|Cover Art:||Richard Cowdrey|
|Cover Design:||Steve Scott|
|ISBN Number:||ISBN 978-0-439-73950-4|
|The Hatchling follows the life of Nyroc.|
|Previous Book:||The Burning|
|Next Book:||The Outcast|
The Hatchling is the seventh book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.
- Beneath a shadowed moon in a cloud-streaked sky, the sacred orb splits and a hatchling is born: It is Nyroc, son of Kludd, fallen leader of the Pure Ones, and his evil mate, Nyra. Born from evil, trained to evil, Nyroc is destined to fulfill his father's terrible plan, the oppression of all owldom under the vicious talons of the Pure Ones.
- But doubt grows in Nyroc's heart, fed by strange forbidden legends of a great tree far away where noble owls live in peace. And a light dawns in Nyroc's gizzard, nourished by friendship.
- A day is nearing when Nyroc must chose to fulfill his destiny - or to defy it.
- It will be a day of blood and terror.
The canyons of St. Aegolius Acamedy for Orphaned Owls has become the home of the Pure Ones. Nyroc, son of Nyra and the deceased former Pure Ones leader, Kludd, is a superb flier and hunter. He was born on the night of an eclipse, and like his mother, his face is unusually large and white, even for a Barn Owl. Nyra is training him to take Kludd's place as the High Tyto. Nyroc is friends with Dustytuft, a low-ranking Greater Sooty Owl - it is unusual that Dustytuft was chosen to be Nyroc's friend, and was present at the time of his hatching.
Nyra, Nyroc, Dustytuft, selected Pure Ones and a rogue smith named Gwyndor go to Kludd's final ceremony, where his bones will be burned. Nyra tells Nyroc that his uncle Soren killed Kludd. As the bones burn, Gwyndor watches Nyroc, who is staring at the flames instead of the bones. Nyroc sees creatures in it - strange, tall four-legged creatures being chased by smaller ones, with an image of an ember as well as a Great Gray Owl killing his father. Gwyndor sees the reflections in Nyroc's eyes, and realizes that he has firesight.
Gwyndor suggests to Nyra to allow Nyroc to become his 'apprentice'. Nyra objects at first, but agrees when she is told the benefits of Nyroc being a skilled smith and being the High Tyto. When Nyroc is alone with Gwyndor, Gwyndor tells him that he has firesight. Nyra, meanwhile, has been telling Nyroc that his 'Special Ceremony' or 'Tupsi' is coming up and that he must be prepared.
Nyroc remembers the Great Gray Owl in the fire of Kludd's Final Ceremony, and realizes that Nyra has lied to him - Soren did not kill his father, but the Great Gray did. He tells Dustytuft, and they escape from the Pure Ones. Dustytuft tells Nyroc about his past, and that his real name was either Edgar or Phillip. Nyroc asks which name he prefers, and Dustytuft replies that he prefers Phillip. Nyroc decides to call him Phillip instead of Dustytuft.
The pair have been refuging in old burrows of foxes and burrowing owls. Nyroc starts to molt and he panics, thinking that he is losing all his feathers all together. Phillip tells him that he is just molting, and that the feathers will grow back. They then realize that they are being tracked by the best tracker in the owl kingdoms, Doc Finebeak, and the Pure Ones, who have realized that they are missing. Nyroc and Phillip decide to bury their molted feathers, pellets and sweep away their tracks with lichen. However, they are soon being chased, and are forced into the twisters, which is a storm of winds powerful enough to tear an owl's wings off. They are both caught when they are swept out of it.
Meanwhile, Gwyndor, hearing of Nyroc's special ceremony, goes to The Rogue Smith of Silverveil and asks her what it is. She is shocked, and tells him what it is. Gwyndor races back to the Pure Ones to warn Nyroc, but his special ceremony has already begun.
Nyroc is shocked when Phillip is tied to a tree, realizing that his special ceremony means killing someone dear to him, in this case Phillip. He is angry at Nyra, thinking that it would have been an animal, or even Smutty, a Lesser Sooty Owl prisoner. Nyra says that would be too easy, and Phillip shrieks at him to fly away. When Nyroc refuses to kill him, Nyra tears her talon across Nyroc's face, scarring him. Then Nyra breaks Phillip's neck and rips out his heart. Nyroc screams that he hates her, and he flees.
Nyroc, distraught at Phillip's death, is being haunted by his father's scroom. He is also being mistaken to be Nyra because of his new scar, thus many owls flee at the sight of him. Nyroc begins hunting in the day and sleeping at night to avoid other owls, and he meets a rabbit who can read messages in webs. He asks the rabbit many questions, which he doesn't have all the answers to. But the rabbit tells him that he must go to The Beyond, a vast, barren place of Dire Wolves and the legendary Ember of Hoole. They say goodbye and part ways.
- The Rogue Smith of Silverviel
- Doc Finebeak
- If you join the cover art of this book with the next book, you get a bigger picture formed by the covers.