William 'Will' Parry (born 1984) was a young boy from England, and the final bearer of the subtle knife. Although not born in Lyra's world, after he visited the land of the dead his soul became a dæmon named Kirjava. Not long afterwards, she settled as a cat at the touch of his first love, Lyra Silvertongue.
Will was the sole child of John Parry, an explorer, and Elaine Parry. During the first months of his life, Will's father left on an expedition to the Arctic known as the Nuniatak dig, from which he never returned. Will grew up in their family house in Winchester with his mother.
As he was growing up, Will questioned his mother often about his father. She was unable to provide a lot of information, but told him that John Parry had been a handsome and brave officer in the Royal Marines who left the army to become an explorer. After learning this, he grew up playing many games where he explored with an invisible companion that represented his father.
At age six, Will and his mother dressed smartly to visit an elderly couple in a large house. Their cold attitude and contempt made his mother cry, and it was only when he was older that he realised they were his paternal grandparents. At age seven Will realised that his mother had mental health problems. They were playing a game in the supermarket where they could only place something in the cart when no one was looking. It was fun for Will to be the lookout, but when they finally reached the checkout, his mother began to panic because she was convinced the enemies had stolen her purse. This prompted her to go back around the supermarket and place everything back, and she was convinced that the enemies would track them down by her card number. It was after this incident that Will became more aware of his mother's condition - the enemies she spoke of were only in her mind - and made it his mission to take care of her.
Will's mother would often have times of clarity where her disease seemed to disappear, but these moments were always short-lived. Will would take advantage of these moments and learn how to shop, cook, and clean. He was determined to take care of his mother, because he feared the authorities would take her away and send him to live with strangers. He recognized that his mother was so kind, sweet and loving even when she was having an episode, and he did not want her to be taken away from him.
When Will was twelve years old, agents began to turn up at his house and question his mother about her husband. They were insistent and caused Will's mother plenty of distress, so Will told them to leave. The agents escalated their efforts when they realized Will would not call the authorities for fear of losing his mother. They would come back and question his mother when Will was at school, and one time they even broke into the house when neither of them was home. It became apparent they were looking for something specific, and it became clear to Will that it was the green leather case which was his mother's most prized possession. He did not know what was inside, but knew it was important to his mother. He made a plan to get his mother to safety, find the writing case, look inside, then go to Oxford where he might find answers.
Will entrusted his mother's safety to his former piano teacher, Mrs Cooper. He then returned to his home, and, after feeding his cat Moxie, he searched the entire house for the writing case. He could not find it and fell asleep in his room. As soon as he woke up, Will realised where the leather case was and also realised that the agents were downstairs searching the house. He quietly retrieved the writing case from his mother's sewing machine. When one of the agents came upstairs, Will intended to headbutt him out of the way and escape the house. Things went wrong when Moxie moved behind the agent's legs. In the process of trying to avoid Will, the agent fell backwards over the cat, crashed down the stairs, cracked his head against the hall table, and died. Will didn't have time to contemplate any of this, and instead ran out of the house at full speed. He crashed through the neighbour's yards and ended up hiding under a shrub by the street. Here, he realized he could not go back for his mother because the police would surely be after him for killing the agent at his house. He decided to press on and look for information on his father.
Meeting a Truth-Reader
By the time Will made it the 40 miles to Oxford, it was too late to do what he needed to. He headed north looking for somewhere to get off the streets and remain unnoticed, and he came across a neighbourhood lined with hornbeam trees. It was here that he watched a tabby cat behave strangely about an empty patch of grass between the hornbeams and the bushes of a garden hedge. The cat suddenly disappeared, and when Will went to investigate, he discovered a window to another world. Will went through the window and found himself in a completely deserted city with a Mediterranean or Caribbean air.
As he explored the empty city, Will was in disbelief and found himself touching the walls of buildings and plants in windows. The city was near the sea, and the crashing of waves was the only sound aside from Will's own footsteps. No birds, insects or other sounds of life were around. He went to the beach, stripped and got into the water because the night air here was hot. After cooling off in the water, he came to the realisation that he was finally safe because he had a whole world in which to hide from the agents. He returned to the town and put his clothes back on as he went in search of food. He was drawn to a little café that was similar to dozens of others. He explored the rooms, but paused outside of the very last room.
The door of the last room burst open and he was attacked. It took a few moments of scuffling before he realised that he was fighting a girl of his own age, and she came to the same realisation. They stopped fighting and the girl retreated against the wall alongside a wildcat. Will learned her name was Lyra Silvertongue, and she was from a different world than the one they stood in. He watched in fascination as the wildcat - Lyra's dæmon - changed shape in front of him.
Motivated by hunger, Will led the way downstairs to the kitchen and located some edible food. He was surprised by how little Lyra seemed to know about cola, cooking, and can-opening. He made an omelette and baked beans, then split the portions with her. They talked about Lyra's mission to find out about Dust, and she demanded that he show her the window to go into his world. Will agreed to do so the next day, after he had gotten some sleep. He insisted that she wash the dishes despite her protests, then went to bed.
When Will woke up the next morning, he joined Lyra downstairs and ate breakfast. They spoke again about Lyra's desire to find scholars on Dust. They also briefly spoke about the differences between the worlds they came from, such as how the phenomenon known as electricity in Will's world was known as anbaricity in Lyra's world.
While they sat outside, they noticed two children in the distance. The two of them, Angelica and Paolo, told Will and Lyra that they were in a city known as Cittàgazze. They explained the place was abandoned because there had been a large storm and a lot of fog, but now that the fog had cleared, the children were returning to the city. The adults, however, saw that the town was full of Spectres and could not come back because Spectres - which only adults can see - attack adults and leave them mindless.
