Wolves - Short Synopsis

A group of monks are fleeing through a dark forest: behind them their monastery is in flames. They are fearful when they hear wolves in the forest near them, but are calmed by the assurances of the oldest monk, who bids them to follow the wolves to sanctuary.

Many years later, Ben Maguire, aged eleven, meets a strange old man in Kilrowan, a dense and brooding forest that stretches from the shores of a broad lake far into the high mountains. The stranger identifies himself as the Steward of the Forest, and tells Ben the turbulent history of the place, and of the local saint, Anselm. This chance meeting leads Ben to become passionate about Kilrowan, and when the forest is sold to a development corporation and a plan submitted to turn the area into a vast theme park, Ben and his friend Luke spearhead the fight to save the forest. They are largely unsuccessful and things look hopeless until - with the help of the Steward and his wolves, who mysteriously reappear - they find a valuable ancient artifact in a huge cavern far underneath the forest floor. While they are searching, the Steward reveals his true identity to Ben and tells him of the trauma he suffered in the Great War that caused him to flee into the forest. In the course of the search, the cavern collapses and the Steward disappears once again.

Before Ben and Luke can use the treasure to buy out the development firm, the state claims it for the nation. A government hearing follows and Ben is forced to tell the story of how he found the torc. He is widely disbelieved until his story is corroborated by the engineer supervising the development work, who has become sympathetic to Ben's cause. It transpires also that the development company has been allowed to cut corners, with the active encouragement of a crooked local councilor. Despite this, the treasure is judged to be the property of the state and the development, although delayed, is allowed to continue. Ben and Luke go back to Kilrowan where they meet the Steward, now returned to normal life.

Shortly before Ben returns to school, he visits Kilrowan to say goodbye to Luke and the Steward. Heavy rain has slowed development but Ben can see that the forest is slowly falling. As the boys walk in the rain they are confronted by a pack of wolves, who force them up to higher ground. There they see that the collapse of the cavern underneath the forest, coupled with the heavy rain, has caused a huge part of the forest to subside, and they watch as the development area is completely and irreversibly flooded by the lake.

The story ends in the past, with the monks finding sanctuary in the forest. The oldest monk converses with the younger man, Anselm, and together they conclude that Kilrowan and its wolves will always be able to take care of itself and its inhabitants. Audience/Readership/Theme This is a rather old-fashioned story aimed at young adults. It addresses the themes of childhood and friendship and has a strong ecological focus. The main storyline focuses on the attempts of two friends to save a beautiful forest from being ruined by building development. It includes a sub-plot, a story of two of the older characters' lives.