Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Three: The Rescue
Book review by Monica Friedman
Owls Taking up Arms against Racists
A strange red comet presages trouble as the third book in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series opens.
(Start at the beginning. Read Monica's review of the first Ga'Hoole book.)
It’s been two months since the Great Downing. Eglantine and her peers have sufficiently recovered from their ordeal to begin their formal training, although they remember nothing of their captivity. Ezylryb, the wise old screech owl who taught Soren colliering and weather interpretation, has disappeared without a trace, and “it seemed grossly unfair to Soren that once he had finally gotten his sister back, his favorite ryb had vanished.” Flying with his chaw just isn’t the same without Ezylryb, and no one seems to know what’s become of him.
Following a chilling encounter with a hurricane, Soren receives a warning from scrooms—the ghosts of his parents, whose death now appears certain—“Metal! Beware Metal Beak!” What or who is metal beak? None of the rybs are comfortable sharing many details on that topic, so Soren and his band go out hunting for it. Their only clue is the Rogue Smith of Silverveil, who divulges just enough information to turn their world upside down. Does every owl they know have a secret past, a secret identity?
From one clue to the next, they begin to piece together the truth about Ezylryb’s history, and their next step becomes clear. Metal Beak is a dangerous enemy and Ezylryb is his captive. As Octavia, the blind snake who will always be loyal to him says, “I swore an oath of peace…. But you know, now I think it is time to break it.”
Soon the pieces begin to fall into place. A little deductive reasoning helps them recover Eglantine’s memories, giving the band a better idea of where to search. The once-snooty spotted owl, Otulissa, inspired by Ezylryb’s teaching, joins the band, articulately refuting the doctrine of purity that has troubled the owls ever since the Great Downing.
"I hate that thing that you were talking about before…. That stuff about purity, that one kind of owl is more pure or better than another. The most ancient order of owls, the owls that all of us are descended from—whether we are Barn Owls, Snowies, Spotted, or whatever—those first owls were all called Glaux. And every owl celebrates the spirit of Glaux. My mum told me that, and it is true. For indeed with that ancient order began a special kind of bird. As owls, we owe our uniqueness, our ability to fly silently, to see through the darkness of the night, to spin our heads almost all the way around to those first owls…. But for those owls that Eglantine talked about, that was not enough. They want to destroy the others."
Thus is formed the chaw of chaws, a band of young owls at the top of their abilities, determined to find and rescue Ezylryb, but also to confront Metal Beak, and generally save the day. They’ll need to use all their skill in navigation and colliering, along with the book learning that helps them piece together the hidden knowledge they’ll need to prove themselves on this mission.
The Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book Three: The Rescue
While some readers have described the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series as “Harry Potter with owls,” with every book, the superficiality of this comparison becomes more apparent. Otulissa may start off looking a lot like Draco Malfoy, but by the end of book three, she seems more like Hermione. Ezylryb could stand in for Snape in the middle of book two, but soon enough, Soren finds him more of a Dumbledore, except that Dumbledore lacks a secret identity from his hidden past, and Dumbledore was never caught without a plan, lost, or in need of rescue. And Metal Beak is no Voldemort, despite the racial purity tropes: in his relationship to Soren, he is revealed as much, much worse.
Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book Three: The Rescue is a satisfying piece of this series, as Soren and his friends truly come into their own and demonstrate the power of a band of thoughtful, determined, and caring young owls. The story advances at a reasonable pace, continuing to answer old questions while posing new ones to whet the appetite for the next installment. A happy ending with disquieting undertones sets the stage for the next book.
Read more of Monica's reviews.
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