Page 152. " There's a trick in it like focusing your eyes. "

Later in the trilogy, other characters mention this trick. One character likens it to the Magic Eye pictures of our world,  random dot autostereograms which appear to be a meaningless pattern until the viewer relaxes the eyes in such a way that a clear image is revealed. You can view many Magic Eye patterns here and practise Lyra's trick.


Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStereogram - Credit: Fred Hsu


Page 152. " Well, the Madonna is Mrs Coulter "
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary
Public DomainThe Assumption of the Virgin Mary

The Madonna is the Virgin Mary. As the mother of Jesus Christ it is reasonable that she becomes the alethiometer's symbol for motherhood as a whole.

Page 163. " decided that they would make for Trollesund "

Trollesund is described as Lapland's main port. It is fictional, but like many of the places in the world of Northern Lights it may be based on reality – in this case the Norwegian city of Tromsø (see Setting).

The name trollesund is taken from troll, a Norwegian fairytale monster, and sund, a common suffix for place names in Norway that literally means "straight".

Page 172. " His name is Iorek Byrnison. "

Iorek is pronounced "YOR-ick"

Page 172. " pools of ink the Hindus use for reading the future. "
Falling water drops
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFalling water drops - Credit: The High Fin Sperm Whale

This may be a reference to hydromancy, a form of scrying or divination using pools of liquid. Although traditionally it involves pools of water, ink is also used. A stone is dropped into the pool and predictions are divined from the ripples that result.

You can find an article here on different forms of scrying, as well as basic instructions for doing it yourself.

Page 174. " What are the intentions of the Tartars with regard to Kamchatka? "

Russia - Kamchatka is highlighted in pink
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRussia - Kamchatka is highlighted in pink - Credit: Marmelad
Kamchatka is a peninsula on the far east side of Russia.