Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture
Book review by Monica Friedman
At the Saint Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls
In the Forest Kingdom of Tyto, little owls are raised with the utmost care, under the auspices of two loving parents and a conscientious blind snake, the passage of their lives marked by exciting ceremonies. Soren, a young barn owl, has all that and more: a delightful little sister named Eglantine, enough to distract him from some of the troubles in Tyto. For one thing, owlets like himself, and even unhatched eggs, have been kidnapped, never to be seen again. For another thing, his older brother, Kludd, is a bit of a sociopath.
One second, Soren is looking out from the hollow tree his family calls home, the next he is sitting on the forest floor, a terribly dangerous place for a little owl who doesn’t even know how to hop from branch to branch, whose flight feathers will not grow in for weeks. A moment later, Soren joins the ranks of the kidnapped, and he learns the true fate of those little owls who have disappeared from their nests.
Soren becomes one of thousands of young owls imprisoned at Saint Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, and even though he is one hundred percent sure that he’s not an orphan, the curriculum at St. Aggie’s is designed to turn healthy young owls into brainwashed slaves. Questions are not allowed, and asking them of the wrong people results in a painful Laughing Ceremony, in which the offending owl has its feathers ripped out. Worst of all, the owls are forced to sleep at night, with their heads turns up to the moon, while marching around a box canyon.
During his first sleep march, Soren meets Gylfie, an elf owl, and together they begin to piece together their predicament. The sleep marches are meant to moon blink the little owls—driving them crazy and erasing their identities and their personalities—but they can resist the treatment by telling each other legends of the famous Guardians of Ga’Hoole, owls who did “great and noble deeds” in times long past.
While waiting for Soren’s flight feathers to grow in, the young owls begin to infiltrate the secrets of St. Aggies. They must avoid the notice of Skench, Spoorn, Jatt, and Jutt, some of the cruelest owls in charge of the orphans, and they must find their allies, owls like Hortense and Grimble who, like Soren and Gylfie, are only pretending to be moon blinked while they work against the evil forces of St. Aggie’s. Review continues.
The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture
Mysteries abound. What are the unidentified flecks, “more precious than gold,” that drive the owls in the Pelletorium? Where do the older owls acquire their ferocious metal “battle claws”? Why must they kidnap and train so many little owlets?
In Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Lasky has created a world like no other in children’s literature, rich with unrevealed back-stories and populated by compelling characters. Soren’s journey is merely the jumping-off point for an epic work that promises to pit good against evil, history against mythology, and brother against brother. Combining the observed habits of the various species with the fanciful secret lives of fantasy creatures, The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture casts a delightful spell on the reader, drawing them into a complex world filled with tension, action, emotion, and hope.
Read Monica's review of the 2nd book in the series: The Journey.
Read more of Monica's reviews.
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