goes to great lengths in some conversations to avoid offending his hosts.
Queen of a witch clan and a viewpoint character in the Subtle Knife. Her daemon is a snow goose named Kaisa.
- Action Mom: Had a son with Farder Coram, that died at a young age.
- Amazon Brigade
- Hair of Gold
- Hot Witch
- Mayfly-December Romance: Was in love with Farder Coram and had a child by him as well. He frets about seeing her, as he has become a frail old man and she is just as she was in his youth.
- Also a Proud Warrior Race Guy. If a Witch has the hots for you...just go along with it, you'll live longer.
- In-universe example of Our Souls Are Different. Witch's daemons have abilities that other characters find unsettling.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old
- Who Wants to Live Forever?
A ferociously willful man who sets the events of the books in motion when he makes an appearance at Jordan College. Her daemon is a snow leopard named Stelmaria.
- Byronic Hero
- The Chessmaster
- Determinator: A lot of Asriel's stunning feats are attributed to the sheer force of his will.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Its suggested that those who fall into the Abyss between worlds will never escape - and that extends to their souls, as well. He is trapped, falling with Metatron and Mrs. Coulter, even after he dies. Forever.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Throws himself into the Abyss while gripping Metatron to take the angel out of the picture forever.
- Knight Templar
- Improbable Age: Pullman rarely gives his character's physical descriptions in the text, but Asriel is constantly described as powerful and with an aura of authority. Its brief but during the Gyptian leader's sumamtion of his back-story to Lyra, the alert reader can do the math and realise that Asriel must be in his sixties. This jarring when you realise how active he is meant to be in his exploits.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Nay Theist: While he initially sets out to destroy Dust, he later changes his mind and takes aim at the Authority instead.
- Only One Name: Only seems to go by Asriel, as both first name and surname, but certain guides to the book universe have him down as Asriel Belacqua.
- Parental Abandonment: To Lyra, who until the middle of Book 1 thought that he was her uncle
- Well-Intentioned Extremist
Mrs. Marisa Coulter
A woman who hungers for power and seeks to get it by exploiting the heirarchy of the church. Her daemon is a golden monkey which is never named in the books, but is called Ozymandias in the radio play.
- Abusive Mother
- Ambition Is Evil
- Brainy Brunette: Has a PhD and is a noted scholar.
- Consummate Liar: Like mother, like daughter.
- Character Development: Complete Monster -> Anti-Villain -> Anti-Hero. Interestingly, even after her character development, Metatron scours her soul and finds no goodness in her at all, making it possible for Asriel to spring his trap. Consummate Liar indeed.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder
- Fate Worse Than Death: Its suggested that not even angels or souls can escape after falling into the Abyss between worlds. Even death is not an escape. She is trapped in the Abyss, falling forever with Metatron and Lord Asriel, never to leave again.
- Femme Fatale
- Hot Scientist
- Light Is Not Good
- Love Redeems: Her love for Lyra is what enables her to successfully lie to Metatron and buy her daughter time to free the ghosts from death.
- The Dreaded: Especially to children.
- Manipulative Bitch: And how!
- May-December Romance: With both Lord Boreal and Lord Asriel, who are both in their sixties whereas she herself is in her mid-thirties. Pullman says that she chooses all her lovers based on how influential they are in her world.
- Pet the Dog: The affection she develops for her daughter, but it's still so small it's hard to call Lyra her Morality Pet.
- Real Women Never Wear Dresses: Apparently, caring if Lyra lives or dies makes Mrs Coulter weak.
- Redemption Equals Death
- Shiny Midnight Black
- The Vamp
Dr. Mary Malone
- Dark Is Not Evil: Not in appearance or methods but in her role in events: she serves a similar role as the Serpent in Eden.
- In addition, her daemon turns out to be an alpine chough
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted, she admits she knows very little about Biology when she sees the mulefa.
- She does display an understanding of evolutionary biology, chemistry, and computer science; but for an educated person, this is not really unexpected.
- Promotion to Parent: Pullman's notes have her taking the role of Will's guardian when they return to our world.
- Trickster Mentor: Subverted.
Lord Carlo Boreal / Sir Charles Lantrom
- Big Bad Wannabe
- Manipulative Bastard
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money
- Smug Snake: And how! He even has a snake dæmon!
- Unholy Matrimony: Has an affair with Mrs. Coulter, though she clearly takes it less seriously than he does.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Has a Lordship in his universe and a knighthood in ours.
Stannislaus Grumman / John Parry
A man of many talents who is eventually found staying as a shaman with a tribe of Tartars in the north. His daemon is an osprey named Sayan Kötör.
- A Wizard Did It: The real source of Grumman's wholly unique powers is never really explained.
- Back From the Dead: The head Asriel waves around in the first chapter of the trilogy? Not actually his.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: He sees his son for the first time in twelve years and is killed by a witch, whose advances he had rejected years before to stay faithful to his long-lost wife. While it didn't happen precisely mid-sentence, he didn't even know he was talking to his son until after he had been mortally wounded.
- Long-Lost Relative: Is actually Will's father who stumbled through a window on our Earth, crossing through the world of Cittagazze before coming into Lyra's world.
- Took a Level In Badass: Manifests otherworldly powers and is one of the few characters in the books to perform things that seem like real magic - like controlling the weather in Lyra's world. Not bad for someone originally from our mundane Earth.
- The Evil Prince
- Pinocchio Syndrome: A rare villainous example. He wants to be human for all the wrong reasons.
- Self-Made Orphan
Chevalier Tialys and Lady Salmakia
- Good Is Not Nice
- Killer Rabbit
- Lilliputian Warriors
- We Are as Mayflies: Their lifespan is only about a decade.
The Authority and the Angels
- Ambiguously Gay: Balthamos and Baruch.
- Eldritch Abomination: Mild example. They are beings made of Dust that resemble humans, but have their real forms as architecture like in nature.
- God Guise
- Knight Templar
- Light Is Not Good
- Our Angels Are Different: Some are created when Dust condenses, while others are humans turned into angels upon their death, their true form is more similar to architecture than human beings and their genders are extremely vague. They also strengthen and then weaken with age like humans, can shapeshift and pass between dimensions, and are extremely difficult to see.
- They can be most easily perceived at twilight, particularly with smoke to move around their form.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Metatron is implied to be both homophobic and sexist.
- Puny Earthlings: A rare aversion when it comes to physical strength, as human having flesh makes humans way stronger than most angels.
- Super Strength: Metatron is far more powerful than most angels, to the extent that he is stronger than most men.
- Time Abyss