The River Giant was a giant from Lyra's world who helped Malcolm Polstead and Alice Parslow take La Belle Sauvage and the baby Lyra Belacqua beyond the lock at the garden where people go when they forget.[1]


Malcolm, Alice and Lyra came to two large gates in the River Thames after fleeing from Gerard Bonneville. The gates, however, were locked and they couldn't escape any other way. The River Giant then approached the canoe and told them he was under the instructions of Old Father Thames not to open the gates unless given instructions to (for example, if there was a large drought in the world).

Malcolm held up some of Gerard's papers that he'd stolen previously and allowed the giant to look at them, upside down. Malcolm explained that Lyra was the King's daughter and that she needed to go through. The River Giant held her in his hands, without Lyra crying, before allowing the canoe to continue travelling.[1]

It is possible that Gerard tricked the River Giant into letting him pass through after the three of them as he is later seen in a graveyard.[2]

Appearance and personalityEdit

The Giant was huge, with hair tangled with river reeds below a rusty crown. He had greenish skin and a long beard that trailed down into the water of the River Thames. He carried a trident, implying he may have been a river god or a Giant merman, and stated that he took instructions from Old Father Thames. He was not outwardly malicious towards the trio, with a particularly fondness for Lyra, whom he referred to as 'the babby'. 

Behind the scenesEdit

  • The River Giant's benevolence appears to draw a resemblance to the appearance of Triton in the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts.
  • Malcolm's statement that 'maybe he's the god of a little tributary, like Old Father Thames is the god of the main river, perhaps' echoes a theme from Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series, in which the Thames is ruled by Father Thames, the 'Old Man of the River', at all points above Teddington Lock, whereas the passionate Mama Thames rules all below (and the entire river). The pair's motley collection of teenage children make up the gods of the tributaries, streams and brooks that follow the Thames; these include Beverley Brook, Oxley, Isis, Lady Tyburn, Fleet, Lea, Brent and Ash. 



  1. 1.0 1.1 La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 23
  2. La Belle Sauvage, Chapter 24
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