In the first book in the GUARDIANS... series, the reader is introduced to Soren, a barn owl and the centerpiece of the series. When Soren is pushed from his family's nest by his older brother, he is rescued from certain death on the forest floor by agents from a mysterious school for orphaned owls, St. Aggie's. When Soren arrives at St. Aggie's, he suspects there is more to the school than meets the eye. He and his new friend, the clever and scrappy Gylfie, find out that St. Aggie's is actually a training camp where the school's leader can groom young owls to help achieve her goal--(cont.)
Lasky's (The Man Who Made Time Travel) Guardians of Ga'Hoole series opens with this unevenly paced tale centering on Soren, an owlet whose nasty older brother pushes him out of the family nest. A large owl snatches Soren up and carries him to a deep, dark canyon, the location of the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Its nefarious nature is apparent from the start: Soren and other new arrivals are given numbers to replace their names, they are forbidden to ask questions and are required to sleep with their beaks "tipped to the moon" and to walk, herd-like, during the night when a full moon is shining. This "sleep march" leaves the young owls "moon blinked," after which, in the words of Soren's friend Gylfie, "You no longer know what is for sure and what is not. What is truth and what are lies." Soren and Gylfie discover a means of resisting the sleep marches and vow to escape the canyon by learning to fly, a feat they accomplish with the help of a sympathetic elder owl. Though much of the narrative is encumbered by excessive detail about the rituals of the repressive regime, the story moves at a quick clip once Soren and Gylfie find freedom and embark on a quest with two other orphaned owls. The likable characters may well entice fantasy fans to accompany them as they fly on to The Journey, due in September. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.