The Others is the name that the animal characters in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series use to refer to humans.
The Others are described by owls as being an ancient race that used to reside in the owl kingdoms long ago. Many of their structures and artistic works remained and are used by owls in the present day. They are heavily implied to be humans by Trader Mags, Bess and Otulissa throughout the series, and this is proven in The Rise of a Legend, when several owls, including Lyze (Ezylryb), discover a deceased modern-era human whom they refer to as an Other.
Long before the world of owls came to be, the Others dominated the planet, and through context clues it can be inferred that they had a monarchy, with kings and queens ruling across the known land. The state of the rest of the world beyond the Owl Kingdoms and the Beyond is unknown. The Others built castles, churches, barns, and other structures, but were notably talented in their creation of art and literature. They wove elaborate tapestries, made hats, robes and gowns, painted portraits of themselves, and carved incredible stone statues of Others, animals, and birds. Their works of literature were just as fascinating, with stories like that of King Arthur, the plays of Shakespeare, and more.
Before the Books
The Others ruled the world for a long while, but at some point they had all gone extinct. The reason for this is unknown. Many of the remnants of their buildings, society, culture, and language were discovered by the birds who inhabit the Owl Kingdoms.
Blix and Loki, two of Lyze's friends on Dark Fowl, discovered the frozen body of a modern Other in an ice cave. They leave the cave, but later come back and show Lyze. The Other is wearing a soft, woven material and a backpack, with several hooks and loops with latches attached to him. Lyze later identified these as carabiners, used in an Other activity known as mountain climbing. The owls also retrieve some sort of lighter or flare from the Other, marveling at the complexity of the technology. However, after inadvertently harming Patches with it, Lyze casts the device into the sea.
The Others are first mentioned in the series by Bubo when explaining what a castle was to Soren.
Soren and the Band meet up with the Rogue Smith of Silverveil at her forge, which is located in the ruins of an Others' garden surrounded by an old stone wall. They discuss the nature of the Others, noting how peculiar their lack of feathers or hair is, along with their odd stick-like legs being their only method of transportation. When Twilight comments on how strange it is that they were able to even survive, the Rogue Smith explains how they used stones as tools and built incredible things.
Later, it is revealed that the Pure Ones have made their base in a castle stronghold, and that Eglantine was captured by Metal Beak and was forced to sleep in the crypt filled with bones belonging to the Others.
The Rogue Smith of Silverveil brings a new mu metal mask to Metal Beak at a castle ruin. She does the fitting for his mask inside an old turret.
The Others are briefly mentioned by Otulissa when explaining to Ginger where Trader Mags finds her wares.
Gwyndor seeks out the Rogue Smith of Silverveil at her new forge in the ruins of a castle.
- "Trader Mags, the magpie trader of fine goods and commodities, lived in a section of Silverveil that was particularly rich in churches, castles, and various old ruins from the time of the Others. It was the perfect place for her to find the stock of her trade. For years now, she had lived in the elaborate chapel of an ancient church. From the shards of shattered stained glass she made trinkets, and in the ruins of nearby houses she found old teacups and fragments of saucers. It was only a half night's flight to a fabulous palace that she had been ransacking for years, collecting remnants of old tapestries, silver goblets, and even scraps of paintings."
- ―Narration about where Trader Mags finds her wares, The Outcast
The Outcast contains the most information on the Others so far in the series, as their ruins and old items play a role in the story.
The Others are mentioned when Coryn speaks to a raven who tells him about the beliefs of the Others. He states that they believed in "fairy-folk", or small winged spirits, which gives insight into the possible superstitious nature of the Others. It is unknown where the raven heard this information.
Later, the Rogue Smith of Silverveil's forge is further delved into, explaining that while her forge is up in the garden, she makes her home down in the cellar, where she also stores all of her goods.
After Nyra murders the Rogue Smith, she seeks out Trader Mags, who resides in the ruins of a chapel. Trader Mags is known for collecting the shards of stained glass to make into trinkets, as well as collecting old teacups, saucers, tapestries, goblets, and painting scraps. Most important are the scraps of paintings depicting the eyes of the Others, which are Trader Mags' favorite treasures.
Trader Mags says goodbye to her assistant, Bubbles, using an old Others' expression, "tally-ho!", which was taught to her by Madame Plonk, who said that the Others would say it before riding off on their "four-legged beasts", which most likely refers to horses. Plonk had read about it in a book on the Others at the Great Tree, but the source of this information is unknown.
Nyra arrives shortly after Mags leaves and makes a trade with Bubbles, giving her the silver artwork of the Rogue Smith in exchange for all of the painting scraps of green Others' eyes. Nyra then uses these as a gift for the dire wolf Dunleavy MacHeath in order to win over the MacHeath clan as allies. This impresses them, and they joke about how the Others may have had a little bit of wolf in them due to their eye color.
Hoole is informed at a grog tree that Brother Berwyck had last been seen in Silverveil near an old church ruin. Hoole himself had always wanted to see the ruins of the Others, or as he put it, their "strange hollows".
Digger mentions how Trader Mags had torn a rabbit pelt off of the old robe of an Other and sold it to Madame Plonk.
Later, Soren and the Band tell Coryn of the time they decided to set out to discover an untouched castle ruin in order to loot it and sell goods to the tree. They scoured the Tyto Forest first, then made their way to the Shadow Forest, where they discovered the Palace of Mists. The Palace was a university built with four tall stone spires, with its most notable exterior features being the bells placed in the top of each tower. The interior is filled with libraries containing many old books written by the Others, as well as maps. The Palace's only resident and library caretaker, Bess, is capable of translating the books and maps. In the garden, there are statues of Others, but most are missing limbs.
The revelations brought on by the discovery of the Palace of Mists seemed to suggest that the Others were more advanced than the owls originally thought, with their incredible stonework and star maps.
Back at the Great Tree, Trader Mags had arrived with new wares. She had discovered some new ruins where she found a variety of odd looking hats that were too large for any owl to wear. One of the hats was purchased and designated to be used for storing cold ashes scraped from the container of the Ember of Hoole. Mags also discovered a stash of clothing and treasures that belonged to Others royalty. Among these treasures were coronation souvenirs like a teacup that Madame Plonk takes a particular liking to, and fine fabrics and thread that are used to form an entirely new sewing guild for the snakes.
While Otulissa was writing A Guide Book to the Great Tree, she felt there was a scroom of an Other that guided her. She revealed to the readers that the Other was named Kathryn Huang (Lasky), a reference to the real author of the book.
Others Mentioned by Name
A few specific human historical figures and authors are mentioned in the series by name, or are at least alluded to in some way.
Elizabeth II - In The Golden Tree, Madam Plonk is mentioned having a teacup commemorating the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth.
Ray Bradbury - The author Ray Bradbury is mentioned in Exile, his name being the inspiration for the name of The Brad.
William Shakespeare - The plays of Shakespeare are also mentioned in Exile. The owls refer to him as "Shakes", implying that the recovered fragments were not restored well enough for them to learn his full name.
Dr. Sam - This author is mentioned in Exile by Digger, who explains that Dr. Sam had written a piece about the power of knowledge.