By Naylor Phyllis Reynolds
By Naylor Phyllis Reynolds
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the author of more than 125 books and is best known for her children’s and young adult novels. She grew up in Indiana and Illinois with several cats and dogs. Naylor wrote Shiloh after finding a dog by a creek while visiting friends in West Virginia.
The dog followed Naylor back home just like Shiloh follows Marty in the book. Naylor ended up leaving without the dog, but she couldn’t get it out of her head. She started writing the Shiloh trilogy as a means of imagining what happened to the dog after she left.
Naylor’s friends eventually found the same dog and named her Clover, so the real-life story has a happy ending, as well. Naylor now lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband Rex. Shiloh has gone on to win numerous awards including the Newberry Medal.
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor tells the story of an eleven-year-old boy named Marty Preston and his quest to keep a dog by the name of Shiloh. It all starts when Marty goes out in the woods near his house in West Virginia and finds a beagle that looks scared. The beagle follows Marty home, and Marty decides to name him Shiloh after the Shiloh Bridge by which Marty found him. Marty’s dad says that their neighbor Judd Travers is missing a hunting dog and makes Marty return Shiloh to Judd after dinner that night. Marty can tell by the way the dog starts shaking as they drive toward Judd’s that Judd doesn’t treat him right. Sure enough, Judd kicks Shiloh as soon as the Prestons return him. Marty already doesn’t like Judd for a variety of reasons, but Shiloh is rightfully his so Marty has to let the dog go.
Marty can’t stop thinking about the dog though. He decides he will save up money to buy Shiloh from Judd Travers and begins collecting cans and bottles for money. Later, Marty finds Shiloh after he runs off again. This time, however, Marty doesn’t return Shiloh. Instead, he constructs a pen on the hill behind his house. Marty keeps Shiloh a secret for almost a week. During that time, he sneaks Shiloh leftover food from the house and uses his can and bottle money for some old food from the grocery. Eventually Marty’s ma discovers the pen, but Marty convinces her to let him keep Shiloh a secret for just one more night so Marty can figure out a plan. That night, however, another dog gets into the pen and attacks Shiloh. Shiloh is so injured that the Prestons have to drive him to Doc Murphy’s in the middle of the night.
The next day, Doc Murphy drops Shiloh back at the Prestons. He has a badly hurt leg but is otherwise okay. However, word gets around that the Prestons are keeping Judd’s dog. Judd comes over, furious, and demands the dog back. He gives Marty until Sunday to return Shiloh. On Sunday Marty goes to tell Judd that he won’t give Shiloh back no matter what. He happens to see Judd shoot a deer out of season and uses this as leverage. Judd agrees to give Shiloh to Marty in exchange for 20 hours of labor. Halfway through Marty’s work hours, however, Judd tells him that their bargain isn’t valid because there was no witness. But Marty keeps working because it’s the only chance he has to save Shiloh. Judd is so surprised and impressed by Marty’s determination that he keeps his end of the bargain as well, and Shiloh is at last Marty’s for good.
Marty, the narrator of the book, is an 11-year-old boy who lives in West Virginia. Once he meets Shiloh, Marty can’t get the dog out of his mind. He takes many risks in order to keep Shiloh safe.
Shiloh is a small, friendly beagle with brown and black spots. Judd Travers bought him as a hunting dog, but he ran away because Judd mistreated him. He quickly bonds with Marty and follows him around.
Marty’s dad. Ray instills Marty with fundamental values such as respecting adults, following the law, and doing the right thing. He is also a mailman who is familiar with pretty much everyone in Friendly, West Virginia.
Marty’s ma. Lou is the first to discover that Marty has secretly been hiding Shiloh. She is mad at first but soon becomes sympathetic to the dog when she discovers how sweet and friendly he is.
Marty’s sister. Dara Lynn is seven years old and terrified of snakes. When she eventually finds out about Shiloh, she loves him instantly. Sometimes, she annoys Marty, but mostly she tries to say the right thing to please him.
Marty’s youngest sister. Becky is only three, so when she finds out about Shiloh, Marty is afraid that she is too young to keep his presence a secret. Becky loves Shiloh and tries to give him butterfly kisses.
Shiloh’s rightful owner by law. Judd mistreats his dogs and can be a mean person in general. He is also a neighbor to the Prestons. When Shiloh goes missing, he makes it clear that he wants the dog back.
One of Marty’s best friends from school. David lives in Friendly, and his mother is exceptionally agreeable to Marty. Marty likes to hang out with David but is afraid to entrust him with his secret about keeping Shiloh.
The storekeeper at the main corner store in Friendly. Marty goes to Mr. Wallace to ask for old food. The food is for Shiloh, but Mr. Wallace thinks Marty is asking because his family is out of money.
The local doctor. When a German shepherd attacks Shiloh, the Prestons bring him to Doc Murphy’s to heal.
