William 'Will' Parry (b. 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-ReaderEdit
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 managed 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 FatherEdit
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 he 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 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 KnifeEdit
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 fallen off due to the constriction of a rope he had tied around his hand. 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 Mrs 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 Mrs Coulter 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 Mrs Coulter'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 Mrs 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 Mrs 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 and Lyra were attacked and chased by the children of Cittàgazze, who had been rallied into a mob by Angelica and Paolo. Lyra and Will were saved by Serafina Pekkala and her clan of witches, who accompanied them on their search for Will's father. One night Will went for a walk away from the camp, where he met a mysterious man who he realised was his father. Moments later, John Parry was killed by Juta Kamainen. Will shouted at the witch, who then killed herself. When Will returned to the camp, he found that Lyra had been kidnapped.
Will later went to medical school, where the state of mind needed to use Æsahætter 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 traitsEdit
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 skillsEdit
- 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 Edit
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.
Behind the scenesEdit
- 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.
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ The Subtle Knife, Chapter 3
- ↑ The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 8
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Amber Spyglass, Lantern Slide 4
- ↑ 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
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Subtle Knife, Chapter 1
- ↑ Kirjava - English-Finnish Dictionary
- ↑ https://twitter.com/PhilipPullman/status/994618515981328386
- ↑ The Amber Spyglass, ch. 36.
- ↑ The Amber Spyglass, Ch. 37
- ↑ Scholastic - Philip Pullman Interview Transcript