"The Subtle Knife" by Philip Pullman, Chapters 1-3

In the second book of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra and her new friend Will learn how to open windows into different worlds. They discover truths that will change their lives and the universe.

Here are links to our lists for The Subtle Knife: Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-9, Chapters 10-12, Chapters 13-15

Here are links to our lists for works by Philip Pullman: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. implacable
    incapable of being appeased or pacified
    The old lady thought she’d never seen a child so implacable.
  2. tattered
    worn to shreds; or wearing torn or ragged clothing
    Clutching the writing case, he swung himself down the banister, leaping over the man’s body that lay twitching and crumpled at the foot of the flight, seized the tattered tote bag from the table, and was out of the front door and away before the other man could do more than come out of the living room and stare.
  3. scald
    burn with a hot liquid or steam
    Of course, every cat behaved like that, but all the same Will felt such a longing for home that tears scalded his eyes.
  4. ornate
    marked by complexity and richness of detail
    The building in the trees with its ornate facade lit by floodlights might have been an opera house.
  5. ferocious
    marked by extreme and violent energy
    He fought hard: knee, head, fist, and the strength of his arms against it, him, her—
    A girl about his own age, ferocious, snarling, with ragged dirty clothes and thin bare limbs.
  6. intently
    with strained or eager attention
    She relaxed a little, but she still watched him intently, and he stayed calm and quiet as if she were a strange cat he was making friends with.
  7. wiry
    lean but strong
    She was small and slight, but wiry, and she’d fought like a tiger; his fist had raised a bruise on her cheek, and she was ignoring it.
  8. stocky
    having a short and solid form or stature
    He was strong and stocky, not as formed as a grown man, of course, because he wasn’t much older than she was, but he’d be powerful one day.
  9. clan
    group of people related by blood or marriage
    Serafina Pekkala said, “What clan are you from?”
  10. alight
    settle or come to rest
    Serafina Pekkala flew down toward the launch, leaving the dæmons out of sight above, and alighted on the counter just behind the steersman.
  11. malevolence
    the quality of threatening evil
    The figure was fur-swathed, hooded, anonymous; but as it reached the deck, a golden monkey dæmon swung himself lightly up on the rail and glared around, his black eyes radiating malevolence.
  12. cursory
    hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
    The cleric looked around, bewildered, but Mrs. Coulter was too impatient, and after a cursory glance above and along the deck, she shook her head and hurried in with her dæmon through the open door that cast a yellow nimbus on the air.
  13. condensation
    atmospheric moisture that has changed from a gas
    It was fogged with condensation and impossible to see through, and Serafina could hear no voices, either.
  14. modesty
    freedom from vanity or conceit
    True invisibility was impossible, of course: this was mental magic, a kind of fiercely held modesty that could make the spell worker not invisible but simply unnoticed.
  15. compose
    make calm or quiet
    So now she composed her mind and brought all her concentration to bear on the matter of altering the way she held herself so as to deflect attention completely.
  16. depose
    force to leave an office
    And then there’s her astonishing feat of deposing the bear-king Iofur Raknison—this is no ordinary child.
  17. unceasingly
    without stopping
    “The witch knows!” said another man, whose muskrat dæmon gnawed unceasingly at a pencil.
  18. quail
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    “What then? We guess, do we? We shiver and quail and guess?”
  19. gnash
    grind together
    The golden monkey was gnashing his teeth, and all his shimmering fur was standing on end.
  20. turmoil
    violent agitation
    The men hastened to follow her, jostling and shoving past Serafina Pekkala, who had only time to stand quickly aside, her mind in a turmoil.
  21. throng
    a large gathering of people
    Serafina Pekkala moved closer, even among the tight throng of men around the witch, and none of them felt her presence at their very elbows.
  22. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    Through the open doorway there flew a tern, mad with terror, and it beat its wings brokenly as it crashed to the floor and struggled up and darted to the breast of the tortured witch, pressing itself against her, nuzzling, chirruping, crying, and the witch called in anguish, “Yambe-Akka! Come to me, come to me!”
  23. clangor
    a loud resonant repeating noise
