Talons of Power is the 9th installment in the New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series and the fourth book in the second arc. Its main protagonist is Prince Turtle. It was officially released in the United States on December 27, 2016.
For every villain, there is a hero . . .
Turtle isn’t one of the heroes he reads about in stories. If he were, he’d use his animus powers to help Pyrrhia — instead of keeping his abilities a secret, even from his own octopus. Now that Darkstalker, the sinister and impossibly old dragon from Pyrrhia’s most notorious legends, has returned, Turtle knows his own role is simple: hide and stay hidden.
The other dragons at Jade Mountain Academy, on the other hand, think Darkstalker is fascinating. He charms everyone he meets, including Turtle’s most skeptical friends. They all seem convinced that the ancient dragon has changed.
Turtle isn’t so sure. The more he watches Darkstalker from the shadows, the more Turtle knows that someone needs to stop the powerful dragon. A real hero. But Turtle is running out of time to find one, which means . . . he might have to try to save the day himself.
Quote on the back of the Hardcover Edit
In Darkstalker's eyes there seemed to be a flash of hatred, deep and fierce. This legendary dragon loathed Turtle with all his heart.
He's going to kill me the first chance he gets, Turtle realized. I'm going to die.
For Adam, my OTP and the only person I would trust with absolute magical power.
King Gill swam to The SeaWing Royal Hatchery and arrived to find out one of the guards, Abalone, was extremely sick with a strange growth on his neck. Gill wanted to take him to the healers, but he couldn't leave the eggs unguarded, as Abalone was in no condition to protect them from an assassin. So he went out quickly, found a group of princes and asked in aquatic who could find Snapper and send her to the Royal Hatchery to guard the eggs. Prince Turtle volunteered and Gill told him to go as fast as he could.
Gill returned to Abalone and waited for Snapper to come. But time went by and Snapper didn't arrive, with Gill getting angrier at Turtle for not coming, and getting angry at himself for not giving better orders. Gill eventually swam to the healers and brought them to Abalone, but by the time he and the healers got back, Abalone was unconscious as the growth on his neck had burst and the female eggs were destroyed. Gill roared in fury and rushed out of the hatchery. He saw Queen Coral, returning from a meeting with Blister, and he went forward to tell her the news. She saw the look on his face and covered her head with her wings, unable to see him say the bad news in aquatic.
Gill saw Turtle near his brothers but not playing with them; he rushed over and grabbed his son by the wing. He roared, asking where he had been. Turtle, terrified, said he was searching for Snapper but didn't know where to look or what she looked like while fiddling with a piece of coral in his talons. Gill told him that he shouldn't volunteer for jobs he couldn't do. He continued, saying it was all Turtle's fault and his sisters were dead because of him. Turtle was shocked and upset, and Gill felt a pang of guilt for blaming a small dragonet, but he went on to tell Turtle how he was disappointed in him.
Then the SeaWing king swam over to where Queen Coral was and told her that it wasn't Abalone and Snapper's fault. Coral said she sent them to be executed anyway. Coral said the next daughter will live, but Gill doesn't seem so sure. Coral promised she would stay by her side all year, and that they would name her Anemone.
Part One: A Dragon Awakes Edit
Book Nine began with Darkstalker escaping from the mountain. Turtle was immediately frightened so he enchanted a stick to make Darkstalker forget that Turtle existed, and to make him unable to read his mind and mentions of him in other dragons' minds. Turtle then has a flashback of when he wrote stories in which he was the hero who saved his family and the tribe. It is implied that he did this because he wanted his mother, Queen Coral, to notice him. However, when he had the chance to save his family for real he blew it. After that Turtle swore never to write again.
