"She could snap your backbone like a twig."
Lyra Belacqua talking about Ma Costa[src]

Maggie[2] 'Ma' Costa was a feared and respected gyptian woman with a hawk dæmon. Her family was noted for its grandeur and sumptuousness, known as 'princes' among the other gyptians.[3]


Nursing LyraEdit

In 1985, Ma Costa nursed Lyra Silvertongue as an infant on the estates of Lord Asriel in Oxfordshire. When Edward Coulter came to do harm to Lyra, Ma fled to the main house and hid in a closet with the baby. Asriel returned home and killed Edward Coulter, but was taken to court soon after. Because of his actions, Lord Asriel lost all his wealth and standing in the community. Ma asked the courts if she could take Lyra and raise her as her own, but was denied the opportunity. Over the years, Ma Costa and the other gyptians kept an eye and ear out for news of Lyra and how she was doing.[4]

Horse FairEdit


Ma Costa and her hawk-dæmon

During the Horse Fair many years later, a year before Lyra began her adventure to the North, Lyra and a group of children from Oxford captured Ma Costa's boat and sailed down the canal with it to Abingdon, trying to find the bung in it that would let all the water in.[3] The story of it went all over the Fens to all the other gyptians and the family were mocked for it.[4]

Her son's kidnappingEdit

During the Horse Fair the following year, her son Billy Costa was kidnapped by the Gobblers, last seen holding Johnny Fiorelli's horse.[3] She remained strong-willed and never gave up looking for him.

Rescuing LyraEdit

After Lyra was taken by her mother Marisa Coulter and then escaped, she was caught by some Turk traders but Tony Costa rescued her and took Lyra back to their boat on the Grand Junction Canal where Ma Costa took care of her, wrapping her arms around her when she came in and keeping her safe. The following morning when they were talking about the Gobblers, Ma Costa had to leave the room when they touched upon the subject of the North. Tony explained that she didn't like talking about the place as she knew Billy was being kept there.[1] Over the next few days, Lyra helped with the cooking and cleaning on the boat.[4]


When they arrived at the Fens, Ma Costa looked after Lyra and kept close to her during the Byanropings. After the first Roping, John Faa and Coram van Texel invited Lyra to talk with them where they told her about her upbrining and how Ma Costa had protected her from Mr Coulter. When Lyra left the meeting, Ma Costa hugged and kissed her before sending her to bed.[4]

On the next day, Ma Costa was quizzed by Lyra for information on what happened when she was younger.[5] Later, Lyra had to explain to Ma Costa that she was going to the North with the rest of the gyptians to go and find the kidnapped children.[6]

Helping LyraEdit

When Lyra was 20, she returned to the Fens with Giorgio Brabandt where, upon her arrival, she almost immediately went to Ma Costa. Lyra explained that her dæmon, Pantalaimon, had left her. Ma Costa told her she was to stay on her boat, the Persian Queen, before giving her a small biscuit tin and sending her to see Coram.[7]

Behind the scenesEdit

  • In Northern Lights, there was a mistake where Ma Costa's dæmon was introduced as a hawk but was later seen as a grey wolf-like dog.[1] This was corrected in later editions. Some editions of The Golden Compass described the hawk dæmon licking Pantalaimon as though it were a dog.
  • In The Golden Compass, Ma was played by Clare Higgins. Early scripts and storyboards of the film included her death.[8]
  • Her dæmon has the same form as her son Tony's.[5] This may have contributed to the confusion or suggest a certain heredity to forms.
  • In the TV series, Ma Costa is played by Anne-Marie Duff.[9] Her dæmon is a goshawk and is named Jal.[10]


Nl 02
HDM Wiki has 9 images of Ma Costa.


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.