|Publication date||January 1, 2010|
The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Series
This article contains plot details from one or more of the books.
A destiny written in the stars...
In the harsh wilderness beyond the owl world of Ga'Hoole, a wolf mother hides in fear. Her newborn pup, otherwise healthy, has a twisted paw. The mother knows the rigid rules of her kind. The pack cannot have weakness. Her pup must be abandoned on an icy riverbank- condemned to die.
But alone in the forest, the pup, Faolan, does the unthinkable. He survives. This is Faolan's story, the story of a courageous wolf pup who rises up to change forever the wolves of the Beyond.
Part one: The Beyond
A silver she-wolf named Morag is searching for a den to give birth to her third litter. Scared of birthing a malcadh, she went by-lang and attempted to cross the border. Morag then finds a pregnant fox waiting to give birth in a den, and chases her away. After Morag gets rid of the vixen, she gives birth to three pups, two tawny females and a silver male. But the silver pup has a splayed paw, declaring it a malcadh or cursed one. This is a small flaw, but will be serious in the clan. Morag also notices the dim tracery of a spiral. Morag told herself the deformity would leave in a few days, but she had no time to watch that.
The Obea of the MacDuncan clan, Shibaan, then tracks Morag down. Shibaan had learned to become suspicious when a she-wolf went by-lang. She is able to pick up the smallest of signs and see through Morag's tricks. She finds Morag and takes the silver pup to an icy river bank. Shibaan returns and both she-wolves carry each one of the tawny pups and announce the birth of the malcadh to the clan. Shibaan, having no feeling for any pup she carries off, abandoned the pup on a piece of ice on the river that is about to crack. The ice melts, and makes the abandoned pup open his eyes and ears. He struggles to grip the ice, because of his splayed paw, but clings on. Meanwhile, a female grizzly appears on the bank downriver, full of grief. Her cub, her last likely newborn, was taken and killed by cougars. As she pleads with Great Ursus, the bear spirit, she asks that her life be ripped from her, and the river swallow her (although the water is too shallow for her to drown). Just at that moment, the pup snags her foot, and she thinks it was some river debris. Somehow, she knows it is not just a passing bramble thicket so she gently picks the pup up. The shock and impact of the water had actually opened the pup's eyes and ears. The sun rose, and shines into the pup's eyes. She thought, "I seek death, and it seeks life". The she-bear thinks it is a sign from Great Ursus. She names the pup, Faolan, "Fao" meaning both river and wolf, and "Lan" meaning gift. She brings him back to her den, where he drinks her milk.
Faolan hears the heart beat of the grizzly, which is louder and more frightening than his first Milk Giver's. He names her Thunderheart, for her loud beating heart. Thunderheart doesn't know anything about wolves, so she teaches him the ways of the bears, such as fishing and walking on his hind legs.
One day, Faolan tries to dig for onions, using his good paw. Thunderheart tells him to use the splayed one. Faolan keeps on whining, saying no over and over again. Thunderheart corrects him by swatting his good paw, forcing him to use his splayed one instead. Faolan does what he is told, without speaking a word, and digs out many onions.
Later on, Thunderheart is teaching Faolan to fish. She kills a salmon, and drops it near her adopted son. Faolan lies on his stomach, not touching the fish. Thunderheart, understanding his submission, takes a bite of the tail and gives the rest to him. He eats it up, acting like the wolf he is. The two pass a mother and her two cubs. The cubs laugh at Faolan, making their mother nervous. At first he hides behind his second Milk Giver's leg, but comes out and stands up for himself, as if an invisible wolf pack were surrounding him, and scares the bears away with his body language.
When winter is near, Faolan follows Thunderheart to find a winter den. The two-some find one, and settle down. Noting that a waterfall was nearby, Thunderheart tells Faolan that she'll sleep for a long time (called the Long Sleep), all winter. She gives him permission to go out and hunt and play. Sometimes, Thunderheart would wake up and Faolan had left food for her. Near spring, she wakes up, and her wolf pup is not there. Forgetting she gave him permission to go out the den, she panics and goes out to look for him.
When Faolan returns to the den after his run, he finds Thunderheart gone. He also begins to panic. He then decides to go to the Outermost, thinking she went there for food. An earthquake strikes, causing Faolan to fear that Thunderheart is in danger.
Part Two: The Outermost
Faolan begins his journey to the Outermost. He gets the idea that if he killed the cougar Thunderheart lost her cub to, she'd come back to him. He finds one and kills it, tearing open his veins. Just when Faolan begins to eat the mountain lion meat, two wolves appear, a gray one and a russet one with one eye, known as Morb. These wolves are known as Outclanners. He realizes they want the meat and tosses a piece to them. While they were in an attempt to eat it, Faolan leaps on top of them and breaks the gray wolf's spine.
He continues to travel around, searching for his beloved grizzly Milk Giver, but doesn't find a trace of her. Soon Faolan finds the Cave Before Time. He takes refuge in it and observes the beautiful paintings on the wall.
Meanwhile, Morag finds Thunderheart, who was killed in the earthquake. Ravens were waiting for Morag to start eating the bear so that they could eat the remains, and they are confused when she doesn't, as she decides not to eat upon smelling her malcadh pup's scent, realized that the bear had cared for him. Morag guards Thunderheart's body until it decomposes to bones.
