|Publication date||December 1, 2011|
An unseen enemy.
The winds have shifted in the Beyond. It's summer, and that should mean warmth, fish, and meat, but blizzards rake the land and the caribou and moose that the wolves hunt are vanishing. Famine has arrived in the Beyond, and the strict order among the wolf clans is starting to break down.
Worse, there's one wolf thriving on the chaos. He wears a stolen owl battle mask and calls himself the Prophet. There are horrible rumors that instead of helping the wolves survive, he's leading hundreds of them to their deaths. The elite wolves of the Watch send young Faolan and his friend Edme on a desperate mission to bring down the Prophet. But how can two wolves stop an enemy they can't even find?
The story begins when an old buck caribou leads his herd to the summer feeding grounds in the Beyond. But they keep going in circles because the winter blizzards are still around and the old buck questions his leadership for the herd. Meanwhile, Edme was thinking about what has happened to all the herds in the Beyond when she gets scared by Faolan, who she thinks was a lochin. After a brief talk, Faolan wanted to show her something " that makes no sense", which Edme accepts. The thing turns out to be the caribou herd tracks going in circles.
Faolan and Edme continue their search for food, and stumble upon a young moose. While chasing it, Edme discovers the smell of old milk on it, indicating that no female was available to nurse it.
Once Faolan and Edme return to the Watch, Banja complains that there are too few wolves at the Ring at any time. Finbar immediately calls them to report, and Edme tells him about the moose. Finbar informs both wolves that Liam MacDuncan has wandered off and allowed the MacDuncan clan to fall into chaos. Also, some wolves of the Blood Watch have gone missing, creating openings for incoming outclanners. Finbar sends Faolan and Edme to scout out the MacDuncans, and then fix the situation with the Blood Watch. He finishes by advising Edme to visit the ailing Winks.
During the visit, Winks tells Edme about her inner eye, an ability named by herself to guide her from inside her head. Edme dreams that night about a frost wolf telling her she has two eyes. The wolf appears to be Faolan, but is not. Edme watches it transform into an owl.
The Sark of the Slough, unable to find the herds, is forced to eat two rotten Slough tern eggs. One Byrrgis she tried running in, with Liam MacDuncan, lacked leadership and completely collapsed when a line wolf uttered a signal out loud, something never done except to call off the chase. After eating the eggs, the Sark observes several wolves dancing and calling for "the Prophet". The Sark spies a wolf with an owl's helmet and mask on its head.
Liam becomes flustered with his new leadership after the death of his mother, Cathmor. Mhairie and Dearlea, eavesdropping outside, are disgusted with Liam's failure and saddened by their mother's absence at the Blood Watch. Faolan and Edme stumble upon them, and the sisters explain that he does wander off and that the Blood Watch has not been changed. Faolan observes how the air of authority in the raghnaid has disappeared, leaving nothing dignified or noble to mark it. The clan shouts at the chieftain, a shocking breach of discipline. Faolan asks Liam when he last ordered the Blood Watch wolves to be changed, and Liam is not sure.
While Faolan and Edme, together with Mhairie and Dearlea, travel in search of Caila, Faolan realizes that their old gnaw wolf friends will starve in the famine first. Shortly after making a plan to bring the gnaw wolves to the Blood Watch, they find the dead body of Tearlach. Faolan and Edme howl a song to help him ascend the star ladder, claiming it "just came to them". The Whistler, painfully thin, appears close by and collapses. The four travelers drag him to a cave and feed him bits of meat from mice and blood from one snow hare. The Whistler awakens, telling them of the Skaars Dancers and the messages they scratch to the Prophet, using the singing rocks. The dancers believe that the Prophet is between heaven and earth on the Great Chain, a perversion of the chain. The Whistler tells the others that the Prophet wears an owl's mask.
At the old forge of her auntie, the Rogue Smith of Silverveil, Gwynneth receives a visit from her scroom, telling her that her father's helmet has been disturbed. After this short chapter, Faolan and his friends are nearing the Blood Watch when they come upon the remains of a Skaars circle. More shockingly, they smell the stink of a rout of wolf-eating outclanners. Faolan notices the clan wolves' paw prints in the circle, and realizes that hunger now rules the Beyond.
