'His Dark Materials' Books: A Guide to What Comes After HBO's Adaptation of 'The Golden Compass'

Immediately after the credits rolled on the Game of Thrones series finale, HBO ran a trailer for its next big fantasy series, His Dark Materials. Unlike Game of Thrones, with its medieval trappings, the His Dark Materials book series combines fantasy with a more recognizably modern society, specifically a steampunk Victorian world where zeppelins and machine guns intermingle with talking polar bears, warring angels and witches. HBO's His Dark Materials is an adaptation of a book series by author Philip Pullman, with three books telling a complete narrative. There's also a new trilogy in the works.

From the His Dark Materials trailer, it looks like the first season of the BBC and HBO co-production will be confined to the first novel in Pullman's series, The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights in the U.K.), but here's what else is in store should the series return for more seasons and adapt the rest of Pullman's books.

His Dark Materials Trilogy

The first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy was published in 1995. The trilogy was completed in 2000.

The Golden Compass

Lyra, Pantalaimon and Iorek Byrnison on the cover for "The Golden Compass." Alfred A. Knopf

The Golden Compass introduces us to Lyra Belacqua—played in the series by Dafne Keen ( Logan)—a 12-year-old orphan raised by the faculty of the fictional Jordan College, in the English city of Oxford. After her friend is kidnapped by child abducting religious fanatics known as "Gobblers," Lyra sets out to rescue him from the Gobblers' arctic research station.

The first book in the series introduces the concepts and characters that will also be central to the HBO His Dark Materials series.

Daemons - Every person in the world of His Dark Materials has an animal familiar, known as a daemon. It's like an externalized portion of their soul. Children's daemons can shapeshift into any animal, but at a certain point in adolescence their daemon will pick a permanent form. Lyra's demon's name is Pantalaimon.

Dust - This is an elementary particle that seems to be attracted by consciousness, a little like the Force in Star Wars. Gobblers are convinced that Dust has something to do with original sin, which has terrifying consequences when they learn Dust doesn't gather around children separated from their daemon…

Alethiometer - This is the titular Golden Compass, a mysterious device gifted to Lyra that reacts to Dust and guides Lyra on her journey.

The Golden Compass also introduces many of the major characters of His Dark Materials, including the Gobbler leader Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), Lyra's uncle Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), the witch Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas), the armoured bear king Iorek Byrnison and balloonist Texan Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda).

The Subtle Knife


At the end of The Golden Compass, Lord Asriel opens a portal to a parallel dimension. In The Subtle Knife, Lyra journeys to one such parallel universe, which is haunted by soul-sucking "Spectres," which only attack adults. They are invisible to children. There she meets a boy, Will, who crossed over from our world. In addition to the titular knife, which lets its bearer cut gateways between parallel worlds, The Subtle Knife also introduces angels, making more explicit the religious aspects of the His Dark Materials trilogy.

The Amber Spyglass

Yearling Books

In the third book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lord Asriel leads renegade angels in a war against the Metatron, a powerful angel who claims to be the creator god of the universe. Meanwhile, Lyra and Will journey to the underworld, to find the imprisoned first angel, The Authority, who was the false god of creation before the tyrannical Metatron took over.

With its evil Magisterium and fanatical Gobblers, Pullman's contempt for organized religion is already obvious in The Golden Compass, but by the end of the trilogy His Dark Materials is an all-out assault on the concept of god and the tenets of Christianity. By the end, His Dark Materials defends the choices of Adam and Eve as a way to defend all of humanity. It is better that we chose knowledge and that we chose each other, His Dark Materials argues.

The Book of Dust Trilogy

A planned sequel trilogy to His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust takes place both before and after the events of the first trilogy.

La Belle Sauvage

Penguin Random House

The first book in The Book of Dust trilogy, La Belle Sauvage is a prequel to The Golden Compass , following an infant Lyra as a young boy protects her from the Magisterium during a historic flood.

The Secret Commonwealth

The second book in the trilogy takes place after the events of The Amber Spyglass, starring Lyra as an undergraduate. It will be released on October 3.

In addition to the five novels (of a planned six) spread over two trilogies, Pullman has also written two novellas set in the same world: Lyra's Oxford (2003) and Once Upon a Time in the North (2008).

A sprawling epic, The Book of Dust and His Dark Materials trilogies cover all of existence and the overthrow of both earthly and divine authorities. But don't expect the upcoming HBO series to delve into the war of the angels or parallel universes. Everything seen in the trailer is from The Golden Compass, suggesting this first season will be strictly confined to the first book. Which means there's plenty of time to get ahead of the show.

The HBO adaptation of His Dark Materials doesn't yet have a premiere date.