Although Shiloh is only a dog, he quickly becomes Marty’s best friend. Marty can play with him, laugh with him, and love him. Marty is also close friends with a boy in Friendly named David Howard. Marty’s relationships with dogs and people alike teach him that a close friend can always help you get through difficult or confusing times.
Marty’s family and religion teach him that lying is wrong. But in his attempt to keep Shiloh safe, Marty finds that he has to lie a lot more than he wants to. He also discovers that one lie can lead to another lie and that it is easy to get caught up in such things. Above all, Marty learns that secrets can be isolating and that it is much easier to be honest and truthful.
Marty fights so hard to keep Shiloh not only because he loves him, but also because he knows Judd kicks his dogs and doesn’t give them enough food to eat. Marty’s concern for Shiloh’s wellbeing places the issue of animal rights at the forefront of the story. Marty knows the importance of treating animals with respect and decency.
Even when Judd tells Marty that their agreement is void, Marty never gives up hope. He is so determined to keep Shiloh that he will stop at nothing. This determination is ultimately what impresses Judd Travers enough to convince him to let Marty keep Shiloh. The moral of the story is that nothing is easy, but hard work and perseverance can help you accomplish what you want.
As Marty struggles to win Shiloh from Judd Travers, he learns that figuring out the right thing to do is not always clear. Sometimes the answer not black and white or straightforward; Marty must make difficult choices that result in lying and keeping secrets, all in order to protect the dog he has come to love. Marty begins to understand that morality can sometimes be ambiguous, but that helping to protect someone you love comes above all else.
Marty’s ma tells him that she can’t keep Shiloh a secret from his dad, because then he won’t be able to trust her anymore. Marty learns that trust is a delicate balance—difficult to build but easy to lose. Keeping even a small secret can lead to more secret keeping and a loss of trust.
Marty starts out hating Judd Travers, who he thinks is mean and unfair. By the end of the story, however, Marty’s opinion has changed a little. He still doesn’t see eye to eye with Judd on a lot of things, and he still doesn’t like how Judd treats his dogs. But Marty does come to understand a bit better why Judd is the way he is. Judd had a difficult childhood, and the more Marty learns about him, the more he begins to empathize with how Judd acts. Marty learns not to judge a person by his first impression and to be more understanding of differences.
Marty lives in a small rural community, in West Virginia, and his surroundings play a significant role in his upbringing. In a small community such as Friendly, where everybody knows everybody, there are certain strict community standards that must be upheld. People know to mind their own business and respect their neighbors. Small communities also make it easy for gossip and news to spread.
Although Marty is only eleven years old, he already is beginning to understand how complicated growing up can be. Marty is old enough to make choices about Shiloh that have significant consequences for his family. As he enters adolescence, Marty realizes that
The day that Marty finds Shiloh, he has a sizeable Sunday lunch with his family. Marty’s ma scolds him for playing with his food. But it’s not that Marty doesn’t like fried rabbit, it’s just that he doesn’t want to find a piece of buckshot in the meat. Marty’s dad shot this rabbit himself, and Marty wants to know if the rabbit died quickly. Marty’s dad says the rabbit died soon enough.
Marty leaves the table and goes outside to shoot the .22 rifle he got for his eleventh birthday. He likes to shoot the gun, but never at anything alive or moving. Marty’s family lives in the hills above Friendly, which is a small community near Sistersville in West Virginia. Marty’s favorite time to go into the hills is early morning, because he can see all sorts of animals like groundhogs and deer and foxes. His favorite place to walk is just across a bridge over a river near the old Shiloh schoolhouse.
On this particular afternoon, Marty is walking along the river when he sees a beagle that looks maybe a year or two old. When Marty stops, the dog stops, so Marty whistles for him. Marty notices that the dog whimpers a lot and is afraid of him. He wonders if maybe the dog has been kicked or hurt by people in the past. The dog won’t get close to Marty right away, but every time Marty moves, the dog follows.
It starts to rain, and the dog follows Marty all the way back to his home. By this point, Marty knows he’s in trouble because his parents won’t let him or his sisters keep a pet. They think that if you can’t afford to feed an animal or take it to the vet, you have no business keeping it; Marty thinks that’s true enough. But when he tries to make the dog go away, the dog just lies down by a nearby sycamore tree. Marty’s parents notice the dog, and his dad says it probably belongs to their neighbor, Judd Travers. Marty shares his suspicions that the dog’s been treated poorly, but there are no marks on him. Marty’s dad says just to leave the dog alone, and he’ll leave eventually. Marty decides to name the dog Shiloh.
That evening the family sits down for supper, and Marty’s ma warns him not to feed any meat to the dog. Marty’s sister Becky asks what the dog is going to eat then. Becky is only three years old, and Marty’s other sister Dara Lynn is seven. Marty’s dad replies that right after supper, he’s going to take the dog back to Judd Travers’s house to see if that’s where he belongs. Marty excuses himself from dinner and sneaks out to the chicken coop to get an egg for Shiloh to eat.
