The Beyond has broken.
A cataclysmic earthquake has shattered the land and flattened even the Ring of Sacred Volcanoes. Most of the wolf clans are gone, lost in the giant tremor. What the survivors need now is a leader--a wolf to show them the way to a better place.
Young Faolan's destiny has arrived. He's been a marked wolf since birth, with a strange, splayed paw and an uncanny connection to the bears. There's something about Faolan that inspires certain wolves...and leaves others deeply suspicious. Now, with survival at stake, the remaining wolves must make a choice. Will they trust the silver outsider to lead them to safety? Or will the wolves of the Beyond disappear forever?
It starts off exactly where Frost Wolf left off. Faolan is sleeping. He had woken up and was trying to figure out a secret deep within his soul. His sisters, Mhairie and Dearlea, were carving the bones in honor of Morag, their mother. The earth begins to shake and they watch the Ring of Sacred Volcanoes crumble. They see the H'rathghar Glacier heading toward them as the earth violently shakes. Mhairie and Dearlea are then separated from Faolan and are trapped on the glacier.
Back at the Ring, Edme is finishing her Watch. She begins to miss all of her friends, and tears cut from her eye. Twistling passes by and for a second thinks that Edme is crying blood, but it turns out to be just the light. The two talk about how the volcanoes are acting strange when there is suddenly a cracking sound and Edme sees Twist stagger and vanish into the ground before her eyes. She then loses consciousness.
In the Shadow Forest, the Sark, Gwynneth and Liam are returning Gwyndor's mask. The earth begins to shake here as well and Liam is crushed by a boulder, giving an agonized scream as it crushes his bones. Gwynneth finds herself going yeep and can't find the Sark.
In the Cave Before Time, the "Whistler" is sleeping. He was very tired from a double shift on the Blood Watch. He wakes up and begins to look at the drawings on the wall. The earth as well trembles, and he believes he is going to die as his legs are caught.
Back on Broken Talon Point, what was once thick ice is now big chunks of ice, land debris, dead animals and freezing, dangerous water. Faolan howls for his sisters, and then hears Dearlea calling to Mhairie. He spots them standing on a sinking Musk Ox carcass. He tells them to swim to him, and they do, clinging to the ice floe. Suddenly, Mhairie gasps at Faolan's paw, and he realizes that the ember has been destroyed along with the ring. He looks down at it, and it is no longer splayed, but perfectly normal, besides his spiral mark, which has stayed. However, Faolan feels incomplete. Mhairie shrieks for him to hold on as he slides toward the edge of the ice floe.
Outside the clan borders, Heep has a mate, Aliac, and a son, Abban. They are watching Heep's new 'tradition' being executed by Rags -- the tradition is that all tails are to be bitten off of dead wolves. Heep has created what he calls a 'community', and the outclanners are learning to crouch into submission whenever Heep passes. But as Rags bites off the dead wolf's tail, the earthquake begins, and some of the wolves escape. But Heep stops, and looks behind him. A white tip is poking out where his tail should have been, and it grows until he has a yellow tail with a white tip. Heep is joyous, and does all this and that with it, such as forcing his mate to groom it for countless hours, and tucking it between his legs whenever no wolf was looking just for fun. But behind his back, the other outclanners are snickering at him, for his vanity is eating away at him.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Myrrglosch finds himself alone at the destroyed Ring. He begins to cry, and tries to find other survivors. But every Watch wolf is dead; even the Fengo and some owls have been killed. He hopes that if there is one survivor, let it be Edme. He comes upon terrifying sights, such as wolves that have been frozen forever in the ash and lava flows, their bodies frozen in eternal anguish. He then hears whimpering, and looks around. He spots what is left of Edme's and Faolan's den, and he looks into it. He sees Edme in the dark, and he skids down into the den to her, happy. But he notices that she still has her one eye; every other watch wolf he had seen had their deformities fixed, such as Colleen's ears, Snowdon's tongue, and even Leitha had grown her fourth leg, even though they were all dead. She asks him in a daze what had happened, and Myrr replies, "A bit of a miracle, I'd say. Myrr glosch!"
