Kathryn Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Eight: The Outcast
Book review by Monica Friedman
A Young Owl in Exile Grows into a Noble Bird of Destiny
Picking up where the previous book left off, this eighth installment of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series is a different kind of story than those found in some of the previous books.
Review - Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book Eight: The Outcast
Young Nyroc, in voluntary exile from the Pure Ones and ever-fearful of his mother’s wrath, lacks the certitude in his destiny that his thoughtful Uncle Soren displays. While he, too, dreams of becoming a Guardian, he knows that this can never be. His ancestry—the general awfulness of his parents, and his resemblance to his mother, who comes off as one of the worst villains in literature or history—has made him a true outcast, feared and hated by all who see him.
(Start at the beginning. Read Monica's review of the first Ga'Hoole book.)
But Nyroc has a destiny nonetheless, and his eventual encounters with familiar old characters, most notably Mist, the original Hortense, convince him that it lays Beyond the Beyond, in that lawless land of hireclaws, rogue colliers and smiths, and strange dire wolves.
Is this his punishment for the sins of his parents, an inescapable fate for an owl shunned by owlkind?
“It’s a place for outcasts,” Nyroc said. “That’s why I must go there, isn’t it? It’s the only place for an owl like me.”
“No! Not at all!” Mist spoke severely…. “You must never think that. And secondly, there is no ‘must’ to it.”
“What do you mean?”
“You have free will, my dear. The only thing you must do is choose: either to go there or not to go there.”
Renaming himself Coryn, he sets out for this unknown land, distinguishing himself along the way with his desire to undo the past. When he learns that the Pure Ones have been collecting eggs, he pauses in his quest to return one to its nest before resuming his journey. His skill at diplomacy serves him well on the journey.
Beyond the Beyond is a different world from that ruled by law-abiding owls. Here, owls are reticent and mind their own business, mostly collecting coals and doing metalwork. In fact, it is the wolf clans that rule this terrain, guarding over the sacred volcanoes to ensure that the fabled Ember of Hoole, hidden a thousand years ago, does not fall into the wrong hands.
The wolves have their own way of doing things, and Coryn must use all his noble skills to prove his worth.
As many characters, some of them seemingly minor owls who played small roles earlier in the series, converge upon the spot where Coryn must, eventually, seek the Ember, the tension rises. His mother is up to her old tricks, using deception to gain allies and fly ever closer to the child whose death she seems to desire with a blind hatred.
As Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book 8: The Outcast draws to a close, it becomes clear that the entire game is about to change. If Coryn succeeds in gaining the Ember, ancient myths will be revealed as both history and prophecy, but a single wrong move might provide the advantage that his mother is looking for. Who is Coryn, and what role is he to play in the future of owlkind? The answer is balanced on a single dive: the most dangerous flight any bird has made in one thousand years.
Review of Book 9: The Collier.
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