Once the two groups of children parted ways, Will told Lyra that they would need to get her new clothes before she went to his world. He threatened to kill her if she didn't follow his lead and ended up getting them caught. Once Lyra had washed herself, Will found a department store and located clothes for her that would help her blend in. He paid for the clothes despite Lyra pointing out it was unnecessary, then led the way to the window to his world. Will did not intend to go through with her, so he gave her directions on how to get into the centre of his Oxford once she was through.
Will watched Lyra go through, and soon after he heard a car crash. He rushed through the opening when he saw Lyra lying on the ground, and he insisted she move her limbs to see if she was okay. Once he had ascertained that nothing was broken, Will got her to her feet. He began leading her away from the scene of the accident, telling people that she was his sister and he was going to take her home. He gave fake names and said that they lived in Bourne Close before managing to get them out of the public eye and around the corner quickly. They sat on a bench and Will angrily lectured Lyra about being more careful.
Will came to the conclusion that they would need to travel together if she had any hope of blending in. He told her that they would pretend to be siblings in order to give him a good disguise from the police he was sure would be looking for him. They walked into Summertown where Will withdrew money from an ATM and gave some to Lyra. He got them onto a bus into the Oxford city centre and once they were off, he scolded Lyra about loudly pointing out the things "wrong" with his Oxford. The two children proceeded to go their separate ways.
Search for his father
Once separated from Lyra, Will found a phone booth and called his father's lawyer Alan Perkins. Mr Perkins sent money from his father's account to Elaine Parry's account every three months, so Will was hoping to learn more about his father from speaking to him. However, Mr Perkins was unable to reveal any meaningful information because he could not confirm Will's identity over the phone. He did reveal that Will's father had disappeared many years ago from an expedition in Alaska and it was a matter of public record, so Will could easily look it up in the library.
Will ran out of time on the payphone before he could learn more, and he contemplated calling his mother at Mrs Cooper's house. He resisted this urge and instead wrote his mother using a postcard, reassuring her of his love and well-being. After posting the postcard, Will disguised himself as a school kid writing notes on a clipboard while keeping an eye out for the library.
Once he arrived at the library, he convinced the reference librarian that he was doing research for a geography project. With her help, he located microfilms of the Times index for the year of his birth, which was when his father disappeared. He read several articles about his father's Alaska expedition, which was sponsored by the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford University. He read about when they disappeared and the search parties, and even read an article about his mother's reaction to her missing husband. He did not learn everything he wanted, so he asked the librarian for information on the Institute of Archaeology and left the library to go there.
Once he reached the Institute, he learned from an archaeologist that he was the second person that month to show up asking questions about the Nuniatak dig expedition. The other person had claimed to be a journalist. The archaeologist didn't tell Will much more than he already knew - just that the party on the expedition went missing without a trace, and no remains were recovered. When Will asked, the archaeologist briefly described the journalist and Will left right after because he felt the archaeologist was suspicious of him for asking that question.
Will realised that the journalist described was one of the agents that had been harassing him and his mother - the one he had not killed. Will sat down in a nearby museum and spent a half-hour contemplating the fact that he was a murderer. He eventually calmed himself by recognising he had done the deed in defence of his home. He left the museum when closing time neared, then walked along High Street where Mr Perkins's office was. Before he crossed the road to go in, he noticed the blond agent appear and walk into the office. Will turned away and went in search of Lyra.
He was sitting on a bench when Lyra appeared on the bench beside him. She attracted the attention of a couple police officers nearby, asking innocently for directions. This angered Will greatly, and as they walked, the two began to argue passionately. Will argued that talking to anyone would attract attention and they should just stay quiet and out of people's ways. Lyra argued that she was an amazing liar and had put the police off his scent. It was then that she revealed she knew about Will's search for his father, and Will became even more furious when she revealed her ability to use the alethiometer and ask about his affairs. He insisted she not ask the alethiometer anything more about him, and they would just have to trust each other.
After this conversation, Will noted that they wouldn't be able to return to the other world until it got dark, so he suggested a trip to the cinema. He bought them food and tickets, but slept through most of the shows. When it was late enough, the two of them started their journey back to the window that would lead to the other world. Lyra told Will her story of the past few months since she left her home in Jordan College, talking of armoured bears and witches. He listened sympathetically but in his mind he thought that her story couldn't possibly be true. When they finally re-entered the world of Cittàgazze, they discovered a group of children terrorizing the tabby cat that originally led Will to find the window between the worlds. He rescued the cat from them, which made the children realize he was not from around there. Once the children had been scared off by Lyra's dæmon transforming into a leopard, Will and Lyra returned to their home base above the café.
Will tended to the cat's wounds and eventually Lyra went to bed, leaving Will to finally investigate the contents of his father's writing case. Inside was a series of letters from which Will learned that his father discovered another anomaly - a window - during his expedition in Alaska. The letters had the exact location of where the window was, and Will concluded that this explained why the agents were after his mother all this time. He felt connected to his father after reading the letters, and went to bed shortly after.
The next morning, Will woke up to a letter from Lyra saying that she went back to Will's world to talk with her scholar. He was rereading his father's letters when Lyra returned in a terrible rage. She explained that she had been tricked and told a couple of agents in the other world that she knew Will, and after escaping from the agents, she had accepted a ride from a man - Charles Latrom - and he had stolen her alethiometer. At this point, Lyra apologized to Will and explained that the alethiometer had wanted her to help him find his father, but she had ignored its desire and instead went back to Dr Malone. This upset Will, but Lyra convinced him that they should go and get the alethiometer back. She showed him a business card with the man's information, so Will said that they should just go to the man's house and see if they could get it back. He hid the letters in the café before they went back to his world and made their way to Charles' manor.
