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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 exact opposite.

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 enthralled.

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.


Sorry, couldn't resist. :P


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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