"The Amber Spyglass" by Philip Pullman, Chapters 1-8

When the third book of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy begins, Lyra has been kidnapped, and both Will and the evil forces of the Consistorial Court are searching for her. Lyra and Will must fight against a power-hungry archangel as they learn more about the mysterious substance called Dust.

Here are links to our lists for The Amber Spyglass: Chapters 1-8, Chapters 9-16, Chapters 17-23, Chapters 24-31, Chapters 32-38

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. arboreal
    inhabiting or frequenting trees
    The woods were full of sound: the stream between the rocks, the wind among the needles of the pine branches, the chitter of insects and the cries of small arboreal mammals, as well as the birdsong; and from time to time a stronger gust of wind would make one of the branches of a cedar or a fir move against another and groan like a cello.
  2. repetitive
    characterized by doing or performing again
    Ama’s eyes glittered widely in the gloom, and her hands were moving together in a repetitive gesture of finger on thumb, finger on thumb, to ward off danger by confusing the evil spirits.
  3. strident
    unpleasantly loud and harsh
    He’d been in no condition to notice things the day before, but now he saw more clearly the intense color of the water, and heard the strident insect noises from all around.
  4. muted
    in a softened tone
    Balthamos made a sound of muted discontent.
  5. vortex
    the shape of something rotating rapidly
    The form of the angel seemed to condense and swirl into a little vortex in midair, and then a blackbird swooped down onto the grass at Will’s feet.
  6. petulant
    easily irritated or annoyed
    What Will could see of his expression was petulant.
  7. fastidious
    having complicated nutritional requirements
    “What is that...” said the angel fastidiously, indicating the Kendal Mint Cake.
  8. haughty
    having or showing arrogant superiority
    Balthamos was slender; his narrow wings were folded elegantly behind his shoulders, and his face bore an expression that mingled haughty disdain with a tender, ardent sympathy, as if he would love all things if only his nature could let him forget their defects.
  9. douse
    put out, as of a candle or a light
    Will scooped up some earth with his good hand and doused the flames.
  10. tremor
    shaking or trembling
    From above came a deep tremor, like a mighty dynamo, almost too low to hear, though it shook the very atoms of the air and jolted the marrow in Will’s bones.
  11. scour
    examine minutely
    Even from that distance, and even in that urgent second or so, Will felt himself searched and scoured from one end of his being to the other by some vast, brutal, and merciless intellect.
  12. citadel
    a stronghold for shelter during a battle
    It’s sometimes called the Chariot. It’s not fixed, you see; it moves from place to place. Wherever it goes, there is the heart of the Kingdom, his citadel, his palace. When the Authority was young, it wasn’t surrounded by clouds, but as time passed, he gathered them around him more and more thickly.
  13. chide
    censure severely or angrily
    “Balthamos,” said Baruch gently, “don’t chide Will. We need his help, and he can’t be blamed for not knowing what it took us so long to find out.”
  14. remorse
    a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed
    She wept with rage and fear and remorse: rage against the woman Coulter, whom she had sworn to kill; fear of what was happening to her beloved land; and remorse...She would face the remorse later....
  15. strut
    brace consisting of a bar or rod used to resist compression
    Between the edge of the burned forest and the mountains, a rocky slope of heavy boulders and scree was littered with scorched and twisted metal: girders and struts that had belonged to some complex machine.
  16. deft
    skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands
    With deft movements of his claws, he ripped aside the dead man’s clothes, opened the body with one slash, and began to feast on the flesh and blood of his old friend.
  17. sinuous
    curved or curving in and out
    Ama saw a streak of white materialize at the girl’s throat as her dæmon effortfully changed into a long, sinuous, snowy-furred creature with brilliant black eyes and black-tipped tail, and laid himself alongside her neck.
  18. mephitic
    of noxious stench from atmospheric pollution
    A lake of molten sulphur extended the length of an immense canyon, releasing its mephitic vapors in sudden gusts and belches and barring the way of the solitary winged figure who stood at its edge.
  19. noxious
    injurious to physical or mental health
    If he took to the sky, the enemy scouts who had spotted him, and lost him, would find him again at once; but if he stayed on the ground, it would take so long to get past this noxious pit that his message might arrive too late.
  20. quarry
    animal hunted or caught for food
    Then began a hunt in which the pursuers couldn’t see the quarry and the quarry could see nothing at all.
  21. calibrate
    make fine adjustments for optimal measuring
    In vast caverns beneath the rearing walls, provisions of every sort were stored and labeled; in the arsenals and magazines, engines of war were being calibrated, armed, and tested; in the mills below the mountain, volcanic fires fed mighty forges where phosphor and titanium were being melted and combined in alloys never known or used before.
  22. sentry
    a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event
