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"The Star wolf is back!"
— the horse regarding Faolan in Star Wolf
Star Wolf
187550759
Author Kathryn Lasky
Publication date January 1, 2013
Publication Order
Preceded by
Spirit Wolf
Followed by
The Horses of the Dawn series

Star Wolf is the sixth and final book in the Wolves of the Beyond series. It was released on January 1st, 2013.

Preview

A new land awaits the wolves of the Beyond.

A great cold and a powerful earthquake have shattered the Beyond forever, and the wolves must find a new home in order to survive. Their only hope lies in what they call the Distant Blue, a faint haze they can make out beyond the frozen sea.

Once an outcast, Faolan has spend a lifetime proving that he can be a leader. But as he steps out onto the narrow Ice Bridge the wolves will follow to the Distant Blue, Faolan may be leading his friends into terrible danger. The Distant Blue could save the wolves, or it could be another broken land. And the wolves will face jagged ice, howling winds, and unknown threats from the deep just to get there. Can the refugees work together to reach their new home? Or will Faolan and the last remaining wolves of the Beyond be lost forever?

Plot

The story begins with the earthquake survivors, Faolan, Edme, Gwynneth, Mhairie, Dearlea, The Whistler, Banja, Caila, Katria, AirmeadAbban, Myrrglosch, Maudie,  Toby and Burney, looking back at the Beyond for the final time. Ahead lies the Ice Bridge, leading over the sea. The group survey it for a final time, remembering all that had happened, before heading onto the ice bridge.

On the ice bridge, a powerful wind comes, and Abban is thrown from the bridge into the sea. Caila is shocked and fearful for her pup, and is kept back by her daughters. In the sea, Abban can see strange things that no wolf has seen before. He sees a weird creature with an odd-shaped head, and then another shape pushes him to the surface, where he is rescued by Gwynneth. But as he is flown to safety, he seems to be in a trance, and his eyes have turned blue-green. He is only talking in strange rhymes: "I spoke, I spoke, but the old tooth gave a poke and water around me broke." Caila is fretting over him, and acts hostile toward Airmead when she suggests some things about what has happened to Abban, possibly because she was an Obea, and Caila thinks she is going to take her pup away.

After Abban's fall, the wolves, owl, and bears are very wary of the edge; the cubs stay close to Katria and Airmead, Myrr presses against Edme, and Caila and Banja carry their pups despite Maudie's protests. Edme holds the bone she always carries in her jaws, because it soothes the recently developing pain in her hip. She looks into Faolan's eyes, and he knows that she senses his gyre souls. 

That night, Faolan and Edme take the first watch while the others sleep. Faolan is looking at the haze of the Distant Blue, and Edme tells him not the blame it. Faolan talks about how the ice bridge looked so smooth at first, and how now there are a lot of ridges. They talk for a while, before the Whistler and Airmead come to take over the watch. Faolan reports that there'll be more ridges to cross tomorrow, and the Whistler assures him that they'll get there. Faolan looks up at the Sark's memory jug constellation, and thinks about how the she had died, making him and Gwynneth as shattered as the shards of her memory jugs. Edme then gets up to talk to Faolan, and he notes in his head about how the pain in her hip was changing how she walked. They talk about how to get over the ice bridge without any more of them ending up in the sea like Abban. Faolan says that the youngest, smallest and most vulnerable of them - Myrr, Maudie, Abban, Toby and Burney - would go in the middle, the wolves on the outside and Gwynneth flying above them. They then see some strange sea creatures swimming in the distance, and are mystified. Gwynneth then lands down, and explains that they are narwhales. She said that she and her father, Gwyndor, had only seen one in the Northern Kingdoms. She explains about their anatomy and their 'tooth'. She says that she thinks narwhales helped push Abban up to the surface, as he was babbling about a creature with a weird tusk.

Faolan's new idea is proving efficient but awkward, especially for the wolves. Gwynneth notes about how she loves flying over a byrrgis, and how she loves watching the grace of the movements. She thinks about her forge, and she wonders if she'll be able to make a new one in the Distant Blue. She notes how her world has become blurry and dim recently. After crossing a ridge, Faolan, Edme and Myrr see Gwynneth preparing to land by them, but they realise that she is flying awkwardly, and as she goes to land, she suddenly crashes, losing several feathers. She refuses to accept that she crashed, and starts screeching furiously when Myrr asks her about it.

While keeping watch, Mhairie and Dearlea suddenly spot Abban wandering away from the snow den, sound asleep. They are hesitant to wake him, thinking of a sleepwalking wolf who, when wakened by her mate, clawed his eyes out, believing he was a cougar. Abban is not only sleepwalking, but speaking in rhymes like when he is awake. Faolan arrives and guides him back to the den without waking him, asking his sisters not to tell anyone, having a theory that Abban's mind is someplace else. While talking with Edme, Faolan discusses the risks of traveling on the sea, and how Gwynneth can no longer see well enough to warn of cracks in the ice. Abban, however, can sense the leads opening up in the ice. The pup has spoken of a narwhale, Old Tooth, who will guide them.

