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Summary: The Amber Spyglass

The Amber Spyglass picks up directly where The Subtle Knife left off.  Will Parry had just met his father and witnessed his death, returning to find Lyra had been kidnapped.  Despite the pleas of the two angels, Balthamos and Baruch, Will quickly determines that even against the orders of his father he will first search for Lyra.  He picks up the rucksack she left and begins walking through the world, without direction but with purpose.  He needs water and needs to get away from the place where his father died.

The angels decide between them that Baruch will search the worlds to find where Mrs. Coulter is hiding Lyra, and his companion Balthamos will stay with Will so they all can reunite easily.  After some searching, Baruch returns to explain Lyra's location.  She has been taken by Mrs. Coulter to a cave in the Himalaya Mountains of her own world.  Still unable to convince Will that Lyra is safely hidden from the Church and from the forces of Lord Asriel, Balthamos and Baruch are forced again to split.  Baruch this time travels to the world where Lord Asriel is building his army of the Republic where he must alert Asriel to the power of the Subtle Knife, and the boy who wields it.

An ambush from the forces of Heaven, the Regent Metatron, forces Will to escape quickly into Lyra's world where Balthamos acts as his dæmon.  In the new world, Will walks into a small town which has become lopsided from the explosion in the aurora Lord Asriel caused creating his window.  After an encounter with a local priest allows Will to find his location an a world map, Will is alerted by the townspeople of some strange and highly offensive visitors - armoured polar bears seeking refueling for their ship as they travel down the Ob river.  As Will arrives to the docks he encounters one of the armoured bears and offers to fight him one-on-one for rights to refuel.  The offer is absurd enough to calm the frantic townspeople and after Will demonstrates the powers of the subtle knife by turning the panserbjørn's helm into a pile of scrap, the bear announces Will as the victor, and the panserbjørne quickly refuel.

A metal smith’s curiosity in the knife allows Will to find an ally as the bear whose helm he just destroyed was none other than Iorek Byrnison.  Newly allied, Will gains passage on Iorek's ship while the panserbjørne travel to the Himalayas in search of a more frozen area than the ecologically destroyed arctic from Asriel's experiments.  Arriving to the cave where Lyra is being kept sleeping and drugged, Will befriends a local village girl who had been serving food to Mrs. Coulter and her sleeping daughter.  Ama, the village girl, reveals that she has gained a powder to wake the sleeping girl in the cave.  With the aim of memorizing the layout of the cave and returning using the subtle knife, Will engages Mrs. Coulter in conversation.  He returns later with Ama to complete the task of taking Lyra back and waking her up.  However, as Will is about to cut their escape window into the air he loses concentration and the knife breaks in his hand. 

As Will, Lyra, and Ama are forced to flee from the Cave on foot the forces of two armies descend upon the location, both with highly different objectives.  The Church of Lyra's world has come to destroy her so that she may not perform her destiny as "mother Eve."  Lord Asriel has sent his forces to kidnap Lyra as well.  She is wanted by the Church and therefore important to keep from them.  In his advance team Lord Asriel sends two spy captains, Chevalier Tialys and the Lady Salmakia.  The spys are Gallivespians, a race of poison-spurred people no taller than the span of a man's hand.  They join Lyra and Will in the cave on the backs of dragonflies and distract Mrs. Coulter so that the children may escape.

Ducking back into an escape window Will had left open down the path, Lyra and Will are reunited again in another world, but have been followed by the two spies.  Balthamos flees in fear and pain from the fight.  Tricking the spies into thinking Will still commands the power of the subtle knife, Lyra tells Tialys and Salmakia they will not return to Lord Asriel, but have a different mission in mind.  As Lyra slept in the cave, she was haunted by dreams of Roger, the friend she'd led to his death on Svalbard at the hands of Lord Asriel.  Together, Will and Lyra quietly begin forming a plan of traveling to the world of the dead with the subtle knife.  However, broken, the knife requires a forge master and Will reveals that Iorek Byrnison is in the Himalayas of Lyra's world. 

Finding Iorek Byrnison, Will and Lyra convince the bear-king to re-forge the subtle knife against his better judgment.  With the children working as a team to create a furnace, Iorek reforms the knife.  As they depart, Iorek advises Will that the knife has intentions of its own.

