The Capture (Guardians of Ga'hoole) Paperback – 1 Jun 2003
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Voice of Youth Advocates
(December 1, 2003; 0-439-40557-2)
Soren, a sweet little barn owl who is not quite ready to fly, is booted out of his nest by his evil older brother, Kludd, while his parents are out hunting. Left on the ground to either hide or be eaten, Soren is swept up by an alarmingly large great horned owl and carried off to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. At the Academy, his name is replaced with a number, he is told to ask no questions, and put to work as a picker, pulling apart owl pellets to look for mysterious flecks. Kept alert by his questioning mind and the steadfast friendship of Gylfie, a likewise kidnapped elf owl, Soren sets out to solve the riddle posed by St. Aggie's and ultimately to escape and help save his owl world from the domination of those running the orphanage. Characterization is merely adequate, but the setting is well realized with enough background to give the owl world depth and history. The plotting, although predictable, is swift and involving, making this first installment in a projected series a compelling read. It will appeal to readers of animal fantasies such as the Redwall series or Avi's Poppy (Orchard, 1995/VOYA June 1996).-Ann Welton.
School Library Journal
(October 1, 2003; 0-439-40557-2)
Gr 4-8-At the beginning of this new series, a young Barn Owl named Soren lives peacefully with his family, participating in rituals like the First Meat ceremony, and enjoying legends about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, knightly owls "who would rise each night into the blackness and perform noble deeds." After he falls from his nest, his idyllic world transforms into one of confusion and danger, as he is captured by evil chick-snatching owls and taken to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Soren and his new friend Gylfie work to develop strategies for withstanding "moon blinking" (brainwashing), while secretly striving to learn how to fly. The legends of Ga'Hoole help them to survive, and they are able to escape to find their families and warn the world about the dangers of St. Aegolius. While the owls have human characteristics, such as Soren's determination and Gylfie's creative ideas, their actions and culture reflect Lasky's research into owl behaviors and species. The story's fast pace, menacing bad guys, and flashes of humor make this a good choice for reluctant readers, while the underlying message about the power of legends provides a unifying element and gives strong appeal for fantasy fans.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
(September 15, 2003; 0-439-40557-2)
Gr. 5-8. Soren, a barn owl still weeks away from fledging, is knocked from his otherwise loving family's nest by his nasty older brother. He is swooped up from the forest floor by a pair of nefarious owls who hold him--along with many other owlets of diverse species--captive in a kind of owl social reformatory. Lasky portrays an owl world that has more in common with George Orwell than with Brianacques, offering readers big questions about human social psychology and politics along with real owl science. Broad themes related to the nature of personal choice, the need for fellowship based on love and trust, and sharing knowledge with one's peers are presented compellingly and with swift grafting to the animal adventure story. Developmentally linked celebrations (such as First Fur and First Meat ), methods devised for brain-washing (including the regimental marching of sleepy owls by moonlight), and the diverse landscapes in which owls makes their homes come to life here as Soren rebels against his captors, makes a friend, and executes the first stage of his planned liberation and family reconciliation. Readers will look forward to upcoming installments. --Francisca Goldsmith Copyright 2003 Booklist
About the Author
Kathryn Lasky is the Newbery Honor-winning author of over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her beloved Guardians of Ga Hoole fantasy series has sold more than 4 million copies, and she is the author of the Daughters of the Sea series, the Wolves of the Beyond series, as well as A TIME FOR COURAGE and other Dear America titles. Kathryn has also written a number of critically acclaimed nonfiction titles, such as BEYOND THE BURNING TIME and TRUE NORTH. She lives with her husband in Cambridge, MA.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the story of the Owl kingdoms, and of the classic battle between good and evil. We begin the story with a family of Owls in the nest and soon one is stolen away to a terrible place full of dark secrets. Together with a small friend, Soren escapes and soon they find themselves in a band of owls seeking out the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole. We watch Soren and Gylfie endure the life at St. Aggies and escape with the help of an older owl. They meet up with Twilight and Digger, two owls that could not be more different and yet they form a band and journey towards Ga'Hoole together to warn them of the evil growing at St. Aggies.
