Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“He was not a wizard, a thief, or a warrior, but a powerful figure of unending mirth, mystery, and magic, who lived in a city surrounded by snow” (Joyce, 189).
Chapter Nineteen – Chapter Twenty-Four

As I said last time, for the second half of Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, I recorded my responses and thoughts in a collective whole but based on length are divided into two posts.

Here’s the second.

Pitch had just turned North and Ombric into toys. So, on the subject of Pitch, let’s talk about his goals and feelings, shall we?

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“A small black spider was lowering itself down on a single strand of silk toward the djinni’s left ear… But this spider was different” (Joyce, 189).
Chapter Thirteen – Chapter Eighteen

I know I said that trying to cram twelve chapters into one post seemed overwhelming, word count wise for the length I prefer.

But for the second half of Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, I recorded my notes as a collective whole for all twelve chapters, which, based on length, will be divided into two posts.

Admittedly, there’s so many little point that happen and I’m really just trying to remember all the main thoughts I had, so here we go:

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“charcoal drawings of shadowy creatures and the black bear…and himself, guarding the children as if they were the tsar of Russia’s treasures” (Joyce, 98-9).
Chapter Ten – Chapter Twelve

Ah, yes, the frightening Pitch appeared last time.

What’s striking is that “there was a magnificence about him like that of an approaching storm” (87). This heralds back to his origin; he may have become devoured by Fearlings, but he was once one of the Constellations (I think). His appearance — somehow grander and more unfathomable than anything the children have seen — sufficiently portrays his non-human origin, which I like.

The dawn drives Pitch away, but he promises to return.

It’s here that Ombric’s first lesson about magic is put to the test, which is that “[t]here’s a little bit of wizard in everyone. That magic’s real power was in belief. That every spell began, ‘I believe, I believe, I believe'” (92-3).

Okay.

Does belief work like that?

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King 

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“But it was said that he once defeated an entire regiment of cavalry with a bent steak knife — while he was eating” (Joyce, 61).
Chapter Six — Chapter Nine

Okay, so I think I’ve been trying to explain the plot a bit too much. Not that the plot isn’t important, but that’s never been the point of doing these little…whatever these are (reviews, responses?).

While my discussion of plot points can certainly occur, my goal here is to express what I enjoyed or found problematic. Basically, I really liked reading this and I want to just share how great it is with all of you.

If you understand some of the plot or if it seems as if I’ve missed some connection between what I discuss, I’d recommend reading Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King.

Speaking of North, here’s when he’s finally introduced:

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“images began to scroll across the Moon’s surface, as if it were a shadow play, flowing in perfect timing with the story Ombric now told…” (Joyce, 44).
Chapter Five

So the children are now safe in Big Root. And inside the giant tree some really neat visual for tons of bunk beds manifest: “Bunk beds materialized from its hollow center, fanning out like the spokes of a giant wheel. Each row was stacked five beds high. And twisting down the center was a spiral staircase” (41).

And best of all, “[c]ookies, chocolates, and warm cocoa hovered in the air by each bed” (41). My child self says ‘yes and thank you’ for that after being scared. Heck, adult me would love a bed with such amenities in the winter in general.

As soon children and parents are settled, Ombric tells The Story of the Golden Age.

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“the air itself grew unnaturally still and for the first time the children felt afraid ” (Joyce, 33).
Chapter Three  — Chapter Four*

After sending the children away (no lessons tonight!) Ombric holes up in Big Root (a massive magical tree that grew out the soil of a meteor crash and is at the center of Santoff Claussen and the source of its magic).

As for the children, they’re usually a difficult bunch to get to bed, so the chapter tells me, but this night they claim to be going to bed early, before sneaking out into the woods. They do so because they know something is up. Ombric doesn’t cancel lessons for no reason.

Furthermore, “they had also spoken to the ants and slugs (slug being a variant of the worm dialect)” and learned that something new and mysterious had penetrated the barriers of Santoff Claussen.

In particular, “the gray-eyed Katherine, the only child who was being raised by Ombric and who actually lived in Big Root” was able to decipher the more difficult ant and slug words.

First, I’ll say upfront I love Katherine a whole bunch.

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“…and, best of all, the secrets of the imagination” (Joyce, 18).
Chapter Two

From here, the story moves to eastern Siberia. In particular, to Santoff Claussen, a magically protected village created by the wizard Ombric Shalazar, the sole surviving inhabitant of the drowned Atlantis.

As the chapter opens, he is “in deep discussion with a number of nocturnal insects, especially a Lunar moth, several fireflies, and a glowworm” (15). Furthermore Ombric is “fluent in the dialects of all manner of bugs, birds, and beasts” (15).

I thought this was the loveliest idea ever; that insects have languages that can be learned (hey! James and the Giant Peach, anyone?) Also I love Lunar moths. ♥

This little detail of insect languages continues with the acknowledgement that there are “the easier insect languages (ant, worm, snail)” and that “moth and firefly were difficult (glowworm even more so)” (17).  I just loved this little tidbit of worldbuilding. It’s cute and imaginative. Even if a lot of insects startle me easily. And then there’s spiders, of course.

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