Using the knife, Will, Lyra, Tialys and Salmakia all find their way into the world of the dead.  They follow a line of ghosts walking toward a suburb.  In the suburb they spend a night with a group of people waiting to die properly so that they may pass into the land of the dead.  There they learn that the ferryman cannot take anyone across without their death.  A fight with Tialys leads Lyra into calling out for her death to arrive, and with him as a guide they are able to pass to the docks leading to the land of the dead. 

On the docks, Lyra learns that to pass into the world of the dead she must leave something of great value behind - her dæmon.  It is a natural law that Pantalaimon and all other dæmons cannot travel to the world of the dead.  Lyra leaves Pan on the docks and each of the four travelers experiences the same pain as their own bonds between their bodies and dæmons stretch the farther they separate. 

Arriving at the land of the dead, Lyra tries to trick the harpies guarding the gate to let them in by lying to them.  However, the harpies are not fooled by Lyra and Will is forced to cut his way through the wall blocking them from the ghosts of the dead.  As they pass through the ghosts, the children begin sending out word to the ghosts to find a Roger - Lyra's Roger.  Passing through the ghosts drains their energy and without their dæmons, the four realize they will soon die.  After some time, a shuffle in the crowd of ghosts appears and Roger is found and led to Lyra.  The two friends rejoice, and Lyra begins telling Roger how she got there while Will plots to find a way to cut out of the world of the dead.  However, all windows lead into the ground of other worlds.  Tunneling is not an option because their time is short. 

The ghosts of the dead crowd around to hear Lyra's stories and with her best friend beaming, she begins to tell more and more stories.  Unbeknownst to Lyra, the harpies are also crowding around to hear her stories.  Seeing their interest, Tialys and Salmakia strike a deal with the harpies.  It is revealed that Will and Lyra intend to cut a window from the world of the dead to release all the ghosts.  The harpies will take the ghosts to higher ground where a window can be cut.  In return, all the ghosts must tell the harpies true stories of their lives so the harpies may be nourished. 

During these events, Mary Malone has been on her own journey.  Through the Cittàgazze world and into another, Mary discovered a herd of mulefa - intelligent wheeled creatures similar to antelopes.  She had been living with the herd assisting in their daily life activities as well as attempting to uncover the truth about Dust.  In her research, she built a viewing platform in the tallest trees and created a spyglass through which she was able to view Dust.  With the spyglass in hand, Mary Malone discovered that the Dust is leaving the world.

In another world, Lord Asriel is building his Republic by gathering forces for an army from all the different worlds.  After the incident at the cave mouth, Asriel's forces apprehended Mrs. Coulter and brought her to his fortress.  She is allowed to sit in on a meeting with Asriel and his commanding counselors.  Asriel also reveals a new weapon in the Republic's arsenal - the intention craft, a helicopter-like flying machine that operates based on the intentions of its driver.  Feigning interest in the operation of the craft, Mrs. Coulter and her dæmon steal it and retreat to the Magisterium where they will spy for Asriel, unknowingly, just as he'd wished. 

Arriving at a branch of the Consistorial Court of Discipline, Mrs. Coulter attempts to get back into power with the Church.  After talking with Mrs. Coulter, the President of the Consistorial Court explains a plan in which he will kill Lyra from a distance.  Using a lock of her hair, brought unknowingly by Mrs. Coulter, he will detonate a bomb.  The bomb gains its energy from the separation of human from dæmon.  As a traitor to the Church, Mrs. Coulter is the perfect component to complete the bomb.

Mrs. Coulter and her dæmon are taken in handcuffs to a hydro-anbaric plant where the bomb has been created.  Through the cunning of one of Lord Asriel's Gallivespian spies, she and her dæmon are able to escape the Church. However, the President of the Court is unwilling to let his plan fail, and uses himself as a sacrifice instead.

In the land of the dead, two familiar ghosts suddenly catch up to the children as they lead the parade from the world of the dead.  The ghosts are those of Lee Scoresby and John Parry.  John Parry tells his son to quickly cut away a lock of Lyra's hair - the end which Mrs. Coulter cut - and seal it away in another world using the knife.  John Parry's abilities as a shaman allowed him to see the situation with the bomb.  Will quickly obliges and the entirety of the world of the dead is knocked by an explosion as the Church in Lyra's world completes the circuit for the bomb.  A chasm opens in the land of the dead, and Dust is quickly visibly pouring down into the hole - visible due to its quantity. 

