|Publication date||October 2010|
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This article contains plot details from one or more of the books.
Return from exile.
Beyond the owl world of Ga'Hoole, a wolf named Faolan has made it back to his clan. He was born with a twisted paw and cast out as a pup, abandoned in the forest to die. But with the help of a grizzly bear who raised him as her own, Faolan survived.
Now he's a gnaw wolf, the lowest-ranking pack member, destined to eat last, sleep far from the warm wolf den, and endure endless abuse from the wolves around him. And the hardships are just beginning. A wolf pup is murdered and Faolan is framed for the crime. Faolan's survival is once again on the line. He must hunt the true culprit... while his own pack hunts him.
The plot begins with Faolan, who at last feels that he is home. He dreams about the wall of fire he jumped, and wakes up in a fright. At the gaddergludder before a moose hunt, Faolan is approached by Lord Bhreac, the pack leader, but is not quick enough to assume the submission postures. Agnaw wolf. Lord Bhreac stops him. Later, a byrrgis is about to begin and Faolan meets Heep, a "model" gnaw wolf, who refuses to call Faolan by his name or acknowledge his second Milk Giver. Faolan then meets Mhairie, a tawny female wolf from the Carreg Gaer of the MacDuncan clan. Heep explains to Faolan how gnaw wolves are supposed to sniff for droppings.
Faolan suddenly finds himself joining the hunt, but scares away the prey by standing on his hind legs, knocking Mhairie to the ground. Later, Mhairie yells at him, complaining to Faolan that he made her lose her once-in-a-lifetime chance of becoming a renowned outflanker. The Lords of Heep and Faolan's packs then decide Faolan must visit Duncan MacDuncan, the dying chieftain.
Later, Faolan goes to the chieftain, and a wolf named Lord Adair reads the bone that Heep had gnawed, telling about Faolan's illegal mishap on the hunt. He wrote the word "humble" so many times that Faolan was soon annoyed, as well as Duncan.
Mhairie is later seen in the chapter "Mhairie's Den". She shares this den with her sister, Dearlea. It's mentioned that their mother, Caila, had borne a litter of six new pups. In order to help their mum deal with the rambunctious litter, Mhairie and Dearlea made an arrangement with their original den: one of them gets to use the den for a few days at a time, while the other uses Caila's whelping den and helps her with the new ones. Mhairie is shown being very angry at Faolan, swearing under her breath at him in the solitude of the den, and having overall mixed feelings for him, both wanting to kill him and protect him.
Lael the Obea takes a malcadh out to a tummfraw a few weeks after, and Faolan finds it while on the Trail of Shame, going up to the tummfraw hesitantly to look at it. Feeling pity and regret for the pup, he howls a prayer to Lupus that snow will cover her and leave her hidden from hungry predators. Later in the night, Gwynneth flies over the pup's tummfraw and hears shrieks, teeth scraping, and other sounds which told her it was a murder. Soon the mother of the malcadh goes to the Sark for the forgetting. Once the mother of the weak pup falls asleep in the Sark's den, Gwynneth tells the Sark about the murder, and they search for its remains. They find that there are hardly any bones, and the Sark points out that Faolan had been there. However, they doubt it was Faolan because of his alibi and obvious sympathies, so they keep searching. Eventually the scent of yet another wolf appears within the tangle of smells.
Meanwhile, when Faolan goes to the Sark sometime the next day, he asks if his mother had ever been to her den. The Sark says she has no clue who his mother was, then decides it would be best for Faolan to leave. Throughout the month (called a moon in wolf terms), Faolan returns frequently to the spot where the malcadh had been murdered, and gathers all the bones he can find in the wreckage. However, as Faolan begins carving for the drumlyn he had planned for the pup, his marrow got a melancholy guilt of a sort which hindered him, bothering him about having something more to this pup's death than meets his eye. After the g'addergnaw byrrgis he places dead last in, thanks to Heep deliberately distracting him, Gwynneth confirms his suspicions by telling him that the pup had been murdered.