In the present, Darkstalker claimed he was not evil but hungry, and Peril tried to scorch him, but he was undamaged ( because of his fireproof scales) and pushed her aside. Darkstalker said that when Peril burned the scroll, his animus magic returned to him and he freed himself. He also took note that he grew regularly while sleeping for 2000 years which was why he was huge. After Winter challenged Darkstalker, Turtle noticed "something strange in Winter’s blue eyes" and suddenly he started agreeing with everything Darkstalker said. Moon accused Darkstalker of using his powers to hush up the IceWing, but Darkstalker denied it, although the evidence seemed to be against him. Throughout the whole chapter, Darkstalker said that he was very hungry and asked if Moon and her friends wanted to go hunting with him. The chapter ends when the others tell Turtle to go to Jade Mountain to get help. Turtle goes claiming that he was not a hero, but he could find heroes at Jade Mountain, while the other dragonets went hunting with Darkstalker.
Turtle went to Jade Mountain to warn the dragons about Darkstalker. He went to an underground pool, where Pike, Anemone, and Tamarin were. Turtle warned Anemone about Darkstalker, but she was eager to meet the other animus, not seeing why she should've been afraid, and went to find him with Pike. Turtle stayed with Tamarin and after a while Tamarin convinced Turtle to let her take care of herself and that he should go warn the school. He found Sunny and Tsunami arguing about the cactus bombs, how Fierceteeth and Strongwings escaped, and how Queen Glory was in danger. He told them about Darkstalker and Moon's powers. They stopped by the library so Starflight could tell them about it, and then Darkstalker popped his head through a window, asking for scrolls about Prince Fathom and Clearsight. Then, Mightyclaws, Mindreader, and Fearless attacked Darkstalker, but they didn't succeed in hurting him due to his invulnerable scales. Clay and Sunny arrived, and Darkstalker told Sunny that he was her ancestor, as she was descended from Whiteout. Then Anemone arrived, revealing two copper armbands she enchanted to control the weather. Darkstalker told her that he had been wanting to meet her, and they go and talk.
Turtle then found his winglet, who were charmed by Darkstalker. As Peril went to find Clay, Qibli suggested that Turtle should continue to hide and spy on Darkstalker. He found Darkstalker and Anemone talking in the main entrance cave about enchanting something to protect their souls. Darkstalker enchanted a breastplate used as a bracelet for himself and a silver necklace for Anemone, much to Turtle's horror because he could've placed another enchantment on the necklace. For the rest of the day, Darkstalker talked to students and Anemone sat with him. Flame approached and Darkstalker healed his scarred face for him, then Flame left.
Moon then came over, leading the other three NightWing students and introducing them to Darkstalker. He told the NightWings what it was like in his time. Then he enchanted Mindreader's bracelet so she could read minds, Mightyclaws's earring so whatever he drew would come to life, and Fearless's bracelet so she could have super-strength. Darkstalker told everyone that Moon could read minds as well. Then Moon and Darkstalker had a vision of someone trying to kill Stonemover, and they hurried to his cave with Turtle following. They found Stonemover bleeding in his cave, barely alive. Anemone enchanted a bone to lead her to his attacker, and Darkstalker enchanted a stalactite to heal Stonemover's wounds. Stonemover came back to life but found that his scales had turned back to normal, and he became scared, repeatedly saying "these aren't my claws". He goes on to yell that he wouldn't use them to hurt anyone again. He screeched, and Moon yelled that he was trying to hurt himself with his magic. Darkstalker turned him back to normal to make Stonemover stop worrying so much.
Anemone arrived with the killer, who was Flame. Flame said that he tried to murder Stonemover for refusing to heal his scar. Darkstalker takes Flame's pouch and emptied it, revealing his library card and the third dreamvisitor. Darkstalker said that Flame was the darkness of dragons and the stalker of dreams. Darkstalker enchanted Flame's library card to trap Flame, chaining one of his talons to the floor.
Darkstalker then asked Moon if she wanted to fly with him, and Moon declined. Anemone said that she'll fly with Darkstalker and that she was much more interesting than Moon. However, Darkstalker decided to fly alone. Turtle went to Qibli and Winter's cave and asked to sleep there, as it was lonely in his cave without Umber. Qibli immediately accepted, and they started talking about Darkstalker. Turtle told them everything he saw that day, and Winter was still very supportive of Darkstalker and left offended by Qibli and Turtle's mistrust of Winter's instincts.