As they drive over to Judd Travers’s house, Marty notices that Shiloh has ticks. But Marty’s dad tells Marty to mind his own business—Judd Travers will take care of the ticks. Marty says he wants to be a traveling veterinarian someday, but his dad says you have to go to college for that, which takes a lot of money that the family doesn’t have. So instead Marty considers being a veterinarian’s helper.
Marty doesn’t like Judd Travers for many reasons. One reason is that once Marty saw Judd Travers cheat the cash register at a corner store in Friendly. Judd Travers told Mr. Wallace that he needed change for a twenty, when actually he had only given a ten. Another reason Marty doesn’t like Judd is because, if he doesn’t like you, he spits tobacco in your direction—and Judd certainly doesn’t like Marty. The third reason Marty doesn’t like Judd Travers is because last year at the fairgrounds, Judd Travers was always blocking Marty’s view no matter where he went. And the final reason Marty doesn’t like Judd is that he’s seen him shoot deer out of season, which you’re not supposed to do.
Marty asks his dad how to go about reporting someone who doesn’t treat his dog right. Marty’s dad replies that many dogs are mistreated; the law can’t deal with all of them. The jeep pulls up to Judd Travers’s house, and Judd tells them that Shiloh belongs to him. Judd bought him as a hunting dog, but every time Judd takes him out he runs away. Shiloh jumps down from the car and Judd kicks him.
That night, Marty doesn’t sleep more than a few hours, and when he does, he dreams about Shiloh. By morning, he has decided that the only thing left to do is to buy the dog from Judd Travers. The problem is, Marty doesn’t have any money. When Marty’s dad wakes up before his work as a postal carrier, Marty asks him how to make money. His dad suggests collecting bottles and aluminum cans for a recycling deposit. Marty says he wants money faster than he can get collecting bottles, and his father promises to ask around on his mail route.
Marty walks around 5 miles that morning, but all he finds is seven cans and one bottle. When his dad comes back that afternoon, he says nobody had any job opportunities for Marty. But the Sears catalog has come in, and Marty’s dad lets him help deliver it the next morning. Marty’s dad knows the names of everyone on his route in Friendly and Sistersville, and sometimes people leave things in their mailboxes for him. Mrs. Ellison always leaves some sort of bread or pastry.
Marty is apprehensive when they reach Judd Travers’s house. His dad asks Judd about the dog, and Judd says that he’s doing okay. Judd is teaching the dog not to run off by keeping him half starved. Marty asks what Judd calls the dog and Judd says he never names any of his dogs. When he wants them around, he whistles. When he doesn’t, he kicks them. Marty gets extremely mad and upset hearing this. He tells Judd that the dog’s name is Shiloh.
Back in the car, Marty’s dad tells him that he can’t go around telling adults what to call their dogs. He also says Marty should mind his own business, but when it comes to Shiloh, Marty just can’t. Judd Travers goes hunting nearly every weekend, so Marty asks whether you can shoot anything when you go hunting. His dad says you can only shoot what’s in season. Marty thinks about how a year ago he was playing in the woods and came across a dead beagle with a bullet in his head. At the time, Marty figured someone shot the beagle by mistake, but now he’s not so sure. He wonders if maybe Judd Travers shoots the hunting dogs that don’t please him.
The next day, Marty goes out to search for cans and bottles again. He wonders if Judd would ever agree to sell his dog, and if he did, for how much. Even if Judd does agree to sell Shiloh, Marty doesn’t know how he would feed him. There aren’t many leftovers in Marty’s house—they eat every last bit they have. Marty’s family isn’t dirt poor, but his grandmother is sick and all the leftover money they have goes to paying her nurses.
That night, Marty hears howling far in the distance and wonders if it’s Shiloh. Marty’s ma tells him that she knows he wants a dog, but the family just can’t afford a pet right now. Marty nods, but his mother doesn’t understand everything. Marty doesn’t want just any dog—he wants Shiloh.
Friday morning everyone else is busy or out of the house, and Marty is sitting in the kitchen. He hears a noise and knows instantly that it’s Shiloh. Marty understands that Judd must have taken the dogs hunting, and Shiloh must have run away again. He also knows that he is never giving Shiloh back to Judd, not ever. Marty takes Shiloh further up the hill so his family won’t see him and tells the dog that he will never let Judd Travers kick him again. Marty gets some extra fencing from the shed and builds a pen for Shiloh out on the hill. Marty worries that Shiloh might make noise and give himself away, but Shiloh is good and stays quiet.
Now Marty has a hiding place for Shiloh, but he doesn’t know how to make sure the dog gets enough food. Marty sneaks a biscuit to Shiloh in the morning, and Shiloh is so happy to see him that he won’t stop leaping and licking him. Marty takes Shiloh for a long run and after they laugh and play more together in the pen.