When Faolan returns to his clan, Heep frames him and lies about Faolan killing the malcadh. Faolan is outraged by this sudden and incorrect accusation, and loses his head during the trial, shouting at the clan. However, he regains a slight sense of calm once his punishment, a slow, painful tearing into parts by all of the pack, is described to him, and he is given a chance for last words. Fortunately for him, the Sark and Gwynneth both arrive to the case, and prove who the real murderer was... Heep. Upon realizing how caught he was, Heep promptly runs, very narrowly escaping the wolves who were sent to rip him to bloody shreds. After Faolan and Edme win the Gaddergnaw, Heep comes and tries to steal the bones of Faolan's second milk-giver, Thunderheart. Faolan stops him with a confrontation, and Heep and his Outclanner comrades panic, seeing an army of lochin with Faolan, and dash away to the Outermost, never to be seen again for another three books.
After the gaddergnaw ends and the winners are announced, Faolan and Edme travel back to the Carreg Gaer of the MacDuncan clan to prepare for their journey to the Sacred Watch. Meanwhile, Gwynneth returns to her forge, while the Sark returns to her den. Before she goes to sleep, the Sark whispers into a memory jug and "for the first time in her life" sends a small prayer to Lupus, wishing Morag a short and safe journey to the Cave of Souls when her time comes.
Shadow Wolf was released in hardcover October 1, 2010, and in paperback November 1, 2011.
(Excerpt from Chapter 28: Testimony)
A silence had fallen upon the gadderheal as Faolan spoke. The wolves were not sure what significance the nick held, but Faolan had at least caught their attention. Then came a rustling, and wind seemed to blow through the room. Hoarse whispers started up. “The Sark. The Sark. What’s she doing here?”
The Sark lurched through the ranks of lords and clan officers. She began pacing back and forth in front of the chieftain.
“It might pay to attend to the words of the gnaw wolf Faolan.” She swung her head abruptly around and stepped close to Heep, who shrank back into a posture of submission. “Your ‘evidence,’ Heep, is very interesting."
It was only because of the mystique, the aura of unnatural power that always seemed to surround her, that the Sark was not instantly removed. The same sergeant who had body-slammed Faolan started to move forward, but Cathmor gave a silent signal and he immediately stepped back.
“Might you be so good, Heep, as to let me examine your story bone?” Heep was writhing in submissive gestures, which the Sark completely ignored.
“I offer this bone not only as art but as a testimony of a heinous crime.” Heep said in a somewhat strangled voice.
“Ah, yes, testimony. You know what the word means, I assume?” The Sark continued to walk back and forth, swishing her raggedy tail. Her ruff looked as if it were being lashed into a froth by its own private typhoon from the Sea of Vastness to the north. Her bad eye had settled into a slow spinning motion while the other held steady on the floor.
“Yes, I think so,” replied Heep. “I mean a humble wolf such as myself might not have the wits to appreciate the… the…”
“The subtler nuances, shadows of the word? Is that what you were about to say?”
“Yes, yes, that’s it exactly.”
“Well, let me enlighten you. Testimony offers evidence of the truth. The truth, I repeat. The truth itself is not nuanced or shadowed, but evidence can be subtly altered if worked, gnawed, or manipulated.” The Sark paused dramatically and then, as if she had not a care in the world, said casually, “Might I see the bone--the story bone?”
“Of course!” Heep got up and dropped the bone at the Sark’s front paws. The hush was so thick in the room, one could have heard fur shedding.
“Ah!” said the Sark, rolling the bone under her paw. “A nice bone, a rib, I believe, of a moose. Generous expanse of working surface, offering a good spread for your narrative”--she paused to correct herself-- “oh, pardon me-- your evidence.”
“Yes, evidence, Madame Sark. Along with the bone of the malcadh, carved by Faolan,” Heep said.
“Yes, and I see here a very distinctive tooth mark made by a right lateral carnassial.” She paused. “A nick! Indeed, as Faolan pointed out, the same mark as on the bone with the exquisite carving by Faolan. So both the bone you carved for your story bone and the one carved by Faolan have the same nick. Now, how could that be possible? For your story bone is a rib of a moose never touched by Faolan. But all the bones that Faolan brought have this same nicked tooth mark, if one examines them carefully.” The Sark looked about, her whirling eye picking up a bit of speed in its spin as she continued to speak. “ ‘Carnassial’ is a fancy word for those back teeth of ours that are so efficient in slashing and shearing.”
