Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Capture (Guardians of Ga'hoole, Book 1)
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on December 14, 2005
Soren is a young owl who has all of the comforts in life that a young barn owl should. He has two loving parents to take care of him and bring him food, an older brother named Kludd and a new baby sister named Eglantine to play with, and a nursemaid snake named Mrs. P. He is growing rapidly, partaking in the ancient rituals of his people (such as the first meat and bone ceremonies) and is learning about what it means to be an owl. All seems perfectly idyllic, until the fateful moment he "falls" out of his nest, rather, is pushed out of his nest by his jealous and malign older brother.

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.
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In anticipation of the upcoming movie based on Kathryn Lasky's GUARDIANS OF GA'HOOLE series, Scholastic has re-released the first book in the series, The Capture. Being an owl fan, I of course had to give it a try! Lasky is clearly following in Richard Adams' footsteps here, what with her invented owl words and the mixture of animal behavior and very human social commentary. The Capture is less intense than Watership Down in terms of both reading level and violence level, however, and would be suited for readers who might be too young for Adams' book.

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.
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on January 20, 2004
> "Guardians of Ga'Hoole, The Capture," is a fiction adventure book
by Kathryn Lasky.It is the first of the series. The next book is "The
Journey."
>
> 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
book.
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VINE VOICEon August 3, 2009
In my search for popular children's books I came across the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Currently, it appears there are fifteen books and a September 24, 2010 movie is scheduled to be released.

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.

Story overview:
---------------
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.

My thoughts:
-------------
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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on October 30, 2003
Young owlets are being snatched from their nests, eggs are disappearing. Something sinister is going on in the Owl Kingdoms. This first book in a series tells of how young Soren a barn owl, and Gylfie, a diminutive elf owl, survive the rigors and brainwashing of the evil St. Aegolius Academy. They band together with two other orphans and a blind snake in search of their families, and the Great Ga'Hoole Tree, a legend where ancient knights on silent wings went to do battle against evil and perform deeds of greatness. But first they have to fight their evil jailors who were out to attack other helpless owlets. At the end of the first book they set off "To Ga'Hoole!". And the reader is hooked and must get "The Journey" which is book #2.
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VINE VOICEon August 3, 2009
In my search for popular children's books I came across the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Currently, it appears there are fifteen books and a September 24, 2010 movie is scheduled to be released.

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.

Story overview:
---------------
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.

My thoughts:
-------------
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.

Things to consider:
------------------
As mentioned under my thoughts, I think this is appropriate for children between six and twelve, and for both girls and boys. Note that any youth beyond tweens runs the risk of becoming bored with it. However, I do want to caution that there are a few disturbing situations that may be considered frightful to some children. Off the top of my head these are: vampire bats drinking the blood of willing Owls, a few violent deaths, and a horrific act of Cannibalism. Overall this is a clean story, and is free from any sexual references or profanity.