When they arrived at the manor in Old Headington, they were allowed entrance by his servant. Will explained to Sir Charles that his sister - Lyra - thought she had left an item in his car. Sir Charles led them to his study and showed them the alethiometer, explaining that it was now his property because the children could not prove otherwise. Lyra was infuriated by this, and while she spoke her mind to the man, Will was taking in his surroundings and taking note of where everything was. He even noticed an event that he almost believed to be his imagination: an emerald snake briefly appeared in Sir Charles' sleeve, looking between Will and Lyra before disappearing back into the sleeve. It shocked Will. Sir Charles proceeded to explain that the only way he would give back the alethiometer was if Lyra and Will retrieved a knife from the other world they had taken refuge in. He had his chauffeur take them all to the location of the window as he explained the task to the children. During this chat, he told them very little about the knife, except that it kept Spectres away and the owner must be holed up in the Torre degli Angeli tower. He also dodged some questions from Lyra by asking about her dæmon, and that's when Will realized that snake he saw earlier must be Sir Charles' dæmon. Before letting them go, Sir Charles told them not to bother returning without the knife, or he would turn them into the police.
Acquiring the subtle knife
When Will and Lyra were back in the world of Cittàgazze, Will told Lyra about Sir Charles' dæmon. When they arrived at the tower, Lyra told Will about the man she had seen in the window. They couldn't find a way into the tower aside from the front door, so they all carefully entered that way. Will led the way up the stairs and peaked in on the young man before leading Lyra further up the tower. They wanted to explore a bit more before confronting the young man with the knife, and during their investigation of the higher floors, they discovered an old man who had been beaten and tied up. They released him and he introduced himself as Giacomo Paradisi, the "bearer." He explained that the young man had stolen the knife from him but he wouldn't be able to use it.
Just a few moments later, the young man himself came up and confronted them. There was a long fight between them, but when it ended, Will was triumphant and holding the knife. The young man, who they had figured out was Tullio, the older brother of Angelica and Paolo, fled from the tower. After a moment, Will realized something was very wrong and he soon saw that his pinky and ring finger from his left hand had been cut off, even through the rope which he had bound round his hand for protection against the knife. He briefly lost consciousness from the surprise and blood loss, and when he came to, Lyra had to support him as she led the way downstairs to the old man they had rescued. The man gave Will some plum brandy so that he wouldn't be in so much pain, then he applied a special medicine to his fingers and bandaged Will up as best he could.
Once Will was taken care of, Giacomo Paradisi informed Will that the loss of his fingers was the sign that he was the new bearer of the knife. The old man showed off his own hand that was missing the same fingers. He gave the knife to Will and warned them against giving the knife to Charles Latrom, who would ultimately betray them. Giacomo Paradisi said he would teach Will how to use it because it was now his by right. Will was reluctant to learn at first because he was in so much pain. He was distracted by thoughts of his mother, as well, and he fell to the floor in grief and began to cry. After a moment, he felt the touch of Pantalaimon on his leg as a wolfhound, and the dæmon licked his wounds before returning to Lyra's side. This gesture gave Will the strength to get up and turn his full attention to learning how to use the knife.
The knife could cut through any material in the world, and could even cut an opening into another world, which is what Giacomo Paradisi sought to teach Will. It was a very difficult process, but under the old man's guidance, Will learned how to create a window into another world. The old man then tried to teach Will how to close the window by pinching the edges with his hand. This proved to be much more difficult for Will because the pain had become overwhelming at this point. Lyra talked to him and explained that he needed to embrace the pain rather than trying to block it out and try to close the window at the same time. This technique worked, and he easily closed the window.
Giacomo Paradisi proceeded to explain a little about the history of the knife, and that the Spectres were the fault of the Guild who created it. He also told Will about the rules of the knife. He proceeded to explain that he was going to take poison before the Spectres could get to him. Although Lyra became distraught by this, Will maintained his composure and thanked the man. He got Lyra to leave with him after they told the old man goodbye, and he reassured her that taking the poison was the best option for the man. When they were outside, he told her that they would use the knife to steal her alethiometer back.
Will and Lyra returned to the café after finding a change of clothes for him. He was bloodsoaked, so he washed himself and changed, then had Lyra retie a bandage around his painful wound. He asked that Lyra hold onto his letters in case they didn't make it back, and he insisted that he wouldn't mind her reading them. Will promptly fell asleep after his request.
Later that evening, the two of them navigated their way through the world Cittàgazze to the position of Sir Charles' manor using the knife to periodically open windows and check their position in relation to the other world. The tabby cat they had rescued followed them, but Will paid it no mind. They made their final approach to the manor while in Will's world. When they were within sight of the study where Charles kept the alethiometer, Will relayed his plan to Lyra: he would open a window back to the world of Cittàgazze and leave it open as he walked to the position of Charles' study. Once there, he would open a window from the world of Cittàgazze directly into Charles' study, grab Lyra's alethiometer, close that window, then come back to the first window where he left Lyra and call for her. She agreed to keep watch, and Will did exactly as he said he would.
