Can you read the alethiometer? A His Dark Materials quiz


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To celebrate the publication of Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust, the follow-up to his His Dark Materials triology, I have devised a quiz. The quiz will answer the question every child asked when they read Northern Lights: would I be able to read the alethiometer, the beautiful truth-telling instrument of dreams?

Now, I don’t have an alethiometer. Nor do I possess the ability to read one. But I do have Photoshop, access to an online .gif maker, and a small-to-average-sized human brain. So here is my attempt to test you on your alethiometer reading ability. Novices might do well to brush up on the 36 symbols and their primary, secondary and tertiary meanings here, but remember: the best readers use their intution, too. Read the alethiometer by paying attention to the thin moving needle and the symbols it points out.


Anna Leszkiewicz is culture editor of the New Statesman.