That night at supper Marty tells Ma that lately he’s been getting full at dinnertime, but then he’s hungry again later in the night. Marty’s mother agrees to let him put aside some of his food for later. Marty’s mom suggests he save some of his supper for bedtime, which is exactly Marty’s plan. He makes a whopping deal telling Dara Lynn not to eat his extra food just to sound more convincing. After dinner, Marty thinks up an excuse to get up the hill and feed Shiloh.
When Marty comes back from feeding Shiloh, he sees Judd Travers’s pickup truck driving toward his house. Judd arrives and tells the Prestons that his beagle has gone missing again. He asks if any of them have seen him. Even though Shiloh is right out back, Marty pretends he hasn’t seen anything. Marty’s dad promises that they will keep an eye out for the missing dog.
Night in West Virginia is dark as can be, and Marty stays up late. He thinks about a time a few years ago when he ate part of Dara Lynn’s chocolate Easter Bunny but denied it was him. Later, Marty’s Ma came to his room and told him that even though she and Dara Lynn didn’t know who ate the chocolate, Jesus knew and was sad. Marty confessed it was him and apologized to both Jesus and Dara Lynn.
Now, as Marty stays up in the darkness, he thinks about lying. He didn’t exactly lie about seeing Judd Travers’s dog, but you can also lie by omission. Marty asks Jesus which sin he would rather have Marty commit, the sin of lying, or the sin of returning Shiloh to Judd and letting one of God’s creatures be starved and hurt. The question seems to answer itself. But the problem is more complicated, because Marty isn’t just lying to Judd, he’s lying to his parents, as well.
The next morning when Marty gets to see Shiloh they race and play together, and Marty thinks that there is no creature more loving or loyal than a dog. At Sunday meal, Marty’s dad says that he saw Mrs. Howard on his route and she said that Marty’s friend David Howard is back from Tennessee. Marty likes David, but he doesn’t want him coming to Marty’s house. David always likes to play in the woods, and what if he discovers Shiloh’s pen? To avoid this, Marty tells his dad that he’ll go the next day to see David at his house.
Marty’s Ma suggests David come over to Marty’s house too, but Marty replies that there’s nothing to do there. This is the wrong answer because just the other day he said there was plenty to do. Plus, Marty is realizing how one lie can lead to another, and soon your whole life is made up of them. Later, Marty sits on the porch, but he can still overhear his parents at the table. They are talking about how moody Marty’s been, but Marty’s Ma Lou says that he’s just being eleven.
Dara Lynn is bored so she decides to sit by Marty on the porch and copy everything he does. She gets Becky to do it too. Marty gets annoyed so he decides to go see Shiloh over the hill, but Dara Lynn follows him when he gets up. To scare her off, Marty says he is going to chase down a snake. Dara Lynn is terrified of snakes, so she stays by the house.
The next day, Marty walks to Friendly to visit David. The walk takes a long time, so Marty often hitches a ride. This day, the first person to come along the road is none other than Judd Travers. Judd offers Marty a lift, and Marty doesn’t want to look suspicious so he gets in the car. Judd asks if Marty’s seen his dog yet, and Marty asks how much Judd paid for him. Judd got Shiloh cheap for 35 dollars because he’s a little shy. Marty says you have to treat a dog well if you don’t want him to run off. Judd asks what Marty knows about it. Marty just figures dogs are like little kids: they run away if you hurt them. Judd disagrees—his father beat him as a kid, but he didn’t leave. He didn’t have anywhere else to go. They both reflect on this for a moment until Judd reaches the road where David Howard lives. As Marty gets out, Judd reminds him to keep looking for his dog.
David Howard’s house is twice as large as Marty’s and even includes a room just for guests. Mrs. Howard greets Marty at the door. She always seems genuinely glad to see him. David and Marty play together and eat popsicles and catch up on what they’ve been up to all summer. Marty has to bite his tongue so he doesn’t accidentally tell David about Shiloh. David shows Marty his new pet hermit crab. The crab is fun, but secretly Marty thinks he’s nothing compared to Shiloh. David wants to know when he can come to Marty’s house. Marty says his ma’s had headaches lately and doesn’t like any noise by the house—another lie. He tells David it’s best they only hang out at David’s house until his Ma is better.
Marty stays at David’s for lunch, and Mrs. Howard prepares a delicious chicken-salad sandwich. Marty likes Mrs. Howard because she always sits and talks with them while they eat, and about grown-up things too. Today she talks about a recent election, but Marty is more concerned with his food. Since he’s been sneaking out part of every meal for Shiloh, Marty’s been hungrier than usual lately. Mrs. Howard notices how fast Marty is eating his sandwich and gives him another half for the way home, along with some cookies.
When Marty leaves David’s house, he stops at the corner store. He knows he needs more food to sustain Shiloh. Marty’s only gotten 53 cents for the cans he’s collected so he asks the storekeeper Mr. Wallace if there’s any old cheese or meat he can buy on sale. Mr. Wallace agrees to give Marty some items that are too old to sell but not quite spoiled yet. Marty blushes because he realizes that Mr. Wallace must think the food is for his family. But Marty can’t let on about Shiloh, so he doesn’t correct Mr. Wallace’s assumption.