He found the spot in the Cittàgazze world where Charles' study was, and he cut and closed several windows around him in an effort to find the cabinet with the alethiometer in it. Will soon realized the alethiometer was not where Charles had put it in before, and he determined that he would have to go through and search the study. Will closed the window in front of the cabinet and created a larger window that would come out behind the sofa in the study. As he was searching for the alethiometer, he heard a car outside and quickly realized that Sir Charles was home. Will hid behind the sofa where the window back to Cittàgazze was, and he could see through the window that Lyra was running towards him. When she was close enough, he whispered that he couldn't find the alethiometer but he was going to stay and listen to see if he put it back. Lyra was in a panic and explained that her mother Marisa Coulter was with Sir Charles, and that she remembered his name was not Charles, but actually a man named Lord Boreal, whom she had met once before. Will quieted her so they could listen in on the conversation, Will in his world and Lyra still standing in the world of Cittàgazze. Through the window, Lyra re-wrapped Will's bandage as the adults entered the room.
They spoke of Lyra's father Lord Asriel and his plans to wage a war. They also spoke of the different worlds and the windows between them, and Marisa spoke of her desire to know more about Dust and the difference between adults and children. During this time, Will noticed a shadow moving around the room and eventually realized it was Marisa's dæmon, some sort of monkey. When Sir Charles placed the alethiometer on a nearby endtable, Will quietly instructed Lyra to go back through the other window and throw some rocks so that he could grab the alethiometer without being noticed. Lyra did so, and her throwing the rock through one of the study windows interrupted the adults' conversation. When Sir Charles stood up from the sofa, Will grabbed the alethiometer and darted through the window into Cittàgazze. He immediately focused on closing the window, but the monkey dæmon of Marisa Coulter stuck its hand through and tried to claw at Will. Will slashed with the knife, and the dæmon's retreat gave him enough time to finish closing the window.
Will hurried back to the other window which Lyra had gone through, intent on rescuing her. He looked through the window, watching as Sir Charles and Marisa Coulter ran outside and started looking around. As the monkey dæmon was darting through the shrubbery to find Lyra, the tabby cat that had followed them through the world of Cittàgazze appeared and got into a fight with the monkey. Suddenly, Lyra appeared and was through the window, joining Will in the world of Cittàgazze. He immediately closed the window, then fell to his knees and gave Lyra her alethiometer. He then laid in the grass and expressed his gratitude for the cat's actions. Lyra redid his bandage and thanked him for helping her get the alethiometer back, then led the way to a nearby house so they could rest for the night.
The next morning, Will woke up in a pool of his own blood and had to stumble downstairs to the kitchen of the house. Lyra was there already brewing them coffee, and she helped him to sit down when she saw him struggling. He proceeded to strip down and wash himself with the sink while Lyra went and found him new clothes. When she came back, he dressed and she created another makeshift bandage for his hand, which was swollen and had Will slightly worried. After drinking some coffee and eating toasted bread, Will asked Lyra to use the alethiometer to check for any immediate danger. When he expressed his concern about Angelica's brother, Lyra told him that while Giacomo Paradisi was bandaging him in the tower, she witnessed the brother being attacked by Spectres outside. She explained the Angelica and Paolo both saw her in the tower and swore to kill her. Although this was concerning to Lyra, Will explained that they couldn't go back and change anything now. He suggested that they focus on what Marisa Coulter and Sir Charles might be planning.
Will asked Lyra to use the alethiometer to find out about his mother, and he was extremely relieved when Lyra told him she was safe. He visibly relaxed and felt tension leave his body. He then asked her to use it to find out about his father, but before she could do so, they heard shouting coming from outside. A look through one of the windows revealed a group of fifty children headed towards them, some of them armed with guns. Angelica and the boy with the striped T-shirt were at the head of the crowd, encouraging the crowd with shouts about how Lyra and Will killed her brother and stole their knife. The crowd of children seemed eager to kill Lyra and Will, prompting Lyra to suggest that Will cut a window so they could escape. Will reasoned that they would end up right near Sir Charles' house in broad daylight, so they needed to run instead.
They ran through the villa to the back kitchen garden and determined they should make a run for the woods a few hundred yards away. The going was tough because Will got tired very easily from his wound and had to slow to a walk. When it became clear that one of the children had spotted them making their escape, Will determined that they wouldn't make it to the trees, so they should take refuge in a tower that was closer. They made their way there and climbed the spiral staircase up to a viewing platform, where they could see the children running towards them. Will cut a window, but they were both disappointed when they saw that it opened to a spot fifty feet in the air. The mob of children stormed the tower and began climbing the staircase, but Will thought quickly and cut the top of the iron staircase, causing it to fall. Some of the children left the tower and tried to rush up the outside rooftop, but Lyra went to the edge and Pan changed into a leopard causing the children to pause. The mob started throwing things at them, so Will used the knife to cut two sword-length pieces of metal which he and Lyra used to attack the children. When the boy in the striped T-shirt made an appearance on the roof, he and Will locked eyes and they both had every intention of having a brutal and deadly fight.
Suddenly, a great white snow goose made an appearance and startled the attacking children. Will was in just as much shock, but Lyra seemed to recognize the goose and was relieved. Arrows upon arrows rained down on the rooftop in aide of Will and Lyra, prompting the mob of children to disperse and run away. Lyra was calling up at a group of witches in the sky, inviting them to come down, but the snow goose - a dæmon named Kaisa - explained that there were Spectres all over the ground and the witches could not land. He instructed them to head for the trees, so Lyra led the way by jumping down from the roof with Will close behind. As they made their way to the trees, Kaisa spoke to Will directly and asked why the Spectres were avoiding him. He speculated aloud then asked where the nearest one was. When Kaisa told him, he brandished his knife in the invisible Spectre's direction. Before he could try to kill it, the witch Serafina Pekkala landed next to them and asked Will why the Spectres were afraid of him. He answered that it was because of the knife, but before he could go back to trying to kill a nearby Spectre, Lyra launched herself into Serafina's arms and expressed her gratitude for the rescue.
