Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians Series #1)

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians Series #1)

by William Joyce


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Forget naughty or nice—this is a battle of good vs. evil.

Discover the origins of St. Nick and follow along as the Guardians start their quest to rid the world of nightmares in the first Guardians chapter book from Academy Award winner William Joyce that inspired the beloved film, The Rise of the Guardians.

Before SANTA was SANTA, he was North, Nicholas St. North—a daredevil swordsman whose prowess with double scimitars was legendary. Like any swashbuckling young warrior, North seeks treasure and adventure, leading him to the fiercely guarded village of Santoff Claussen, said to be home to the greatest treasure in all the East, and to an even greater wizard, Ombric Shalazar. But when North arrives, legends of riches have given way to terrors of epic proportions! North must decide whether to seek his fortune...or save the village.

When our rebellious hero gets sucked into the chaos (literally), the fight becomes very personal. The Nightmare King and his evil Fearlings are ruling the night, owning the shadows, and sending waves of fear through all of Santoff Clausen. For North, this is a battle worth fighting...and, he’s not alone. There are five other Guardians out there. He only has to find them in time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442430495
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Series: William Joyce's Guardians Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 180,275
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 7 - 11 Years

About the Author

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians, Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and look at upcoming work at @HeyBillJoyce on Twitter and Instagram.

Laura Geringer is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children and young adults, including the celebrated A Three Hat Day illustrated by Arnold Lobel; Myth Men, a popular series of graphic novels based on the classic Greek myths; and Sign of the Qin, Book l of the Outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh series, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and Boom, Boom Go Away illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. She serves on the National Advisory Board of First Book, a charity that has distributed over seventy million books to children in need. Laura lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Nicholas St. North

  • Our heroic moonbeam

  • Reading Group Guide

    A Reading Group Guide to

    Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare
    King (
    part of the Guardians series)

    by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

    Discussion Questions

    1. What does Ombric mean when he says, “To understand pretending is to conquer all barriers of time and space?” Is there any practical use for this saying in our own society? If so, who would use it and why? If not, why not?

    2. Ombric wanted a village that seemed impossible. Discuss with the group their image of an impossible village.

    3. What are some characteristics of a wizard? How does Ombric compare to the list?

    4. What are nightmares? Have your group members ever experienced one? What did they do to stop the nightmare? How do they make themselves feel safe at night? Does anyone use a night-light?

    5. One of the major themes in this story is good versus bad. Is there any such thing as absolute good or absolute bad? Are people born good or bad? Is goodness or badness something they learn?

    6. Pitch wants to capture the good dreams of innocent children and turn them into nightmares. How does one protect oneself from having a nightmare?

    7. What was your first impression of Ombric the Wizard upon reading the description of him and his talents, such as turning lead into gold, being able to walk through walls, his invention of time, and being able to stop time? Of all of Ombric’s fantastical talents, which one would you wish to possess and why?

    8. Santoff Claussen was an enlightened village where no one would laugh at anyone who dreamed of what was possible. Why was this so important to Ombric? Do places such as Santoff Claussen exist? Was the author suggesting Santoff Claussen was a village free of bullies?

    9. Santoff Claussen has several defenses to protect the village from outsiders who wish to do harm or to steal their treasures. Discuss the various ways Ombric attempted to protect his village from harm.

    10. It was learned that Pitch was originally a hero during the Golden Age because he captured the Fearlings and their ilk. He even valiantly guarded the prison. He becomes possessed by the evil shadows. In reality, is it possible for someone who is good to become evil? Is it possible for the same person to be redeemed? Are there various shades of good and evil?

    11. Pitch’s strength was dependent upon the amount of light around him. The darker it was, the more evil he became. In the daylight he was forced to retreat. What is it about light that affects Pitch?

    12. How does the spectral boy interact with Pitch? What is it about him that makes Pitch despise him more than everyone else?

    13. What is so special about laughter?

    14. Is the Spirit of the Forest really a good spirit? By turning visitors whom she deems unkind and ignoble into stone to protect the village, she then prevents them from ever being able to change their ways. Is this spirit implying that if one has an impure heart it can never be redeemed? What about Pitch, who had a pure heart but turned evil: Will he never be able to return to his old self? Are people either good or bad? Can a person be both good and bad at the same time?

    15. Does anyone see the irony of the Fearlings whispering for a breath of fresh air when there is no air in space?

    16. Prince Lunar has never had a nightmare. Since he has never had a nightmare, why does it mean so much to him to protect children from having any? Does he know what he is trying to protect them from?

    17. If one doesn’t experience unpleasant situations and events, how can one understand when things are good? Is it necessary to have the bad so one can understand the good?

    18. When the children of Santoff Claussen were surrounded by the shadows, William attempted to scare them away by increasing the amount of light. Why didn’t his action work?

