Book 7 The Hatchling, represents a new direction for the series. It seems that Soren's story reached its closure at the end of The Burning, so now we step into the shoes (er, talons) of young Nyroc.
Nyroc is all that his ambitious mother could want. A terrific flyer for one so young, obedient and very promising, Nyroc is going to be his evil father's heir. He believes all that his mother Nyra has told him. He believes that his uncle Soren murdered his father Kludd. He believes that the owls who live in the Ga'Hoole tree are the enemy. He believes that it is his destiny to help overthrow these owls and pay them back for the defeat that the Pure Ones suffered at their hands.
And then things start to change. Nyroc sees images in fire, images that show a very different story. The images show that his father Kludd was the one who tried to kill Soren and not the other way around. In the flames Nyroc sees his mother and father committing murder and he is greatly disturbed. Bit by bit he starts to put together the true story of what happened to the Pure Ones, and the truth horrifies him. There is only one thing he can do: Nyroc has to leave his home to try to find out the truth about his parents.
Nyroc and his best friend Phillip flee the lands where the Pure Ones live only to be pursued by Nyra and her henchmen. Nyra is determined to make her son accept his birthright, and she doesn't care what she has to do to achieve her goal. Her ruthless cruelty finally helps Nyroc see that he no longer can be one of the Pure Ones. He has to find his own way in the world.
Kathryn Lasky has made this one of her most powerful books in the Ga'Hoole series. The reader is shown how easy it is to influence others and control what they think and how they behave. At the same time, she shows us how a strong character can turn away from a life that is unacceptable, even if the price to do so is very high. Despite his fears and the dangers he faces, Nyroc accepts that he has to leave his mother's cruel world. He learns by listening and watching that there is another kind of world out there, one that is full of love, kindness, truth and courage.
I was also pleased to see that, near the end of the book, Otulissa really comes into the spotlight. She had become one of my favorite characters, and she's obviously going to play a big role in the books to come.
In short, this is a new beginning for the Guardians of Ga'hoole, but the epic themes remain strong. This, combined with liberal references to the rest of the series, make The Hatchling an obvious choice for fans.