His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

“The powers of this world are very strong. Men and women are moved by tides much fiercer than you can imagine, and they sweep us all up into the current. Go well, Lyra; bless you, child, bless you. Keep your own counsel.”

“There’s plenty of folk as’d like to have a lion as a dæmon and they end up with a poodle. And till they learn to be satisfied with what they are, they’re going to be fretful about it. Waste of feeling, that is.”

elegant and wild simultaneously

Dust is something bad, something wrong, something evil and wicked.

but at the age we call puberty, the age you’re coming to very soon, darling, dæmons bring all sort of troublesome thoughts and feelings, and that’s what lets Dust in.

But you cannot change what you are, only what you do.

All I can tell you is that where there are priests, there is fear of Dust.

Everything out there is alive, and there are grand purposes abroad! The universe is full of intentions, you know. Everything happens for a purpose.

The idea hovered and shimmered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly in case it burst. But she was familiar with the way of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else.

The Magisterium decided that Dust was the physical evidence for original sin.

Human beings can’t see anything without wanting to destroy it, Lyra. That’s original sin.

“Why do they do these things to children, Pan? Do they all hate children so much, that they want to tear them apart like this? Why do they do it?”

for the air seemed to be full of dark intentions, like the forms of thoughts not yet born.

Serafina Pekkala on her cloud-pine would find a still field of air at night and listen to the silence. Like the air itself, which was never quite still, the silence was full of little currents and turbulence, of patches of density and pockets of attenuation, all shot through with darts and drifts of whispering that were made of silence themselves. It was as different from the silence of a closed room as fresh spring water is from stale. Later, Serafina realized that she was listening to Dust.

But there was one thing she knew for certain: there was an arrow in her quiver that would find its mark in Mrs. Coulter’s throat.

“But you know about our God? The God of the Church, the one they call the Authority?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, Lord Asriel has never found hisself at ease with the doctrines of the Church, so to speak. I’ve seen a spasm of disgust cross his face when they talk of the sacraments, and atonement, and redemption, and suchlike.”

That is what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.

Capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.

“Seems to me—” Lee said, feeling for the words, “seems to me the place you fight cruelty is where you find it, and the place you give help is where you see it needed.”

“Life is hard, Mr. Scoresby, but we cling to it all the same.”

Lee was too cool by nature to rage at fate; his manner was to raise an eyebrow and greet it laconically.

Then she was pressing her little proud broken self against his face, as close as she could get, and then they died.

The fact was that where Will was concerned, she was developing a new kind of sense, as if he were simply more in focus than anyone she’d known before. Everything about him was clear and close and immediate.

“Not where I used to live. Not normally. But the climate’s been changing. The summers are hotter than they used to be. They say that people have been interfering with the atmosphere by putting chemicals in it, and the weather’s going out of control.”

There were no leaves to stir in this wilderness, but the air buffeted his body and made his hair stream away from his face; it was wild outside him and wild within.

We’ve had nothing but lies and propaganda and cruelty and deceit for all the thousands of years of human history.

“Then you’re a warrior. That’s what you are. Argue with anything else, but don’t argue with your own nature.”

and still they wanted more.

When you choose one way out of many, all the ways you don’t take are snuffed out like candles, as if they’d never existed. At the moment all Will’s choices existed at once. But to keep them all in existence meant doing nothing. He had to choose, after all.

Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.

“Can is not the same as must.”
“But if you must and you can, then there’s no excuse.”
“While you are alive, your business is with life.”
“No, Iorek,” she said gently, “our business is to keep promises, no matter how difficult they are.”

“If it could tell us, we’d know. But since it can’t, I’m not going to kill it. That would be considering our feelings rather than the toad’s.”

And thus the prophecy that the Master of Jordan College had made to the Librarian, that Lyra would make a great betrayal and it would hurt her terribly, was fulfilled.

“But your dæmons en’t just nothing now; they’re part of everything. All the atoms that were them, they’ve gone into the air and the wind and the trees and the earth and all the living things. They’ll never vanish. They’re just part of everything. And that’s exactly what’ll happen to you, I swear to you . . . You’ll drift apart, it’s true, but you’ll be out in the open, part of everything alive again.”

and if she could have stopped thinking, she would have been entirely lapped in bliss. But of course thinking was what she was there for.

It was all good. She had forgotten how good the world was.

“Tell them stories. They need the truth. You must tell them true stories, and everything will be well. Just tell them stories.”

“But in another way it was easy, because it made sense. For the first time ever I felt I was doing something with all of my nature and not only a part of it. So it was lonely for a while, but then I got used to it.”

“No. But I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone, or that’s an evil one, because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels.”

The entire world was alive and conscious.

This was the very thing she’d told Will about when he asked if she missed God: it was the sense that the whole universe was alive, and that everything was connected to everything else by threads of meaning. When she’d been a Christian, she had felt connected, too; but when she left the Church, she felt loose and free and light, in a universe without purpose.

But they were trying, all the same. They’d go on trying till the end of everything.

all the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity. She and the rebel angels, the followers of wisdom, have always tried to open minds; the Authority and his churches have always tried to keep them closed.

“Understand this,” said Xaphania: “Dust is not a constant. There’s not a fixed quantity that has always been the same. Conscious beings make Dust—they renew it all the time, by thinking and feeling and reflecting, by gaining wisdom and passing it on.
“And if you help everyone else in your worlds to do that, by helping them to learn and understand about themselves and each other and the way everything works, and by showing them how to be kind instead of cruel, and patient instead of hasty, and cheerful instead of surly, and above all how to keep their minds open and free and curious … Then they will renew enough to replace what is lost through one window. So there could be one left open.”

He felt the wave build higher and steeper to darken the sky, he felt the crest tremble and begin to spill, he felt the great mass crashing down with the whole weight of the ocean behind it against the iron-bound coast of what had to be . . . But as the wave expended its force and the waters withdrew, the bleak rocks remained; there was no arguing with fate; neither his despair nor Lyra’s had moved them a single inch.

“It uses the faculty of what you call imagination. But that does not mean making things up. It is a form of seeing.”

“Whatever I do, I will choose it, no one else.”

“I don’t want a memory, just a memory …”

Being cheerful starts now, Will thought as hard as he could, but it was like trying to hold a fighting wolf still in his arms when it wanted to claw at his face and tear out his throat; nevertheless, he did it, and he thought no one could see the effort it cost him.

She had never dreamed of what it would feel like to love someone so much; of all the things that had astonished her in her adventures, that was what astonished her the most. She thought the tenderness it left in her heart was like a bruise that would never go away, but she would cherish it forever.

“We shouldn’t live as if it mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place.”
“He said we had to build something …”
“That’s why we needed our full life.”

“But then we wouldn’t have been able to build it. No one could if they put themselves first. We have to be all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we’ve got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different worlds, and then we’ll build …”
“Build what?”
“The Republic of Heaven,” said Lyra.

 

From the author: 

I have stolen ideas from every book I have ever read. My principle in researching for a novel is “Read like a butterfly, write like a bee.”