    19. Ombric provided cookies, chocolate, and warm cocoa to comfort the frightened children. Why do you think he chose these particular items? What do you do to calm yourself down after experiencing a scary event?

    20. North has a special place in his heart for children. He feels a need to protect them. How has North’s own childhood affected his perception of his role as protector?

    21. When the village’s bear attacked the children, Pitch had already trapped the parents in their sleep so they could not come to the children’s defense. What fantastical method do you believe Pitch used to trap the parents?

    22. After Ombric was eaten by the bear and his staff broken, Katherine remembered Ombric’s first lesson. What was that lesson? Discuss other stories that also use this lesson.

    23. North’s horse Petrov saves North from the hypnotic effects of the Spirit of the Forest. Petrov rears up and slams his hooves against the ground. This action draws North’s attention from the treasure and towards the screams from the village children. Only those with a pure heart are able to enter the village. Who had the pure heart—Petrov, North, or both? Can animals have pure hearts?

    24. How did the Man in the Moon know North would respond to the story dream the moonbeam transmitted to North while he was sleeping? Why was North chosen to assist the villagers of Santoff Claussen?

    25. Is there any significance to the resurrection of the giant bear with his wounds gone and his fur as white as snow?

    26. How could Katherine’s steady kindness to North be his greatest comfort and yet at the same time be his worst torment?

    27. There are many different types of friendships in this story. Have the group discuss the friendships between Ombric and the Man in the Moon, Katherine and Ombric, Katherine and North, Pitch and the Fearlings, spectral boy and Moonbeam, and North and Petrov. What does friendship mean? Are there any similarities between these relationships?

    28. Discuss the spectral boy and his simplified understanding of good and bad. Riding clouds was good but Fearlings and Nightmare Men were bad. Did his age and his life experiences have anything to do with his understanding of good and bad?

    29. Discuss with the group which character in the story experienced the most growth in character? Have the group provide examples from the story to support their statements.

    30. Ombric’s telling of The Story of The Golden Age was printed on black paper with white lettering. What do you believe was the reason for this change?

    31. North has problems making friends. Friendship requires trust. Why was it so hard for North to trust anyone? Who was able to befriend him? How did this person succeed?

    32. Ombric states, “Knowledge without wisdom can get a bit messy.” He was referring to North’s attempts at experiments in the lab. What does he mean by this statement? Is it safe or foolhardy to plunge into an experiment without knowing what the results will be?

    33. North’s ability to entertain the children of the village with his stories worked as a tonic for the frightened children. Besides the soothing effect of the stories, was there any other purpose for the storytelling? What is the purpose of stories?

    34. When the djinni asked, “What is your command?” what would you ask it to do? Is there a downside to having one’s own djinni? What would it be?

    35. The djinni misinterprets North’s saying of “Good night, Djinni” as a command. Think of other examples of everyday sayings that the djinni might misinterpret.

    36. Compare and contrast the djinni to robots with artificial intelligence that exist today.

    37. A compass will always point to north. What is the difference between North’s present to Katherine and a regular compass?

    38. When Katherine set out to rescue North and Ombric, what methods and items did she use?

    39. The strength of friendship between Katherine and the spectral boy was very strong. He willingly risked his life to keep her safe. Katherine willingly risked her life to save North and Ombric. Compare the strength of friendship to the control of fear. Which one is stronger?

    40. Katherine makes a drawing of North and depicts him as grander than life and as having an important place in the world. North is surprised by this depiction of himself. Does Katherine’s drawing change North’s perception of himself and what he will do with his life?

    41. Katherine’s drawing of North, which was placed inside djinni, commands a strong power. Why can’t Pitch, inside djinni’s body, harm North?

    42. Who is the spectral boy, and what is his real name? Who has been waiting for his appearance?

    43. What is the significance of the gong that the Luna Lumas own?

    44. The weapons the Abominable Snowmen used to fight Pitch and the Fearlings were forged from the dust of fallen stars. What is so important about the composition of these weapons?

    45. Ombric says, “A daydream properly utilized can be the most powerful force in the universe. One need only dream of freedom to begin to break the spell of enslavement.” Compare this belief in this story to events in our world where the dream of freedom helped escape enslavement.

    46. Katherine, who collects stories, wishes to ride on the back of a Great Snow Goose from the Himalayas. What other character in literature also enjoys riding on the back of a goose?

    Visit for downloadable activities, videos, and more.

    Guide prepared by Lynn Dobson, librarian at East Brookfield Elementary School, East Brookfield, MA.

