The Guardians: Book Two
by William Joyce
“Suddenly his face grew wild with panic. He reached for the door. The locket fell from his neck” (Joyce, 79).
Chapter Six – Chapter Ten
Meanwhile, while Katherine’s telling the children about what they’ve missed (and what a reader’s who skipped Book One wouldn’t know), North is trying to understand his new sword, the first Lunar relic and how it works.
He learns that it’s alive, in some way, and works for him. Or to be precise, it has a life separate from him. It’s not a tool he can use like his previous blades. And this frustrates him, since
“The sword had a mind of its own. It would leap from its sheath into North’s hand whenever there was danger… It seemed to guide him to block an opponent’s every thrust.
This piqued North’s pride. The sounds of him yelling, ‘Quit that! I’m the best swordsman who ever breathed air!’ and ‘Do what I say, you ancient pile of stardust!’ could often be heard echoing through the Lamadary during sword practice” (55).
Though it frustrates him, this quality of the relic turns out to be more a help than a hindrance. Especially when North accidentally drops the sword and almost skewers two mediating Lunar lamas.
But instead of falling, the sword surprises him by stopping in mid air and returning to his hand. Once it has,
“North turned the weapon over and over in wonder. The sword had fallen on purpose, to show him one of its secrets — that it could change direction to avoid causing harm. So he tried to test its sharpness with his thumb, but the sword’s tip pulled away. ‘Can the sword wound only my enemies?’ he asked out loud.
Yaloo motioned for him to try to slice him.
North paused, but Yaloo was adamant. So North took a breath and then slashed the blade directly toward Yaloo.
The Yeti didn’t flinch, and once again the sword veered off, refusing to cause harm.
‘The blasted thing. I expect a sword to do what I want. Why give me a weapon that fights against me?’ North fumed.
The Yeti eyed North with an amused expression. “Perhaps the weapon is fighting for you,’ he suggested.
That pleased North” (57-8).
Likewise, this shows off the skill of the Lunanoff’s skill to craft a weapon that can work with its wielder.
It’s also in these chapters that there’s a nod to time travel. In particular, Ombric has become fascinated with a giant clock the Lamas have and through studying it, learns how to travel to back and forth to any time he wants. This is because
“in the center stood a column of round clock faces of various sizes. These were used to set the clock to the exact time and place in history to which one wanted to journey” (60).
In one of Ombric’s journeys into the past, he is stopped from interfering in battle between Pitch and the Lunanoffs by, as he tells Katherine and North,
“‘a most curious fellow. He was at least seven feet tall, wearing robes of a most peculiar design, and holding a long staff with an egg-shaped jewel on one end’ … [who had] the ears of a gigantic rabbit'” (63-4).
This strange fellow is a pooka, but I’ll get to him later. Either way, he is introduced now, and Katherine and North are skeptical of the idea of a giant rabbit. Ombric persists that Pookas do exist and are mysterious creatures. The Lamas confirm this and reference his love of eggs and chocolate. (You’ve got to see where this is going, what with North in the last book?)
Either way, Ombric takes another journey into the past. This time he goes back to when Pitch released the Fearlings and other criminals. And while he’s there a new fact about Pitch is revealed: he had a daughter.
While guarding the prison, Pitch
“pulled a silver locket from his tunic pocket; the chain hung around his neck. He tapped the clasp and it swung open, revealing a small photograph…Pitch stared at the image, seeming to take great solace in the picture. His face softened and his sadness eased. Ombric knew that expression. He’d seen it countless times. It was the look of a father gazing at his child” (76-7).
First, this locket will be important later (and in future books).
Second, the prisoners prey on Pitch’s desire to see her. To wit:
“The Fearlings sensed his longing too. Their strange mutterings shifted in tone, their pleadings took on the voice of a small girl. ‘Please, Daddy,’ they whispered. ‘Please, please, please open the door'” (77).
They do this a few more times until Pitch finally opens the prison door and is, as we know, consumed and transformed into the Nightmare King.
The whole scene is terribly, painfully sad, and presents a more complex picture of Pitch. A more tragic and human side to his story, if you will. In fact, I would say part of the tragedy is that Pitch only opens the door because he wants to believe the voice is his daughter, despite how impossible it is. Belief. Hope. Love. That’s why he caves in and look where he is now.
While Ombric is learning this, North discovers that his sword can actually show them where the other relics are, something like a blinking navigational GPS.
This part ends with everyone with news of what they’ve discovered, but Nightlight is missing! He hasn’t returned from his nightly watch in Santoff Claussen.
North: “‘An interstellar talking Rabbit Man?'” (65).
Joyce, William. E. Aster Bunnymund and Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.