Qibli and Turtle started talking about what to do, And Qibli suggested that Turtle should make him an animus. Turtle felt a wave of guilt and declined. Qibli finally asked for Turtle to enchant his earring to make the wearer immune to any spell Darkstalker had cast or will cast. Soon after, Darkstalker came down the small tunnel and asked if they had seen Anemone anytime recently. Turtle and Qibli realized that Darkstalker had given himself the ability to sense animus magic being used.
After Darkstalker left, they decided to have Turtle follow Darkstalker to the rainforest while they used a pair of slates, enchanted by Turtle, so Turtle could send messages to Qibli, however, Qibli's slate couldn't send messages back to Turtle. When he exited the cave, he saw Peril accidentally put some scrolls on fire. She apologized and Turtle asked her how her talk with Clay went. She said that it went OK and then said that there was hugging. Turtle left and prepares to follow the NightWings to the rainforest.
Part Two: Rise To Power Edit
Turtle followed Darkstalker, Anemone, Mightyclaws, Fearless, and Mindreader to the rainforest. On their way there, Anemone questioned Turtle on why he had chosen to come along, and Turtle asked her the same thing back. Darkstalker and the others swooped down into the rainforest and landed on a stage set up in the NightWing village, where Queen Glory and the entire NightWing tribe were waiting for him. Sunny had informed the tribe of Darkstalker's arrival via Dreamvisitor, despite him telling her not to do so. Darkstalker delivered a speech in which he told the NightWings about the Night Kingdom and how they were superior to all tribes, he told Queen Glory that they should have a vote to see whether he should rule the tribe or she should. Glory refused, saying she wouldn't force any of the NightWings to go with Darkstalker.
Glory made the decision to allow anyone who wanted to stay in the rainforest could, while whoever wanted to join Darkstalker could go in their own free will. In order to appeal more to the NightWings, Darkstalker decided to give away free powers to whoever followed him to the old NightWing kingdom, where he would become the king. He then gave several NightWings the power to catch any prey, advanced hunting skills, and more. Suspecting that the reason why most dragons were welcoming Darkstalker too easily was that Darkstalker had cast a spell on them, Turtle had tested his theory on Qibli, who had said that his instincts were trusting Darkstalker while his mind was telling him Darkstalker was not to be trusted. After Turtle had enchanted Qibli's earring, Qibli had then said that a calmness that was in his mind earlier was now gone. This then leads Turtle to realize that Darkstalker was using a spell to trick most dragons. However, he realized that some dragons didn't seem to be affected (like Moon).
Turtle then realized that he needed someone else who was in the rainforest with who could help him. He searched Queen Glory, with the help of a coral he enchanted (in the past) to help him find whatever he was looking for. He found Glory but was momentarily stopped by Deathbringer. After speaking with Glory, she told him that Kinkajou was still in a coma and that she had been brought to the rainforest in hopes that the sun would help her recover. Glory and Deathbringer both stated Darkstalker seemed nice and charming.
Turtle went to visit Kinkajou, and found her still in a coma, with nobody knowing what was wrong. Turtle didn't want to heal her with his own power, so he found Anemone for help, which she felt irritated by but then turned sympathetic and teased Turtle about his crush on Kinkajou. They went back to the healers, where Anemone healed Kinkajou by enchanting the RainWing's skyfire, and Turtle enchanted the stone to make Kinkajou seem as uninteresting as possible to Darkstalker. Anemone, being mischievous, added a love spell to make Kinkajou love Turtle as much as Turtle loved her. Turtle strongly objected, but Anemone doesn't budge. Once again, Darkstalker senses that Anemone used her power and asked her about the enchantment. Anemone says that she healed Kinkajou, and Darkstalker relented, recognizing her as Moon's friend and claimed that he wanted to heal her as well.