Gwynneth suddenly flies into camp one day, bringing two bald eagles, Eelon and Zanouche. They explain that Heep and his rout of outclanners are coming after Faolan and his companions. Faolan discusses secretly with Gwynneth the new constellation of the narwhale he has observed, with the tusk pointing toward the Distant Blue. 

Edme, while all the others sleep, thinks of an old soul, an old dream, within Faolan. While licking her bone, she uses her inner eye to help her understand what it says. She seems to have an ancient memory of Stormfast, the mate of the first Fengo, dying and him not ready to part with her. 

Afterwards, Edme is reluctant to leave the ice bridge for too long, and Faolan does not understand why. However, the animals travel across the Frozen Sea as a shortcut around the pressure ridges, and are greeted by a family of puffins. The birds, despite lacking the brainpower to understand some expressions like "knee-slapper", make friends with Abban and prove to be excellent capelin fishers. Dearlea, having trained as a skreeleen, wants to make stories and name things, telling her sister stories are important.

Zanouche scouts for Heep's rout, finding him howling his revenge against Faolan and Caila, calling his former mate "Aliac". Rags, a member of the rout, becomes frightened by him. Zanouche suddenly remembers flying over Faolan when he was a young wolf learning to swim. She recalls Eelon saw him on his tummfraw, but he "sensed something" and left him alone. 

The puffins sense a storm coming, and the creatures take refuge in a snow den. Edme is frightened that the ice bridge might melt in the warmer weather with them on it. After several days, the storm clears enough to allow traveling. Faolan notices that Beezar, the constellation of the stumbling blind wolf, has a special star in his front paw. This star is Kilyric, as it was known in Old Wolf, and it can guide them back to the ice bridge. Faolan promises Edme that they can get back to the bridge at dawn. 

A few days later, Abban suddenly has a seizure and Faolan pushes Edme's bone into his mouth to prevent damaging his tongue. The pup has sensed a large crack opening up in the ice. Nearly all the animals escape, but Maudie falls in the sea. Edme swims in to rescue her, finding the pup lifted by two beluga whales. Old Tooth is there also, to guide the animals to the end of the lead. Edme shouts at Myrr for imagining what the mossflowers on a summer night must be like, since he has never seen them, but later apologizes. Myrr is worried that Edme will leave him like his parents did if he does something bad, but she refuses, claiming they are kin in a way.

Abban sees a beluga with clawmarks on it, and cries out that Heep made them. Zanouche reports that the rout is quickly approaching via an ice tongue, formed underneath the bridge. Caila tells them that Heep is mad and seeks to kill her and Abban. Faolan suddenly remembers a bone he carved as the first Fengo, that is now buried in the cairn of the Fengos, and shows wolves wambling, or leaping between ice floes. He shows the others how to do it, with Abban swimming and the eagles carrying Myrr and Maudie. 

Rags is astonished to see wolves leaping from one ice floe to the next, and Abban swimming in the ocean. He himself wonders if swimming would be worse than living with Heep, who has dreams of becoming the wolf with the most power in the new land. Rags remembers how his vain, elderly mother found a second Milk Giver for him, and then ran off with a younger male wolf. The second Milk Giver, a mother with pups of her own, complained that Rags drank too much milk and abandoned him. The Sark began to follow Rags during his journey, and found him another wolf mother, a malcadh's mother. She helped the mother name Rags after Ragmore, a wolf who possibly fought in the War of the Ember. Hours later, a wolverine found the den and killed Rags's third Milk Giver, acting like the pup himself was too small to kill. Rags ran away from the den and never touched milk again, living on small animals he killed, before coming to the Outermost. He thinks of how the Sark spoke, and how different it was from the speech of the outclanners. He then wonders if he can find hope for himself.

While wambling, Faolan wants to name the other stars, besides Kilyric, in Beezar's paw and in the Narwhale constellation. He thinks that words make things come to life. Dearlea feels like the whales are trying to communicate, and thinks of a song to recall the journey across the sea. The night Caila sees the shadow of Heep's tail, along with other outclanners, the wolves remain on the ice. But when the ice floes become smaller, the group decides to go back to the bridge. Zanouche reports Heep talking about killing Caila before Abban's eyes, knowing she and Eelon care for Faolan and the others. Faolan reports that the end of the bridge is not far, thinking of how poetic the name of the Distant Blue sounds, even though they might now have to rename it. 

Spring is finally arriving on the Frozen Sea, causing ice rot on the bridge. The creatures decide to travel quickly and sleep half as long, and Abban starts to fish for cod to give them energy, despite the fish's soft bones. While flying with Eelon, Maudie expresses a wish for no gnaw wolves to abuse in the new land. Gwynneth, looking at Maudie, wonders who her father was.

