Before His Dark Materials Arrives on HBO, Here's What to Know About the Story

HBO's His Dark Materials already has fans of the book trilogy excited to see the world come to life — and based on early sneak peeks, it looks like it will hew pretty closely to Philip Pullman's original imaginings on the page. According to Deadline, the series will span two eight-episode seasons to adapt the three books in the trilogy, with much of the first season dominated by adapting The Golden Compass, the first book. Here's what to know about the plot you can expect to see.

(Minor spoilers ahead!)

The saga is set in a parallel universe to our Earth, dominated by an international "Magisterium" colloquially called "the Church," where a preteen girl, Lyra Belacqua, uncovers some nasty truths about the well-regulated world in which she lives. She and Pantalaimon, her "daemon," or animal spirit companion, witness an attempt on the life of her uncle, Lord Asriel, but warn him in time. His controversial research focuses on "Dust," mysterious particles that are somehow fundamental and are found to be pulled toward children. Lyra is adopted by a wealthy woman, Mrs. Coulter, but before she leaves, she is given an altheiometer, a complex truth-telling device that she somehow is able to use instinctively, without training.

Lyra's friend Roger is kidnapped by a child-abducting gang called the Gobblers, and she runs away to the nomadic Gyptians, who have had many of their children kidnapped as well. Lyra and the Gyptians begin a trek to the Arctic, where they believe the Gobblers have taken the children. Along the way, Lyra learns the truth about her parentage. She also meets Iorek Byrnison, a royal heir among the armored bears, and when she uses her altheiometer to help him find his armor, he and his human friend, Lee Scoresby, join her quest.

Lyra's group discovers a dying, abandoned young boy who has been forcibly severed from his daemon. It is then that Lyra learns what the Gobblers are really doing: experimenting on children, performing a surgical procedure called "intercision" that separates the child from their daemon. Lyra is captured and briefly reunites with Roger before being taken away for intercision. Mrs. Coulter arrives and intervenes just in time and explains to Lyra that intercision stops the onset of adult emotions.

With Iorek and company's help, along with an assist from a witch clan, Lyra and Roger escape, and they make it to where Lord Asriel has been exiled but continues to do his research on Dust. He explains that Dust is somehow connected to parallel universes and that the Church believes it is the source of sin. Asriel has bigger plans than Lyra expects, though, sending her on a new quest and toward a new loyal companion, Will Parry.