The Guardians of Ga'Hoole
Book 6: The Burning

by Kathryn Lasky

Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Six: The Burning

Book review by Monica Friedman

Ages 8-12

Glauxian Sisters and Glauxian Brothers!

The Chaw of Chaws, along with Soren’s sister, Eglantine, whose training is now complete, has been charged with a difficult and imperative task. They must transport the demented owl, Dewlap, to the sanctuary of the Glauxian Sisters on Elsemere Island in the Everwinter Sea in the Northern Kingdoms. But that is only the beginning of their journey. Having delivered their patient, they must split up into three groups and pursue three more important missions separately.

(Start at the beginning. Read Monica's review of the first Ga'Hoole book.)

Review - Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Six: The Burning

Otulissa and Gylfie must visit the Glauxian Brothers’ retreat, where they are to study war strategy and secure a new copy of the Fleckasia book Dewlap destroyed so many hundreds of pages ago.

The retreat is not all that they expected, however.

The Glauxian Brothers have all taken vows of silence, a condition that greatly offends Otulissa’s loquacious sensibilities. She also encounters a handsome young prince who, like her, is a Spotted Owl, but who doesn’t think military knowledge is useful. He whispers, “I came here to study medicine. Quite frankly, I don’t believe in war—ever.”

To make matters worse, Gylfie discovers that Ifghar, Ezylryb’s treacherous brother, has been living for years with the Glauxian Brothers, who believe in mercy and forgiveness for all.

Martin and Ruby are charged with flying to Stormfast Island, where they must find Hock of Hoke, the only snake who can convince the other Kielian snakes to join their cause. Hock of Hoke, however, does not wish to be found. When they at last uncover him and convince him that they were sent by Ezylryb, he says, “you see before you a very old snake. Too old to go into battle. But, yes, I could perhaps raise a battalion or two of owls and snakes and help in training them. But it must be agreed to by the parliament…. We are tired of war. You must understand.”

Soren, Twilight, Digger, and Eglantine, with the help of a terrifyingly friendly polar bear, Svall, are headed to the Firth of Fangs, to seek out an owl called Moss, who they hope will help them recruit allies for the upcoming battle and introduce them to the blacksmith who will make their new battle claws. But their journey comes to the same conclusion as Martin and Ruby’s.

While the other owls remember Ezylryb kindly, they are all tired of war and insist that their parliament should debate their involvement in full.

Soren and his company know that time is running out. The Pure Ones are gathering their forces, and more to the point, weather in the Northern Kingdoms can be dangerous. The deadly katabatic winds will impede their progress if they stay too long, which is precisely what Soren, hoping the parliament will change its mind, does.

Stranded on an Ice Dagger, the company is set upon by Kraals—brightly colored owl pirates—with their own mission, and must leave Gylfie behind or risk compromising the entire invasion.

The book culminates in another epic battle, as every owl converges upon St. Aggie’s, the Pure Ones’ new stronghold. Old enemies with questionable loyalties confuse the situation. Soren must examine his own consciousness many times, leading him to the inevitable ending: his eventual confrontation with his brother Kludd, the terrifying Metal Beak who, Soren knows, must die.

Can Soren kill his own brother? His brother has tried to kill him on more than one occasion. Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book 6: The Burning continues to examine the questions of conscience broached in the previous books. When must good owls fight, and when may good owls walk away from a battle? And, even if Kludd dies, what comes next? After all, Kludd is not the only Pure One. He is not even the only Pure One with a plan.

Read my review of Book 7: The Hatchling.

Read more of Monica's reviews.

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