The Whistler reflects on how they found Tearlach's body, head pressed to the ground where his ear would have been, and wonders if Tearlach overheard scratched messages to the Prophet by desperate wolves. He discovers that there is one close to the Blood Watch.
During a visit by Gwynneth to her cave, the Sark smells rabbit-ear moss and realizes that the helmet she saw on the strange wolf was Gwyndor's. Her memory jugs help her sort out the scent.
Faolan and the others witness their first Skaars circle and hear the dancers begging to die. Dearlea suddenly spots Caila and runs up to her with Mhairie. Caila, in a state of confusion, tells the sisters that she was not their real mother and that they had a sibling who was a malcadh. An outclanner suddenly appears and attacks her, causing Faolan to rush to her defense, unconsciously changing his form to a grizzly bear's and killing the outclanner with the bear's strength. Only Edme appears to witness this. Caila becomes dazed and wanders into a blizzard, which also forces Faolan and the travelers to seek shelter in The Cave Before Time. Inside the cave, Edme thinks the vision of Faolan as a frost wolf at the book's beginning felt like something from another time, while Faolan dreams about creating a picture on the wall--the Skaars circle and the outclanners, drawn in charcoal. Faolan realizes two things--that Mhairie and Dearlea were his birth sisters, and that before being born a wolf, he had the thunderous heart of a grizzly bear.
Gwynneth and the Sark begin their search for Gwyndor's helmet by sniffing out traces of rabbit-ear moss from his bones. But they don't know his final resting place, and their quest only discovers a bone gnawed with a picture of the helmet and visor.
Once the traveling wolves reach the Blood Watch, its captain, Tamsen, gives them permission to try to bring the Skaars Dancers to their senses and make them eat. None of the dancers cooperate, claiming that they will not be taken if they have blood on them, even when one of them dies.
The Sark and Gwynneth find an Obea Tree, a tree wolves believe will curse them with barrenness, and in its roots they discover a hollow where Gwyndor's helmet has been hidden. The Sark realizes from the scents in her memory that Gwyndor bled to death on a bed of rabbit-ear moss. The Sark is disgusted with the way the wolves dance for death instead of staying still at the end of their lives to separate body and soul gently.
Tamsen decides that the only way to stop the plague of Skaars dancing is to capture the Prophet.
At the Blood Watch, the Skreeleens spot strange lights bobbing in the sky, and begin to howl to the Great Wolf, asking what it means. The dancers begin to dance with more fervor, believing the lights to be a sign of Skaarsgard's arrival. Faolan has clear and satisfying feelings about belonging to a family.
Tully, a Snowy Owl, is sent by the Great Ga'Hoole Tree to help the wolves of the Beyond and find Gwynneth. He encounters a circle of exhausted Skaars dancers and sees firsthand their delusions about the Prophet and Skaarsgard coming down to take them. After most of the dancers die and the remaining ones walk away, Creakle makes an appearance, explaining to Tully about the Prophet and telling him he will be heading to the Blood Watch.
Gwynneth sees the strange lights in the sky, but the Sark tells her they are simply a trick of the sunlight shining its rays at their usual summertime angle through the frigid atmosphere. Gwynneth goes out flying when Tully and Creakle encounter her, telling her the great tree needs her to help the wolves. Creakle is sent on to the Blood Watch to report to Faolan and Edme. Afterwards, these two leave the Blood Watch to help Gwynneth and the Sark take down the Prophet, and Faolan suddenly stumbles upon a lava bed, like the one where he and Thunderheart had a winter den. Inside the bed, two outclanners are threatening a grizzly cub and her sleeping mother. Faolan once again transforms into a bear before Edme's eye, killing the outclanners and calming the cub.
The Sark smells the odors of the wolves and cub on Faolan when he and Edme reach the Obea tree. She is disgusted when they tell her a dancer refused to eat a fresh mouse because he wanted it as an offering of spirit food for the Prophet.