After giving some animus advice to Anemone, Glory and Deathbringer landed nearby and Glory asked Darkstalker how he found the RainWing village. Darkstalker said that he followed the sounds of the RainWings thinking and that he came because he wanted to warn Glory about five dragons that were on their way to the Rainforest Kingdom to murder Glory. He predicted that they would most likely attack at night and, unless he stopped them, they would succeed in killing Glory. Deathbringer disagreed and says that he could handle the assassins himself, but Darkstalker said that even if Deathbringer fights all five of them, he would get stabbed by a SandWing tail and die. Glory questioned Darkstalker why SandWings would attack her and Darkstalker replied that they were working with a pair of NightWings.
Darkstalker then enchanted a tree branch to build an indestructible prison that could hold ten prisoners. He threw the branch to the ground, where the prison was formed on the forest floor, much to the RainWings horror. Darkstalker then gave the keys to Glory, who accepted them distastefully.
Glory, Deathbringer, and Anemone then went with Darkstalker to visit the prison. Turtle and Kinkajou stayed in the pavilion and talked about Darkstalker and his magic. Turtle told her that he suspected Darkstalker using a spell to make everyone who met him think he was nice and trustworthy. Turtle then explained Darkstalker's history to Kinkajou and Kinkajou got upset and said that she missed everything.
Turtle pointed out that since he and Kinkajou were the only ones safe from Darkstalker, Kinkajou had to stop him. Kinkajou disagreed and says that she would rather do it with Turtle. Turtle protested but Kinkajou reasoned with him, and she went out to study Darkstalker to find out what he had enchanted to hypnotize everyone else in order to destroy it. Kinkajou told Turtle why Darkstalker couldn't hurt her, and Turtle told her about the spell he put on her. This shocked Kinkajou and Turtle told her that he was also an animus. Turtle told her to not tell anybody and also explained about the hiding spell he had cast to erase him from Darkstalker's existence.
After some more talking, the two dragons went out into the rainforest to see what Darkstalker was up to. They saw a large ring of fire on the forest floor and the figures of Queen Glory, Darkstalker, and the others. They settled near where the prison was at and outside the circle of flames but close enough for them to hear Darkstalker and the others. Turtle thought about the love spell on Kinkajou and then thought about Umber and wanting to use his magic to see if the MudWing was all right. Kinkajou started to make fun of Darkstalker and then started saying that she wished that she was somebody that dragons would notice and remember. Turtle told her that she was somebody to him and then Darkstalker suddenly said that the five escaped prisoners were here and he stepped over the fire and walked into the night.
A while later, Darkstalker came back dragging four dragons behind him, all linked by chains around their ankles and necks. One of the prisoners, a female NightWing, yelled at Darkstalker to let them go. Darkstalker presented the prisoners to Glory and blew out most of the fire from the burning ring only leaving a small section of it. He asked Glory if she would like him to dispose of them and the female NightWing snapped at the two SandWing prisoners with the last prisoner being a male NightWing. Glory recognized the two NightWings as Fierceteeth and Strongwings and told Darkstalker that she wanted to talk to them first.
Glory told Fierceteeth about what was her plan on coming to the Rainforest Kingdom and Fierceteeth responded that she wanted to take the NightWing throne to become queen. Darkstalker told her that it was all taken care of and made Strongwings bow, saying that he would be the NightWings' ruler. Fierceteeth snapped at Darkstalker saying that he cannot rule the tribe because he was a male and then asked him who he was.
Darkstalker told her his name and Strongwings got frightened, repeating that they were all going to die. Fierceteeth didn't believe Darkstalker and said that she wasn't scared of him at all. Anemone jumped in saying that it was Darkstalker and Fierceteeth told Darkstalker that if it really was him then she wanted to challenge him for the throne, believing that she would be better at it than anyone else. Darkstalker told Glory to grant Fierceteeth her mercy and to give her to him to take her to the Night Kingdom so she would never have to bother Glory ever again. Fierceteeth asked Darkstalker about the Night Kingdom and he replied, talking about the old Night Kingdom and how she would love it. Deathbringer questioned about Fierceteeth's punishment but Glory agreed with Darkstalker and told Fierceteeth that if she left the rainforest, her friends, and her tribe alone, then Glory would give her a second chance.
