The Guardians: Book Two
by William Joyce
“This was a new way of thinking for her, and she loved it–needed to do it. These stories had become a mysterious new force in her, a way of healing and understanding the wonders and sorrows of her new wild life.” (Joyce, 245).
Chapter Twenty-Nine – Chapter Thirty-Three
Having grown tired of all his strenuous work at recreating a false library to take to Pitch, Ombric sinks exhausted into a chair. He reminisces about all the knowledge he has learned in his long life, and how
“[h]e felt as though he had relived the entire arc of his life. He remembered learning each and every bit of magic: where he’d been, who he’d been with at the time. He realized he had achieved a rich, wild, vivid life. He had lived as he had believed. He had seen and known more wonder than almost any mortal ever had” (212).
To live the kind of life Ombric describes would be, to me, a life well-lived. To live as one believes with a life filled with wonder – it sounds like a perfect way to have lived.
This also gives us a glimmer of what Ombric’s life has been: a journey of learning, of having an open mind, of experiences with others who may not even still be alive. It just strikes me as such a marvelous, engaging enterprise to imagine the full life Ombric must have lived. Just kinda blows my mind and warms my heart.
Feeling at peace, he slips into sleep. He relives his youth on Atlantis where he learned the power of transforming dreams into reality. In his memory he recites a spell that allows him to fly but isn’t able to stop and begins to fall out of fear. But before he can crash he hears a voice reciting the mantra that is central to Ombric’s magic: “I believe, I believe, I believe.”
Once his memory ends, his dream continues. Finding himself in a peaceful field of grass, he wishes to relax forever and let go off all the struggles and exhaustion he has felt. But before he does, Ombric hears another voice.
“It was a young girl’s voice. He struggled to sit up, and as he did, he saw Katherine standing near him. Then North appeared next to her. They beckoned him to join them.
They spoke but he could not hear them. He could only hear the mysterious voice from long ago: ‘I believe, I believe, I believe'” (216-7).
While earlier I said Ombric’s magical mantra felt sillier in Book 2, I have to admit that this really moved me. Here the concept of belief isn’t built on wishing for someone to come when you miss them (as the children at the start of Book 2 did), but belief in other’s need and consequent love for you. Katherine and North need Ombric because they’re in danger. He can’t let go of living because there are still people who depend on him and who he loves.
I’d also like to just throw out how touching it is that Katherine is the first voice he hears. Their whole relationship really moves me and gets my teary eyed. I’m a sap for nearly every familial relationship.
Additionally, the mind meld mentioned earlier resurfaces, this time with Bunnymund. Together, this draws Ombric back to the active, living world. It’s also revealed that the voice Ombric heard in his youth was Bunnymund!
Rejuvenated, Ombric sends the recreated library to Pitch. At first, it seems that the battle might be avoided, but once Pitch figures out that it’s only a ruse, the fight resumes. In the melee North is badly wounded – Pitch runs him through with his sword!
“North staggered backward, gasping. The handle of Pitch’s saber protruded from his side; the tip jutted out from the back of coat” (233).
But just as everything is poised to defeat Pitch — Nightlight is free, diamond-tip aimed at Pitch’s heart — Katherine holds out the locket of Pitch’s daughter. At the sight of it Pitch is horrified. He reaches out for the locket and
“for an instant she felt his hand against hers. His touch was not of a creature of fear. It was the touch of a father who had lost his child. Pitch let out a long and haunted scream that came from the depths of whatever sort of soul he still had” (239).
Ouch. The Nightmare King with his terrifying plan to fill the world with endless nightmares has his own seed of sadness. The key that led to his current state – his grief for his lost daughter. The sight of locket sends him away; he vanished along with his Fearlings.
So in the end, Pitch is defeated by Katherine’s kindness and recognition of his past humanity and love for his daughter, rather than brute force.
Sadly, North’s wound finally catches up to him and his sinks to the ground, color drained from his face.
The final chapter has moved out of Pitch’s volcanic stronghold to a pleasant day near Santoff Claussen. The other children are recreating the most recent battle with Pitch. Katherine, opting not to play, spends her time writing stories
“out of what she had seen. Sometimes she even wrote short little rhymes of their adventures. There was an egg that had fallen from a wall of Pitch’s chamber during the battle. She was sure he would break, but his armor had protected him. If only the same could be said of North. He had fallen. And no one had thought he could be made whole again.
Today she was combining those two stories into a rhyme, drawing pictures of a great egg that had shattered and couldn’t be put back together again. She would sometimes make stories that were different from what had happened but were how she felt or what she wished had been” (244-5).
Her new stories combine what she’s heard from others or experienced with her feelings. Neither are perfect reflections of reality but a new one she is creating. This, to me, is the very power of stories. To create new strength or reality or ways of knowing that transform negativity into positives or reinvents what the world could be into something inspirational.
As for everyone else: North, alive and recovering, enters into his new role by picking presents, Ombric’s revels in his renewed youth in correlation to Bunnymnd, who is much older than him, and Bunnymund takes pleasure it having children to squeal over his inventions and choclate. All in all, it is a happy peaceful ending with this final sentence:
“And that heart would beat forever. Past time and tide and stories yet told” (251).
Quotes / Book Quote:
Pitch: “‘Why send a thief to do a Pooka’s job?’ Pitch asked mockingly” (227).
North: ” ‘No! No! No!… That’s not how it happened! Bunnymund gave me that magic chocolate first.'” (247).
“He realized he had achieved a rich, wild, vivid life. He had lived as he had believed. He had seen and known more wonder than almost any mortal ever had” (212).
Joyce, William. E. Aster Bunnymund and Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.