    This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

    Customer Reviews

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    Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    My all-time favourite kids series of all. It is certainly the Guardian of Childhood.
    Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
    Nicholas St. North and the Nightmare King is a fun and new explanation about the origins of Santa Claus. It has something for everyone, both those who celebrate Christmas, and those who do not. There’s fighting, action, magic, invention, and some captivating descriptions about light and dark and good and bad. The purity and innocence that comes with childhood really plays an important role in this swashbuckling adventure. North, the Santa Claus figure, is dashing and roguish and nothing like the Santa we think of now, but children will love to see him in this new light. Everything about the story is special and holds this sense of enchantment that will charm even the most reluctant readers. While the story focuses on Santa Claus, it doesn’t go into any sort of religious background. Instead, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, taps into the magic that comes with the holiday season and the childhood wonderment that this time of the year invokes. It’s a dreamlike story that will delight readers and enchant them with a new way of thinking of their dear Santa Claus.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Awesome book. If anyone loves different spins on old classics as we are seeing in Once Upon a Time and in Wicked, they will love this take on childhood heroes.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is of the best I ever read, and I have read alot of books.
    Nightlight1 More than 1 year ago
    I love this book. I love it very much. It captivated my imagination and hid it in the forests of Santoff Claussen with the bear and the Spirit of The Forest and the Great Reindeer too. It is dreaming sweet dreams with Kathrine and Nightlight. My imagination is happy as am I. This book is marvelous. To those that say otherwise I am sorry that you have no imagination
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a very good book for children and is a good book for reading around christmas time
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Luv it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Joyce did an amazing job. I really felt I was in the story!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Let me start by saying that, like many others, my first intoduction to this series was rough Rise of the Guardians. I came into this knowing in general what to expect. So having now read it, let me tell you what you can expect - and not expect. The characters, as in the movie, are the strongest part of this book. The only one you'll be recognizing is North - this is his book - but the cast that supports him are just as engaging and entertaining. The plot is pretty basic. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise. But what it lacks in great plotting, it makes up for in sheer imagination and wonder as described in setting and lore. The places you read of and things the characters do all retain that same sense of dreamlike amazement you might expect from this series. If there's a real weakness to be had, it's in writing. This is obviously a children's book - you can't even get away with callin it YA. Even with that in mind, the author takes a very "tell don't show" approach. Everything is told very matter of factly, with nothing really left to the imagination. Character feelings are told straight up. And perhaps worse, many times dialogue is completely thrown aside for simply telling what the conversation was about. Go in expecting the right thing, and you won't be disappointed. Or better yet, get this for your kids. Just don't expect too much feom it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    These series of books are about the characters who are most important to our childhood! This book focuses on who is Santa Claus and how did he come to be and how does he "protect" us! GREAT BOOK(S)!!!!!!
    KaylaBeck More than 1 year ago
    I picked up this book as a part of the Magnificently Magic Read-A-Thon* both because it was a book I had been wanting to read and because of how perfectly it fit the criteria. Being as it weighs in at 228 pages and is assuredly lower middle grade might have had something to do with choosing it. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King is the first book in The Guardians series. It takes place after The Man in the Moon, which is the first book in the picture book companion series, The Guardians of Childhood, also written by William Joyce. (It's a quick read, and I recommend that you read it first.) The Nightmare King, Pitch, escapes his imprisonment after the inadvertent actions of a moonbeam releases an elfish boy made of light encased in a dagger in Pitch's heart. This sets of a chain of events that is the focus of this. I'm not sure if I've ever said this on the blog, but I have a special place in my heart for middle grade novels. There is rarely any gore, minimal depressive events (before you say anything, I believe Harry Potter 5-7 is YA), and a lovely, magical sense of fun whether there is literal magic or not. Nicholas St. North gives us just that. Joyce & Geringer brilliantly draw the reader into the story, while setting up the world in the novel for the entire series. Where the picture book, The Man in the Moon introduced the reader to Mim, AKA Tsar Lunar, in this novel we meet Nicholas St. North (Santa, perhaps?), Ombric the Wizard, and Katherine, a little foundling girl in Ombric's care. Nightlight, a character and friend of Mim's in The Man in the Moon, makes a reappearance in this novel. The first half of the story is mostly devoted to world-building (which is rich), but the action is exciting once it comes. This would be a fantastic story for fans of fairy tales or reimaginings, and I highly recommend this book for reluctant readers. There are illustrations scattered throughout the book, and the pacing is gripping and fast enough to hold on to those frustratingly short attention spans. There is also the film adaptation, The Rise of the Guardians, that can be used as a tool to bring readers to Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King and vice versa. 3.5 Stars
