Dr Gerard Bonneville, Ph.D. was an experimental theologian and an expert on elementary particles before he was dismissed from his position after being imprisoned for a sexual crime. He pursued the infant Lyra Belacqua in an attempt to bargain with the Magisterium in exchange for funding and facilitation of his research on the Rusakov field. His dæmon took the form of a hyena. His son, Olivier Bonneville, was born to an unknown woman.
Trouble with the Magisterium
Gerard was a physicist in Lyra's world, before attracting attention from the Magisterium because of his interest in the Rusakov field and Dust. He was very obsessive and demanding and his hyena-dæmon made him a difficult person to work with and employ.
The Magisterium managed to find an excuse to put him in prison because he had committed a sexual crime involving young girls and Marisa Coulter was a major part in testifying against him.
Gerard was dismissed from his academic post and wasn't allowed into laboratories, libraries, technical help and other things a physicist would need to work with.
Once he was released from prison, he needed a way to get back in the Magisterium's favour. He knew of a prophecy of the witches about a child, Lyra Belacqua. He thought that, if he could get hold of that child, he would be able to bargain with the Magisterium so that he could get all his privileges back and they could do whatever they wanted with the child.
Gerard had been following, from Novgorod, a gyptian, Coram van Texel, on his way up to the University of Uppsala. When Coram was coming out of the university and heading back through Uppsala to his boarding house, Gerard was following him. Coram, however, was aware of this because his dæmon wasn't able to hide.
Coram snuck into an alley and waited for Gerard to enter after him. Gerard had a gun which he used, although not managing to hit Coram fatally. Coram managed to escape after having severely wounded Gerard and taking off one of his dæmon's front legs.
He came to know that Lyra was being held at Godstow Priory in Oxford and decided to entice the people who were closely associated with the priory and the baby to see if they would get it for him. He found two victims: Alice Parslow, a girl who worked at The Trout Inn, over the River Thames from the priory and who later took up work in the kitchens of the priory, helping to look after the baby, and Sister Katarina, a young nun.
He took a night-time walk with Alice in Jericho, buying her fish and chips and taking her along Walton Well Road. He took her under the bridge and began to kiss her and call her beautiful. Alice stopped him from going on any further because his dæmon was horrible. She was violent and bloody and disgusting.
Whilst working as a helper in priory kitchens, Alice became aware of Gerard's relationship with Sister Katarina, who was involved with looking after Lyra after the older nun who had done so, Sister Fenella, collapsed. Malcolm Polstead, a boy from The Trout, had seen Gerard try to get into the priory through a window. Katarina had left the shutter open (although Malcolm thought it was broken) for Bonneville. However, Gerard didn't get in because his dæmon was making so much noise and Sister Benedicta, the head of the priory, managed to scare him off.
On the night the river burst its banks, in 1986, Gerard had enticed Katarina into joining him in the potting sheds outside the main priory building and to leave Lyra in the hands of Alice. Alice had called Malcolm over so he could have a look at what they were doing. Malcolm found them in the potting shed having sex before the floods brought the gatehouse of the priory down and half the main building collapsed.
When the building had fallen in, Malcolm was just about to go inside. He was taking Lyra as Gerard appeared. Alice hit him on the head with a chair and they fled from Gerard and his laughing dæmon via the bridge. He followed them along the bridge over the river, trying to get the baby, and reached The Trout Inn. Gerard got to the inn door as Alice and Malcolm were coming around the side of the inn to try to get to the door. Alice threw a large stone straight at him and he fell. Malcolm managed to get in the canoe, La Belle Sauvage, and set off down the river.
Gerard managed to get hold of a dinghy and later followed them down the river. Whilst Malcolm stopped for the night, Gerard sailed past the tree which they were moored too, his dæmon laughing in the night.
Lord Murdstone's house
Malcolm and Alice had entered a house further along the flood. Gerard was following closely behind. Malcolm had convinced a drunk man who was pretending the place was his to guard the house from Bonneville. However, Gerard had taken the shotgun the man had used to defend himself, and slit his throat before letting him get carried away by the water.
Gerard then moved further into the house, causing Malcolm, Alice and Lyra to hide in the cellar. Bonneville checked in the rooms on the ground floor, including the one with the entrance to the cellar Malcolm had gone down, before finding another door that led to the cellar. Malcolm had approached this door to see if he could escape through it, but it was locked and neither had the key. Gerard told Malcolm through the door about the man who allegedly owned the house, Lord Murdstone and how he took children down to the cellar and dismembered them. He told of how their spirits still haunted the cellar to scare Malcolm.
