There is a world where witches rule the northern skies, where ice bears are the bravest of warriors, and where every human is joined with an animal spirit who is as close to them as their own heart. This world is dominated by the Magisterium, which seeks to control all of humanity, and whose greatest threat is the last remaining Golden Compass and the one child destined to possess it. Twelve year-old Lyra Belacqua lives an extraordinary life as a ward of distinguished Jordan College. Tearing unsupervised through the streets on mad quests for adventure with her loyal friend Roger, Lyra is accompanied everywhere by her daemon, Pantalaimon--a small, ever-changing animal that serves as a constant voice of reason. But Lyra's world is changing. Her uncle, Lord Asriel, is embarking on a trip to the Arctic Circle to investigate a mysterious element called Dust, but the Magisterium would go to any lengths to stop him. At the same time, rumors of children mysteriously disappearing and being taken north become terrifyingly real when Lyra's best friend Roger goes missing. She swears to go to the ends of the earth to rescue him, and when a new figure appears at the college--Marisa Coulter, a beguiling scientist and world traveler--she sees her best chance to get away. But Lyra's been drawn into a trap designed to take from her the one thing she possesses that the Magisterium desperately seeks--the Golden Compass. It is a mystical device that can tell the truth, reveal what others wish to hide and foreshadow--and even change--the future. Lyra realizes that she will have to embark on her own journey to rescue Roger and stop the Magisterium. But fate puts her in the protection of a tribe of seafaring Gyptians led by Lord Faa, Ma Costa and Farder Coram. Banding together an unlikely alliance with the Gyptians, the mysterious witch Serafina Pekkala and Texas airman Lee Scoresby, Lyra is flung into an adventure that will take her over sky and ocean, to the wilds of the icy north, where she gains a powerful ally in a great armored bear named Iorek Byrnison. A great war is coming--with her band of friends and allies, and the power of the Golden Compass, Lyra will need all her skill and all her courage, to stop it.