His Dark Materials

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Name: His Dark Materials
Abbreviation(s): HDM
Creator: Philip Pullman
Date(s): 1995-2000, 2007 (movie), 2019 (TV series)
Medium: book series, movie
Country of Origin: UK
External Links: wikipedia, author's site
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Spoiler Warning: This article or section may contain spoilers. If this bothers you, proceed with caution.

His Dark Materials is a fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman. The trilogy consists of The Golden Compass (1995; published in the UK as Northern Lights), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass (2000). There are currently two companion novellas: Lyra's Oxford (2003) and Once Upon A Time In The North (2008). A movie adaptation of the first book was released in theatres in late 2007.

A live-action TV series adaptation began in late 2019.


Lyra Belacqua lives in an alternate Oxford University, where every human has a dæmon, i.e. a physical manifestation of the soul in the form of a talking animal. While children's dæmons are changeable, the animal form settles during adolescence, a signal of maturity and symbol of the human's personality. Lyra gets involved in hijinks with her dæmon Pan, flees the scary Mrs. Coulter (and her golden monkey dæmon) and ends up on a trek into the northern wilderness among armored bears and secret authoritarian experimenters. Lyra charges into a gap between universes, and meets Will Parry, a boy from our world, who is fleeing his own problems. Together they embark on a many-worlds adventure involving angels, ghosts, witches, magical tools, people who look like bicycles, and the sapience of the universe. Ultimately the children become embroiled in a war against Heaven.

The title of the trilogy is a quote from Paradise Lost, and in addition to its function as story, the series may be taken as a rebuke to Milton and a refusal of the parameters of Christianity (or possibly all organized religions). Aspects of the series are also intended to counter-point Lewis's Narnia books.


The most popular pairings in the HDM tag on AO3 in mid-2018, only two of which are actually HDM pairings.

Fanfic for the series itself is uncommon enough that it is a perennial source for Yuletide. Most fic for the series is set post-Series, although some pre- or mid-series also occurs. A popular category at fanfiction.net is post-series reunion fic. In addition, there are several works which seek to expand Lyra's universe. Because of the nature of the series with its universe hopping protagonists, crossovers are not uncommon.

Gif- and graphic-makers regularly make moodboards and edits to illustrate the book, examples of which can be seen here.

The most popular pairing is Lyra Belacqua/Will Parry, followed by Lord Asriel/Marisa Coulter.

Leading up to the release of the 2019 BBC series and The Secret Commonwealth, the HDMsource Fanweek was held on Tumblr, starting with September 23. Fan reactions to the first episode were overwhelmingly positive.

Film Adaptation

The Golden Compass is generally perceived to be a mediocre attempt at adapting the first book.

The casting is often considered to be one of the better aspects of the film amongst fans.

TV Adaptation

The His Dark Materials TV series has so far been positively received by both critics and fans alike.

In a similar vein to the film, the casting has been praised, with Ruth Wilson's portrayal of Marisa Coulter in particular leading to her gaining a fan following. Much of this following appears to consist of sapphics.

With the airing of the series came a new set of fans and somewhat of a re-awakening of the fandom.

  • A popular meme in the fandom is the idea that many of the adults who meet Lyra (Lee Scoresby, Iorek Byrnison, Mary Malone, Ma Costa etc) have all adopted her, and that all of these parent figures are infinitely better parents than her actual biological ones.
  • Mary Malone/Marisa Coulter is a relatively rare ship that seems to have gained some traction through the release of the TV series.
  • After the the airing of 2x07, the finale, many fans on sites like Tumblr pointed out the absurdity of Marisa's decision to put Lyra in a suitcase. Memes and jokes surrounding Marisa's awful decisions as a mother were thus given even more fuel than they had before.


Its other most popular usage is in fusions with other fandoms, usually stories in which characters from other universes have dæmons. See Daemons. This eventually became a much-discussed problem as other, more popular fandoms overran the His Dark Materials tag on AO3, making it impossible to find actual HDM fanfiction on the site.

Example Fanworks


  • The Ivory Horn, Archived version by kaydee falls. A breakout hit from Yuletide which has since been cited by non-fans and academics as an example of the potential of fanwork to reflect on the fandom itself.[citation needed] This fic stars Will Parry, post-series as he enters university.
  • Christingle, Archived version by Raven. A story of Will's first year of university which grapples with the personal implications of his actions in the series on religious belief.