Back at his house, Marty has to figure out a way to keep the food so it doesn’t spoil. He can’t put it in the fridge because his parents will ask questions. He ends up putting the food in an old Hi-C can which he sticks in the stream to keep cool. Next Marty feeds and plays with Shiloh as usual. On the way down the hill, however, Marty sees Dara Lynn walking toward him. Marty tells Dara Lynn he went hunting for more snakes, and that there are over 30 snakes by the hill. This gets Dara Lynn walking faster in the opposite direction. Marty feels guilty lying to Dara Lynn and everybody else, but it’s all to protect Shiloh.
The next two days go by smoothly. Marty feeds Shiloh the food from the corner store. He can tell Shiloh doesn’t like the cheese much, but he’s fattening up a little and every day it gets a little harder to see his ribs. But Marty’s secret can’t last forever. On the sixth day of Marty keeping Shiloh, he finds out at dinner that Judd Travers wants to go hunting on his land. Luckily, Marty’s Ma and Dad don’t want him to come because they don’t like the idea of stray shots coming near where the children play. Marty worries that maybe Judd Travers suspects Shiloh is on the property and is using hunting as an excuse to snoop around.
The next day, Marty’s dad has more news. More people than usual are leaving food in their mailboxes for him. Marty’s dad jokes that he must look thin or something. Marty realizes that Mr. Wallace must have told people about him buying old food. They must think that his family is having a hard time financially right now.
The next day the rest of Marty’s family goes to town for shopping so he has the place to himself. Marty lets Shiloh run free and even brings him in to see the house. At noon, Marty brings Shiloh back to the house, which is just in time because his family comes by soon after. Marty’s Ma asks if she looks tired. Two people in town asked how she was feeling and offered remedies for headaches. Marty realizes this is because of the lie he told David so he wouldn’t come to the house. Marty’s Ma also says she ran into Mrs. Howard and they talked about David coming over to play the next day.
In his head, Marty starts thinking up ways to keep David Howard away from the hill when he visits. That night after dinner he goes to the pen to feed Shiloh some leftover fried chicken. He plays with Shiloh in the pen and thinks that he’s about as happy as a person can be. Then Marty hears someone call his name. He turns around to see his Ma standing right there.
Marty’s Ma asks how long he has been hiding Judd Travers’s dog up on the hill, and Marty responds about a week. Ma lets herself into the pen. At first Marty can’t tell how she feels about Shiloh, but then he sees her pet him kindly. Marty wants to know what made his Ma follow him up the hill. She says she had her suspicions, but it was the squash that did it. Marty has never liked squash before, so when his Ma saw him saving some squash for later, she knew for sure that something was going on.
Marty’s Ma says that Shiloh doesn’t belong to Marty in the eyes of the law. Marty says he’s the one who loves Shiloh, not Judd. And what kind of law lets a man mistreat his dog like that? Marty asks his Ma if she is going to tell his Dad. She says that she has to. She doesn’t keep any secrets from her husband, because if he knows she’s keeping one secret, he’ll wonder if there are more. Marty says that if his dad finds out, he’ll make Marty give Shiloh back to Judd Travers. He asks his ma to keep his secret about Shiloh fro just one more night. She agrees only on the condition that Marty promises not to try to run away with the dog.
After Marty’s ma leaves, he experiences a lot of feelings at once. It is a relief to have someone know about his secret finally, but mostly, Marty is scared. He has only one day to figure out a plan so that Judd Travers doesn’t take Shiloh back. He thinks of various options: although it means more lying, Marty figures his best plan is to give Shiloh away to someone on the highway. The plan isn’t perfect: he wouldn’t know for sure that anyone who picked Shiloh up was better than Judd Travers anyway. Plus, Marty hates the thought of handing Shiloh off to a stranger just when he’s earned the dog’s trust. But with only a day to decide, Marty’s got to come to a decision quickly.
Marty stays up late thinking about these problems. All of a sudden he hears a growl and loud yelps. He leaps out of bed and starts running toward Shiloh’s pen. Marty’s Dad wakes up as well and starts running behind Marty with a flashlight. When they reach the pen, a large German shepherd is standing over Shiloh. Shiloh is on the ground with a mighty pen gash on his leg and other injuries. He doesn’t move, and Marty isn’t sure if he’s alive. He bends over Shiloh, crying.
Shiloh licks Marty’s hand, so Marty knows he’s at least still alive. Marty’s Dad asks if this is Judd Travers’s dog, and Marty nods. He begs his Dad not to take Shiloh back to Judd—Judd will take one look at Shiloh’s condition and shoot him. Marty’s Dad carries Shiloh to his jeep, and Marty gets in, as well. His Dad doesn’t drive to Judd Travers’s house but instead turns toward Friendly. He turns into Doc Murphy’s driveway, and when the doctor comes out, he tells him about the hurt dog. Doc Murphy says he’s no vet, but he’ll try his best.