Gerard continued talking whilst the others snuck out and down to the canoe, getting ready to leave. However, Gerard came sprinting down the lawn as they were getting in. He demanded Malcolm give him Lyra, and so he approached Malcolm. As soon as he got close enough, Malcolm stabbed him in the thigh with a knife from the kitchen and Alice took the discarded shotgun left from earlier and beat the dæmon's only other foreleg with it, leaving it battered.
Malcolm had taken the rucksack from Gerard's dinghy beforehand and had pushed his dinghy out into the floods. The three got into the canoe and sailed off leaving Gerard stranded.
Previously thought to have been dead by Alice and Malcolm, Gerard had managed to get to an island under the ground where people went when they forgot. Malcolm and Alice saw him in what could have been a carriage or a wheelchair. Swarms of the people on the island were gathering around him. Malcolm managed to quickly mend his canoe with some resin from a nearby tree and canvas from Gerard's rucksack.
They managed to sail along down to the River Giant whilst Asta and Ben, Malcolm and Alice's dæmons watched as the people carried Gerard down the path towards the banks of the river. They were pointing at the canoe.
Gerard had hidden or was going to arrive on an island on the other side of the River Giant's gates that the canoe docked on to get supplies and hide from a Consistorial Court of Discipline engine boat. As Malcolm was going to get some wood, which he gathered from a few fence posts and the lid of a coffin, Gerard hid among the trees. Malcolm, when walking back to the canoe, was convinced he had seen Gerard's shadow.
Malcolm built a fire whilst Gerard stayed hidden and, as the fire went out and Malcolm scattered the ashes before getting into the canoe, Gerard quietly approached the canoe. As the coal-silk tarpaulin was up, they couldn't see him approach on the side closest to the island.
Gerard whispered Alice's name when he was beside them and soon the CCD boat returned, scanning the island more closely. Alice felt like she was about to faint and so Malcolm took Lyra. Gerard then, once the boat had passed, cut with a knife a slit in the cover and felt around Alice, with one hand on her throat, for the baby. Ben, her dæmon, bit his wrist but Gerard grabbed hold of Ben, pulled him out and went further up the slope on the island towards the mausoleum. Alice, because of the bond with her dæmon being stretched, quickly ran after him.
- Malcolm Polstead: "What's the Rusakov field? Why's it important?"
- Gerard Bonneville: "Dust..."
- — Gerard's last word
Gerard's dæmon, seized Ben between her teeth, biting down and Gerard had Alice pinned to the ground. Malcolm, who had left his dæmon looking after Lyra, came up the hill with the paddle for the canoe. He brought it down once, feebly, on Gerard causing him to laugh before gaining more strength and slapping it down on his dæmon, causing her to release Ben.
Malcolm returned to Gerard, wanting to hurt him for hurting Alice, and continued to beat him with the paddle. Malcolm asked Gerard one more thing before he died, his last word being 'Dust'. Gerard's body was left in the flood.
Gerard had brown hair and black eyes. Malcolm thought he might have been handsome if there wasn't an air of vigour and rough mischief that surrounded him.
Personality and traits
Gerard was a charming person, allowing him to attract women and girls, then knowing how to make them do what he wanted, how to please them (for example, saying Alice was beautiful, something no one had said to her before) and how to start to manipulate them. He was also very intelligent, being a physicist. Rosamond Cantacuzino described him as a 'ne'er-do-well'.
Abilities and skills
- Spying: Gerard was a good spy, he knew how to hide himself in the shadows and follow someone unnoticed.
- Charm: Gerard was able to make people do what he wanted and charm them into telling him secrets.
- "She was never going to be nice. He was, Bonneville was, he wanted to go on kissing me but I couldn't, not with her growling and biting and...and pissing, She pissed like it was a weapon..."
- —Alice describes her sexual experience with Bonneville[src]
Gerard's dæmon settled as a female hyena. Her personality was completely opposite of Gerard, she would laugh a lot, giving Bonneville away when he was chasing Malcolm. She self-harmed, sometimes at the encouragement of Gerard.
When her leg was taken off, she often licked the stump of it, which other people thought was revolting. The dæmon naturally put people off Bonneville, in The Trout, everyone else was sitting well away from him. Reg Polstead said he'd throw him out of the pub if he came in again because of his dæmon.
His dæmon also made it hard to work with him. She put off a lot of other people in the laboratories Gerard used to work in.
She had big, sharp, yellow teeth, a small head and was quite ugly.
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 21
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 13
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 17
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 4
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 22
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 12
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 15
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 16
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 18
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 24
- La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 11
- The Secret Commonwealth, Chapter 25