    Out, along the corridor to the stairs, turn, nock, loose, and another man fell; and already a loud jarring bell was filling the ship with its clangor.
  24. stench
    a distinctive odor that is offensively unpleasant
    “I want to get the stench of these people out of my nose.”
  25. entrails
    internal organs collectively
    She could track any animal, catch any fish, find the rarest berries; and she could read the signs in the pine marten’s entrails, or decipher the wisdom in the scales of a perch, or interpret the warnings in the crocus pollen; but these were children of nature, and they told her natural truths.
  26. ardent
    characterized by intense emotion
    I met him once, and I thought he had an ardent and powerful nature, but not a despotic one. I don’t think he wants to rule....
  27. despotic
    having the characteristics of a tyrannical ruler
    I met him once, and I thought he had an ardent and powerful nature, but not a despotic one. I don’t think he wants to rule....
  28. gaunt
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
    A single figure swathed in furs fired a rifle into the midst of them with a gaunt dog dæmon snarling and snapping beside him whenever one of the filthy things flew low enough.
  29. melee
    a noisy riotous fight
    She swung around above and loosed a dozen arrows into the melee.
  30. warily
    in a manner marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    The man pushed back his hood, still holding his rifle warily, because a witch was an enemy sometimes, and she saw an elderly man, long-jawed and grizzled and steady-eyed.
  31. willful
    done by design
    “She was always a willful child,” he said when they were seated at the oaken table in the glow of a naphtha lamp.
  32. naphtha
    a volatile, flammable liquid made of hydrocarbons
    “She was always a willful child,” he said when they were seated at the oaken table in the glow of a naphtha lamp.
  33. shrewd
    marked by practical hardheaded intelligence
    He was shrewd, though, too, and he knew the attention was not really on him but on what he knew; and he was honest, so he did not draw out his telling for much longer than he needed.
  34. atonement
    the act of making amends for sin or wrongdoing
    Well, Lord Asriel has never found hisself at ease with the doctrines of the Church, so to speak. I’ve seen a spasm of disgust cross his face when they talk of the sacraments, and atonement, and redemption, and suchlike.
  35. blasphemy
    the act of depriving something of its sacred character
    It’d be the most gigantic blasphemy, that’s what they’d say.
  36. deranged
    driven insane
    Who else has ever done that? Who else could think of it? So with one part of me, Serafina Pekkala, I say he’s mad, wicked, deranged. Yet with another part I think, he’s Lord Asriel, he’s not like other men. Maybe... if it was ever going to be possible, it’d be done by him and by no one else.
  37. roiling
    (of a liquid) agitated vigorously; in a state of turbulence
    And they sped through the roiling banks of fog toward Lake Enara and home.
  38. floe
    a flat mass of ice drifting at sea
    Men who hunted in the dripping forests or fished among melting ice floes heard the skywide whisper through the fog, and if the sky was clear, they would look up to see the witches flying, like scraps of darkness drift­ ing on a secret tide.
  39. fervor
    the state of being emotionally aroused and worked up
    I know the man Stanislaus Grumman. I used to love him. But I hate him now with such a fervor that if I see him, I shall kill him.
  40. gritty
    composed of or covered with small particles
    Instead, she went down to the kitchen and tried to make an omelette, and twenty minutes later she sat down at a table on the pavement and ate the blackened, gritty thing with great pride while the sparrow Pantalaimon pecked at the bits of shell.
  41. placidly
    in a quiet and tranquil manner
    They sat in the wide clear morning, with the sun glittering placidly on the harbor, and each of them might have spoken next, because both of them were burning with questions; but then they heard a voice from farther along the harbor front, toward the casino gardens.
  42. camouflage
    exploit the natural surroundings to disguise something
    You got to look as if you fit in. You got to go about camouflaged. I know, see. I’ve been doing it for years. You better listen to me or you’ll get caught, and if they find out where you come from, and the window, and everything....
  43. disconcerting
    causing an emotional disturbance
    Pantalaimon had become a lemur, and was gazing at him with disconcerting wide eyes.
  44. bearing
    the direction or path along which something moves or lies
    Will took her to the grassy median under the palm trees, and looked around to get his bearings.
  45. agog
    highly excited
    She was agog, she looked as astounded as he’d looked him­
    self to hear Pantalaimon talk.

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