    On the most exposed side of the fortress, at a point deep in the shadow of a buttress where the mighty walls rose sheer out of the ancient lava-flows, there was a small gate, a postern where a sentry watched day and night and challenged all who sought to enter.
  23. rampart
    an embankment built around a space for defensive purposes
    While the watch was being changed on the ramparts above, the sentry stamped once or twice and slapped his gloved hands on his upper arms for warmth, for it was the coldest hour of the night, and the little naphtha flare in the bracket beside him gave no heat.
  24. maneuver
    determine the direction of traveling
    The sentry unbarred the door, and his terrier dæmon quivered as the three figures maneuvered their burden with difficulty through the narrow entrance.
  25. adamant
    very hard native crystalline carbon valued as a gem
    On the highest rampart of the fortress was a tower of adamant: just one flight of steps up to a set of rooms whose windows looked out north, south, east, and west.
  26. inquisition
    a severe interrogation
    The churches in every world are corrupt and weak, he thinks, they compromise too readily...He wants to set up a permanent inquisition in every world, run directly from the Kingdom.
  27. eddy
    a miniature whirlpool or whirlwind
    A draft from the open door sent an eddy of air across the bed, and the particles of the angel’s form, loosened by the waning of his strength, swirled upward into randomness and vanished.
  28. mote
    a tiny piece of anything
    The pale sunlight that filtered in through the great leaded windows held in its slanted beams a million golden motes, but these were dust, not Dust—though more than one of the members of the Court had seen in them an image of that other invisible Dust that settled over every human being, no matter how dutifully they kept the laws.
  29. zealotry
    fanatical devotion to a cause, belief, or idea
    The twelve members, from the oldest (Father Makepwe, ancient and rheumy-eyed) to the youngest (Father Gomez, pale and trembling with zealotry), gathered their notes and followed the President through to the council chamber, where they could face one another across a table and talk in the utmost privacy.
  30. laxity
    an absence of rigor or strictness
    We should be chastised for our laxity in letting it happen.
  31. preemptive
    designed to prevent an anticipated situation or occurrence
    I have done preemptive penance every day of my adult life.
  32. penance
    voluntary self-punishment in order to atone for something
    Preemptive penance and absolution were doctrines researched and developed by the Consistorial Court, but not known to the wider Church.
  33. absolution
    formal redemption as pronounced by a priest in penance
    When the penance had reached the appropriate level for a particular sin, the penitent was granted absolution in advance, though he might never be called on to commit the sin.
  34. incandescent
    emitting light as a result of being heated
    Father Gomez seemed transfigured; the certainty that ran through his veins seemed to make his very eyes incandescent.
  35. iridescent
    varying in color when seen in different lights
    His dæmon, a large and iridescent green-backed beetle, clicked her wing cases.
  36. ethereal
    characterized by lightness and insubstantiality
    In her week in the world of Cittàgazze, she had seen enough devastation, enough Specter-eaten adults and wild, scavenging children, to have a horror of those ethereal vampires.
  37. enigmatic
    not clear to the understanding
    This was the difficult part, because the Book expressed itself in such an enigmatic style.
  38. canopy
    a covering (usually of cloth) that shelters an area
    The long shadows of the trees lay toward her now, and she could see flocks of birds wheeling in front of them, so small against the towering green canopy that they looked like motes of dust.
  39. exude
    release in drops or small quantities
    It was exuding a kind of oil.
  40. quantum
    the smallest discrete quantity of some physical property
    If her guess about these universes was right, and they were the multiple worlds predicted by quantum theory, then some of them would have split off from her own much earlier than others.
  41. tentatively
    in a hesitant manner
    The creature spoke again, and this time Mary tried hard to make the same sounds: “Mulefa,” she said tentatively.
  42. flail
    thrash about
    He cried aloud and soared into the night air over the tundra, flailing his wings and sobbing his anguish into the clouds; and it was some time before he could compose himself and go back to Will, who was wide awake, knife in hand, peering up into the damp and chilly murk.
  43. convulsion
    a physical disturbance such as an earthquake or upheaval
    “There has been a convulsion in the earth,” the priest said.
  44. crane
    stretch, so as to see better
    And here at last there were people: some watching from upper-floor windows, some craning anxiously around the corners of buildings to look ahead at the waterfront, where the metal fingers of cranes and derricks and the masts of big vessels rose above the rooftops.
  45. breech
    opening in the barrel of a gun where bullets can be loaded
    The great bear had come down the gangway, and massed behind him were several others, so heavy that the ship listed; and Will saw that the men on the wharf had gone back to the gun and were loading a shell into the breech.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.