The doctor asks what happened, and Marty’s dad looks to Marty to explain. Marty tells the doctor that a German shepherd attacked him. The doctor asks if Shiloh is Marty’s dog, and Marty says it’s Judd Travers’s dog and that the whole time he’s been missing, Marty has had him. Doc Murphy says “whew” and continues with his work. The doctor says that, within the next 24 hours, they’ll know if Shiloh will survive. He can keep the dog for a day or two, and if Shiloh pulls through, Marty’s dad can take him home.
Marty’s dad doesn’t say anything on the way back, but when he reaches home he turns off the engine of the jeep and faces Marty. He asks what else Marty’s been keeping from him. When Marty says, “nothing,” his dad asks how he can know that’s not just another lie. Now Marty understands what his ma meant about losing his dad’s trust. But things aren’t as black and white as Marty’s dad makes it sound. Marty asks his dad if he wants Marty to let Judd Travers beat Shiloh. Marty’s dad says he wants Marty to do what is right. Marty asks, what is right then? This seems to have his dad stumped for a bit. Finally, he answers that you have to go by the law. And if you don’t agree with the law, you work to change it.
Marty says there isn’t time. Shiloh could be dead by the time the law changes. His dad says Marty needs to open his eyes. Lots of people in the area mistreat their dogs, not just Judd Travers. Marty knows he’s pushing his luck, but he asks if Doc Murphy doesn’t tell anyone about Shiloh if the family can keep him. Marty’s dad says no but that they can keep Shiloh until he recovers. Then Shiloh goes back to Judd.
As Marty goes back to bed, he can hear his parents talking. Not everything, but bits and pieces of conversation. Marty’s dad is mad at his ma for not mentioning the dog before. So many things are going wrong right now that it’s hard for Marty to think of anything going right. This time when he begins to cry he doesn’t even try to hold back the tears.
The next day when Marty wakes up Becky is standing over him asking about the dog. Dara Lynn was awake when Marty’s dad carried Shiloh out the night before and she told Becky about it. Marty looks in the kitchen at Ma, but she’s got a look that says don’t mess with her, so Marty goes out on the porch. Dara Lynn is being extra polite and trying to say the right thing about Shiloh. But Marty doesn’t want to talk about it. He starts to head up the hill; halfway up he hears a car and turns around. It’s Mrs. Howard, who has come to drop off David.
Marty doesn’t much feel like hanging out, but he tries to muster up some enthusiasm for David’s sake. David has a kite that he says he wants to fly around the meadow. Marty leads him the long way up so that they will avoid Shiloh’s pen. On the way back down, however, David sees a groundhog. This gets him running ahead of Marty. Before Marty can stop him, David’s come across the pen. There’s still blood on the ground. David asks what happened, and Marty gets quite serious and tells David he can never tell anyone. He tells David all about hiding Shiloh, leaving nothing out. It feels easier having his best friend know his secret. But Marty realizes that including David, Doc Murphy, and his family, exactly seven people know about Shiloh. The more people know a secret, the more likely it is to get out.
At 3:30 that afternoon, Doc Murphy comes by with Shiloh. Doc says the dog recovered faster than he thought, but that the leg will still take a couple of weeks to heal. Marty promises his ma that he will pay his parents back for the doctor’s bill. If Ma was mad before, she’s not anymore. Shiloh is wagging his tail and licking everyone; the whole family seems to love him. Ma puts a cardboard box with a pillow in the corner and carries Shiloh to his new home.
It’s strange for Marty to see Shiloh in the house rather than in the pen, and to have everybody know about him too. Marty’s ma especially takes to Shiloh—she can’t seem to resist petting him every time she passes by his box. Marty figures that, by the time Shiloh is well enough to go back to Judd Travers’s, everybody will love him too much to let him go. He hopes his dad will make an offer to buy Shiloh, but the problem is they don’t have the money.
For the next few days, Shiloh continues to recover. Becky and Dara Lynn love taking care of him and brushing his fur. But it seems like everyone is waiting for the inevitable to happen—for Judd to find out about Shiloh. Marty hates leaving Shiloh at the house, but he still has to go out and collect cans to make money. Marty also asks Mr. Wallace at the grocery to put his name on the list to be a newspaper carrier. Mr. Wallace says he will, but there is already a long waiting list.
That night during supper the family hears the slam of a truck door and a knock on the back door. Everyone freezes and Marty’s dad gets up to open the door. Judd Travers is there, and he comes in looking meaner than ever. Judd says someone at Doc Murphy’s saw his dog there. He’s furious the Prestons found his dog and didn’t even bother to tell him. Marty’s dad explains that they were going to tell him, but when Shiloh got hurt they weren’t sure if he would pull through. They wanted to make sure the dog would survive before they bothered Judd about it. When Judd asks how the dog came to be at the Preston house in the first place, Marty’s dad makes Marty explain how he kept Shiloh a secret because Judd had been mistreating him. When Judd sees how badly Shiloh is hurt, he starts yelling at Marty because he thinks it’s Marty’s fault.