James D. Maxon
Author of Traphis: A Wizard's Tale
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on September 14, 2005
It seems like a seemingly peaceful life for Soren, a young Barn Owl. A nice nest, a kind-hearted nest-maid (Mrs. Plithiver, a blind-snake), loving parents, and a beautiful sister named Eglantine. His brother, Kludd, seems a bit nasty at times, but all in all, Soren has the perfect life. But he is pushed off his nest by the jealous Kludd, and is captured by patrols from a mysterious place called St. Aggie's. The place is horrible: Skench and Spoorn are the brutal head owls, Jatt and Jutt are the wicked lieutenants, and Auntie Finny and Unk are the suspiciously kind pit guardians. The purpose of the academy is oddly enough, "flecks," which are "more precious than gold." Soon, Soren meets a friend: a bookwormish small Elf Owl named Gylfie. With Gylfie's mind, the two escape the evils of moon-blinking and moon-scalding -- ways of brainwashing owls into nothingness. Thye meet Hortense, who is secretly pretending to be moon-blinked so he could smuggle stolen eggs out of St. Aggie's with the help of his eagles. He is caught and thrown off of a cliff to his death below. They also figure that Grimble, a St. Aggie's patrol, is not completely moon-blinked. They are right . . and with his help, they learn how to fly. Skench catches Grimble after Soren and Gylfie fly off, and Grimble is killed. The pair of owls meet a smarty-pants owl named Twilight and a strange little owl named Digger. Jatt and Jutt are killed trying to eat Digger (they ate his brother and parents, by the way) After the bloody battle in the Desert of Kuneer, the four owls band together and seek the mythical Great Ga'Hoole Tree to alert the owls of the evils of St. Aggie's. The story continues in "The Journey."
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on October 22, 2003
Gaurdians of Ga'Hoole is looking like a really great series so far. This author has a very big imagination, and a very stretched vocabulary. This book, #1 The Capture, is very different and I'll tell you why.
There are no people in this book. Just owls. In this book, the owls have dialouge. They're regular characters in the story. It's very exciting to see and think what the owls see and think to each other. I thought that this was very interesting to see how the owls interacted like people. So I kept reading, and started to really like this book.
Soren is a baby owl, just about 2 weeks. He is a barn owl in the kingdom of Tyto. He has a newborn sister, Eglantine, and an older snobby brother Kludd. Soren is living a great life with his parents until he falls out of his nest onto the floor of the woods, or maybe, pushed out. Soren is then scooped up that night by an older adult owl, and taken to an academy for orphan owls. Soren does not like this, he's not an orphan. Soren meets a smaller owl around his age that was also captured. His name is Gylfie. Soren and Gylfie do not like this place, its weird, and scary for them. Soren and Gylfie figure out that this is not a good place to hang out for a while. They have to get out, but how. They have to fly, something that they are not capable of doing as an owlet.
I really recommend this book because, youm really do not want to stop reading. Theres constant action, and constant thinking between the owls. This book is not to long if your worried about that. It's only 235 pages with a chapter about the sequel, The Journey. It's deffinatly action packed when the owls escape. You definitally do not want to stop reading #1 The Capture, and all the other, Gaurdians of Ga'Hoole books.
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on March 21, 2005
In this book, Soren, a Tyto Alba (Barn Owl) gets knocked out of a tree, by the devil Kludd, or Soren's brother. He is taken to St. Aggies where he meets Skench, Spoorn, Auntie, Jat and Jut, Unk and other mean owls. He also meets good owls--Gylfie, Grimble, Twilight and Digger. In St. Aggies, the other owls beside Soren and Gylfie get moonblinked (brainwashed). This way, St. Aggies wants to do their evil plot--to take control of the owl kingdom. Gylfie and Soren escape moonblinking by telling old Gahoolian legends. Then they learn how to fly and they escape from St. Aggies. Meanwhile, they meet Twilight and Digger, also good owls, who become part of Soren's band. The band then has a big battle with owls from St. Aggies, and they are victorious.

I like this book and its cool because you get to find out lots of cool things about owls, and they have lots of different words in owl language, and its exciting, funny and serious.

I am 12 and am writing this with my dad.
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on July 12, 2011
I've been having a lot of fun with this series. I am already up to the sixth book, and, even though I'm 41, I really have enjoyed the story of Soren and his friends so far. Unfortunately, the production of the Kindle version is absolutely awful. Each book in the series is full of errors, and they seem to be getting more prevalent as the books go on.

Upon calling Customer Service, they informed me that the book comes directly from Scholastic, "soft published" for the Kindle. Scholastic is a major publisher of children's books, and I would say that probably 90% of the books I had as a kid came from Scholastic. For them to release something this incredibly sloppy is absolutely inexcusable.

These errors range from the benign such as hyphenating a word in the middle of a sentence (as opposed to the end of a line) (book 6, loc 1854), forgetting spaces between words (book 6, loc 1019), and capitalizing words in the middle of a sentence (book 6, loc 2128).

The most outragous and inexcusable example occurs in book 5, location 1848. "...there have been certain breeches in security..." Security has been wearing ceremonial trousers? Really? Or did they mean "breaches?"

Considering the target age group that this series is truly meant for, and the fact that Scholastic has been a major publisher of children's books for decades, there is absolutely no excuse for this. Their proofreaders need to get on the ball and fix this series.
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