Serafina then told them about a cave in the woods that was not far away, instructing them to meet her and the other witches there. The witch took to the sky again and Lyra turned to Will, chatting happily with him about how they would be safe now. They set off for the cave, but it took three times as long to get there because Will was very weak and had to stop and rest several times. When they finally reached the cave, Serafina told Will that she would help with his wound, but in the meantime he should sleep. She gave him a potion and he immediately fell asleep.
Will was woken a little while later in the night by the witches. He was sat in the middle of the circle of witches with the subtle knife on the ground in front of him. They cast their healing spell by chanting, and Will felt the atoms in his body responding to their chants. He joined in by mentally urging his blood to stop flowing out of him. One witch came over with a terrified hare clutched in her arms, and Serafina cut the hare open. She used the medicine that had been brewing in a nearby pot to seal its wound, and the animal ran off relatively unharmed. Serafina then applied the medication liberally to Will's wound and packed it with herbs, concluding the ceremony. Will slept deeply for the rest of the night.
In the morning, Serafina revealed that the witches had decided to accompany Lyra on her task: leading Will to his father. Under the guidance of the alethiometer, Lyra determined they should go in the direction of the mountains. As they traveled, Will needed all of his energy just to keep going. At one point, Lyra spoke to him briefly about the kids from Cittàgazze, saying she never thought kids could be so cruel. Will told her a story about his mentally-ill mother and how kids in his world had tormented her before, so he wasn't so surprised by Angelica and her friends. He told her about his desire to find his father, and the story about the man he had killed. He also explained to her that he'd never had any friends except his cat Moxie.
They continued towards the mountains, and around noon, they encountered a village without any Spectres. There were children at play who ran for their parents when they saw Lyra and a blood-stained Will. Lyra bought some food and a new shirt for Will; he was relieved to be able to rinse off in a nearby river and change into a clean shirt. They only stopped once they reached a valley, where they decided to make camp and rest. Will was extremely tired, and his wound had started bleeding all over again. Serafina packed more herbs on the wound, but Will could tell the spell had not worked. After he laid down to sleep, Lyra joined him and Will addressed Pantalaimon directly, believing Lyra was asleep. Will told Pan that he was scared to die, but Pan reassured him and spoke of how Lyra believed him to be very brave. Will expressed to Pantalaimon that he believed Lyra to be the best friend he ever had.
Will woke up a little while later and felt his hand hurting more than ever. He saw Lyra and some of the other witches gathered around a fire and made his way over to them. They ate roasted bird and blueberries, and the witches spoke among themselves. Suddenly, they heard the cry of a dæmon in the sky and Serafina speculated that it was Ruta Skadi. The witches armed themselves when they heard the distressed cries again, and some guarded the children as a fight took place in the sky. Without warning, a cliff-ghast landed at their feet, and it lunged at Lyra. Will was closest to her and acted the fastest, beheading the creature with the subtle knife. The fight among the witches and the creatures continued above in the sky until Serafina Pekkala finally landed with her companion Ruta.
As the witches rebuilt their camp, Ruta Skadi filled everyone in on what had happened when she went to Lord Asriel's fortress. She told of how the castle he inhabited was grandiose and how he had gathered warriors of every kind and from every world. She had managed to get into the castle and to his chambers where she questioned him about his intentions. As they sat by the fire, Ruta relayed his invitation for the witches to join his army in a fight against the Authority. She also explained that she had overheard the cliff-ghasts speaking of something or someone known as Æsahættr, and how it was the ultimate weapon, before she was attacked by them. Serafina Pekkala explained to Ruta that she had to stay and continue helping Lyra and Will find his father. Upon hearing this, Will laid back down because his wound hurt and his hand was swollen. He drifted off to sleep quickly.
The following day, they travelled the mountainous terrain for a long time. Around noon, Serafina Pekkala explained to Will and Lyra that she had to go find Lee Scoresby. She left without any further explanation. During this break in their journey, Will spoke with Lyra briefly about the motivation he had for finding his father. As they were talking, one of the witches flew down to Lyra and explained that she had seen someone following them from behind. Lyra instructed her to go take a closer look, but to be careful doing so. The witch flew off, and Will and Lyra continued on their journey.
That evening, Lyra was able to fall asleep instantly. Will was kept awake by several feelings of discomfort and longing. He thought of his mother and silently cried as Lyra slept. A while later, still unable to sleep, Will got up and climbed the mountain a bit more to get rid of his restlessness. As he reached the top of the mountain, he was in complete darkness and felt a hand grip his arm.
Will instantly began to fight the owner of the hand, feeling that his life was in imminent danger. He fought violently, but the man he fought was holding him tight and Will grew exhausted. The man stopped fighting, letting Will beat on him, and this action took the last of Will's strength. Will collapsed onto the ground as the man felt Will's hands. The man felt Will's wounded hand and immediately recognized him as the knife-bearer. As Will lay exhausted on the ground, the man applied a salve to Will's hand to help it heal. Once Will's hand was bandaged, the man laid down beside him and spoke.
The man explained to Will that as the knife-bearer, he had an obligation to participate in the coming war and use it to defeat the Authority. Will expressed that he did not want to do this, but the man pointed out that Will was a warrior and a fighter, so he can't deny his own nature. He instructed Will to find Lord Asriel and tell him about the subtle knife. The man expressed his desire to see Will before they parted ways, and he lit a lantern from his pack.