Judd says he never mistreats his dogs; this one is just shy. But he’s never caused the kind of damage Shiloh has now. Marty’s dad says it was wrong of Marty to keep Shiloh, but they’ve already discussed it as a family. He asks Jud if they can keep Shiloh until he’s healthy, seeing as Marty has gotten so attached to him. Maybe the family can even scrape up the money to buy him. Judd says the dog is certainly not for sale. The Prestons can keep him until Sunday, but then Judd wants the dog back.
Marty is back to not sleeping again. He’s thought of every option he can to keep Shiloh, but none of them seem possible. Marty has even considered going to county court to report Judd for mistreating his dogs, but he doubts the police would send an investigator just for that. Marty goes to talk to his dad about the situation one more time, but his dad says there’s nothing to be done. Marty’s ma tries to make him feel better by saying at least Marty was able to bring some kindness into Shiloh’s life for a little while. This only makes Marty feel worse—he keeps thinking about how Shiloh will look at him when it comes time to give the dog back to Judd. Becky and Dara Lynn have been crying about giving up Shiloh, as well. The only decent thing is that at least now everybody loves Shiloh too, and Marty can talk about his feelings out loud.
Marty goes to see David Howard in Friendly to tell him about Judd wanting Shiloh back. David feels almost as bad as Marty does about the news. Marty tries to see if any of David’s relatives would be willing to take Shiloh in, but none of them are able to. Time passes slowly and then it is Saturday, the last day before Marty has to give Shiloh back. Marty’s sadness is growing, and he again has trouble sleeping. By dawn, he knows what he has to do. Marty puts on his sneakers and slips out of the house before anyone else is awake. The only option left is to go to Judd Travers and tell him that Marty is keeping Shiloh no matter what. Marty has rehearsed what he will say so much that he knows it by heart. What he doesn’t know is how Judd will respond.
Halfway through the woods Marty starts thinking about how if he refuses to give Shiloh back it could make life harder for his family. Also, what if Judd gets so angry he decides to shoot Marty? As Marty walks in the still-dark morning, he sees a rabbit run by and freeze. Marty knows from his dad that this is how rabbits act when they are scared. Marty pauses to look at the rabbit and imagines what it is thinking. Marty is just about to come out of the woods when he stops again. There is a beautiful doe eating in the meadow. Marty is just about to enter the meadow himself when he hears the crack of a rifle. There is another shot, and the doe goes down. Judd Travers enters the meadow with a rifle in hand.
Judd is grinning and shouting “whooee!” By the way Judd is acting, Marty can tell he shot the doe on purpose. Since deer is out of season, Judd would be in big trouble if the warden found out. As Judd leans over his kill, Marty enters the meadow and comes up beside him. Judd is startled by Marty’s sudden appearance. Standing next to Judd, Marty feels taller than he really is. Judd pretends he found the doe eating in his garden and chased her to the meadow. Marty tells Judd he knows this is a lie and that Judd shot the deer out of season. Judd is staring hard at Marty now. Marty thinks he must be crazy to talk off to an adult with a rifle in hand. But he also realizes he has Judd right where he wants him. Marty threatens to tell the warden on Judd. Judd offers Marty half of the deer meat as a bribe, but Marty surprises Judd even more by saying that he doesn’t want the meat. What he wants is Shiloh.
Judd says trading Shiloh in exchange for Marty keeping his moth shut is no trade at all, especially because had Marty not come across Judd in the meadow, he would have had nothing to bargain with. Judd paid 35 dollars for Shiloh, and he wants 40 to let him go. However, Judd says he’ll pay Marty 2 dollars an hour for a total of 20 hours of work. At the end of two weeks, Shiloh will belong to Marty. To start his work, Marty helps Judd drag the dead doe back to his house. Marty is thrilled to be getting Shiloh, but in the back of his mind, he knows that, by not telling the warden, he is putting other deer in danger. Judd will probably continue to shoot deer out of season. Marty swallows hard—saving Shiloh requires big sacrifices.
When they get back to Judd’s, Marty makes Judd put in writing that, after 20 hours of work, Shiloh will belong to Marty. Judd grunts but writes down the bargain on a piece of grocery sack and signs his name. In exchange, Marty promises not to tell about the deer. He runs back home with the signed paper in his hand. Shiloh will finally be safe! In some ways, this is one of the best days of Marty’s life, but, in some ways, it isn’t. What worries Marty the most is that one day Judd might shoot Shiloh in the woods just to spite him.