The story was stunning, the characters amazing. You fall in love with this band of owls and cannot help but find yourself cheering them on. After you read this first one you will want the rest; it happened to me, and to the person who read book 1 after me. Looks like this book is the beginning of an exceptional series.
I understand Kathryn Lasky's books are very popular, and they appeal to many people - but not me... At times I felt I was reading about two children characters when reading about Soren and Gylfie - not Owls at all - or indeed any animals for that matter - I had to keep reminding myself! Except the constant mentioning of pellets and the eating of other animals in graphic detail which I found rather distasteful... Not because of that part of an animal's life being included; after all one cannot have a story about animals and not involve their diet some where along the way, but you can over do it, which I think is what Ms. Lasky tends to do in her books. It would have been better for her to have concentrated more on other aspects of animals lives within the story; she seems bent on such accuracy and detail when it comes to their food in her books yet having a sort of `humanlike' plot. She might as well have had them sending out for pizzas and be done with! :-)
Not for me I'm afraid...
When Soren is captured and taken to a mysterious place known as St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, he discovers the orphanage has a darker purpose. With the help of his friend, Gylfie, they set out to uncover the truth and find a way to escape.
Unfortunately, the only way out is up, and the young owls will have to learn to fly if they have a hope of escape.
I first read THE CAPTURE many years ago and looked forward to reacquainting myself with the world of the owls. This tale of suspense and finding heroes in unlikely places is full of struggles and triumphs that are easy to relate to, even though the main characters are birds. Re-reading it made me want to get my hands on the other books in the GUARDIANS OF GA'HOOLE series so I can continue reading Soren's story.
Reviewed by: Joan Stradling
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Soren cannot help but think of the tales he has heard of owlets falling from their nests, and how few ever survive the encounter. But he has little time to ponder on this as he is quickly snatched and taken to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned owls. What happens here is beyond his comprehension; the academy is run by only a few owls, but they are all tyrants in their ways. Soren soon realizes that between the moon blinking (brain washing) sleeps and the lack of food there is something amiss at the academy. His worse fears are confirmed when he befriends a young elf owl named Gylfie who also suspects the motives of this so called "orphanage", especially when the acquire positions in the pelletorium. During this time they find out about the all important "flecks" that are being separated from the pellets, apparently these flecks are very valuable in that they have some kind of magical potency to them.
The longer they stay the more bizarre things become, especially when they learn that in addition to the fact that the academy is snatching owlets they are also stealing eggs. It is then that Soren and Gylfie decide to flee. The decision is a hard undertaking, it requires them to learn how to fly and survive on their own, something they have never had the opportunity to do. Can the two handle this important decision?
I'll admit, when it comes to books written at this level my tastes are somewhat fixed to books I read as a child, But since I work in a bookstore in the kids section and this series was very popular I decided to see what the buzz was about. The great thing about this series is that even though it appeals to children because of the animal characters it is not written in a patronizing, dumbed down kind of style. In fact, there is a very admirable way in which Lasky not only writes for a young audience and passes along useful information about owls and the like, but also in the manner which the story is crafted. The themes are very dark, almost too much for a child's story. It reminds me more of George Orwell and Richard Adams then anything else. Yes, there are animal characters, but the issues they have to face (child snatching, concentration camp like atmospheres, and cannibalism) are not something I would have expected children to be enjoying. Then again, I was always a huge fan of Lloyd Alexander, who wrote about raising armies of the dead and such, so I guess I just figured I was an anomaly as far as dark stories went. I was so intrigued by this book that I am debating picking up the rest of them to see where Lasky takes us next.. And since I can read them in about 2-3 hours this is not a tough thing to do. This was one of the most exciting surprises I have picked up in some time.
Soren, our protagonist, is growing up in a loving, comfortable barn owl family. Lasky incorporates a great deal of information about owl behavior and translates it into the customs of a culture. The owls have rituals for their first bites of different types of food, for example, and for the stages of learning to fly. Lasky is skilled at depicting the intricacies of a social structure, as is evident both here and in last year's Hannah. The rituals of Soren's family create a sense of warmth and community, even if they do sometimes focus on owls' digestive processes a little too much for me. (Kids will probably love it. Especially if they've done the "examine the owl pellet" thing in school.)
