Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Seven: The Hatchling
Book review by Monica Friedman
A New Era for Owls: The Pure One’s Perspective
If you love Guardians of Ga'Hoole but are getting a little tired of heroic Soren repeatedly trumping all odds on the road to victory, you’re ready for Book 7 of the popular series.
Soren himself makes no appearances in this book, and is, in fact, only referenced throughout most of the novel as the “evil owl” who killed the High Tyto, Metal Beak, aka Soren’s homicidal brother, Kludd.
Why the turnabout? This book, in a departure from the previous six, takes place within the inner circle of the Pure Ones. It is the story of Soren’s nephew, Nyroc, son of Kludd and Nyra, a newly hatched owl destined for greatness.
(Start at the beginning. Read Monica's review of the first Ga'Hoole book.)
Review - Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Seven: The Hatchling
At the end of Book 6, the Guardians have overcome the Pure Ones in their St. Aggie’s stronghold, and Kludd tries his best once more to kill Soren.
Soren, still subject to the filial bonds his brother has never felt, balks at the opportunity to kill Kludd, and his friend, Twilight, instead takes out the deranged Kludd with a direct hit that snaps his spine.
Kludd is dead, but his unhatched son still lives, and Book 7 opens on Nyra, a single mother to little Nyroc, the hope of a defeated empire. Her vast legions of Pure Ones decimated, she is down to a few dozen loyal (and not-so-loyal) subjects, and pins all her hopes on the hatchling.
Nyra is a Mommie Dearest sort of mother: cloyingly sweet one moment, and screamingly insane the next. Nyroc is a nearly perfect little boy, performing above and beyond any owl’s expectations. Due, perhaps, to his mother’s insanity, he is an expert at “erasing unpleasant thoughts from his mind,” but there comes a time in the lives of all owls when they must choose to interpret the world around them.
Nyroc has been taught all his life that his uncle Soren, and the Guardians of Ga’Hoole are evil and murderous, but now his mother, who seems to not know the meaning of love, determines that he must learn to hate. The little owl is eager to please, but no one realizes that Nyroc has a special, latent ability: when he gazes deeply into a fire, he can see the truth. What he sees in the flames at his father’s funeral runs directly counter to his mother’s stories.
The new perspective of this book breathes fresh life into the story, as we watch another young owl grow up. The struggle in Nyroc’s mind—whether to believe his own mother or his own heart, whether to stay in the world where he is prince and destined to be king, or escape into the unknown—is a powerful one for young readers. How can one leave a family, regardless of its flaws? What courage must it take for a child to trust his own instincts and choose the side of good when he has been raised to honor the forces of evil?
In The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 7: The Hatchling, Nyroc must make these terrible decisions. He can choose the path of love and risk his own death, or continue on the path of hatred and ensure the death of those he loves.
Read more of Monica's reviews.
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