On the sea, Faolan is struggling to adapt to his new paw, as his second milk giver, Thunderheart, had taught him to use his splayed one in a special way to make it efficient. The tide is carrying them out to sea, and they have to get back to the land before they are sent directly into the Sea of Hoolemere. Faolan sees a piece of driftwood and has an idea. He gnaws it into a fan-like shape and asks his sisters what he would look like if he were to put it on his tail. Mhairie and Dearlea have no idea, but then Faolan explains about owls using their tails to steer their flight from the example of his friend Gwynneth, and he says that if they stuck it in the back of the ice floe, they could steer back to land. After several attempts, Faolan is near to giving up because his new paw is proving difficult. But with his sisters' encouragement, he tries again, and manages to get it in a good position. As the ice floe begins to head back to the land, he thinks of Edme all the way, and worries for her, thinking that she was much more then a Watch mate.
After a journey through the remains of the wrecked Beyond, Faolan, Mhairie and Dearlea reach the sacred Ring. They are shocked by the damage, as the Hrath'ghar glacier has cut all the way to the Ring, making the land look white and black. They see many dead bodies, and Faolan still thinks about Edme. Suddenly, Edme and Myrr explode from the remains of Faolan's and Edme's den, delighted to see them. Edme begins to cry, as she is so happy to see Faolan is alive. She says that she didn't get her second eye, as she was malcadh made, not born. It is revealed that Finbar is dead, and the wolves decide to put his bones on the Fengos' cairn.
Faolan, meanwhile, has had a dream, about being a grizzly bear and killing a moose to protect a mother grizzly and her cubs. His name is Eo, and he thinks he must do lochinvyrr for the moose, despite not being a wolf. Faolan awakens and discovers he chose to be Eo before being born a wolf.
While watching over Finbar's bones, Faolan has a vision, first of an old wolf teaching a Spotted Owl named Grank. The name feels familiar to Faolan, and the vision changes until Fengo becomes a Snowy Owl. Faolan realizes he chose to become a female as well as an owl. Her name is Fionula, and her friend is an ancestor of Madame Plonk, the singer of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. Fionula becomes defensive when her friend, Brunwella Plonk, comments on the strange behavior of the wolves. Fionula knows that owls are not allowed to cook meat using coals from the Sacred Volcanoes.
Gwynneth searches for The Sark desperately, but can't find her. She sees the Beyond -- what is left of it. She decides to look in her forge, which is almost completely concealed. Gwynneth sees that branches have been pulled purposely over the entrance, and she flips her head so that she can see what is in her forge. She hears a voice - she recognizes it, but the tone is very different, and she is shocked to realize that it is Banja.
Gwynneth discovers that Banja has given birth to a beautiful she-pup called Maud, or Maudie. Banja explains, and that she wouldn't mind if she wasn't let back into the Ring, because she wanted to be a mother so much. Banja has turned from spiteful to a kindly, caring wolf. She also tells Gwynneth that Maudie had both eyes, as she had peeped beneath her eye lids. Gwynneth says that Maudie is like her, and at first Banja thinks that it is an insult because of her former personality. Gwynneth corrects her, saying that she now had two eyes. Banja is shocked, and blinks it to make sure it was there. Banja guiltily explains why she hated Edme, and that she wouldn't mind if she didn't forgive her.
The Sark, meanwhile, has survived, but is losing a lot of blood fast. She wants to get back to the Slough, to her memory jugs before she dies. After a long, hard trek, she reaches it, but collapses with grief, as all of them are shattered. But she scents one, of sweet grass. She then remembers her time as a pup, as a lone wolf. She doesn't remember being carried away by an Obea, but thinks that she was abandoned. She remembers following a pack of the MacNabs, and being mesmerized by a stunning she-wolf she called Amber, because of her pale amber-coloured coat. The male wolves all flirt with Amber, who does nothing to stop it, and she disciplines her pups severely, sometimes drawing blood. One night, Amber was staring at her reflection in a lake for hours on end. One of her pups came over, wanting to nurse, but Amber whacked him and flung him through the air, and the impact of landing broke his spine, killing him. Amber picked up his body, and dropped him in the deepest part of the lake, looking at her reflection once more before walking away. The Sark realizes that Amber is her mother, and is angry and sad at the same time. Then, whilst searching for The Sark, Gwynneth hears her faint heart. When Gwynneth finds her, lying in a pool of her own blood so deep that her memory jug shards float around her, Gwynneth screams as no owl had screamed before.
