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Book Review

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

When Soren, a young Barn Owl, is pushed from the family's nest by his brother, he's easy prey for the evil owls of St. Aegolius (St. Aggie's). They capture and take him to their "orphanage," where young owls are brainwashed through overexposure to moonlight and other tactics (collectively called "moonblinking"). Those in charge at St. Aggie's intend to make the orphans their slaves. Soren and an Elf Owl named Gylfie discover what the evil owls are doing. By using strategies of their own, including the retelling of legends and tales of yore, Soren and Gylfie manage to evade being moonblinked. They want to escape the cave that houses St. Aggie's, but neither has learned to fly, and there's nowhere they can practice without being discovered.

One night, Gylfie sees an owl named Hortense stealthily passing off an owl egg that she is supposed to be hatching to eagles outside of St. Aggie's, thereby rescuing it. They realize she must have avoided the moonblinking, too, and they confront her. She admits that she's working undercover in St. Aggie's to help her owl community discover what is happening to their stolen eggs and babies. Later, evil owls kill Hortense after catching her doing this.

Soren and Gylfie become increasingly anxious to escape when they witness another aspect of moonblinking. At the evil owls' command, vampire bats crawl onto the breasts of young owls, make a tiny cut, and suck out some of the owls' blood. According to one of the owl guards, this takes away the young owls' desire to fly. Soren and Gylfie find an old owl named Grimble, who has not succumbed entirely to moonblinking. He gets them clearance into other areas of St. Aggie's and gives them brief opportunities to practice their flying. He, too, is killed in the process of helping the two young owls escape.

When Soren and Gylfie are free, they realize they still want to help stop the evil activities at St. Aggie's. They meet a Great Gray Owl named Twilight and a Burrowing Owl named Digger as they search for their families. Soren finds the nursemaid snake that lived with his family but Soren's and Gylfie's families have moved. Together, the four owls and one snake search for the legendary Great Ga'Hoole Tree. They've heard tales of noble knight owls living there. If the stories are true, they intend to find these brave owls and enlist their aid in destroying St. Aggie's.

Christian Beliefs

When Soren and Gylfie see the pelletorium, where young owls must work, the narrator says if they'd known the meanings of words like heaven and hell, they would have called this place hell. Owls like Soren's parents, who lived in churches, sometimes owned books of psalms.

Other Belief Systems

Soren wonders if the evil owls are not owls at all, but some kind of demon spirits in disguise. As Grimble dies, he says an ancient owl prayer in which he claims he's redeemed himself by helping young owls fly. He also says that owls who believe in themselves will fly. The evil owls harvest flecks of a mysterious mineral that seems to give some owls unusual powers.

Authority Roles

Hortense is a small owl, without some of the capabilities of other owls in her family, who poses as a moonblinked baby owl to help save the eggs stolen by the leaders at St. Aggie's. She does this because she wants to use her limitations for a noble purpose rather than live a life where people feel sorry for and must take care of her. The evil owls, including Skench, Spoorn, Jatt and Jutt, steal and brainwash young owls and make them work at St. Aggie's. Grimble encourages the young owls to fly and believe in themselves.


Characters frequently use phrases such as Great Glaux, which Soren indicates is swearing. Glaux was the most ancient order of owls from which all owls descended. Soren and Gylfie use the term racdrops several times (short for raccoon droppings), which is one of the dirtiest words an owl can use. Twilight tells an enemy he's going to send him straight to h---.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and the movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review which covers the first three books in this series.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 and up


Kathryn Lasky






Record Label



Scholastic, Inc


On Video

Year Published





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