Fierceteeth questioned Darkstalker about really being in charge of something and Darkstalker said yes and told her to think about it overnight in the prison. The SandWings asked about what was going to happen to them and Glory told them that Queen Thorn was going to decide but in the meantime, they would also stay inside the prison. She gave the keys to Darkstalker and he shut them all inside the prison.
Glory told Deathbringer about not being quite sure about trusting her decisions and feeling something weird. Closing the prison door, Darkstalker told Glory that since all that was taken care of, he was going back to his tribe to get some sleep since he would be taking the NightWings to the old Night Kingdom the next day. Deathbringer told Darkstalker about the fifth prisoner since he had brought four. Darkstalker answered that the fifth prisoner was a SandWing but he was forced to kill him since the SandWing had fought back. Glory said that it was unfortunate and that they should find out his name so Queen Thorn would have the information. Darkstalker agreed, saying that he would take care of the body.
Kinkajou told Turtle that Darkstalker was lying and Turtle agreed. Glory flew away with Deathbringer saying that she would see Darkstalker in the morning. Darkstalker is left alone with Anemone. As he looked down at the sleeping SeaWing princess, he whispered that it would not be much longer for Anemone's turn to change the world and the chapter ends.
Turtle and Kinkajou spent the night in the healing pavilion. Turtle wrote to Qibli, telling him that Kinkajou was awake and he should tell Tamarin.
Part 3: The Lost City of Night Edit
Chapter sixteen started out with Turtle following Darkstalker. Darkstalker lead the NightWings, Moonwatcher, Anemone, and Turtle to the abandoned Night Kingdom, which was located on the Talon Peninsula. They stopped and rested on the outskirts of the kingdom. Turtle saw Darkstalker leaving the camp and followed him. They entered the Night Kingdom, and Turtle felt a slight shock, probably from passing over the shield that Darkstalker created in Darkstalker: Legends to kill any IceWings coming into the kingdom (a mountain range later revealed in Darkness of Dragons to be called Darkstalker's Teeth). Darkstalker entered the school and used his magic to restore his portrait of Clearsight. Turtle used a marble to get Darkstalker's attention, causing Darkstalker to think that Clearsight was there, watching him. He urged Clearsight to show herself and apologized for putting a spell on her. Then he criticized himself for being so sentimental and said that he couldn't see Clearsight in any of his futures.
When Turtle returned, he told them he was checking on Anemone. Moon told Turtle about the vision she had of him (the one where Turtle pinned down Anemone on a beach). Moon assured him it probably won't happen. They then woke up Kinkajou and went into the Night Kingdom. Darkstalker talked about his plans for the Kingdom, mainly talking to Moon. He brought them to the palace, where he showed Anemone the room where Fathom stayed 2000 years ago. He told Anemone to clean it up with either magic or her own talons, then left. Anemone angrily throws a fit, causing her to enchant a broom to whack Moon until she used it to clean. She also enchanted a pile of pebbles to turn into jewels to distract Darkstalker, and an earring to make him like her more and forget about Moon. Darkstalker stormed in, and began to scold Anemone. He freezed Moon, and Kinkajou pretends to be frozen too.
Darkstalker exiled Anemone, telling her to go kill her mother or do whatever she wanted now. As Anemone flew to the Kingdom of Sea, Turtle followed her, using his piece of enchanted coral, running into a few of his brothers, and he found Coral with Auklet. Turtle apologized to her about what happened when he wasn't able to find Snapper and that he couldn't save his sisters. But Coral told him that Snapper was trying to leave the palace, and that's why Turtle wasn't able to find her. Coral then asked for Turtle's name and promised to remember it.
On one of the SeaWing beaches, Turtle found Anemone. When she spotted him, she got really angry, blaming everything on Turtle. She started to attack him, and Turtle used his magic to fight back. Anemone was confused about how Turtle could do it, claiming that she was the SeaWing animus. Turtle confessed to Anemone that she was an animus, but only because of him. He had a flashback to the time where they had the Talons of Power ceremony. Whirlpool was calling Turtle, as they went to the ceremony. Turtle was afraid that they might find out his power, and when his turn came, he enchanted Anemone to become an animus instead. Coral was delighted to see her daughter an animus. Anemone was angry and attacked Turtle. He accidentally made himself invincible during the fight, and he was able to end it by tying a piece of kelp to Anemone's arm and enchanting it that whenever she wore it, she couldn't use spells. Turtle talked to her about her soul, and about how animus dragons chose whether to be good or evil, and it's not based on the soul.
