By now, most of us know the story of Lyra Belacqua, the young girl raised by the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford, and her daemon Pan, full name Pantalaimon. living in an alternate world very much like this one. But Lyra’s world is ruled by the Magisterium, a theocratic organization that wants to control its subjects by taking away their free.
When she learns that her uncle, Lord Asriel, is coming to give a lecture to the scholars, Lyra hides in a cupboard to spy on them, but instead she witnesses one of the scholars poisoning his drink. Luckily, she is able to warn Lord Asriel about it just in the nick of time.
During Lord Asriel’s lecture, Lyra learns about Dust, cosmic particles that form when matter becomes consciousness, thereby making it the physical form of consciousness. Dust accumulates on adults, but not children, who are thought to be innocent and who don’t have the kind of developed consciousness that an adult has. Dust also binds daemons to humans. Daemons are not little devils, as the name might imply, but are the physical manifestations of the human soul. Because a child’s consciousness isn’t formed yet, their daemons can change form at will, eventually taking on a permanent form that will be reflection of their human’s soul.
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