The setting is a world dominated by the Magisterium (commonly called “the Church”) an international theocracy which actively suppresses heresy. In this world, humans’ souls naturally exist outside of their bodies in the form of sentient “dæmons” in animal form which accompany, aid, and comfort their humans.
La Belle Sauvage is a fantasy novel by Philip Pullman published in 2017. It is the first volume of a planned trilogy entitled The Book of Dust and is set twelve years before Pullman’s His Dark Materials. It presents events prior to the arrival of the six-month-old Lyra Belacqua at Jordan College, Oxford.
The story follows 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon Asta, and a village girl named Alice and her dæmon Ben, who become the protectors of the infant Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, in Malcolm’s canoe, La Belle Sauvage, during a flood. Malcolm forms a friendship with alethiometer specialist Hannah Relf, allied with the secret freedom-seeking organisation Oakley Street, and is drawn into their fight against the growing strength of the Magisterium, which has learned of a prophecy concerning Lyra. Malcolm and Alice are pursued by the maniacal villain Gerard Bonneville, an ally of the Consistorial Court of Discipline (CCD), as they struggle to reach London and Lyra’s father Lord Asriel, in order to gain the protection of Jordan College for the baby. (wiki)