Major spoilers, this question is about the end of The Amber Spyglass. I won't put everything into a spoiler block.

At the end of The Amber Spyglass, Will and Lyra (and an angel) discuss whether there is a way for the two to stay together. They can't just stay in one world because of the deteriorating effect, they can't keep a window open because the Dust would flow out and they can't continue to make short-lived new portals because it would create Spectres.

But Will is an adult now and can see the Spectres. So he could just make a window, kill the Spectre that comes out using the knife and close it behind him, right? Or do the Spectres not appear directly at the window? If not, where do they appear? It seems like whoever makes a window doesn't see a Spectre directly flowing out of it, otherwise it would have been more obvious to the original owners that they should stop and Will would have seen one when he makes his final(?) window to show the angel how to close them.

Did they just not think about this possibility after they noticed that they can't ask the Alethiometer? Or is there something I'm overlooking (like Spectres appearing elsewhere, if yes, where)?

  • I would have also suggested them asking a professional Alethiometrist, but the only one left was their enemy, so it's unlikely that they would have gotten an answer that way. Mary can't read the Chinese stick thing well enough and the computer ("cave") is destroyed, together with all the plans for its construction. Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 10:32
  • As you say, logically the Spectre doesn't appear at the window when it's made.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


How Specters are created is never explained in the books. All we know is that they are related to the windows created by the the Knife in some way. It might be because of the opening of the windows, it might because Dust flows through worlds through said windows, or it might be something else.

We also know that the Specters aren't created right away at the site of the window: when Will demonstrate to the angel how to open a window and close it, so that said angel can teach his peers, we do not see a Specter come into existence right on the spot and attack them or try to flee.

Thus, opening even short-lived windows isn't practical nor safe. It would create a Specter somewhere in the world, Will would have to track it down, which would be long and arduous, if not outright impossible (the angels are many while Will is alone and the world is big), and, in the meantime, people would be harmed by the Specter. And neither Will nor Lyra can accept that as a consequence of their love.

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