The Prophet himself finally decides to return to his hiding place, letting his visor reflect the rising sun. The Sark spots him, but he runs away when she and the others try to chase him. Faolan becomes trapped against the wind, but uses his splayed paw to claw through it. Edme heads off the Prophet's escape attempt, continuing the chase. Once Faolan pins him down and Gwynneth lifts his visor, he is revealed to be the disgraced Liam MacDuncan. He claims he wanted to bring hope to the wolves, but Gwynneth asks to spare him and have him guide her to her father's resting place.
Once Liam is brought back to the Blood Watch, Tamsen orders that he be unmasked before as many Skaars dancers as possible. The plan fails, with the dancers remaining trapped in their delusions of the Prophet. One pup begs his parents to see sense, but they ignore him and Faolan is forced to carry him away to the Ring to save him.
The Whistler remains at the Blood Watch, made second skreeleen because of his howling abilities. Edme hears that Winks died with dignity after she left, not begging like the Skaars dancers. Faolan decides to take his sisters to join the MacNamaras, and to build a drumlyn for their mother, Morag. On their way, they discover a dead musk ox, with enough food to feed them and a space inside for them to pass the night. They report the source of food to the MacNamara scouts, and then move on to build the drumlyn. Mhairie and Dearlea are nervous at first, but begin to carve their bones, telling Morag how good a mother Caila was until the Skaars dancers took her. Faolan falls asleep while they carve, and dreams about carving a wolf's twisted femur. He knows that he was a bear in the past, but not the full extent of his secret. An elderly wolf appears to him, with a message about dying more than once. Faolan suddenly wakes up, thinking he is in his first pelt of a new season.
Frost Wolf's hardcover was released on December 1, 2011.
(Excerpt from Chapter 8: A Raghnaid In Shambles)
It took several seconds for the wolves in the gadderheal to realize that Faolan and Edme had entered. But when they did, an immediate hush fell in the cave.
“What are you doing here?” Lord Jarne roared. His ears had not lain back or even twitched. Such insolence to a Watch wolf from the Ring of Sacred Volcanoes was unheard of.
Faolan and Edme shoved their ears up and walked forward on stiff legs with their tails raised and their hackles bristling. Faolan came so close to the insolent Lord Jarne that their noses almost touched.
“I come by direct command of the Fengo of the Watch at the Ring of Sacred Volcanoes.” It was as if every wolf in the cave were holding its breath. “We have come to inquire about the rotations of the Blood Watch.”
Liam felt his knees grow weak.
“Why didn’t you tell us that the Fengo was sending Watch wolves, Liam?” someone barked from the back. Edme and Faolan were shocked. The wolves were not even using the proper form of address for their chieftain. This was another appalling breach of etiquette.
“Yes, why not?”
Soon there was a chorus of howling wolves, and the cave teetered on the brink of chaos. Edme shot Faolan a desperate glance.
As if lifted up by his own anger, Faolan rose on his hind legs and began to walk above the crowd. Thunderheart had taught him to do this. When Faolan had jumped the wall of fire as a yearling, wolves had been stunned, but this was entirely different. Jumping, even jumping high, was in the range of moves of a wolf, but walking on hind legs was an extraordinary endeavor, a feat. The light from the small fire burning in the pit in the middle of the gadderheal cast Faolan’s shadow against the rock walls of the cave, and his dark profile seemed to stretch endlessly. All the wolves began to cower, and even Jarne and Adair assumed the most extreme of submission postures. Good! Faolan always knew those two lords were idiots and decided not to waste another second with them. But then another wolf rose and began to snarl.
“You know nothing! And how do we know you have been officially sent by the Fengo? If our chieftain didn’t tell us, perhaps it was because your visit is not sanctioned at all.”
The two lords whom Faolan had just decided not to waste time on began to rise up. Faolan’s and Edme’s instincts were perfectly in sync. In tandem, they leaped forward, Edme body-checking the wolf who had snarled, and Faolan kicking down Jarne and Adair. But it was the cold hard look in Faolan’s eyes more than anything else that vanquished the two lords. Their marrow froze.