They looked at each other, and in that moment they recognized each other as father and son. The moment passed, and John Parry fell back dead from an arrow to the heart. Will was shocked and instinctively reached out when he saw something out the corner of his eye. He found himself clutching onto a robin, the dæmon of the witch Juta Kamainen. As the witch herself fell to the ground nearby, Will drew the subtle knife and held it to her throat questioning why she killed his father. She said it was because he had scorned her by rejecting her advances. She could not explain further, and used her own knife to kill herself.
Will turned back to the body of his father and touched him. He told his father that he would fulfill his duty by finding Lord Asriel and fighting for him. After spending a moment with his dad, he took the supplies and headed back down the mountain.
Looking for Lyra
Will could hear strange noises as he descended back to where Lyra was sleeping, but before he reached her, he saw two men that weren't quite human. They spoke to him and asked if he was the knife-bearer, which he confirmed. They explained that they were angels with the task to find him and bring him to Lord Asriel. They had been following John Parry for a long time in order to find Will.
Will agreed to go with them once he woke up Lyra. He paused near the camp, realizing that the witches who had been guarding her were now standing around looking lifeless. He realized they must have been attacked by Spectres. He looked for Lyra and was unable to find her, instead finding her pouch with the alethiometer. The angels once again insisted that Will come with them, but he told them he would not go before he found Lyra. Will ordered that they help him find Lyra, and they reluctantly agreed. He quickly fell asleep after ordering them to go search for Lyra and the woman who must've taken her.
Once the morning came, one of the angels called Balthamos woke Will and told him there was no sign of the woman or Lyra, but they had found a lakeside camp where she killed Sir Charles. The other angel Baruch had continued the search for them. Will was unable to see Balthamos in the daylight, but he spoke with him easily. He decided that they would go down to the camp so he could get water and any other supplies that had been left. During the journey down the mountain, Will happily noticed that his hand was finally healing thanks to his father's ointment. Three hours later, Will reached the camp and scavenged some matches and meat from the empty tents. He entered the tent with Sir Charles' body and scavenged more supplies.
He spoke briefly with Balthamos as he ate and drank water, replenishing his strength. He used the subtle knife to discover a way to cut into different worlds aside from his own. He also figured out how to tell if a world he was about to cut into would have the ground in the same place. This knowledge reassured him that he would never get lost and could escape from situations as needed. Will gathered his scavenged items once Balthamos pointed out a group of approaching travellers, and they set off along the edge of the lake to avoid them. Later in the day, Balthamos picked up on the trail of Baruch and pointed out a window. Will led the way through it to a tundra-like landscape, finding himself in Lyra's world for the first time. He spoke to Balthamos briefly and learned that the angel could change into any form, so Will instructed him that whenever they encountered someone in this world, Balthamos should turn into a bird and pretend to be Will's dæmon. The angel reluctantly agreed to do so. Will returned to the world of Cittàgazze so he could sleep comfortably with a fire, and said they would continue on in the morning.
The next day, Will walked for hours and saw no one among the desolate landscape. He came across a forest once evening fell, and he made camp by a stream. As he ate and drank, he offered Balthamos food and the angel took a single piece of Kendal Mint Cake to nourish himself. Later, Will would always be reminded of the angel when he ate it. A little while later, the angel Baruch joined them and Will took note of the way that the angels loved each other deeply. Baruch told Will that Lyra was drugged asleep and captive in a Himalayan valley cave, and he drew several maps so Will knew where it was.
Suddenly, the angels looked towards the sky to something Will could not see, muttering that it could be the Chariot. Balthamos ordered Will to put out the fire, and Baruch whispered that they had been found. Before any of them could move, another angel came out of the sky and crashed into Balthamos. The three angels fought each other, and Will was instructed by Balthamos to cut into another world and escape. The third angel suddenly yelled out for "Lord Regent" and Will attacked him with the subtle knife. He killed the angel as Baruch and Balthamos plead with Will to escape into another world, terrified by the appearance of the Lord Regent in the sky barrelling towards them.
In the last moment before the approaching angel could throw his spear at them, Will and his companions successfully escaped into another world and he closed the window in time. After assuring they were safe, Baruch and Balthamos explained everything about their mission to Will. They explained that the Authority, also known as God, was a false leader. He was the first angel to condense out of Dust and claimed to all who came after him that he created them. Baruch and Balthamos work for the angel that found out his secret and was exiled as a result. They would not reveal the secret they intended to tell Lord Asriel, so Will asked about the world of the dead and what happens when people die. After, he asked why they needed him and they claimed that Lord Asriel would never listen to such lowly angels unless they had something to prove their good intentions, i.e. Will and the subtle knife. Will reasoned that they should just go to Lord Asriel directly and tell them what they knew rather than dragging him down from finding Lyra.
After a few moments spent discussing on their own, the angels came to an agreement. Baruch would go to Lord Asriel on his own and relay his information, and ask Lord Asriel to send help for Will to rescue Lyra. Balthamos would stay with Will and look out for him. Will thanked them and went to sleep once Baruch left them.
At some point much later, once they were back in Lyra's world, Balthamos suddenly cried out in anguish. He explained to Will that he had felt Baruch die, but he did not have any details on how. Will watched him cry and recklessly soar about for a while before eventually explaining to Balthamos that he must be quiet or they would be attacked. Will eventually managed to calm Balthamos, speaking words of strength and courage into him. Once Balthamos had regained his composure, Will went back to sleep. The next day, Balthamos told Will that he would protect him tirelessly and happily for Baruch's sake. He led Will towards a town in the distance which had a wharf for boats, reasoning that if Will could find passage, he would make progress much more quickly.