Edme feels her marrow go cold as she hears a terrible screeching. Myrr asks what it is, and Faolan freezes, knowing who it is. The group head toward the sound, and find Gwynneth shrieking, and flying above The Sark's cave, shrieking her grief to the sky. She yells that she tried everything, but the Sark wouldn't wake up. They enter the cave, and see the dying Sark. Edme tries to convince the Sark to lie on a caribou pelt instead of the uncomfortable memory jug shards, but the Sark declines. The Sark says that they must go on without her, and she dies. Faolan, mournful, asks Gwynneth to come with them to a place he had seen, The Distant Blue. Gwynneth asks of the place he had seen.
On the journey, the survivors come upon the surface of the glacier. Faolan warns that the snowy surface may conceal dangerous crevasses. Gwynneth recalls coming across the body of Oona, a brave MacNamara lieutenant, inside a crack in the ground. She tells them about Banja and her pup, and Faolan orders her to bring them to The Cave Before Time. Edme, meanwhile, senses that Faolan will meet the frost wolf she saw at the beginning of the last book, if he only goes to the cave. She feels a pain in her starboard femur, and also knows they are going back before time. While playing tag with Myrr, Edme falls into a crevasse hidden under the snow.
The Whistler, adjusting to his new straight throat after the Great Mending, suddenly hears a noise. It comes from a singing rock, and the Whistler can hear the voices of Faolan and the other wolves. The wolves themselves are at the crevasse, arguing about how to rescue Edme. Edme shuts them out and uses her inner eye to help guide her. She notices that there are narrow cracks in the ice walls, and she can use them to climb out. She begins to do so, but suddenly comes upon a smooth part of the wall, which forces her to stop and hang by her claws.
Howling to alert the others, the Whistler arrives on the scene, and Gwynneth soon follows with Maudie, telling them Banja will come that evening. Faolan decides to form a chain of five wolves to get Edme out--a new Great Chain, despite the others' worries about blaspheming the original. Faolan explains that words are just words, and the Great Chain is no more or less. They begin to climb down and rescue Edme, but the steepness forces them to dig their claws into each other's skin. As Faolan grabs Edme, Dearlea, just behind him, weakens and slips. Gwynneth digs her talons into Edme's head to help pull her out, and she is overjoyed to see the black night after the endless blue glacier. She feels the pain of her femur, that it is an old, familiar pain.
Flying ahead on the journey, Gwynneth spots the end of the glacier on the other side of a spirit woods. The creatures camp in them for the night. Faolan dreams of a meeting with Fionula and Eo, knowing the phrase "gyre soul" and that they must go west. Edme, meanwhile, sees Fionula and Eo with a wolf that looks like Faolan, but is old and weak. The next morning, Faolan thinks there is no way she could have seen the meeting. There is another gyre soul he thinks Edme saw.
When a fog bank rolls in, Gwynneth orders the others to stay still and takes a roll call, but is unable to locate Myrr. Edme is distraught, and Banja comforts her. Gwynneth sets off to find Myrr, using her spectacular hearing. Searching out the pup, she suddenly hears two young bears crying, and Myrr is with them, telling them he has lost his parents too. The bears are Toby, the cub rescued by Edme in Watch Wolf, and his brother Burney. Their mother, Bronka, has gotten lost. Gwynneth brings the cubs back with Myrr, but they don't stop crying, and the wolves and owl go out to search for her. Gwynneth hears Bronka's heartbeat growing slower and tracks down her body, torn to pieces by outclanners. The bear's ankle has been broken, allowing the savage wolves to attack her. Gwynneth whispers in Bronka's ear that her cubs are safe with Faolan and Edme. Faolan and the other wolves arrive, and Faolan tells the others to roll on Bronka and bring back her scent for the cubs. Toby and Burney are horrified when the wolves report back, but Gwynneth gives them each a feather of hers laced with Bronka's scent for the cubs to wear in their fur.
