The author introduces us to Lyra (a girl) and a daemon moving through a dark hall. We do not know who or what the daemon is. Also, we don't know what hall they are in or where it is. It is very effective because it gives you three hooks: The daemon, Lyra and the dark hall.
As they enter the hall they could see three long tables with fourteen chairs made from mahogany wood and velvet cushions. From a distance, Lyra thought the table was laid with silver but on closer inspection she saw that it was laid with gold.
Now Lyra stops by the masters chair (we do not know who this master is.) She flicked the big glass with her fingernail and the sound rang out.
The author now tells us her daemons name is Pantalaimon and explains that he is a dark brown moth. He is telling Lyra all the time to be quiet which makes the reader wonder who they are hiding from.