On his way to the town, Will passed through a village. Balthamos took the form of his dæmon and instructed him on how to act respectfully towards the men that appeared in the village. As he was passing through, the priest of the village, Otyets Semyon Borisovitch, suddenly made an appearance and Balthamos instructed Will to be courteous towards him. Will bowed and told the priest that he was looking for his family, and the priest invited Will into his house for refreshments. As they ate and drank tea, Semyon Borisovitch spoke of the town that Will was headed towards, explaining that the armoured bears were going south and the town would not let them refuel. He also asked about Will's life and family (which he skillfully lied about), eventually wanting Will to play cards with him. Will managed to politely excuse himself from the house of the priest, but not before the man made Will drink a cup of vodka with him.
Once he left, Will fought nausea as he headed towards the wharf-side town. It was late-afternoon when he finally made it there. The outskirts of the town were deserted, but he could hear a commotion and gunfire as he got closer to the river. There was a rusted boat of armoured bears using flame-throwers to fight against the gun-wielding humans on the wharf. Will asked a nearby person what was happening, and they confirmed what the priest had already told Will: the bears wanted to refuel, but the townspeople were refusing and trying to chase them off. Will witnessed two humans on board the ship of bears lower the gangplank, but a gunshot from somewhere on shore killed one of the men, infuriating the bears. The largest of the bears came down the gangway, and suddenly Will had an idea.
Will ran into the middle of the and Will made a proposition to the very angry bear. He invited the bear to fight him in single combat. If Will won, he demanded that the fighting stop, the villagers refuel the bears' boat, and the bears be on their way. The enraged bear pointed out this was not a fair fight, and Will agreed by asking for a piece of the bears' armour. He lifted the bears' helmet and cut through it like butter with his subtle knife. Upon seeing the ease with which Will sliced through his armour, the bear conceded defeat against the weapon. Will immediately reminded the townspeople to stay true to their word of refueling the boat before making himself inconspicuous once more among the crowd of people. The bear approached Will and asked for his name. Will told him and, in exchange for letting the bear look at the subtle knife, he asked for passage to the mountains up the river in order to save Lyra Silvertongue. This is when the bear confirmed he was indeed Iorek Byrnison of whom Lyra spoke fondly. Will boarded the ship with Iorek and Balthamos.
On their way to the mountains, Will allowed Iorek Byrnison to examine the subtle knife, which he did gratefully. Will told Iorek the story of how he acquired the knife, even showing him his healing wound from the fight. He explained that he needed to take the knife to Lord Asriel, but not before rescuing Lyra, which Iorek agreed to help with. Days passed as the boat approached the mountains, and Will occupied himself with resting and regaining strength. He learned that the reason the bears were traveling south was because their home in Svalbard was melting, and they needed to temporarily relocate the snowy mountaintops. After examining the sublte knife for days, Iorek approached Will one afternoon and asked for a demonstration of the abnormal edge. The boy agreed to do so once the boat had stopped moving. Eventually, the boat reached a valley that was too narrow for the boat to continue. The bears and Will disembarked while the hired human sailors took the boat back to where it had been hired from. Once they had their bearings, Iorek dismissed the bears to go hunt and start their new life in the mountains until it was time to move back to the Arctic. He then told Will it was time to go find Lyra.
They walked for a long time towards the valley that Lyra was being held. When they were alone, Will demonstrated the subtle knife's ability to create a window into another world. They continued towards the valley and eventually came across a village where Will was able to buy some food and clothing. With some translation help from Balthamos, Will learned from one of the villagers that the valley was still three days away.
Upon reaching the valley, Will encountered a young girl named Ama who lived in a nearby village. With help from Balthamos, Will explained his situation to her and she revealed that she knew exactly where Lyra was being held. Hearing this, Will told Iorek Byrnison to stay behind while he went ahead to investigate. Ama showed him the way to the cave, and they paused behind a tree when they saw Marisa Coulter in the entrance. Ama warned him about Marisa Coulter's vicious golden monkey dæmon. After Ama told him that she was supposed to bring Marisa Coulter more food that evening, Will asked her to meet him at that time with the medicine that would wake up Lyra. He then told her to go home and began approaching the cave on his own. He asked Balthamos in his dæmon form to keep a close eye on Marisa Coulter's dæmon. He entered the cave where Marisa Coulter greeted him warmly. She then showed Will the sleeping Lyra and told him that she drugged her daughter due to her love for her and to protect her from the Church, who wanted to kill her, before asking Will to help her. When Marisa asked what Will was going to do, he merely answered that he was going to help Lord Asriel, surprising her.
When he left the cave, he heard zeppelins heading for the area and decided he had to save Lyra. He used the same plan which had helped him recover the alethiometer from Boreal: by going to another world, making an opening into the cave, and then taking Lyra to the other world where he would wake her. He asked Ama, who had the medicine needed to wake Lyra, to stay silent and managed to make an opening into another world and then to the place where Lyra was lying. However, he saw that Marisa Coulter was sleeping right next to Lyra. As he was going to retrieve Lyra, Marisa woke due to the sound of the zeppelins and, when he was going to cut a window, she turned around and reminded him about Elaine Parry. Whilst thinking about his mother, his mind left the point of the knife and the knife broke.