Just as soon as they got ready to head back, Turtle heard Darkstalker's voice, enchanting the room he was in to bring all the Animus Dragons in Pyrrhia there. Turtle, Anemone, and Stonemover are warped there, as well as a SandWing who immediately vanishes, so nobody except Turtle notices her, also making him think he imagined her. Darkstalker knows there is a hiding animus in the room, and he enchanted a sword to bring what the hidden animus cares about most, and Kinkajou was summoned to the room. He also enchanted Anemone to obey his every command and told her to be quiet. Turtle confessed his love to Kinkajou, and she does the same but he tells her that she's only under a spell to like him. Turtle wrote in his slate asking Qibli for help and gave his stick to Anemone. As soon as Darkstalker saw him, he immediately thought he was Fathom. He breathed fire on Turtle and Kinkajou, angered, spat venom in his eye. He enchanted Kinkajou to get out of the room and to wipe her memory clean of what just happened, although she was unaffected. She walks out of the room and Darkstalker said that it was too bad for him that he looked too much like Fathom, and took away his animus magic, throwing him in a dungeon. Turtle knew he wouldn't be the one to save the day, but Anemone, Kinkajou, and Qibli would come.
In the SandWing tribe, a group of dragons wearing bird medallions were attacking the SandWings. The SandWings were furious and think, 'Why isn't Queen Thorn protecting us?'. In the SeaWing tribe, a white light shot from the ocean and surrounded some dragonets. The dragonets said they were being attacked, by the vengeful ghost of Albatross. In the IceWing tribe, at least three dragons have caught a disease. The only known ones are Queen Glacier (who was the first to get the plague), Prince Narwhal, and Princess Tundra. Hailstorm asked the messenger if his parents were cured. The messenger said that Tundra and Narwhal are alive but getting worse and that Queen Glacier is dead.
- Tui T. Sutherland said on her blog that the ninth book will be the one to "rip out your heart and stomp on it."
- Talons of Power is the third shortest book with only 290 pages.
- The book gives another take on what may happen if animus power is used excessively, being, instead of losing your soul, you feel like your power can let you get away with anything, leading to dragons becoming willing to do terrible things, like murder.
- Talons of Power seemed to reference a variety of things and books such as when Anemone told Turtle, "Let's go wake your sleeping beauty" (Sleeping Beauty) and "With a cloak of invisibility" (Harry Potter).
- Clearsight's vision of Darkstalker wearing a crown of twisted metal points from Darkstalker (Legends) is proven to come true at the end of the book.
- The only other books with an animus's perspective are Darkstalker (Legends), with Darkstalker and Prince Fathom as well as Runaway with Prince Arctic. This is the first and so far only main series book that has the POV of an animus.
- Talons of Power is the second main series book with a SeaWing POV (the first being The Lost Heir).
- On the cover, Turtle's phosphoric lights are blue, but in the book, they are described to give off a greenish light.
- This is the only book cover with a SeaWing that has its phosphoric wing patterns, because, on the cover of The Lost Heir, Tsunami is missing hers, but this is likely because Tsunami chose not to light up her wings.
- Anemone is shown on the back cover, but her wing patterns are not shown. This may be because they are not spread against the sunlight, like Turtle's, or that she chose not to light up her wings.
- The paperback release does not feature Anemone on the back cover and only has Turtle on the front, just as in the Escaping Peril paperback version.
- On the Scholastic website, the book's description reads that Turtle "might have to try to save the say himself". This typo has been present for quite some time and as of the writing of this trivia section hasn't been corrected.
- Talons of Power is the first book in the second arc to not include the protagonist's name in the title.
Click here to see the cover gallery.