Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Five: The Shattering
Book review by Monica Friedman
Beware the flecks!
The battle for the soul of owlkind turns inward, playing out within the mind of little Eglantine, who has already experienced the pain of separation from her family and the trauma of brainwashing by the Pure Ones. Now she has once again been targeted, unbeknownst to any of the owls who love her.
(Start at the beginning. Read Monica's review of the first Ga'Hoole book.)
Review - Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Five: The Shattering
While the other owls are still recovering from the battle of Book 4 and reeling over their apparent betrayal by the crotchety Ga’Hoolology ryb, Dewlap, they begin to discuss disorders of the mind, particularly “shattering,” which some owls have offered up as an excuse for her behavior.
“It’s terrible when it happens, worse than any moon blinking,” the erudite Otulissa explains, “It is not caused by the moon but by the exposure to flecks under certain conditions.”
As shown in the previous books, exposure to flecks, or magnetized pieces of metal, can have devastating effects on owls of any age. Unhatched birds still in the shell can be made into mindless devotees, while even old and wise owls like Ezylryb can become disoriented to the point of losing the ability to navigate, and thus, to fly.
Otulissa is sure that learning more about shattering, Fleckasia, and other diseases of the mind is extremely important, but, unfortunately, the only book that discusses these issues has been unceremoniously dumped into the sea by Dewlap, earlier in the series.
But contamination with flecks is precisely what is happening to Eglantine. Plagued by nightmares from which she wakes screaming, to which she wishes to return, she is trapped in her mind. Her old friend, Primrose, notices the change, but her new friend, Ginger, insists that everything is fine.
In her dreams, Eglantine becomes convinced that her parents are not dead, as her brother believes, but alive and well and waiting for her in the seductive and dangerous region known as The Beaks.
Encouraged by Ginger, she begins visiting The Beaks, although she is uncertain whether these journeys take place in her dreams or in real life. Every day, she visits a beautiful white owl who looks something like her mother, and acts something like her mother, but every night she wakes up back in her own hollow in the Ga’Hoole Tree.
Who is this almost-mother, and who, for that matter, is her new friend Ginger? Primrose, determined to find out, follows them to The Beaks and uncovers the true secret.
Using her own knowledge of flecks, she helps prevent the complete Shattering of Eglantine’s mind as well as her own, but the two young owls are now prisoners of the Pure Ones, and it’s up to the Chaw of Chaws to unravel the mystery of their disappearance.
Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book 5: The Shattering ends with a glorious battle, as a ragtag band of owls use their supreme knowledge of forest fires and their great cunning to engage and disperse a much greater and better-equipped force. However, the book ends with the understanding that the enemy has fled, but not been defeated. Ezylryb passes his battle claws on to Soren, adopting him as his spiritual heir, and promising more action in Book 6.
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