Eventually Will and Lyra reach a point high enough where Will is able to cut a window from the land of the dead to the outside world and release the ghosts forever.  The first ghost to leave the world of the dead is Roger, and his ghost disappears turning into atoms and rejoining the world.  Some ghosts from the world of the dead, including the two experienced soldiers Lee Scoresby and John Parry, decide to remain a while longer as ghosts so they can fight the specters in Asriel's ongoing war with the forces of the Authority. 

Will is able to cut a window directly into the battle where Asriel's forces battle on the plains.  He and Lyra are aided by The Lady Salmakia as they reach a clearing where cliff ghasts batter at an ancient angel in a crystal litter.  Using the knife to chase the cliff-ghasts off, Will and Lyra decide it would be a kindness to release the ancient one from the litter.  Will cuts through the bars with the subtle knife, and as the two children lift the angel out, he disappears with the wind.  Will and Lyra continue through the battle searching for their dæmons and are told by the ghost of Lee Scoresby that the dæmons are just ahead under the protection of Iorek Byrnison.

The children find their dæmons and cut quickly into another world realizing in an instant that each child has picked up the wrong dæmon.  Unfortunately, during the battle both Chevalier Tialys and the Lady Salmakia were killed and Will and Lyra bury their small bodies.  Reunited but unwilling to forgive so easily, the two dæmons quickly flee into the new world and hide from Lyra and Will.  However, Lyra and Will are not separated from their dæmons, their bond now stretches. 

In effort to make the world safe for Lyra, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel devise a plan of ultimate sacrifice.  Mrs. Coulter travels to the Clouded Mountain where she tricks the Regent Metatron into meeting Lord Asriel in the world of the dead, near the chasm opened by the bomb.  Metatron is able to see into Mrs. Coulter but cannot see the plan because it is clouded by the lies, deceit, and lust for power she harboured her whole life.  When Metatron arrives to destroy Lord Asriel, he realizes the trick, but with both Asriel and Mrs. Coulter fighting, they bring him down and are themselves also sacrificed to an eternal fall into the chasm. 

Lyra and Will wake in the new world to find Mary Malone and a herd of the wheeled mulefa coming to greet them.  Mary Malone brings the two back to the mulefa village and goes to investigate a strange occurrence while Lyra and Will sleep.  As Mary Malone discovers, the world where the window from the world of the dead opens into this world.  The strange occurrence is the line of ghosts coming from the window and disappearing into the world.  As the ghost of an old woman disappears in front of Mary Malone it advises her to "tell them stories."  The ghost was referring to the harpies and the stories as payment for escape from the world of the dead, however, lacking any better treatment for the two children at the encampment, Mary Malone begins to tell them stories.  In this way, she decides, Will and Lyra aren't forced to quickly relive the obviously stressful experience they have just escaped. 

Mary Malone begins telling a story about why she left her position as a nun in the Church.  She relays her story and explains that it was love that kept her from believing.  As Mary Malone tries to explain love and what it was like for her to be in love, Lyra finds feelings awakening inside herself she hadn't known were there.

The next day, Lyra and Will decide to take a picnic lunch and search for their dæmons.  After some searching, they sit down in a shaded grove and begin to eat.  Suddenly extremely aware that her feelings are of love, Lyra holds a piece of fruit to Will, and the two share a kiss.  Their love for each other creates a stalling point in the flood of Dust leaving the worlds.

Despite their love for each other, Will and Lyra also realize they cannot remain together.  The opening of windows has consequences.  Each time one is opened it creates a spectre, and allows Dust to escape.  Also, as they find out from Will's father, people are designed to live in the world into which they are born.  If you spend too much time in another world, you grow ill and die quickly.  However, because Dust is created by sentient life, some amount of Dust can afford to be lost.  Will and Lyra think they may have found the answer for them to stay together by leaving a window open only for them, but they quickly realize the window they must leave open is the one allowing the ghosts to leave the eternal monotony and torment of the world of the dead.  They cannot remain together.

Thus in the end, Lyra and Will are separated despite their love.  Lyra takes Will through his Oxford to the Botanic Gardens.  Each of them, despite promises to live happily in their own separate worlds, vow to come back to a particular bench in their own Botanic Gardens once a year, for as long as they live.  In this way, they are together, though separated until death.

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