During the final leg of the trek to the Cave Before Time, Faolan asks Edme about her lame femur, but she gets snappy and asks him to drop it. Faolan suddenly recalls the twisted femur he carved in a dream at the end of the last book, and it resembled Edme's. A second earthquake forces the animals to run for cover with Gwynneth guiding them until they reach the cave. Inside, Katria and Airmead are taking refuge, with Airmead terribly wounded. They were on the Blood Watch with Galana the Namara when a rout of outclanners attacked and the earthquake struck simultaneously. The Namara was tossed from her cairn by the tremors and her heart pierced by a sharp splinter of rock. The outclanners became obsessed with trying to drink the chieftain's heart's blood, starting the battle. Faolan suddenly asks if Heep was in the rout, learning that Heep had indeed grown his tail in the Great Mending.
Knowing that Heep was still alive, Faolan almost forgot that he needed to meet the frost wolf if he can guide the survivors to the Distant Blue. Guided by the crack of moonlight from the ceiling, he sets off with Fionula and Eo while the others sleep. While observing a painting of a byrrgis, Faolan realizes that he was the point wolf from his familiar stride, and recalls leading hundreds of wolves in that time. Often the gyres encounter the spiral that remains on Faolan's paw, painted on the wall. At the end of the final passageway, Faolan comes upon a series of paintings depicting a wolf's death. The third gyre still waits to meet them, but Faolan is startled by the sight of a twisted femur. This is the loveliest of bones for him, still there after a thousand years. He carries the bone with him to follow the wolf's passing through the paintings. It turns out to be the story of the first Fengo coming to life again, and Faolan understands the old wolf's rebirth.
When the third and oldest gyre soul finally appears, it is Fengo himself, having chosen the lives of an owl, a bear, and a wolf, as well as having earned them. They are animals he has come to admire during his first lifetime. These three spirits are there to guide Faolan to the Distant Blue. After a thousand years, Fengo is living as a wolf again, reversing his journey to the Beyond from the Distant Blue.
Faolan's companions are startled to sense a change in him, but only Edme learns of the spirit called Fengo, having had him as a mate long ago. Faolan tells them to leave the cave, guided by Fionula. Edme carries the bone to bring with her.
The group comes across the Crystal Plain, which Faolan declares too bright to cross safely in daylight. Stepping onto it the first night, the animals come across the spirits of their loved ones, including Bronka, Galana, and Oona and Brygeen, who was killed in the fight with the outclanners. Faolan and his sisters see their mother and Thunderheart, the grizzly who raised Faolan. Before dawn, Faolan stops the group and instructs them in building their first snow cave, to hide from the daylight. Crossing the plain, Edme feels the pain in her femur diminish when she carries the bone. There are words carved into it in Old Wolf, which she cannot read, though she senses it is part of a very old story left unfinished.
While following Heep through the Cave Before Time, Aliac complains about his tail and recalls the word "Mum" when Abban calls her "Ma." Heep is following Faolan's scent trail through the cave, knowing his old enemy will find a better place to live, but Faolan's scent suddenly changes and frightens Heep. The yellow wolf cannot smell Faolan's scent on his swirling-star paw print, attacking Aliac when she states otherwise. Aliac threatens to tear his tail right off, and her memories of being Caila come back. She picks up Abban and runs as she has never run before.
At the end of the Crystal Plain, Caila reunites with Mhairie and Dearlea, asking their forgiveness for denying them and wanting to be their mum again. They accept her, and Faolan allows her and Abban to travel with them. Gwynneth sees a new constellation resembling a memory jug, prompting Faolan to name it the Sark. On this night, the animals prepare for their journey across the ice bridge over the western sea. This is their last night in the Beyond.
The hardcover of Spirit Wolf has been released on May 1, 2012.