Faolan had begun to feel his marrow tingle and his heart race. Where was the Sark going with this?
“Almost, one could say, your trademark, right, Heep? Interesting!” The Sark paused again. “And I am sure, Heep, that you thought your biggest problem was not your teeth but your tail-- or lack thereof.”
Heep began to tremble.
The Sark wheeled around and faced the more than three dozen wolves packed into the gadderheal. “I have in my possession a tiny bone from the malcadh slain on the ridge. I would beg the indulgence of the raghnaid to please allow me to submit this bone for their scrutiny and to notice the nicked carnassial. There is a flurry of marks, so I ask that you look carefully.” The Sark waited as the murmurs from the wolves in front of her to die down. When she was sure all eyes were on her, she flashed a Sarkish grin. “But aside from all this, I tell you that the gnaw wolf Faolan visited me a short time after he had passed the tummfraw where the malcadh had been abandoned. He came with the scent of a live pup on him. I saw not a trace of the malcadh’s blood. That fact and these bones prove beyond a reasonable doubt that--“
“What? What?” Heep leaped up.
“Hold him!” the chieftain ordered
A gust swirled through the gadderheal as Gwynneth flew down from the shadows in which she had buried herself. “I was a witness to this crime. I heard the screams as I was flying overhead. There was a cloud cover, but I heard the breathing of a wolf tearing apart the pup on the tummfraw.”
“But you didn’t see anything! You didn’t know it was me! It could have been any wolf!” Heep shrieked.
“Not any wolf. I heard the clicks of a fractured tooth,” Gwynneth replied. “I thought nothing of it at the time. My mind was filled with the horror of the murder. But I heard that click.”
“And so did we!” Dearlea and Mhairie stepped forward.
“You?” Heep gasped. “Where were you?”
“At your gnaw circle four days ago,” Mhairie said. “Faolan told us how the clicking of your gnawing teeth annoyed him during the byrrgis, how you could make this sound even when you weren’t gnawing. He said it was as bad as mosquitoes buzzing during the moons of the flies.”
“And,” continued Dearlea, “he said you did this on purpose during the byrrgis and that was why he stumbled and missed his cue in the kill rush.”
Faolan could not believe what was happening. His eyes filled, and everything before him turned wavy in a scrim of tears. His ruff quivered as his hackles rose and he felt his tail actually begin to wag. The very motion was strange and wonderful at the same time. He had friends, friends who were standing up for him, coming forward to offer the truth!
“But I would never do anything like this. Never!” Heep protested.
“Yes you would,” said the Sark. “There was a tangle of scents at the site of the murder, some more pronounced than others. They were scrambled, and it took me a while to decipher the one of the murderer, for it was mingled with that of the malcadh. You see, that brave little malcadh had fought, and as weak as she was, she drew blood, a tiny scratch but blood nonetheless. The blood of the murderer!” The Sark tipped her head toward Heep and inhaled deeply. “I’ve found the scent.”
“The scent… scent… the Sark… a scent.” Like a hissing spark from a coal, the words “Sark” and “scent” spun through the cave.
“And the scent I found was--”
- The Darkest of the Dark
- Caribou Moon
- Challenging the Order
- The Outflanker's Rage
- The Print in the Mud
- The Last Words of a Chieftain
- Mhairie's Den
- The Paw of Thunderheart
- The Trail of Shame
- The Mist of MacDuncan
- The Sark of the Slough
- "She'll Know Me!"
- An Abomination!
- The Dark Vale Descends
- The Red Deer of the Yellow Springs
- One Tiny Bone
- The Haze of Morag
- The Gizzard of Gwynneth
- A Standoff at the Scrape
- The Bone Turns
- The Sark's Visitor
- The Stranger
- The Gaddergnaw Games Begin!
- Gwynneth's Advice
- The Byrrgis of the Gnaw Wolves
- Last Place
- To Gnaw a Bone
- Ghost Wolf
- A Wolf of the Bone
- A Churning Gizzard
- A Prayer
- The Little Pup
- The Whistler
- Sark of the Slough
- The book was originally called "Gnaw Wolf".