Talons of Power is the ninth book in the New York Times bestselling series Wings of Fire and the fourth book in the second arc. The main protagonist is Turtle. The book was officially released 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 sister. 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 Back of Hardcover
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.
Gill swam to the 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 could not 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 who could find Snapper and send her to the Royal Hatchery to guard the eggs in Aquatic. 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 did not arrive, with Gill getting angrier at Turtle for not coming and getting mad 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 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 did not know where to look or what she looked like while fiddling with a piece of coral in his talons. Gill told him that he should not volunteer for jobs he could not 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 was not Abalone and Snapper's fault. Coral said she sent them to be executed anyway. Coral said the next daughter would live, but Gill does not seem so sure. She tells Gill to watch over the SeaWings when Coral promised she would stay by her side all year and that they would name her Anemone.
Part One: A Dragon Awakes
Talons of Power began with Darkstalker bursting out of Agate 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, never be a hero, or never be anyone special.
In the present, Darkstalker claimed he was not evil but hungry, and Peril tried to scorch him, but he was undamaged (because of his invulnerable 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 noted that he regularly grew while sleeping for 2,000 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. Moonwatcher 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 starving and asked if Moon and her friends wanted to hunt 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 have 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 warn the school. He found Sunny and Tsunami arguing about the cactus bombs, how Fierceteeth and Strongwings escaped, and how 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 Fathom and Clearsight. Then, Mightyclaws, Mindreader, and Fearless attacked Darkstalker, but they failed 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 came, revealing two copper armbands she enchanted to control the weather. Darkstalker told her that he had wanted 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 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 have 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 abruptly.
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 would not use them to hurt anyone again. He screeched, and Moonwatcher yelled that he was trying to hurt himself with his magic. Darkstalker turned him back to his previous stone-petrified scales to make Stonemover stop worrying so much.
Anemone arrived with the killer, who turned out to be Flame. Flame said that he had tried to murder Stonemover for refusing to heal his scar. Darkstalker took 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 would 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 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 Turtle cast the enchantment, 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, which prompted Qibli to tell a lie against Darkstalker that she might have gone a moment ago. With suspicion, Darkstalker tested Qibli for animus but failed. He was convinced that Anemone could have done the magic.
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 could not 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 prepared to follow the NightWings to the rainforest.
Part Two: Rise To Power
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 would not force any of the NightWings to go with Darkstalker.
Glory decided to allow anyone who wanted to stay in the rainforest could, while whoever wished to join Darkstalker could go in their own free will. 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 ability to catch any prey, advanced hunting skills, and more. Suspecting that dragons were welcoming Darkstalker too easily because Darkstalker had cast a spell, Turtle 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 calmness 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 did not seem to be affected, like Moon.
Turtle then realized that he needed someone else who was in the rainforest who could help him. He searched for Queen Glory, with the help of a coral he enchanted (in the past) to help him find whatever he was looking for. He saw 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 visited Kinkajou and found her still in a coma, with nobody knowing what was wrong. Turtle did not 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 does not 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 said that he could handle the assassins himself, but Darkstalker noted 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 said that she would instead 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 to destroy it. Kinkajou told Turtle why Darkstalker could not hurt her, and Turtle told her about the spell he put on her. This shocked Kinkajou and Turtle said to her that he was also an animus. Turtle told her not to tell anybody and also explained 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 said 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 noted 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. Deathbringer said Darkstalker said there were five, and questioned why there were only four. Darkstalker claimed he had to kill one of them. 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 asked Fierceteeth what her plan was with 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 did not believe Darkstalker and said that she was not scared of him at all. Anemone jumped in, saying that it was Darkstalker and Fierceteeth told Darkstalker that if it really was him, 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 Fierceteeth's punishment, but Glory agreed with Darkstalker and told Fierceteeth that if she left the rainforest, her friends, and her tribe alone, 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 prison. The SandWings asked what was going to happen to them, and Glory told them that Thorn would 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 that she was not quite sure about trusting her decisions and felt 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 asked Darkstalker about the fifth assassin since he had only brought four. Darkstalker answered that the fifth prisoner was a SandWing, but he was forced to kill him since they 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.
