The Golden Compass Page by Page
Chapter 20 - Mortal Kombat
Oh, excuse me, I mean Mortal Combat, with a C, not with a K, though
with the level of violence present in the fight Iorek and Iofur this
might as well be a round or Mortal Kombat with polar bears.
As the preparations are made for the fight, the narration mentions a
special area being set aside for the she-bares, including Iofur’s
wives to watch. I believe this is the last mention of female bears in
the entire trilogy, its like the females just don’t exist or
something. I see this a lot in fiction involving animals, where for
example only the male lions will go out to hunt while the females stay
behind and watch over the cubs, and the same with packs of wolves, when
in reality the gender roles in hunting are more balanced or even the
I only noticed on my second reading the way in which the narration
alludes to the idea of parallel universes branching off from each other
due to the outcomes of possibility collapses.
The sentence in which Pullman describes Iorek lunging off the rock to
strike the final blow at Iofur goes on for nearly a full paragraph and
takes up about a third of the page it appears on.
It’s one of my favorite over-long sentences and is extraordinarily fun to read out loud.
I perhaps wasn’t able to fully appreciate the suspense of the
fight because I had already seen the film version and knew that Iorek
was to win, though when reading this chapter I was able to better
appreciate how everything Lyra, Iorek, and the readers themselves had
learned about the nature of armored bears from the first pages of the
book up until now played in to the outcome of this battle and
Iorek’s strategy that made his victory possible.
Every single word immediately following the fight between Iorek and
Iofur was fascinating to me and extraordinarily entertaining due to my
having watched the film version before reading the book. I was already
thrown for a loop by Bolvangar coming before
Iorek fighting Iofur (or
rather Ragnar in the film version), and I realized that as soon as the
fight was over, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever what was to come
next since at this point in the story everything covered in the film
version has already taken place, yet there was the better part of 50
pages left in the story, so I read on, completely entranced and
I believe they actually did film Roger meeting Lyra outside
Iofur’s palace for the film version, but cut it after they
switched the order in which Svalbard and Bolvangar took place in.
Wow, only three chapters left.
IOREK BYRNISON WINS!
Sorry, couldn't resist. :P
POST SCRIPT / PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
I’m about to get a little preachy about a certain aspect of the
His Dark Materials online fandom that I’ve wanted to make a
comment about somewhere on my site, and found this to be an appropriate spot
to do so.
The dæmons of The Golden Compass are a huge part of what make
Lyra’s world and the His Dark Materials saga so awesome and
interesting, and it’s pretty natural for any reader, myself
included, to come away from the story wondering what life would be like
if we all had dæmons and how cool and wonderful it would be to
have a dæmon like the characters in His Dark Materials.
However, there’s a big difference between having fun imagining
what having a dæmon would be like and obsessively pining for an
having animal shaped spirit companion and wasting your time and mental
energy trying to will one into existence or wishing that dæmons as
seen in His Dark Materials really existed.
Philip Pullman didn’t “discover” dæmons, he
didn’t write His Dark Materials as a way to lead you into
“discovering” some invisible spirit buddy that’s
been sitting on your shoulder or buried in your brain all your life
waiting for you to notice them, he’s just telling a story.
Dæmons in His Dark Materials are a purely imaginary
representation of the human psyche, which is a very real and wonderful
thing which one does not need pretend be an invisible animal
that’s a separate person from themselves in order to enjoy,
appreciate, and love.
If you want to keep an imaginary animal friend as a way to find
friendship or comfort in yourself that’s a wonderful thing and is
totally harmless as long as you remember that it’s all in your
head and entirely imaginary.
Don’t be like Iofur Raknison who was too busy wishing he had a dæmon to enjoy being himself.
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