Lyra Silvertongue (born Lyra Belacqua) is the golden haired eleven-year old girl at the core of His Dark Materials. It is her journey from innocence to wisdom that will become the story we have all grown to love. Her beloved dæmon, Pantalaimon (who will eventually settle in the form of a pine marten), accompanies her on her journey towards maturity. In the first book she is a brat, a pest, a nuisance, with little or no respect for anyone. She is a child, and acts childishly. She is a talented liar, whose skills at deceit will earn her the name 'Silvertongue' from the bear, Iorek Byrnison. But throughout her experiences, she grows and matures very quickly, which is understandable since she goes through quite a lot. She learns much from [ 2000 [Will Parry]] about silence and discretion, and loses her eagerness to tell lies. She grows far more patient, and far more wise, for she has loved and hated, laughed and cried, lived, and in a way, died. She saw many things and met many people, and she learned a little something about life from each of them.
Secretly the daughter of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Marisa Coulter, Lyra is raised by the dusty old scholars of Jordan College. She is content to run wild through the streets of her almost Victorian-like parallel Oxford, with her urchin friends.
|"small and slight, but wiry... Her expression was a mixture of the very young -- when she first tasted the cola -- and a kind of deep, sad wariness. Her eyes were pale blue, and her hair would be a darkish blonde once it was washed."|
|The Subtle Knife|
Her education at Jordan College was piecemeal. Junior Scholars would be assigned the task of teaching her various subject, but due to her lack of interest and sullen manner, it would never last very long.
|"She knew about atoms and elementary particles, and anbaromagnetic charges and the four fundamental forces and other bits and pieces of experimental theology"|
|The Golden Compass|
Mrs. Coulter planned to teach her celestial geography, navigation and mathematics.
Lisa Ransom is the name Lyra assumes during her trip with Will into his world. Will takes the name Mark Ransom and they pretend to be siblings. After first use, she changes the alias to Lizzie Ransom.
Lyra Silvertongue is the name given to Lyra by Iorek Byrnison when she fools Iofur Raknison, the King of the Bears, by telling him that she is the dæmon of Iorek Byrnison and that she is willing to change sides for the "strongest bear". Iofur, who is obsessed with the idea of being human, especially having his own dæmon, follows Lyra's orders. Lyra meets Iorek and confesses to what she has done, thinking Iorek would reprimand her or punish her. To her surprise, Iorek, impressed and grateful, calls her "Lyra Silvertongue" because of her father's name. She adopts Silvertongue as her new surname, both out of pride that Iorek has gifted her with such a name and because she is estranged from her father after his murder of Roger Parslow.
Lyra is the result of an illegitimate union between Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter. She was brought up at Jordan College, with the Scholars, the Professors, and the Servants all acting as a sort of collective family. She was raised believing that her father was a Count and that both her parents had died in a balloon crash, and that Lord Asriel was her uncle. However, when she meets up with the gyptians, John Faa tells her of true heritage.
Lyra's dæmon, Pantalaimon, is her dearest companion, and the embodiment of her soul. As with all dæmons of children, he can take any animal form he pleases; he first appears in the story in the shape of a moth. His name is that of a saint in the orthodox churches, St. Panteleimon, and in Greek means "all-forgiving". He changes into many forms throughout the series, ranging from a leopard to a dragon, but his favorite forms are a snow-white ermine, a moth, and a mouse. Lyra and Pantalaimon must be separated when they enter the World of the Dead, causing extreme pain to both of them. Pantalaimon avoids Lyra for a while after, but the two have gained the ability to be as far apart as possible, a trait only witches and shamans possess. Pantalaimon enters his final form, a pine marten) when Will Parry touches him.
Lyra in Other Mediums
Film In the film adaptation of the The Golden Compass, the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra is portrayed by twelve-year-old London schoolgirl Dakota Blue Richards, who won the role after beating out 10,000 other hopefuls.
Theater The National Theatre in London put on a two part, three hour long, adaptation of the novels. The play ran two times, in 2003 and 2004. Lyra was played by Anna Maxwell Martin in the first run, and by Elaine Symons in the second.