Mr. Graham's Reviews > The Siege

The Siege by Kathryn Lasky
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's review
Feb 15, 11

bookshelves: childrens, fantasy
Read in February, 2011

** spoiler alert ** The Siege is the fourth book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, and is the story of a war between the Guardians of Ga'Hoole and the Pure Ones. The main character, Soren, shows remarkable leadership during the different phases of the war, and is helped many others along the way.
The title refers to the action taken by the Pure Ones in laying siege to the Island of Hoole where the Guardians reside. It is a story about a battle between good and evil with overtones of the educated vs. the ignorant. The Pure Ones are ignorant and believe that their pure race of Barn Owls is superior to all other life. The Guardians stand for knowledge and learning, through which they know that all owls are created equal.
This knowledge vs. ignorance theme is present throughout the series, and is brought to attention in chapter three of this book. Some of the Guardians declare some knowledge forbidden and seek to take books out of the library. The true leader of the Guardians, Ezylryb is strongly against the notion of forbidden knowledge. It is against everything the Guardians stand for.
As we learn about the Pure Ones, and the owls of St. Aggie's, we see that they only want the knowledge that will benefit them in their quests to dominate other owl kingdoms. Beyond that, learning is forbidden. Otulissa has realized that the St. Aggie's owls will believe whatever she says because they themselves are not learners. She also realizes that “they could do real damage with what they might find out...” In chapter 17 we find out how appalling it is to Ezylryb to see a book destroyed, and the length he goes to repair it. The author is obviously letting us know how important knowledge and learning is.
Also in chapter 17 we learn a little more about Soren's parents. They seem to have the same view of war that Ezylryb has. They hate it. While the author lets us know in this book that there are things worth fighting for, the point is apparent that war is detestable and should be avoided as much as it can be. In chapter 20 Soren comes to this realization. “There was nothing particularly glorious or heroic about war, Soren realized. It was really nothing more than a grubby, vile task to vanquish a foul tyranny...”
Chapter 18 shows the natural views associated with knowledge and learning. Ezylryb speaks for the entire educated world in his speech when he says the following: “It is in the very diversity of our breeds, the rainbow of our colors, the multiplicity of our shapes that we find richness.” He goes on to say that they must win the war, for it is the only way for owlkind to go on with “those impulses for life, for honor, and for freedom.” A worthy cause to be sure.
There is an explanation of Kludd's rise to power that makes it plausible. It's really not Metal Beak that is in power, but his mate, Nyra. He did not rise to power by great leadership or proving himself in battle, but only by defeating Nyra's former mate, during which he got his first set of deformities.
The Siege was easily the best book in the series to this point. The story can stand alone as a war between good and evil. It had a theme threaded all the way through. The war was won by the good guys at the end, and the groundwork is set for book five. We found that Hortense still lives as Mist. There is a great cast of complementary heroes including Mist, the eagles, Slynella, and the Rogue Smith. This book was a good, satisfying read.
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