When the Ice Bridge divides into two forks, Edme follows the north one and Faolan the south. Edme knows there is something for her to find. Her hip is hurting worse than ever, telling her that she died close by, a thousand years ago, with a twisted femur that pained her as she aged and caused her difficulties on the Ice March. When she finds the place, she lies down to sleep on a rock and recalls dying as Stormfast, the two-eyed mate of the first Fengo, telling him he won't be alone.

Faolan starts crying on the other fork, with Fengo inside him looking for Stormfast's resting place. Grank, his best friend, guided him to her bones, and Fengo picked out her twisted femur to carve and bring back with him. Faolan suddenly stumbles upon Edme, sleeping on that same rock on the north fork, and her hip has stopped hurting. She offers him to become paw fast again after so much time, and he agrees. The constellation of the Sark, resembling one of its namesake's memory jugs, seems to rise specially for the occasion. 

Meanwhile, Abban climbs down to the ice to eat some capelin, daydreaming about the great things that happened to him under the sea and wondering why he speaks in rhymes. Heep and Bevan, one of his wolves, suddenly step out and grab him by the scruff, carrying him away. The puffins fly back into camp to alert the others. The Whistler forces one of them, Dumpette, to tell them how Abban was kidnapped. She suddenly tells them about how the wolves must have hidden him on an ice tongue, and shows much higher intelligence than normal, describing how the tongues are formed.

While Faolan and Edme make the journey back to camp, they find a collection of leaf-like objects on the ice. One of them breaks, proving to be the cocoon of a moth, with the inhabitant, Bells, coming out after fourteen winters. She and the other moths explain how they spent fourteen years as woolly bear caterpillars, crawling quickly to the land to feed in the spring and freezing solid in the fall, then forming cocoons to turn into moths. The Distant Blue is not much farther, just beyond Kilyric.

Faolan and Edme return to camp to find that Abban has been kidnapped, and Caila and Banja ran off to rescue him. Airmead reports a plan of hers to form a slink melf, a formation in the water that was used by the MacNamaras. The adults leave with the bears, Eelon and Zanouche already scouting, and Gwynneth staying behind with Myrr and Maudie. 

Rags has already left the rout, staying behind them to keep out of Faolan's way. Now he is trapped in a tunnel in the ice tongue with wolves talking above him, not understanding why they don't leave. When Caila and Banja stumble upon his hiding place, Rags explains that he knew nothing of Abban's abduction, but it explains why the outclanners were staying. He also tells them the rout knows he left, and Heep has pronounced a kuliak, or death curse, upon him.

Heep struggles to scent other wolves intruding on the tongue, but finds Caila's scent and starts laying a trap for her. Faolan, on the other hand, hopes to wipe out the outclanners to live peacefully in the Distant Blue.

Heep orders Abban to yip for milk, despite being weaned, and Caila is unable to hold back from rushing into danger to reach her son. At the moment Heep and Bevan grab him, the wolves, bears, and eagles attack the rout. Heep is frightened to approach the edge of the tongue, after one wolf falls in the water and cannot swim. Caila grabs his tail and rips it off before any wolf comes to his defense. Heep, however, attacks Banja, tearing her throat open. Edme promises the dying wolf she will take care of Edme, and Banja places her trust in Edme with her last breath.

Maudie is horribly distressed to hear from the returning creatures that Banja has died. The others comfort her by telling her Toby and Burney lost their mum also, but the rest of them love the cubs just as much as she did. Maudie wonders how Banja will find the Cave of Souls with no star ladder constellation. Faolan calms the others, who have begun to fear the same thing, by reminding them of the chieftain who lived again. He lived in the Distant Blue, but he reached the star ladder there. That night, Dearlea begins the morriah, the wailing for the dead wolf, mesmerizing the Whistler with her voice and her writing. Bells arrives at camp that same night, to guide the creatures in their final rush across the Ice Bridge before the spring thaw. Gwynneth, during this journey, notices that her eyesight has stopped becoming worse and that her hearing has become incredible, allowing her to hear Bells's tiny wing beats and the ice cracking.

On their final night on the Ice Bridge, the creatures are surprised by Heep and the remains of his rout. Myrr, not wanting to lose Edme, jumps at Heep's rump where his tail has just been torn off. While the rout is thus distracted, the animals fight back, but the Ice Bridge breaks and all of them fall into the sea. Old Tooth swims by Abban and kills Heep with his tusk right in front of the pup. The narwhales speak to Abban, telling the animals to climb on their backs to escape the approaching sharks and leopard seals. Rags has joined the battle, but panicked upon falling in the water, and Abban helps him climb on Old Tooth.

