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Chapter 6 - The Throwing Nets

City scenes are fun. Especially adventurous ones.

The idea of Pan becoming wildcat so he could see better in the dark makes sense, but it got me wondering how closely a daemon would resemble an actual animal in terms of biology. Do they have blood and DNA and stuff? How exactly would Pan know that wildcats can see well in the dark, does the “information” for the different animals pan transforms into actually stored somehow in Lyra’s brain? How exactly does Pan know how to form his eyes so they can see in the dark like an actual wildcat? Would he even be able to “know” that wildcats are supposed to have good night vision? Is he a biology expert or something?

This is an aimless line of thought, but it does make me feel as though the idea of animal-formed spiritual entities being part of a human being seems to lend itself more towards a theistic, deliberately created world rather than an atheistic one governed by chance, but I’ll continue.

In narration, Lyra is described as crossing streets which are being traversed by tram cars. Wee, trams. I love trams, especially British trams. They enchant me. The meeting of roads and railways, it’s like the intersection of two universes almost.

On my first reading of this chapter, the description of the tram cars as they “hummed and sparked under their anbaric wires” (HDM 1, ch. 6, pg. 87, para. 4) finally allowed me to be certain that “anbaric power” was just ordinary electricity with a different name, as on my first read-through I was still unsure if this technology was ment to be something akin to electricity but of a more “alchemical” nature as it was depicted in the film adaptation, but the context of this reference made it pretty clear.

I’ve always had this strange interest in being ready to have an “escape” plans and hiding spots in all sorts of places ranging from my old middle and high schools to my present college campus, to my own home. I have a habit of wanting to know the nearest exit and have a plan ready for being able to make it on my own if I have to escape and live on my own out somewhere for a while.

I’ve thankfully never had to put that interest into practice, but this chapter was a fun adventure in seeing that sort of survival skill put into practical use, watching as Lyra (and by default Pantalaimon as well, I’m really don’t think of them as separate characters by and large) wanders around trying to find food and places to hide and sleep.

The exchange between Lyra and the top hatted man with the lemur daemon (who I took to be a pedophile) was not only entertaining and a reenforcement of Lyra’s refined lying skills, but is also the second time in the book that Lyra’s made up stories about her father being a murderer, which is as far as she knows at this point is a complete lie.

One trope from television and movies that has irked me for as long as I can remember is when the hero or heroine has a net dropped on top of them, which in many cases instantly leaves them instantly helpless and unable to take any action to free themselves, like getting out from under the net.

However, in the attempted kidnapping of Lyra by the canal, the throwing nets are actually used properly and in a realistic way, just to slow the target down for a moment so the assailants can properly restrain them. They actually kept this for the movie translation as well, it was so refreshing to see nets used in a realistic way rather than “oh no a net fell on me there’s just no way I could possible take the net off so I give up just go ahead and capture me” like in some other flicks.

It’s cheesy how romantic I find the image of the fading daemons trying to cling to the corpses of their humans as they dissolve into nothingness.

Later in the chapter it’s established that the men who tried to kidnap Lyra were not Gobblers, but random kidnappers. I must ask, just why the hell can’t the kidnappers be Gobblers? There’s seriously no way I can accept that someone as glamorous, noticeable, and visually distinctive as Mrs. Coulter, who walks around with fox fur coats and jewel encrusted bibles could go on tour all across Britain single handedly kidnapping hundreds of children just by offering them HOT FRICKING CHOCOLATE without more than enough people noticing or catching on to the point where keeping the true nature of the “Gobblers” a secret from the public.

It would have been more realistic that Mrs. Coulter’s spiriting away of kids was just a very small part of a much larger operation involving every day brute force abductions of kids from playgrounds and streets and such, but a lot of the dialog and narration seems to suggest that the kidnappings in the UK are mostly Mrs. Coulter’s personal doing.

It’s awfully strange to me that Pullman would set up the entire book establishing the idea of the Gobblers/Oblation Board snatching children and then in the instance where it seems for sure Lyra is being kidnapped like Billy and Roger, it turns out to just be some conveniently placed OTHER child thieves who just happened to be on the clock when Lyra showed up at the canal.

Even having had the pedophile Lemur man stalking Lyra and having had tried to grab her in the canal would have made more narrative sense to me than just having to random kidnappers show up right when the story needs them.

Aside from that, all I have to say is that the narration really captures the sensations and presence of being below deck on a small cramped waterborne vehicle and the daily way of life on the narrow boat without going out of the way to describe it in length.

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