Living a quiet life at Jordan College in London, Lyra Belacqua's world is thrown into turmoil and adventure when she receives a mysterious gold instrument known as an alethiometer from the head of the institution. Sworn to secrecy, Lyra soon learns that only she can read the magical, all-knowing alethiometer. Accompanied by her shape-shifting companion animal Pantalaimon, she is drawn into a web of intrigue when she goes to live with the beautiful Marisa Coulter and discovers the shocking truth behind a series of recent kidnappings. With time running out, Lyra enlists the help of bears, witches and gypsies to save the kidnapped children who are in captivity far to the north. As she journeys northwards, Lyra begins to uncover shocking secrets about her past.