The narwhales carry the survivors to the shore of the Distant Blue. The land is not blue like the way Faolan saw it from the Beyond, but covered in green grass. Dearlea is determined to not forget all they have left behind. Abban believes he has lived the life of a sea creature within his wolf life, and it is a blessing for him. That night, Bells dies on the beach, having reached the end of her adult life. While the star ladder rises, Banja jumps up it, guided by Bells flying ahead of her.

Faolan leaves camp to explore the Distant Blue, encountering strange flowers, and the signs of what he recalls to be "bison". This is the meat the wolves will feed on. Above a valley, Faolan sees a horse, its face covered with fire scars, and it knows he's back. It whinnies out that "the Star Wolf is back!"

  

Excerpt

(Excerpt from Chapter 2: A Slow Horror)

The pressure ridges did, however, offer two benefits: First, they seemed to abound with lemmings. So for the time being, finding food was not a problem. Second, the ridges offered some shelter from the wind when they made camp to sleep. Now, as the sun broke behind them, casting a pink radiance over the frozen landscape, the way ahead looked clear. Faolan tipped his head up and caught sight of Gwynneth flying.

“How does it look?” he howled. Gwynneth squinted into the paling sky ahead.

“I… I…” She hesitated before answering. “I think it looks fairly smooth.” Her gizzard clenched slightly.

“Just fairly?” Faolan asked.

“Uh…”

There was a blast of wind that cut through the air like a scimitar. Never had Faolan felt such force: It was as if the fur were being peeled from his back. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a small furry pup staggering against the wind. It was Abban! The wind had pushed him to the rim of the Ice Bridge, where he teetered and clung with all his might. And still his paws were slipping.

Faolan’s worst anxiety had caught up with him, and a real, living nightmare was unfolding before his eyes. Faolan tried to claw his way toward Abban, but the wind felt like a boulder crushing against him. A terrible squeal unfurled over the Frozen Sea, searing the air, and the little pup spiraled down toward a dark pool in the ice below the bridge.

“ABBAN!” his mother howled.

Gwynneth hurled herself into a steep banking turn, trying to intercept the falling pup.

Great Glaux. She spied the pup just as he dropped into the dark pool of water.

“He’s gone!” Gwynneth shreed. The Masked Owl was so shocked that her own wings began to lock.

You can’t go yeep! You can’t go yeep! You old fool. Faolan silently cursed his oldest friend. Not Now. But what is she to do? He felt his own marrow seize up. They stood at the edge of the bridge, locked with fear as they peered down into the channel of water that had been pried open by the sea and widened into a pool. The green water glinted darkly, like a liquid eye in the middle of the ice. A howl withered in Caila’s throat. She seemed to be gasping for the air that her drowning son could not breath. Gwynneth had recovered and was skimming close to the surface, looking for any sign of the pup.

How long can he last underwater? Faolan felt his own lungs squeeze together. He had clamped his mouth shut and forgotten to breathe.

“No, Caila!” he screamed with his first breath as he realized that she was about to leap in. Dearlea and Mhairie must have seen it a second before he did, because they both pounced on her and wrestled her to the ground and held her so she would not leap into the sea after her son. The wind had carried Abban directly into the sea, but it had shifted. If Caila leaped, she would be smashed onto the ice below. From this height, on the steepest section of the bridge, every bone in her body would be broken.

Caila howled in despair. Too much time had passed with Abban under the water. Her pup could not be alive.

Chapters

  • Ahhoooooo Garrooo!
  1. Ice Legs
  2. A Slow Horror
  3. Go Forth!
  4. Don't Blame the Blue
  5. The Fortress
  6. A Pup Sleepwalks
  7. Eagles
  8. The Intimations of Edme
  9. Onto the Sea and Back
  10. Howls of a Mad Wolf
  11. Starsight
  12. Spirit Fast
  13. "Abide and He Shall Guide!"
  14. A Dim Memory Comes Back
  15. Wambling
  16.  Ice Rot
  17. Old Wolves in New Pelts
  18. The Abduction of Abban
  19. "This Is My Story"
  20. Silence and Ice
  21. On the Tongue
  22. The Yips of Abban
  23. "How Will She Find Her Way?"
  24. The Morriah
  25. The Fortress in the Sea 
  26. The Distant Blue Draws Near
  • Epilogue

Characters

Trivia

  • The book takes place in The Beyond for a short time but then the rest of the book takes place on their way to the Distant Blue, and in the ending a very brief moment in the Distant Blue.
  • There has been a lot of controversy over this book, as Edme is mistakenly described as gray, and is in fact gray on the cover. However, this has been confirmed to be a mistake: "I think a copy editing mistake was made. But really it was my fault and not the editor's. In my mind Edme is a sort of russet colour" - Quote from Kathryn Lasky in an email reply.

Gallery

Covers

Parts

References

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