Part Three: The Beyond
Giving up hope on getting Thunderheart back, Faolan leaves the Outermost and heads back to the Beyond. He finds Thunderheart's bones and begins to howl in grief for his second Milk Giver. An owl, the rogue smith Gwynneth, has been listening to Faolan mourning his loss of Thunderheart. She tells him to come with her, saying they have so much in common. Faolan follows Gwynneth to her forge, bringing Thunderheart's paw bone. Gwynneth begins to talk to him, and explains the ways of the wolves and why he was abandoned as a pup. He asks why Thunderheart abandoned him too and the two believe she thought he was lost. Faolan asks if he can stay with her, but she tells him he "must go to the wolves". So his journey to join a pack and end his life as a lone wolf begins.
He begins to observe the packs and clans, seeing which one seems best to join. The lightning skreeleen of the pack of the Western Scree of the MacAngus clan had read the story of the great Fengo, and why he lived again, but it was disturbing that she had seen the story of the wolf who lived again. Angus MacAngus, their chieftain comes to talk to the pack. While talking, he smells the scent of bear and wolf, and finds Faolan's splayed paw print. Without realizing the truth, they mistakenly thought he had the foaming-mouth disease. Angus calls the other chieftains and they all decide to go to the Sark of the Slough. She tells them they must build a wall of fire and trap the animal inside.
Later Faolan is being chased by a byrrgis of several packs, and becomes trapped in the fire. At first he tells himself he has no choice but to die, but then decides to jump for the sun. Having been taught by Thunderheart to stand on his hind legs and leap high, he manages to jump over.
At the end, after Faolan proves himself worthy by gnawing on a bone, the chieftain of the MacDuncan clan, Duncan MacDuncan, asks him to join and he accepts the offer. He is then accepted into clan as a gnaw wolf, using the name Thunderheart gave him.
Lone Wolf was released in hardcover on January 1, 2010, and the paperback on April 1, 2011.
(Excerpt from Chapter 2: The Spark from the River)
A dark sodden clot snagged on her half-submerged hind leg. She shook her foot at the annoying scratching sensation. But when she shook, the clot clung tighter. It made her irritable, and she dragged her paw up onto the bank.
She would later wonder what it was that stopped her from reaching forward and simply scraping off the clot. It betrayed no sign of life. The scratching could have been the prickly thorns of a bramble that had become entangled with the flotsam of the racing currents. River trash. That was all. And yet she felt something.
She would think of it as a spark. She had seen sparks come from the sky, and sparks struck from rocks when tumbling boulders collided, but she had never imagined a spark coming from a river. A spark from a river, unquenched, undamaged, undiminished, flying upward from the watery turbulence and containing in its minuscule sphere of light, the promise of life. So she reached forward and carefully picked up the sodden clump with both her front paws. It didn’t squirm. She couldn’t see signs of breathing. But it was a cub of some sort, and when it opened its eyes with what seemed to be great pain, she saw the spark.
As the sun lifted over the horizon, she saw its light reflected in the cub’s two eyes. And then she saw an image that shocked her. It was her own reflection in the eyes of an animal that was not born of her, nor of her kind. It’s a wolf, she thought. I seek death, and it seeks life.
And then she looked up at the sky, searching for the Great Bear constellation. She could not see it, for dawn was breaking, but deep down she knew that this wolf was a message from Ursus, a scolding. She must not think of death. Her time had not come yet. It wasn’t an accident that the pathetic pup had fetched up on her leg. It was a gift from the river.
“Faolan,” she whispered. “I shall call you Faolan.” Fao meant both “river” and “wolf.” And lan was the word for “gift.”
“You are my gift from the river.” And she gathered him to her chest.
* * * * * *
The Milk Giver? The pup smelled the milky traces in the thick fur and nuzzled toward the source. But the closer he got, the more confused he became. It did not seem the same. The smell was different and the taste as well. And there was a new frightening sound. The thunderous roar of the river was replaced by a great rhythmic booming, and threading through the misty reverberations were gusty bubbling sounds. As the grizzly gently pressed Faolan closer to her teat, the sounds actually shook him. Yet he felt safe.
It was a different Milk Giver. A huge one, many times bigger than the first, and he was hearing the pumping of her heart and the turbulence of her stomach. Gradually, he became used to the sounds. They blended into the rushing of the river, folded into the quieter noises of his own sucking.
He sucked. His world became one of milk. Thick rich milk. He shut his eyes and slept, still sucking.
* * * * * * *
The grizzly looked down on Faolan and huge tears rolled from the corners of her eyes. The river spirit brought you to me. There must be a reason. I shall nurse you through this morning into the day and through the night. A spark can become a flame, a flame a fire.
She blew her warm gentle breath onto him. The pup’s eyes fluttered, and he sank deeper into a dreamless sleep.
- The River Roars
- The Spark From the River
- Milk and Light
- Den Lessons
- Blood Lesson
- The Golden Eyes of Thunderheart
- The Winter Den
- A Dim Memory
- The Frost Forest
- A Savage World
- The Bitterness of the Obea
- The Cave Before Time
- A Story in Stone
- First Milk
- The Byrrgis of One
- A First Drumlyn
- The Skull in the Woods
- An Owl Listens
- A Fireside Conversation
- "You Must Go to the Wolves"
- The Ridge
- Moon Rot and Doom
- The Sark of the Slough
- The Trail of the Splayed Paw
- Jump for the Sun
Part One: The Beyond
Part Two: The Outermost
Part Three: The Beyond
- The Sark of the Slough
- Duncan MacDuncan
- Angus MacAngus