Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Ten: The Coming of Hoole
Book review by Monica Friedman
More backstory on the legends of the ancients
In this second book recounting the legends of the ancient owls, Soren and Coryn, along with the Chaw of Chaws, continue to learn of their ancestors’ struggle to restore balance to a world terrorized by freaky, magic-using hagsfiends. They read of the exuberant young king hatching out of the egg, to be raised by thoughtful and intelligent owls, far from the war that has threatened his heritage and his people and resulted in his being brought up in exile.
(Start at the beginning. Read Monica's review of the first Ga'Hoole book.)
The pastoral idyll of young Hoole’s upbringing on a remote island is balanced by the rather horrible tribulations of his mother, Queen Siv, who gave him up to her friend, Grank, in order to save his life. Siv is pursued relentlessly by hagsfiends and haggish owls, particularly Lord Arrin, who wants to make her his mate to legitimize his power. Her only friend is a polar bear, and she can never reveal her true identity, but has to actively hide her nobility by disguising herself as a common gadfeather. She embodies the ideal of the dedicated mother, who sacrifices everything for her child. At one point, she decides, “Her life was inextricably entwined with that of her chick. There was, from her point of view, no separation. If he died, she would die…. But if she died…he would go on. And that was all that mattered.”
From the Ice Narrows to Beyond the Beyond, the action ranges, favoring one side, then the other. Queen Siv suffers the pain of a mother separated from her child. Little Hoole, gifted with the firesight, knows that he has a mother, but can never be near her. A hagsfiend called Ygryk, mated to a haggish owl called Pleek, is obsessed with adopting Hoole, “to ensnare that chick into a web of spells” so that “[t]heir powers would exceed those of any living thing…in the entire universe.” Using the horrible dark magic known to these evil owls, they plan to find little Hoole, tear out his eye, and turn him into a powerful abomination. Naturally, all the evil creatures, owl, hagsfiend, and wolf alike, are too busy stabbing each other in the back to make as much headway as they might with a united front.
This is the stuff of which legends are made: an epic battle between good and evil, a story arc that encompasses three books, a child born to nobility but raised, like King Arthur, to be wise rather than royal. There are more details regarding the origins of things: this is the book that explains the beginnings of the Great Ga’Hoole Tree and why the noble owls settled there in the first place. And the story concludes with Soren and his modern friends piecing together the importance of these stories and understanding how an ancient evil could impact the peace they have so recently implemented.
Fans of these fast-paced animal adventure books for children will devour Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book 10: the Coming of Hoole. It’s another page-turning narrative where matters of life and death intersect with those of love and loyalty.
Review of Book 11: To Be a King.
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