His Dark Materials is one of the most captivating fantasy book series to ever be written. It features stellar world-building, unforgettable characters, and thought-provoking questions of morality.
A lackluster film adaptation of the first installment—The Golden Compass—was released in 2007. The critically panned adaptation left a sour taste in fans' mouths. Now an upcoming HBO television series adaptation of His Dark Materials will hopefully do the story justice. The promising casting choices have definitely made fans hopeful.
Of course, an adaptation is always bound to make changes to the source material, though. Book purists should brace themselves for some changes as Otto Bathurst—who will direct two of the eight episodes in the first season—revealed that the world will be modernized and created in a way to feel more accessible. If handled properly this change could work, but there are other changes that shouldn't be made under any circumstances.
With this in mind, take a stroll with your daemon as we explore His Dark Materials: 10 things we hope HBO doesn't change from the books.
10 The Daemons
Acting as a physical manifestation of a human soul in Lyra's world, daemons are one of the best elements to come out of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books. Daemons will definitely be a part of the show —Lyra's daemon Pantalaimon and Mrs. Coulter's golden monkey daemon can be seen in the trailer for the television series.
Pullman's books do a wonderful job of making the daemons feel like they are part of the human characters and not just acting as faithful animal sidekicks. The show needs to do the same, part of which will rely on quality CGI, and seamless visual transitions for the daemons that can still transform into different animals.
9 Lyra's Character Traits
Fierce and compassionate, spunky and highly intelligent, Lyra is a character who resonated with a variety of audiences. She's a strong and lovable protagonist who book readers respect, adore, and root for with all their heart. If audiences are to feel the same way about Lyra in the show, she needs to display the same traits that made her character such a hit in the first place. Dafne Keen seems like a perfect casting choice as she did a brilliant job playing Laura in Logan, a character who possesses many of Lyra's core traits. Hopefully, these traits will shine through from the very first episode and continue to shine throughout all the episodes.
8 The Role Of The Church
The antagonistic role of the church/magisterium in His Dark Materials was received with some backlash both when the books were published and with the release of The Golden Compass film adaptation. In order to avoid such backlash, it could be tempting to minimize the religious aspects of the magisterium and transform it into a more generic antagonistic institution.
That would be a grave mistake, though, as the religious aspects of the magisterium are what makes it such a thought-provoking enemy, raising serious questions about corruption in the institutions people hold most dear. If like the books, the show also builds to the endgame concerning Metatron and the Authority, the religious corruption within the magisterium is crucial to establish in the first season.
In order to understand the plot of His Dark Materials, the audience needs to understand what Dust is and why the characters care about it so much. The 2007 adaptation of The Golden Compass did a poor job of this as characters kept throwing the word "Dust" around without its true nature of value ever being clear. The show needs to do a more eloquent job of introducing and explaining Dust, and should also stay true to what Dust is in the books. World-building, plot, and even the motivations of characters like Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel don't make much sense without Dust being handled the right way.
6 Mrs. Coulter And Lord Asriel's Character Development
The complexity and character development of Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel is part of what made His Dark Materials such a fascinating story in the first place. The 2007 film adaptation oversimplified both characters, a mistake that the television series cannot afford to make. Behind their facades are their intricate motivations and nuanced relationships with Lyra.
This is at the heart of what makes His Dark Materials tick, and makes the payoff of Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel's arcs in The Amber Spyglass particularly satisfying. The show must get these characters right from the start in order to deliver their rewarding character development.
5 Roger's Fate
The Golden Compass shocked readers when Lord Asriel killed Lyra's best friend Roger in order to create a portal into a parallel universe. Beyond the shock value of the plot twist, Roger's death served as a critical moment that haunted Lyra for the rest of the series and influenced her actions. It also raised serious questions about Lord Asriel's character and whether the ends ever justify the means.
Roger survived The Golden Compass movie, likely because the filmmakers didn't think mainstream audiences would respond well to the darker ending from the book. The show shouldn't shy away from this and instead should keep Roger's fate the same as in the books as it's crucial to the future character development of Lyra, Lord Asriel, and their relationship.
4 The Panserbjørn
The Panserbjørn—also known as the armored bears—are one of the key groups of characters in His Dark Materials. They are sentient creatures and create their own armor out of sky-iron, regarding their armor to be akin to their souls. This is only one element of the unique society they've created for themselves. The show needs to depict Iorek Byrnison and the other panserbjørn in a way that captures their intelligence and the nature of their society, especially since Iorek becomes a key player in the story. They should not just be reduced to generic talking polar bears.
3 The Alethiometer And The Subtle Knife
The alethiometer and the subtle knife act as magical items that are not only integral to the plot of His Dark Materials, but that are also integral to the development of Lyra and Will. The alethiometer is a truth-telling device that can communicate with Dust, while the subtle knife can cut the fabric between parallel universes and thereby create portals or windows between them.
Lyra's journey to reading the alethiometer and Will's journey of wielding the subtle knife exemplifies their innate gifts and how they wisely choose to use such talents. The function of the alethiometer and subtle knife, the mystery and importance that surrounds these items, and how Lyra and Will choose to use them should remain consistent with the books.
2 Introducing Will
Even though he's not introduced until the second book The Subtle Knife, the character of Will Parry has already been cast. Amir Wilson can certainly do a fantastic job playing Will. The issue is the timing of Will's introduction in the upcoming television series. The first season is expected only to cover The Golden Compass.
Rushing through the events of The Golden Compass and jumping into the meat of The Subtle Knife with a major focus on Will would be a mistake. Hopefully, Will is just introduced briefly at the end of the first season to tease his larger role in the second season, rather than forcing Will into the events of The Golden Compass.
1 Dual Identities
Certain characters in the book series take on different identities depending on the parallel universe they find themselves in. For example, in Lyra's world, she encounters an individual named Lord Carlo Boreal. In Will's world, she encounters the same character, except in Will's world he's known as Sir Charles Latrom. A similar case of dual identities—albeit for different reasons—exists with Will's father John Parry taking on the identity of Stanislaus Grumman in Lyra's world.
While John Parry/Stanislaus Grumman probably won't be in the first season as he's not introduced until The Subtle Knife, Ariyon Bakare—best known for his role in the film Life—is slated to play Lord Carlo Boreal. Hopefully, the show will keep the dual identity for both characters as it helps build a sense of intrigue, mystery, and deception.
What other changes from the books do you hope aren't made for HBO's His Dark Materials? Let us know in the comments!