One day, though, Soren tumbles from the nest and is kidnapped by several other owls. He is taken to St. Aggie's, which claims to be a school for orphaned owls. But Soren isn't really an orphan, and this isn't really a school. It's more of a cross between a totalitarian state and a cult. Now, Soren and his new friend Gylfie need to resist brainwashing, find allies, and escape St. Aggie's. The St. Aggie's scenes are creepy enough to get under even an adult's skin, while still keeping the violence level appropriate for the target audience. There are a few deaths, but the details are mostly glossed over.
Soren and Gylfie are inspired to heroism, in part, by the legends of Ga'Hoole, which are kind of like the owl equivalent of the Arthurian cycle. I really like the idea behind The Capture, which is that one should be brave in the face of tyranny and that stories can help build that courage. The book would have been stronger, though, if a few of the legends had actually been worked into the story. We often read that one character is telling the Ga'Hoole stories to another, but not what's actually in those stories. I've been a mythology geek for at least twenty years, so it's pretty easy for me to imagine what the stories are probably like, but I wouldn't necessarily expect a child to have the same knowledge base. One of the things that worked well about Watership Down was that some of the El-ahrairah stories were included in the novel. It helped build the world the rabbits lived in, and including the stories could have done the same thing here, and it would have lent even more weight to a touching scene where Soren and Gylfie make up their own legend to honor a friend.
Other issues include an unlikely coincidence, songs that don't scan, and an abrupt ending. It's not a cliffhanger, but it leaves much unresolved (presumably to be addressed in the subsequent books). This was an issue in Hannah as well, and maybe this is just a quirk of Lasky's style that I'll have to get used to if I continue reading her books.
Nonetheless, The Capture is enjoyable for the most part, and suspenseful. The prose veers toward the "textbooky" a bit when describing owl biology and behavior, but it's beautiful at other moments, and the story has a good message without beating you over the head with it. I'm looking forward to the movie.
by Kathryn Lasky.It is the first of the series. The next book is "The
> Soren is a barn owl who lives with his mother, father, brother
and new sister. They live in the forest kingdom of Tyto, in the southern
kingdoms of the owl world. Their life was the same as any other owl
family, until Soren fell out of their hollow and got snatched. He came to
St. Aegolius Academy for orphaned owls, where horrible owls take young
owls from their homes and have them help to lead the owl world to
them.They have them do something called Moon blinking, which hypnotizes
them so they do not escape.Soren and his friend Gylfie do not get
moonblinked. Together they try to go save the owl world from disaster.
> I think this is a wonderful book for people who love adventure
stories. The ages that people would most enjoy this book would be 8-12.
It has new excitement on every page, and you always want to know what's
going to happen next. There never seems to be a dull moment in this
The author, Kathy Lasky has written more than fifty fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. She is quoted as saying, "I want young readers to come away with a sense of joy for life. I want to draw to them into a world where they're really going to connect with these characters."
For the most part she achieves this with The Capture.
A young Barn Owl named Soren finds himself falling from the warm nest of his parents only to land at the bottom of the tree. Unfortunately for Soren, his parents were out hunting for food. Only his little sister, unhelpful (& deceiving) brother, and blind snake-servant remained.
Soren is captured by an Owl patrol and taken to St. Aegolius' Academy for Orphaned Owls. It did not matter that Soren wasn't really an orphan because, as he discovers, the Academy's true aim is to conquer the Owl kingdoms. Soren learns of the true horrors of Moon Blinking--which destroys an Owl's free will--hard labor, punishment for asking questions, and the terror of Owls who yield to Vampire Bats.
With the help of his Elf Owl friend named Gylfie--and a few un-blinked Owls at the Academy--Soren escapes. They are joined by a male Great Grey Owl named Twilight, who helps both Soren and Gylfie to find their homes, but unfortunately they have been deserted. Now a new and greater adventure lies ahead.
There is a slight Redwall`ish feeling to this tale; if you like one you may like the other. For some odd reason newly born Owls have an instant British vocabulary, but overall it is a cute and charming adventure. Personally, I got bored with it. My attention kept dropping off and the events seemed to drag on longer than I would have liked. However, I think the right audience would love it. Particularly those who are between 6 to 12 (six to twelve) years old.
James D. Maxon
Author of Traphis: A Wizard's Tale
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