(Excerpt from the Prologue: Dream Shards)
Faolan stepped toward the cave opening and saw his two sisters limned in the light of a full moon. They were diligently gnawing the bones of their mother, Morag, in order to honor her. When they were finished, they would place the bones with the others that Faolan had carved on a cairn, a drumlyn, on this lonely prospect of Broken Talon Point. Faolan had selected this specific place because on a clear night he would be able to see the drumlyn from his watch at the Ring of Sacred Volcanoes. And from here, on this peninsula of land that hooked out into the Sea of Hoolemere like the broken claw of an owl, he could see the jagged ring of flames that shot from the volcanoes.
Tonight, every volcano was active, so the five crowns appeared like a circle of glowing rubies against a sky roiling with silver-lit clouds. The snow of Broken Talon Point had been scoured by the sea winds, leaving a sheath of ice. As Faolan stepped from the cave, he felt something shiver beneath his paws. The ice began to splinter. Beezar, the small constellation known as the blind wolf that stumbled across the night, gave a great lurch and seemed to crash. The stars shuddered and the sky began to slide as the earth convulsed. Mhairie and Dearlea stood locked with fear. There was a deep rumbling that burst from the very center of the earth and then a shattering crack that threw the two sisters onto their backs.
They scrambled to their feet again but the earth was still shaking too violently. They tried to wrap their paws and legs around each other, clinging to each other as they looked toward the sky.
“Look! Look!” Mhairie gasped, her eyes wide with terror. Flames swept through the night.
“It’s the Ring!” Dearlea cried. One by one, like stars dying, the volcanoes collapsed into themselves, shooting rivers of flame and smoke into the sky.
“What’s happening?” Dearlea shrieked. “Look to the east!” But once again the earth was seized with a deep and terrible spasm. A huge rock shot straight up into the air, almost crushing Faolan as it crashed to the ground.
Then there was a new sound. A jagged, tearing noise from the north. The three wolves wheeled about and caught sight of a white tide of ice advancing toward them, the leading edge jagged with frozen fangs. The H’rathghar glacier, anchored for centuries, had cut loose and was plowing across the open water. They felt another tremendous quaking beneath their paws and were thrown down again onto the frozen ground. It was as if the center of the earth could not hold.
On his back, Faolan saw the moon throbbing in the flame-ripped night. He began slipping on the ice and clawed feebly at the sky as if to gain purchase. Beneath him he felt the spasms of the dying earth. I am rocking in the cradle of my lost souls, he thought. The constellation of the Great Bear blazed above him, and Lupus and Skaarsgard had suddenly reappeared, in defiance of the season.
The earth had slipped its moorings and the constellations hung haphazardly in the sky without rhyme or reason.
His sisters screamed and Faolan whipped his head around to see the peninsula fracture. The two she-wolves scrambled and struggled, but slid inexorably off the edge into the sea. The last thing Faolan saw was Dearlea’s bright green eyes roll back into her head until they showed only white- the white of the glacier’s fangs that tore across that sea.
- The Sark
- Liam MacDuncan
- The "Whistler"
- Fengo (character)
- Dream Shards
- A Scarlet Rain
- A Strange Voice
- A Tail Reclaimed
- Water Wing
- Another Pelt
- Out of Chaos
- The Broken Ring
- The Cairn of the Fengos
- Almost as Good as Two Eyes
- The Offing
- "No! No, and No Again!"
- Beyond the Beyond, Before the Before
- The Long Blue Night
- Of Wolves and Metal
- The New Great Chain
- Blood and Stars
- The Toe of the Glacier
- Into the Spirit Woods
- The Wind of Her Wings
- Bits of Miracles
- This View of Life!
- "He Still Lives"
- The Moon Crack
- The Loveliest of Bones
- "Who Is This?"
- The Crystal Plain
- A Wolf Named Aliac
- The Last Den
- Spirit Wolf was thought to be called Ice Wolf, but the real title was revealed by sites such as Amazon.com
- The pages in the contents are off by two pages, starting on chapter 15, The Long Blue Night.
- Starting with chapter 27, The Loveliest of Bones, the pages are off by four.
- Spirit Wolf, along with Shadow Wolf, Frost Wolf, and Star Wolf, have no names for their parts.
- In Spirit Wolf, along with most of the other books, the reader may be able to tell that Faolan has a great affection for Edme.
- There is a hint on page 204 that Edme may have been the first Fengo's mate, in a past life.