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I found this book on a bus. A girl on my schoolbus was reading the second book. I asked her what she was reading and she showed me the cover. I saw the author was William Joyce so I wrote that name in Sharpie on my arm. When I got home I looked up his name on my nook. Then I added every book in the Guardians series to my wishlist. I checked the whole series from the library. On my birthday I bought the series. These books are utterly magical and wonderful. If you love a book with a great story and funny bits of humor then this book is for you. -ichigo tachikawa
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a book that I can read over and over and never get tired of, it's written beautifully and I love I love books in which you can't help but root for the bad guy (North). Also this is a story about a young man who as no memory of the family he used to have who later finds himself through Ombric (a wise - yet loony wizard) and Katherine (a young orphan girl raised by Ombric), then realizing that he is not a theif or a ruffian, but a hero!
    ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Reason for Reading: Next in the series.Not since "The Spiderwick Chronicles" have I read a children's fantasy aimed at the 7-11 crowd that is so engaging, quality literature with awesome illustrations to bring the story to life. This book is not genre specific as it mixes fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, and fairytale retelling all together until one can't really categorize it. It takes place on our Earth and yet includes creatures from Atlantis and the Moon. As I was reading I often had a feeling of L. Frank Baum's writing style; the book looks and has a voice similar to a 19th/early 20th century children's fantasy, chapters have titles such as " In Which a Twist of Fate Begets a Knot in the Plan" and "Where the Impossible Occurs with Surprising Regularity".The text is large and double-spaced with frequent illustrations so is much shorter than the page numbers would indicate and this does make character development suffer. One never really gets a full sense or deep caring for the characters but I did find the little girl Katharine to be the most fleshed out character and the one I cared for the most. The book ends with the story arc being concluded and yet the overarching story of the series has only just begun, thus it very much has a first in a series feel.However, to clear a little confusion. This is not the first book in the series, even though it is called Book 1. This is a direct sequel to "The Man in the Moon" which is confusingly listed as "The Guardians of Childhood, Book 1". The Man in the Moon is a picture book but characters and events from the book are present and crucial to the story in "Nicholas St. North", so do read it first. Those over 11 may find the book lacking in depth, plot development and characterization as this is not a heavy or detailed read. What it is though, is a fun, whimsical, outlandish fantasy crossed with other genres written to especially appeal to the 7-11 age group and those adults willing to be a kid again. I'm impressed and eager for the next book which will feature the Easter Bunny (excuse me, E. Aster Bunnymund).
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great story that we read as a family. Can't wait to read Joyce's other books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Stinks! Kidding, it is so awesome!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    What a fantastic story! My daughter is a 9 year old "reluctant reader" who wanted no part of this book until she sat down and started reading it. From the very first chapter she fell in love with it and I think would have very well read it from cover to cover if I would have let her go without sleeping! This is a terrific story, full of  adventure and action, magic and mystery and my child can't put it down! We've already got the next two books lined up waiting to read! What a delightful feeling it is to have her excited and anxious to read what happens next! Well done Mr. Joyce! Thanks for the adventure!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Jack looked at Tracy with the most dazzling eyes she had ever seen. He said, "Are you lost?" Tracy said, "Well...It'," in a tiny voice. Suddenly a growl emerged from the blanket of white that was now descending upon her and Jack. She jumped. Another growl emerged. Then another and and another as wolves appeared out of nowhere. But these wolves were like no other. They were black as night, and if Tracy looked hard enough, she would see that they were made of a fine sand. Jack stepped in front of Tracy and said in a commanding voice, "Don't move." Tracy squeaked, "What...are those?" "Nightmares." "What?!" "Pitch must be here." "Who's Pitch?!?" "He must be trying another scheme." "YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE!!!!" Suddenly, one of the night-wolves growled. "Shhhh." said Jack. Then, from out of the white nothingness surounding them and the wolves, a larger, stronger wolf, the alpha male, came charging out of its hiding spot, ran towards Tracy like a man possessed, and bit Tracy soundly on the arm! Tracy let out an ear-piercing scream and threw the wolf off her arm. Cluthing her wound, she noticed with horror that the fine sand that made up the wolves was now seeping into her bloodstream. Suddenly, the growls of the wolves seemed distant. She swayed and fell onto the powdered snow. She heard Jack calling to her- "Are you ok?!"- but his voice seemed faint and far away. Her eyelids then just got too heavy to keep open, and she let herself slip into unconciousness. ------------------ Jack saw Tracy fall to the ground. He tried to call her, but he didn't know her name. As she slipped into unconciousness, Jack knew she was in serious danger. He picked her up and called to the wind, saying, "Wind, take me to the Pole!" A sudden gust of wind blew by, carrying Jack and Tracy away from the dangerous wolves. Soon, the North Pole came into view. Jack rushed inside, where North was finishing up designs for a snow-themed train set. Jack ran up to the big, jolly Guardian and said, "We have a big problem." Part three will be at E. Aster Bunnymund by William Joyce. If you want to read part one, that is at Rise of the Guardians Junior Novel. Tell me what you think. No bad language, please!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved the book so much that I asked my librarian when she got the chance if she could get the second book for me thats how much I loved it!!!!!!!! :)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago