Author: Kathryn Lasky
Length: 320 pages
Series or Stand Alone: Prequel/Companion in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series
Content Appropriate For: Grades 3-6
Format: ARC provided by Scholastic Press via netgalley.com (Publication date July 30, 2013)
Three Adjectives That Describe This Book: adventurous, fun, interesting
I absolutely loved the first 3 books in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Who would have thought that a world populated by owls could be so interesting? Owl culture, owl humor, and owl power-mongering turned out to be fascinating. I read books 4 and 5, too, but the series really fizzled. With 15 books in the series, it felt like Kathryn Lasky was cranking them out without regard for compelling, cohesive plot. When I saw this new entry I rolled my eyes, until I saw the premise. Ezylryb's backstory!?!? Heck yeah! So I gave it a shot - and I'm so glad I did!
Told as a first-person memoir, Rise of a Legend is a worthwhile companion to the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. In the initial series, Ezylryb fascinated me with his grizzled, complex personality. He was a grumpy old man who turned out to be a war-hero/genius with a troubled past. Finally, this novel lifts the veil on these mysteries, including some EPIC battle scenes where young Lyze saves lives while reinventing battle tactics.
Of course there are also touching scenes between Lyze and his family and, later, with his beloved. While these scenes fleshed out his character, they were ultimately a distraction from the real action. It didn't help that they had the feel of an afterthought. Although, maybe that's only because my personal interest was so much in the battle scenes. It was like a tease, "When are we going to get to the big battle?" There were several skirmishes along the way that kept me reading, though, so that's good.
Bottom line - if you were a fan of the first few Guardians books, this one is totally worth a read. It has a nostalgic feel, like watching a fun movie that you haven't seen in a while. Although there were elements that were a bit underwhelming, Rise of a Legend still gave me the guilty pleasure I remember from the opening books.