The Golden Compass

by

Philip Pullman

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Iofur Raknison Character Analysis

The illegitimate king of the bears. Iofur is even bigger than Iorek, and desperately wants to be a human. This desire (and his related discomfort with his identity as a bear) means that he's susceptible to Mrs. Coulter's flattery and machinations; she orchestrated, through Iofur, the fight between Iorek and another bear that resulted in Iorek killing that bear and thus losing his right to the throne. As king, Iofur upends panserbjørne (armored bear) traditions and builds a marble and granite palace to emulate human palaces. He also wants to build a university. While he's technically successful in building the palace, the fact that it's dirty, malodorous, and covered in bird droppings suggests that his desire to change the culture is ill-fated and not something that makes sense for the bears. In addition to wanting to be human, as represented by having a dæmon, Iofur's greatest wish is to be baptized as a Christian in Geneva. Though Iorek insists that bears can't be tricked, Lyra learns that a bear who doesn't want to be a bear can, in fact, be tricked just like a human. Using this information and the realization that Iofur carries a stuffed doll with him that resembles Mrs. Coulter (the doll is supposed to emulate a dæmon), Lyra tells him that she's Iorek's dæmon and that the only way that he can obtain her is to fight Iorek in single combat and win her from him. Because of Iofur's discomfort with being a bear, he's not comfortable in his beautifully ornate armor, which is more decorative than useful. He ultimately loses the battle with Iorek and dies because of this.

Iofur Raknison Quotes in The Golden Compass

The The Golden Compass quotes below are all either spoken by Iofur Raknison or refer to Iofur Raknison. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of The Golden Compass published in 1995.
Chapter Eighteen Quotes

"When bears act like people, perhaps they can be tricked," said Serafina Pekkala. "When bears act like bears, perhaps they can't. No bear would normally drink spirits. Iorek Byrnison drank to forget the shame of exile, and it was only that which let the Trollesund people trick him."

Related Characters: Serafina Pekkala (speaker), Lyra, Iorek Byrnison, Iofur Raknison
Page Number: 317
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Twenty Quotes

But his armor was his soul. He had made it and it fitted him. They were one. Iofur was not content with his armor; he wanted another soul as well. He was restless while Iorek was still.

Related Characters: Lyra, Iorek Byrnison, Iofur Raknison
Page Number: 349
Explanation and Analysis:

Because Iorek was moving backward only to find clean dry footing and a firm rock to leap up from, and the useless left arm was really fresh and strong. You could not trick a bear, but, as Lyra had shown him, Iofur did not want to be a bear. He wanted to be a man; and Iorek was tricking him.

Related Characters: Lyra, Iorek Byrnison, Iofur Raknison
Page Number: 353
Explanation and Analysis:
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Iofur Raknison Character Timeline in The Golden Compass

The timeline below shows where the character Iofur Raknison appears in The Golden Compass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Two
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
The Palmerian Professor says that the king of Svalbard, Iofur Raknison, tricked his way onto the throne, built a palace and a university, and could've... (full context)
Chapter Thirteen
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
They discuss the king of the bears and Iorek says that the king's name is Iofur Raknison. Lyra remembers that she heard the name in the Retiring Room. She tries to... (full context)
Chapter Eighteen
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
...if he hadn't killed another bear, he'd be king of the bears. The current king, Iofur Raknison, is clever like a human and wishes to be a part of the human... (full context)
Chapter Nineteen
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
...up at a massive stone building. They point to the carvings that show bears and Iofur Raknison winning wars, but Lyra only sees birds perched in the recesses and their droppings,... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
...The bears apparently locked him up because he was writing about them. He says that Iofur Raknison initially invited him to set up a university, but the Palmerian Professor and others... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
...Iorek is no better than a seal, and they'll kill him before he can challenge Iofur to a fight. Scared and disappointed, Lyra asks where the other prisoners and Lord Asriel... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
...still filthy throne room. Inside, bears wear jewelry instead of armor. Birds swoop above and Iofur sits on a throne. He's huger than Iorek and looks somehow human. Lyra feels afraid... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Lyra tells Iofur that Iorek is on his way to steal her back, but she wants to be... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
...Iorek is four hours away and that she must trust him. It then says that Iofur killed his father, a grave crime that Iofur then concealed. Pan, as a tiny mouse,... (full context)
Chapter Twenty
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
As soon as Iofur announces that he's going to fight Iorek, the ceremonial preparations begin. Armorers check Iofur's armor... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...sweep her away to safety and warmth. She cries from fear as the smiths adjust Iofur's armor for the last time. Lyra feels as though she has betrayed her friend: while... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Iorek roars the terms of the fight: if Iofur wins, he'll be the king of the bears forever. If Iorek wins, he'll tear down... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Iofur taunts Iorek and backs him up across the ground. Lyra cries and knows that Iorek... (full context)
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
A counselor, Søren Eisarson, says that since human laws don't apply on Svalbard, Iofur was going to let Mrs. Coulter set up a place worse than Bolvanger and do... (full context)