HIS DARK MATERIALS is a new fantasy adaptation of Philip Pullman’s popular book series of the same name. Now airing on BBC One on Sunday evenings, the series transports viewers to an alternate Oxford as a young girl navigates growing up while embarking on a dangerous journey. But what is the Golden Compass in the series and how does it work?
His Dark Materials episode one immersed viewers in the fantasy world created by author Philip Pullman. The opening episode introduced audiences to Lyra Belacqua (played by Dafne Keen) as she finds herself about to embark on a enlightening journey. The season premiere also featured an alethiometer or the Golden Compass, which is given to Lyra for protection – here is everything that fans need to know about this and how it works.
What is the Golden Compass in His Dark Materials?
The new BBC and HBO adaptation of His Dark Materials has now started airing on Sunday evenings.
Featuring an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Anne-Marie Duff, the new series is set in a fantasy world.
Based on Philip Pullman’s series of fantasy books of the same name, the story follows young Lyra on her coming-of-age journey.
The first episode introduced viewers to the alternative reality of Oxford where humans are accompanied by their daemon companions.
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One of the major things also was the Golden Compass, which was given to Lyra by The Master (Clarke Peters) to help protect herself.
Not much has been revealed about how it works in the series so far, aside from being a device which reveals the truth.
When her best friend goes missing, Lyra tries to test this out and see where he has gone but it does not reveal anything to her.
This left many viewers wondering just out the device works in the fantasy series.
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The meaning of the Golden Compass is revealed in Pullman’s books, where it is also referred to as an alethiometer.
The device is powered by dust and is supposed to be able to provide insight into various questions.
Dust in the fantasy series is an elementary particle, which begins to accumulate around people once they have gone through puberty.
The compass face is comprised of three swinging hands and a number of symbols around it, which have varying levels of meaning.
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There are 36 symbols in total on the device face and many of them are represented by a familiar object.
These include an angel, an apple and a dolphin among the images presented on the compass.
Lyra is able to understand and read the compass relatively easily in the book series.
However, it is generally a skill which takes many years to learn.
Lyra explains the compass in chapter nine of the first of Pullman’s trilogy of books, which is also called The Golden Compass.
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In the novel, she says to Farder Coram (James Cosmo): “It’s almost like talking to someone, only you can’t quite hear them, and you feel kind of stupid because they’re cleverer than you, only they don’t get cross or anything.”
She goes on to describe the knowledge that she attains from the compass as a different kind of knowing, which is closer to understanding.
Only six alethiometers were ever made since their invention and they are thought to date back to the 1600s.
The device plays an important role in the fantasy novels and is sure to play a big part in the series as it continues.