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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 521

The Guardian of Isis is an initiation story in which the central character, Jody N'Kumo, must prove himself through a series of adventures in which intelligence, logical deduction, and mature judgment are as important as physical courage. Although he belongs to the third generation of settlers, Jody usually is treated...

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The Guardian of Isis is an initiation story in which the central character, Jody N'Kumo, must prove himself through a series of adventures in which intelligence, logical deduction, and mature judgment are as important as physical courage. Although he belongs to the third generation of settlers, Jody usually is treated like a disobedient child, frequently being rebuked for questioning, and even disregarding, the community's rules. He particularly violates the ban on inventing devices to make work easier. Jody knows that his independent nature makes him unpopular, and he realizes he is especially disliked by Mark London, the virtual dictator of the settlement and a brother of Jody's deceased grandmother, Carrie. Jody's only support comes from the grandfather for whom he is named; however, disillusionment and physical disabilities have caused Jody's grandfather to withdraw from active participation in governing the community, even though he remains a member of the council. Initially Jody thinks he is hated because his rebelliousness embarrasses London, but eventually he discovers that London actually hates the elder Jody. The grandson is singled out for persecution because he looks and acts too much like his grandfather, the only person in the settlement who knows the truth about London and the only member of the governing council willing to stand up to him. As part of his vendetta, London arranges to have Jody selected as one of the four bearers of the sacred offering to the Guardian; Jody knows that the path to the Room of the Offering is extremely dangerous, and he realizes London hopes he will fall and be killed.

Shortly thereafter, when Jody's routine scrutiny of the Cascades leads to his discovery of a "gift" from the Guardian, London appears to reward him in the traditional way by assigning him the next vigil in Sacred Cave; however, as London assumed he would, Jody violates the traditions of the Sacred Cave when he determines that a previous "gift" is actually a new tube for the cave's light system. Jody then deduces that all the "gifts" are intended to serve some useful purpose. Overheard telling his friend Tannis about his discovery, Jody is summoned before the Council. Since he has already warned the Council about the rising water levels in the valley, the Council reluctantly agrees when London sends him on mission to seek the Guardian and find out how to save the settlement; all of them realize the assignment is a virtual death sentence since the Old Woman (also known as the Ugly One) is sure to seize him.

Tension builds as Jody struggles through a long, difficult, uphill journey to the home of the Guardian, the Lady Olwen, and the beast Hobbit. There Jody's education continues as he learns how London has distorted the truth. Although he literally accomplishes his mission and saves the settlement, Jody realizes that claiming credit for this feat would jeopardize his real mission: to reinvent technology and gradually educate his people. Thus a more mature and less confrontational Jody returns to the settlement, knowing that someday he will succeed Mark London and that he will be a totally different kind of leader.

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