Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday Excerpt: Her Own Dear Soul

Now Playing: Of Monsters and Men - Thousand Eyes

[Introduction].

Another long excerpt.

The Golden Compass has stayed in my thoughts for years and years since I first read it. I remember scenes and dialogue pieces and even character descriptions in perfect clarity. Among my favorites are Lord Asriel's somewhat frightening introduction, and the fight between Iorek and Iofur, and the moment Lyra sees the witches' flight and meets Serafina.

This scene, however, almost broke my heart the first time I read it. The writing captures the feeling of desperation and terror Lyra and Pan are experiencing. Whenever I read it, I can hear the voice in my head running breathless, exhausted but still persevering.

Some spoilers, as this scene is toward the end of the book.

And she kicked and bit more passionately than ever, until the man holding her gasped and let go for a moment--and she was free, and Pantalaimon sprang forward like a spark of lightning, and she clutched him to her fierce breast, and he dug his wildcat claws into her fresh, and every stab of pain was dear to her. 
"Never! Never! Never!" she cried, and backed against the wall to defend him to their death. 
But they fell on her again, three big brutal men, and she was only a child, shocked and terrified; and they tore Pantalaimon away, and threw her into one side of the cage of mesh and carried him, struggling still, around to the other. There was a mesh barrier between them, but he was still part of her, they were still joined. For a second or so more, he was still her own dear soul. 
Above the panting of the men, above her own sobs, above the wild howl of her daemon, Lyra heard a humming sound, and saw one man (bleeding from the nose) operate a bank of switches. The other two looked, and her eyes followed theirs. The great pale silver blade was rising slowly, catching the brilliant light. The last moment in her complete life was going to be worst by far. 
"What is going on here?" 
A light, musical voice: her voice. Everything stopped. 
"What are you doing? And who is this child--" 
She didn't complete the word child, because in that instant she recognized Lyra. Through tear-blurred eyes Lyra saw her totter and clutch at a bench; her face, so beautiful and composed, grew in a moment haggard and horror struck. 
"Lyra--" she whispered. 
The golden money darted from her side in a flash, and tugged Pantalaimon out from the mesh cage as Lyra fell out herself. Pantalaimon pulled free from the monkey's solicitous paws and stumbled to Lyra's arms. 
"Never, never," she breathed into his fur, and he pressed his beating heart to hers. 
They clung together like survivors of a shipwreck, shivering on a desolate coast.
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.