Master of Jordan College
The Master of Jordan College is introduced to readers through his attempt to poison Lord Asriel.
The Master is in his mid-to-late seventies with stiff, slow movements. He always wears a black suit, black tie and "shabby black shoes" (The Golden Compass). With the master's "hooded, clouded eyes", his appearance is similar to that of his dæmon, a raven. The raven usually perches on his right shoulder.
He is a Jordan College Master and is a member of the Cabinet Council (the Prime Minister's special advisory body). His home is decorated with heavy pictures and his collection of "glum silver" (The Golden Compass)
Friends and Alliances
The Master and Librarian are good friends and allies. After meetings, they have a habit of sharing brantwijn and consoling each other. The Master had told the Librarian that he was going to poison the wine. The Master knows about Lyra's destiny and the great betrayal that will occur. He seems to have gained his knowledge from the Alethiometer, but it's never said specifically that he can read the Alethiometer that he is keeping for Lyra. His first responsibility is to Jordan College which means he has to keep it on the right side of the Magisterium.
The Master's manservant is named Cousins.
As Lyra and Pan hide in the cupboard, they see the Master empty a packet of white powder into the bottle of Tokay, stirring it with a pencil. The Master never finds out that Lyra is the one who prevented Lord Asriel from being poisoned. The Master didn't attempt to poison Asriel out of animosity -- he was worried about the consequences of letting Asriel live and continue with his research and getting Lyra involved.
The Master and Lyra
The Master was charged with the care of Lyra when she was an infant, after Asriel killed Mr. Coulter. He was given specific instructions to keep Lyra from Mrs. Coulter; so, it's confusing when the Master hosts a dinner where Lyra meets Dame Hannah Relf and Mrs. Coulter, among others. After the dinner, the Master tells Lyra that she's going to live with Mrs. Coulter. In the early morning before Lyra leaves with Mrs. Coulter, the Master gives Lyra the Alethiometer, wrapped in black velvet and tells her to keep it private. He has made a difficult decision and possibly feels that having Lyra go with Mrs. Coulter is the lesser of the evils he is faced with.
When Lyra returns to Jordan College at the end of the trilogy, the Master assures Lyra that her father has left money for her education and care at the college. This isn't true -- the Master is providing for Lyra. He also hosts a dinner which reintroduces Lyra to Dame Hannah Relf.