The story depicts the adventures of Lyra Belacqua, an orphan living in a parallel universe on a world that looks much like our own.
In Lyra’s world, a dogmatic ruling power called the Magisterium is conspiring to end tolerance and free inquiry. Poor, orphan, and Gyptian children are disappearing at the hands of a group the children call the Gobblers. When Lyra discovers that Mrs. Coulter is running the Gobblers, she flees. Rescued by the Gyptians, Lyra joins them on a trip to the far north, to the land of the armored polar bears, in search of the missing children.