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 Three: The Lost City of Night
Chapter sixteen starts with Turtle following Darkstalker. Darkstalker leads the NightWings, Moonwatcher, Anemone, and Turtle to the abandoned Night Kingdom, located on the Talon Peninsula. That night, they stopped and rested on the outskirts of the kingdom. Turtle later saw Darkstalker leaving the camp and followed him. They entered the Night Kingdom, and Turtle felt a slight shock from passing over the shield, created by Darkstalker 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, saying that he could not see Clearsight in any of his futures.
When Turtle returned, he told them he was checking on Anemone, which he technically had done. Moon told Turtle about the vision she had of him pinning down Anemone on a beach. Moon assured him it probably would not happen. They then woke up Kinkajou and flew into the Night Kingdom. Darkstalker talked about his plans for the Kingdom, mostly to Moon. He brought them to the palace, where he showed Anemone the room where Fathom had stayed in 2,000 years ago. He told Anemone to clean it up with either magic or her own talons, then left. Anemone angrily throws a fit, enchanting 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 turn into something that Darkstalker would like, then make him like her more and forget about Moon. Darkstalker stormed in and began to scold Anemone. He froze Moon, and Kinkajou must pretend to be frozen as well, due to Turtle's animus spell on her.
Darkstalker exiled Anemone, telling her to kill her mother or do whatever she wanted now. As Anemone flew to the Kingdom of the Sea, Turtle followed her, using his piece of enchanted coral. He had a flashback to when they had the Talons of Power ceremony. In that flashback, Whirlpool was calling Turtle to the ceremony. Turtle was afraid that they might find out his power, and when his turn came to tell a coconut to float from his talons and back, he enchanted it not to move when he told it to, and for Anemone to become an animus too as a distraction. Coral was delighted to see that her daughter was an animus. He ran into a few of his brothers, whom he warned of Anemone, then he found Coral with Auklet. Turtle unintentionally apologized to her about what happened when he could not find Snapper and that he coul not save his sisters. Coral told him that Snapper was trying to leave the palace, and that is why Turtle was not able to find her. Coral then asked for Turtle's name, and when he told her, she promised to remember it.
On one of the SeaWing beaches, Turtle found Anemone. When she spotted him, she got 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 only because of him. Anemone got angrier and attacked Turtle. He accidentally made his scales invincible during the fight, and he was able to end it by tying a piece of kelp to Anemone's arm and enchanting it so that whenever she wore it, she could not cast spells. Turtle talked to her about her soul, and how animus dragons chose whether to be good or evil and that it is not based on the soul.
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, making him think he imagined her. Darkstalker asks Stonemover how many dragons were in the room, resulting in Darkstalker realizing that there was an animus hiding from him. He enchanted a sword to bring him whoever the hidden animus cared about most, and Kinkajou was forced into the room. Darkstalker also enchanted Anemone to obey his every command, then told her to be quiet. Turtle confessed his love to Kinkajou, and she does the same, but he tells her that she is under a spell to like him. Turtle wrote in his slate, asking Qibli for help, then threw 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. Darkstalker then had to enchant his eye to heal, likely because he enchanted his scales to be invulnerable, but not his eyes. He enchanted Kinkajou to get out of the room and wipe her memory clean of what just happened, although she was unaffected. She walks out of the room, then Darkstalker said that it was too bad for Turtle that he looked too much like Fathom, and took away his animus magic, throwing him in a dungeon. Turtle knew he would not 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 thought, '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 an unknown plague. The only known ones are Queen Glacier (who was the first to get the plague), Narwhal, and Tundra. Hailstorm asked the messenger if his parents were cured. The messenger reports that Tundra and Narwhal are alive but getting worse and that Queen Glacier is dead.
- The paperback release does not feature Anemone on the back cover.
- On the Scholastic website, the book's description used to read that Turtle "might have to try to save the say himself." The typo was present for quite some time but has since then been corrected.
- According to Tui, Talons of Power was the most challenging book for her to write.
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- Chinese: 火翼飞龙. 海翼族的椰子测试 (July 2017)
- French: Les Royaumes de Feu. Les Serres du pouvoir (September 2018)
- Russian: Драконья сага. Когти власти (April 2019)
- German: Wings of Fire. Klauen der Macht (March 2021)