In the world of YA fantasy adaptations, one of the most disappointing has always been The Golden Compass. Not because it was downright awful, but because it managed to make Lyra’s beautiful world of mysticism, witches, cowboys, and spirit creatures kinda boring.
That’s almost worse than getting a really awful adaptation. But only almost, because we saw Eragon and things definitely could be worse.
With HBO’s new His Dark Materials series, hopefully they can redeem previous adaptations. One way to do that is to make sure to honor key moments in the book series, and honor them well. So, here are 10 scenes from the books that we need to see.
10 Lyra Flees Ms. Coulter (The Golden Compass)
When Lyra met Mrs. Coulter in the book series, she felt like she finally met an adult who understood her and was on her side. Unfortunately for Lyra, that wasn’t the truth. Mrs. Coulter, much like Lord Asriel, only spent time with Lyra for her selfish ambition.
The second Lyra realizes all of her mother’s lies and the dark organization she works for, she leaves. It takes a little cleverness and evasion, it’s a pinnacle moment in the story where Lyra learns the truth: she cannot rely on anyone else to figure out her problems. Only she can be her own hero.
This escape should be just as grand and life-changing as it deserves.
9 Will’s Daemon Appears (The Amber Spyglass)
One of the most important parts of His Dark Materials series is the companions that every human being has. In Lyra’s world, they are called daemons and are visible creatures that take animal form. In Will’s world, they are invisible. A huge turning point for Will is when, in a new world, his own daemon takes form. It becomes a cat, aloof and domestic but smart as a whip.
While the different worlds are said to change people, this is a serious moment of proof. Moreover, it connects Lyra and Will, since he now understands what it’s like for her to always be with Pan.
A wholesome moment like this shouldn’t be missed.
8 Scoresby’s Sacrifice (The Subtle Knife)
In the first book, Lee Scoresby was one of the first adults to believe in Lyra and support her journey to save Roger and stop the Gobblers. An eccentric fellow, his only real friend is a talking polar bear and his flying machine. However, he bonds well with Lyra and sees the truth in her heart. Together, they survive many trials.
At the end of the second book, Scoresby sacrifices himself to save Lyra and friends. Such a good person has earned an honorable end after all that. If he perishes off screen, when the series gets to that point, all book fans should riot.
7 Bolvanger Escape (The Golden Compass)
By far, one of the most action-packed moments of the series is near the end of book one. This is where Lyra and Roger escape Bolvanger, the terrible establishment holding them hostage. This is where The Gobblers took children to experiment on them and separate them from their daemons.
Lucky for Lyra and Roger, all of the friends she made along the way (Scoresby, polar bear king, witches) all come together to siege the complex and free the children.
It’s a clash of very different cultures and capabilities rising up against a selfish evil. This scene better be epic.
6 Will Getting The Knife (The Subtle Knife)
Of the two main heroes, each one has an important mystical object. For Lyra, is the Alethiometer. For Will, it’s the subtle knife. The knife can cut through anything, even through dimensions. It can be used as a blade or as a portal. While Lyra’s object is fascinating, too, the scene where Will gets the knife is a little more dramatic and gruesome. Losing two fingers is kind of gruesome.
Supposedly, that is the price and mark every owner of the knife.
Not that fans want a super gory scene, but it should be momentous and a little intense.
5 Lyra and Will Kiss (The Amber Spyglass)
His Dark Materials aren’t the most romantic of series as the only romantic pairing prominently featured through all three books are Lyra’s violently ambitious, separated parents. However, over time, the young heroes Lyra and Will do grow to have feelings for one another. In contrast to the older, angrier disposition of the world, Lyra and Will are innocent and sweet. Their kiss should be a really happy moment in such a bleak series.
It deserves all the hopeful revelry, lighting, dramatic music, the works. Where so many other relationships fail in this series, it’s nice to see one blossom.
Let’s just ignore the part where they can’t live in the same world ever.
4 Roger’s Death (The Golden Compass)
Throughout The Golden Compass, Lyra fights against a broken system to try to save her best friend, Roger. While she accomplishes so much throughout her journey, her ending isn’t a happy one. She and Roger escape the horrible Bolvanger facility, but outside they face a new danger: her father, Lord Asriel. Cold-hearted, Asriel sacrifices Roger to cross dimensions and continue his path of power and destruction.
This scene set the tone for the next two books, that no matter how much good Lyra did there will always be costs and consequences.
If His Dark Materials want to traverse smoothly into the last two thirds of the trilogy, they need to give this scene its tragic justice.
3 Will Meets Iorek (The Amber Spyglass)
Understandably, a giant talking polar bear king is one of the most beloved characters in the trilogy. No matter how serious the series can be, of course kids would love him. While Lyra and Iorek bond in the first book, he doesn’t meet her companion, Will, until the final novel.
Though Iorek initially is defensive and doesn’t trust Will, Will uses his knife to impress him. How? Well, by chopping the bear’s helmet in half, of course.
Anyone that can impress a giant polar bear king deserves a moment to shine when he changed his mind.
2 The Fall of Coulter, Asriel, and Metatron (The Amber Spyglass)
The Dark Materials series has several villainous characters, and unfortunately the worst ones are Lyra’s own parents. Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel spend all three books collecting power, doing dangerous and fatal experiments, and hurting others for their own gain. It makes the way they finally fell all the more fitting.
Just as they go to attack the highest authority of all the dimensions, literally named Authority, they are barred by his regent, Metatron. Together, they trick and attack Metatron, but finally, they attacked something just as strong and clever as them. All three end up falling into a pit of great nothingness, ceasing to exist.
The end of their stories should be something grand and dramatic, after all the pain they caused.
1 Duel For Polar Bear King (The Golden Compass)
Ask any fan of His Dark Materials, and all of them will say that the polar bear duel from The Golden Compass was one of the best scenes in the entire trilogy.
Not only is giant bears fighting pretty awesome, but also it’s a huge moment of triumph where Lyra convinces a once great creature to be who he was always meant to be. He went from living on the streets back to his rightful throne.
All the culminating emotions and the amazing action make this too cool of a scene for the series not to show in all its glory.