By Nick Romano
October 17, 2019 at 01:59 PM EDT

Adapting Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy as a television drama, executive producer Jane Tranter previously confirmed to EW that the series would tap into The Book of Dust novels. We just didn’t know how.

Since the multiverse-spanning drama had its world premiere in London earlier this week, new photos from the first episode arrived to answer that question.

Credit: HBO

His Dark Materials season 1 adapts the events of Pullman’s The Golden Compass, the first of the author’s Dark Materials books. The story takes place in a world parallel to our own where human souls exist outside the body as talking animals called daemons. It’s a reality where armored polar bear and flying witches dwell in the North, and it’s where the Magisterium exists as the reigning religious (and basically authoritarian) institution.

It’s also where we meet Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen), an orphan girl who, armed with a mystical truth-telling device called an alethiometer, is thrust on an international adventure to find kidnapped children and discover the mystery surrounding a blashemous particle called Dust.

The Book of Dust, Pullman’s latest book trilogy set within this same world, begins as a prequel to The Golden Compass, titled La Belle Sauvage. It’s this book from which Tranter and teleplay writer Jack Throne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) pull for the series’ opening scene.

Credit: HBO

HBO’s His Dark Materials opens as La Belle Sauvage ends: Lyra’s explorer uncle Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and his snow leopard daemon ferry her off as an infant to live in safety at Jordan College in Oxford. Everything is flooded because it’s during a period referred to as The Great Flood, which is self-explanatory.

McAvoy told EW this constitutes about “a minute of extra material that comes from The Book of Dust” in the pilot episode.

“We did have to take a very clear line and say we’re adapting His Dark Materials, and if there’s anything in The Book of Dust that suggests that — perhaps the origin story is a little bit different than how it is in the pages of His Dark Materials — we’ll either go by that or we’ll just adapt what’s in His Dark Materials,” Tranter said.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

His Dark Materials also stars The Affair‘s Ruth Wilson as the beguiling Mrs. Coulter, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby, Joe Tandberg as the voice of armored bear Iorek Byrnison, Ariyon Bakare as Mrs. Coulter’s cohort Lord Boreal, Kit Connor as the voice of Lyra’s daemon Pan, Ruta Gedmintas as witch Serafina Pekkala, and Lucian Msamati as leader of the Gyptians in London Lord Faa.

Fleabag‘s Andrew Scott was cast as John Parry in season 2, which is currently filming.

Season 1 will premiere on HBO in the U.S. this Nov. 4.

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Episode Recaps

His Dark Materials

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