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Lyra Belacqua (also known as Lyra Silvertongue) is the heroine of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Lyra is a young girl who inhabits a universe parallel to our own. Brought up in the cloistered world of Jordan College, Oxford, she finds herself embroiled in a cosmic war between Lord Asriel on the one side, and the first angel to come into being, called The Authority, and his Regent, called Metatron, on the other.
Lyra Belacqua, age twelve at the beginning of the trilogy, is the daughter of Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter. She was brought up at Jordan College, where the scholars, professors and servants largely treated her as an adopted daughter. She was raised believing that her parents had died in an airship crash, and that Lord Asriel was her uncle, and later learned the truth from John Faa, leader of the Gyptians. Jordan College, where Lyra makes her home, exists in a fictionalized Oxford, England where Lyra spends most of her time socializing with other children of the city, sometimes harmoniously, frequently mock-violently, and often by way of avoiding school-work. Her closest friend among the other children is a Jordan kitchen boy named Roger Parslow, whose disappearance early in the first book is Lyra's driving force throughout The Golden Compass.
Lyra is portrayed as dirty-blond-haired, with pale-blue eyes, thin, and short for her age. Her dæmon, Pantalaimon, is still capable of changing shape at the beginning of the trilogy, and is portrayed as a cautious and level-headed counterpoint to Lyra's impulsive, inquisitive, and sometimes reckless character. Lyra is unruly and tomboy, and her complete disregard for her appearance and personal hygiene exasperates her adult caretakers.
Lyra receives a scant and haphazard education at the hands of Jordan scholars, being neither interested in scholarly study nor officially a student of Jordan College. However, she is highly intelligent, and is particularly talented at deceiving others; she is capable of making up complex yet plausible lies improvisationally. At Oxford she uses this talent to avoid punishment by her guardians, and to entertain and deceive other children, but later in the series employs it to save her own life and the lives of others. She deceives Iofur Raknison, king of the panserbjørne of Svalbard, by suggesting that she can grant him a dæmon. Tricking a panserbjørne was a feat that her friend Iorek Byrnison had believed to be impossible for a human, and her success prompts Iorek to informally christen her "Silvertongue," which she adopts as a surname thereafter.
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