His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials

"He was lying on a sledge alternately roaring with pain and calling out instructions to his men - they were taking star-sights, and they had to get the measurements right or he'd lash them with his tongue, and boy, he had a tongue like barbed wire. A lean man, tough, powerful, curious about everything. You know he was a Tartar, by initiation?"
Sam Cansino describes John to Lee Scoresby[src]

Colonel John Parry, also known as Doctor Stanislaus Grumman or Jopari, was the father of William Parry. He accidentally travelled to Lyra's world where he became a renowned scholar and shaman. His dæmon was called Sayan Kötör and had the form of an osprey.


Life in his own world[]

As a child, John Parry was a member of the Boy Scouts.[3]. As an adult, he had a successful career in the Royal Marines as part of the 49th Commando, serving for 14 years.[4] He later left to become an explorer.[5] He was married to Elaine Parry, with whom he had a son named William.

Nuniatak dig[]

In 1985, Parry set off on the Nuniatak dig expedition to Alaska. The aim of the expedition was to survey an area for evidence of early human settlements, but Parry was in search of an anomaly that was rumoured to be in the area, as was the physicist Nelson. On the way, he met an Alaska Native named Matt Kigalik who gave him an exact location for the anomaly.[6]

Six weeks after their departure, the party arrived at the North American Arctic Survey Station in Noatak.[5] Two months later, there was a blizzard in which some of the party got lost. While searching for them, Parry and two others accidentally went through the anomaly window into the world of Cittàgazze. His two companions were killed by the Spectres shortly after.[7] The Times reported that there had been no reply to signals sent to the Survey Station and that Parry and the party were presumed missing.[5]

Life in Lyra's world[]

Parry travelled through the world of Cittàgazze and found another anomaly window into Lyra's world, which was located near a place called Prudhoe Bay.[8] He travelled across the Northern lands and learnt from the peoples of the Arctic and visited certain locations like Bear Rock.[7] He met the Yenisei shaman Ivan Kasymovich Tyltshin who taught him about the spirit world. It was here that he met his dæmon Sayan Kötör, who had the form of an osprey.[8]

Under the name of Stanislaus Grumman,[7] he travelled through Europe. He began his scientific studies in Warsaw.[8] Around 1988-89 he made a name for himself with his paper on the variations in the magnetic pole.[9] He presented it at the German Academy and defended it in a debate.[7] With his new credentials, he continued his studies. At some point, he studied at Jordan College in Oxford.[10]

In London, he realised that he found it difficult to live in a place so familiar yet different, and decided to return to the North, where he felt more at home.[8] He joined the Yenisei Pakhtars and underwent trepanning.[9] He became a shaman and made several important discoveries, as well getting ideas such as learning how to make bloodmoss ointment from the shaman Turukhanik.[7] At some time in his life, Parry turned down the love of the witch Juta Kamainen.[11]

War against the Authority[]

After becoming a shaman, he met Lord Asriel. He told Asriel about the Alaska window. Asriel told Parry about his plan to lead a rebellion against the Authority.[8]

At some point, he cured a wound of Giacomo Paradisi's with his bloodmoss ointment. Because Parry knew about the windows between worlds, Paradisi confided in him about the subtle knife. Parry immediately knew that he must bring Asriel and the knife together.[8]

Later, Parry summoned Lee Scoresby to him using Lee Scoresby's mother's ring. Parry told Scoresby about the subtle knife and the aëronaut agreed to take Parry to the world of Cittàgazze if he would ensure that Lyra Silvertongue were under the protection of the knife.[7] During the flight, Parry called a storm and one of the four Magisterium zeppelins which were pursuing them was struck down by lightning. When they made camp for the night, Parry sent a Spectre to another of the zeppelins, where it attacked the pilot causing the aircraft to crash. The third was attacked by a flock of birds led by Sayan Kötör.[3]

Will and John fighting

Lee Scoresby held the Magisterium men off at the ravine so that Parry was able to reach Will.[3] When he met Will, he healed Will's fingers with the bloodmoss ointment and told him that he must use the subtle knife to kill the Authority. At the moment that he realised the boy was his son, he was shot through the heart by Juta Kamainen, the witch he spurned.[2]

Physical appearance[]

Parry is described as having blazing blue eyes, a stubborn jawline and dark hair streaked with grey.[2]

Abilities and skills[]

  • Shamanism: Parry was a shaman. He was capable of entering a trance and travelling in spirit.[7] He also had the power to control the weather, bringing on both winds and storms.[3]


"People here cannot conceive of worlds where dæmons are a silent voice in the mind and no more. Can you imagine my astonishment, in turn, at learning that part of my own nature was female, and bird-formed, and beautiful?"
—John Parry to Lee Scoresby

John Parry's dæmon, when found and formed, took the shape of a female osprey whose name was Sayan Kötör.

After travelling to Lyra's world, Parry met the shaman Ivan Kasymovich Tyltshin, who taught him about the spirit world. It was there that John met Sayan Kötör for the first time.[8]


She was fiercely protective of John and often wary of others. When she spoke, she only did so to John, in a way of reporting which was most unlike other daemons and their humans. She had a regal authority over others as she had the ability to command a flock of birds into attacking one of the zeppelins, because of this she was called the "eagle queen" by Lee Scoresby. She had the ability to fly great distances away from John, similar to a witch's daemon.

Behind the scenes[]


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HDM Wiki has 10 images of John Parry.
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HDM Wiki has 3 images of Sayan Kötör.


World of the dead
Locations AbyssHolding areaLand of the deadSuburbs of the land of the dead
Natives BoatmanGracious WingsMarthaMagdaPeterMartha and Peter's sonMartha and Peter's childMartha and Peter's baby
Ghosts Castor's humanDirk JansenJohn ParryLee ScoresbyMatapan's humanRoger ParslowSandling's human
Important DeathsHarpiesGhostsThe Authority