Having no choice, he asked Ama to wake Lyra and began collecting the pieces of the blade. Near them, a war broke out outside the cave. He wanted Balthamos to fight, but found him cowering and, before the angel could reply, something caused Marisa to cry out in pain. Whilst Marisa Coulter's dæmon caught the Lady Salmakia, the other Gallivespian, Chevalier Tialys, had one of his spurs on Marisa's neck thus neither of them moved. Will managed to knock the dæmon dowm, allowing Salmakia to struggle free. While Marisa tried to convince Lyra to rescue her, Will pulled her forward. As three members of the Swiss Guard blocked their path, they met Iorek. Balthamos tried to help, but as the guards dæmons leapt at the angel, he flinched, and escaped. Will killed one with the gun he had taken from Marisa Coulter, while the two Gallivespians killed the other two. They then escaped through the window.
Will later went to medical school, where the state of mind needed to use the subtle knife also allowed him to make diagnoses with ease. During his education, he often had to make wrong diagnoses when he knew the correct one to avoid looking supernatural. Once he was qualified, he felt able to go directly to the right answer.
Will had dark hair and straight black eyebrows. His eyes were notably fierce and wide, whilst the rest of his face was well-defined by a jutting jaw and broad cheekbones.
Personality and traits
Will was responsible and mature from a young age, behaving more like an adult than a child for a large portion of his youth. Will had a strong sense of morality, which he exemplified in paying for goods in the abandoned city of Cittàgazze. He felt it was his obligation and duty to look after his mother, and often sacrificed his own enjoyment or well-being for her sake. Will was also practical and sensible, able to competently deal with problems, and he seemed to posses good foresight and troubleshooting ability. He was generally quiet, serious and courteous - but, in extreme situations (such as the murder of his father and when Lyra's confessed that she had told police officers she knew him), he was capable of intense anger.
Secretive and cautious by nature, Will was not one to look for trouble and his fierce independence often made him reluctant to both seek and accept help from others. However, he was also a confident child and, although he disliked fighting, was always willing to stand up for himself and what was important to him. Many grown-ups found themselves feeling uncomfortable at the thought of looking him in the eye, owing to his imposing and unchildish demeanor, and he was quite able to dominate in a situation involving those older than him.
As a result of his morality and sense of duty, he was prone to guilt, frequently concerning both his perceived murder of one of the agents sent to retrieve the writing case and leaving his mother to live without his protection. Furthermore, despite being outwardly controlled and strong, he was prone to worrying about the well-being of those he loved and felt uncomfortable with the idea that he had killed for a long period of time.
Abilities and skills
- Bearer of Æsahættr Will was the final bearer of Æsahættr, the only person who was able to use the subtle knife.
- Intuition: Will had a strong sense of intuition which allowed him to easily make diagnoses in his medical career.
Will's dæmon, when found and formed, took the shape of a large queen cat named Kirjava.
Will did not initially have a visible dæmon, as he was not born in Lyra's world. After travelling to the land of the dead, however, his dæmon was torn from him and left on the shores of the suburbs. She was named Kirjava, a Finnish word meaning 'mottled' or 'multi-coloured, most probably in reference to her coat, by queen Serafina Pekkala, who guided her and Pantalaimon back to their humans. Later, at her reuniting with Will, she had taken corporeal form and settled as a large multi-coloured cat. During her time separated, she and Pantalaimon travelled through the multiverse and learned many things which they later shared with their humans. As with Pantalaimon, after this separation Kirjava developed a witch-like ability to travel distances much further than ordinary dæmons.
Appearance and personality
Not much is known of Kirjava's distinctive personality, other than she most probably took on board qualities such as independence, common to cat-dæmons.
Since Kirjava settled only shortly after being separated from Will, she was not seen in many forms. When startled by Serafina Pekkala in the forest in the mulefa world, both Kirjava and Pantalaimon turned into wolves. They then flew with her, and Kirjava took the form of a nightingale. When she finally returned to Will, she was a white dove with a crest of dark red feathers.
Lyra Silvertongue was Will's first love. After being tempted by Mary Malone's story about marzipan, they realised they were in love. When Will and Lyra broke the taboo and touched each other's dæmons, they took on their settled forms.
Will loved his mother so much he would have died to protect her.
- Philip Pullman chose Will's name because he embodies the quality of will.
- To 'parry' is to ward off with a counterattack, potentially a reference to Will's status as the bearer of the knife.
- Kirjava means 'multi-coloured' in Finnish.
Behind the scenes
- In the BBC radio dramatisation of the His Dark Materials series, Will was played by Daniel Anthony.
- In the National Theatre's production of His Dark Materials in 2003, he was played by Dominic Cooper.
- Although Will's killing of the agent is several times referred to as 'murder', in fact Will did not intend to kill the man, so is probably at worst only guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
- Will is played by Amir Wilson in the TV series.
- The Subtle Knife
- The Amber Spyglass
- His Dark Materials (TV series), Series 1, 2
- Lyra's Oxford (Mentioned only)
- The Secret Commonwealth (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- The Subtle Knife, Chapter 3
- The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 8
- The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 12
- The Amber Spyglass, Lantern Slide 4
- The Imagination Chamber
- The last letter of John Parry's is dated 24 June 1985 and Pullman states 'Will had been a year old when that letter was written' (The Subtle Knife, Chapter 5)
- The Subtle Knife, Lantern Slide 4
- The Subtle Knife, Chapter 4
- The Amber Spyglass, Lantern Slide 2
- The Subtle Knife, Chapter 1
- Kirjava - English-Finnish Dictionary
- The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 36
- The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 37
- Scholastic - Philip Pullman Interview Transcript
- Slashfilm - Amir Wilson to be cast as William Parry