“It matters not what the chieftain did or did not tell you,” Faolan roared. He turned again to Liam. “What matters now is for you stand forward, Liam MacDuncan, son of Duncan MacDuncan, great chieftain of the MacDuncan clan, and son of Cathmor, noble she-wolf, renowned turning guard. You are the grandson of Dunforth MacDuncan, great-grandson of the first Liam MacDuncan, and descended from MacDuncans stretching back to the time of first Fengo of the Beyond!”
With each name that was called out, Liam shrank farther into his pelt until he seemed as small, insubstantial, and frail as a wolf four times his age. An immutable silence suffused the cave. Every wolf had its eyes fastened on their chieftain as if trying to imagine his illustrious predecessors. Yes, thought Faolan, think of your history. Think of the honor of this clan since the time the first Fengo arrived in the Beyond. If we forget, we shall fall, and if we fall, then the whole Beyond will fall as well, and we shall sink into an abyss of darkness.
The words came to Faolan, but he did not know from where. He dared not speak them aloud. It was as if he were in a byrrgis and the signals all had been passed in silence until the barks of cease chase were howled. He looked hard at the wolves assembled around him and hoped they saw something in his eyes that was more urgent than words.
“As chieftain of this clan,” Faolan continued, “you need to answer an important question. When was your last rotation of the Blood Watch?”
“I… I… I’m not sure.”
“Not sure?” Edme stepped forward. The chieftain was trembling so hard he could barely answer. “Try to remember.”
“Maybe at the beginning of the New Antlers’ Moon?”
“Maybe, just maybe?” Edme asked. Faolan and Edme looked at each other in dismay.
There was a disturbance at the mouth of the cave. Alastrine, the skreeleen of the Carreg Gaer, made her way in.
“The Blood Watch wolves have not been rotated for almost two moons. Some have come back, such as Stellan, though they were not called. We thank Lupus she did come back, for she is our best outflanker. But Caila has not returned.”
“She ain’t been much of a point wolf since her mate jumped the star ladder,” someone called out from the back of the cave.
“Shame on you!” Alastrine charged the wolf. “Is that the way to speak of a wolf’s passing? This is profane!”
Faolan and Edme were shocked as well, but Alastrine kindled a spark of hope within them. At last a rational wolf with a sense of dignity!
But their question had been answered- answered in a way that they dreaded reporting to the Fengo. They must leave immediately to follow the command and shore up the Blood Watch. Faolan decided to take Mhairie and Dearlea with them. The thought of leaving the two sisters with the MacDuncan clan in its present state was abhorrent. They would all travel together to the Blood Watch and find the sisters’ mother, Caila. But, before they left, Faolan announced to the wolves assembled in the gadderheal that, by the full authority granted him by the Fengo, he was appointing Alastrine first lieutenant to the chieftain in place of Lord Adair. Liam MacDuncan looked profoundly relieved.
- The Old Buck
- Frost Wolf
- Tracks to Nowhere
- The Last Moose
- Secrets of the Gadderheal
- The Inner Eye
- Most Foul!
- Frayed Tempers
- A Raghnaid in Shambles
- The First Sign
- The Whistler
- A Hero Mark Disturbed
- "How Has It Come to This?"
- The Whisper of Rocks
- Rabbit-Ear Moss
- Dance Interrupted
- The Cave Before Time
- A Sudden Summer
- The Broken Chain
- The Obea Tree
- Strange Lights
- An Owl on a Mission
- The Owl and the Gnaw Wolf
- A Significant Encounter
- The Bear's Den
- "The Prophet Shall Reward You!"
- The Prophet Comes
- The Visor's Glint
- Too Late
- Good-bye to Friends
- Back at the Ring
- The Musk Ox
- The Drumlyn of Morag
- The Prophet (Liam MacDuncan)
- The Sark
- The "Whistler"
- Myrr's parents
- Eo (unnamed)
The next book, the fifth, is called "Spirit Wolf".
Edme wakes up and stares at what looks like a spirit wolf. But soon as the spirit wolf speaks she finds out that it is Faolan.
Faolan had just came back from an scouting mission but comes back confused by what Edme had said about him being a spirit wolf.