When Marty gets home, Marty’s parents are awake, wondering where he’s been. Marty shares his exciting news: he’s been to see Judd Travers, and Judd is letting him buy Shiloh. Marty’s ma is excited, but Marty’s dad is confused because before Judd seemed so definite that Shiloh was not for sale. Marty really doesn’t want to lie anymore, but he knows that if he tells his dad the deer it could jeopardize getting Shiloh back. Instead, Marty says he told Judd he wasn’t giving Shiloh back no matter what. Marty’s ma figures Judd agreed because Shiloh’s hurt and won’t be as useful as a hunting dog anymore. At last Marty’s dad begins to smile; it looks like there is a new member of the Preston family. When Becky and Dara Lynn wake up, Marty tells them the good news and the girls start dancing. Marty’s Ma makes waffles to celebrate and even makes one for Shiloh.
Monday afternoon Marty arrives at Judd’s house for his first shift of work. Judd makes Marty chop wood and work in his garden. Marty thinks Judd is setting up the work so there is no way Marty will be able to please him. Maybe, at the end of 20 hours, Judd will tell him the work was no good and demand his dog back. But there’s nothing Marty can do but keep working as hard as he can. Judd watches Marty from his porch, drinking a cold beer. He doesn’t even offer Marty water, and Marty hates him more than ever.
On the third day, however, Judd leaves out a jug of water for Marty. He lets Marty sit on the porch and asks about Shiloh. It’s the first time he’s called Shiloh by name. Marty says Shiloh is doing well, and they spend a few minutes talking about Judd’s dogs, as well. Marty puts in 10 hours the first week, which means he’s got 10 left. Every afternoon when Marty leaves for work, Shiloh walks with him part of the way and then turns back. This is just as well because Marty doesn’t want him getting too close to Judd.
Monday of the second week Judd makes Marty split wood. The sledgehammer is too heavy; it’s dangerous and difficult work, but Marty keeps at it. Then Judd laughs and says Marty is putting in a whole lot of work for nothing. He tells Marty that the bargain they made isn’t valid because they didn’t have a witness when Judd signed the paper. Marty feels sick inside, but he doesn’t know what to do so he keeps working. Judd laughs again and calls Marty a fool. The next day Marty shows up for work again. He tells Judd that a bargain is a bargain, and he intends to keep his end of it. Marty works harder than ever, even when Judd pretends to be asleep. He doesn’t know if Judd will let him keep Shiloh anymore, but he has to keep trying.
The only sign that Marty is making any progress is that Judd continues to put out water for him. This time it even has ice in it. Judd also doesn’t mention that the bargain is invalid again. The only think Judd and Marty have in common is dogs, so that’s what they talk about. Judd even admits that his own dogs could use a little more food than they’re going now.
On the last day of work, Judd insects everything really carefully but finally seems to be satisfied. Marty says he guess that’s it then. Judd doesn’t respond, so Marty begins to head home. Judd tells Marty to hold on a minute and goes back into his trailer. He comes out with a collar that Shiloh can use. Marty looks up at Judd. He doesn’t know how, but somehow the two of them have learned to get along. That evening, Marty’s ma bakes a cake to celebrate. Marty lays on his back outside with Shiloh beside him, thinking that nothing is ever as simple as you think it will be. But he managed to save Shiloh, which is pretty good for an eleven year old.
As darkness begins to set in, Travis gets worried about Mama and Lisbeth, but he realizes that the task at hand may have taken a while and he cannot think of anything that would be a danger to them. Travis brings Little Arliss and the puppy inside, and they eat a couple bowls of cornmeal and milk together. When Travis is putting Little Arliss to bed, he hears dogs fighting outside and hears Mama yell for him to make a light and come outside with his gun. Travis makes a light out of bear grass and heads outside with his gun where he is horrified to see Old Yeller fighting with a large wolf which Mama says is mad. Travis does not want to fire at the wolf right away because he fears hitting Old Yeller, but when the wolf gets on top of the dog Travis gets his chance, and he shoots. The wolf is dead, and Old Yeller licks Travis’ hand; the two of them collapse onto the ground together, and Mama sits with them. Mama tells Travis that they stopped for water at Birdsong Creek and the wolf almost got her, but she hit it in the head with a stick and then Old Yeller kept it distracted while Mama and Lisbeth got away on Jumper. Mama tells Travis that they got lucky, but Old Yeller is not so lucky; Travis realizes that Mama is telling him that Old Yeller is probably going to be mad now, and he needs to be killed. Mama offers to do the job for Travis, but once he realizes that she is right, he reluctantly and sadly calls Old Yeller to him and then shoots him in the head.
Travis is so sad about Old Yeller that he cannot eat, sleep, or cry and feels empty inside. Travis spends a lot of time thinking about how Old Yeller helped his family and Mama tries to talk with Travis about it to make him feel better, but it does not work. Lisbeth reminds Travis that the puppy is part of Old Yeller, but Travis only thinks that the puppy has not helped to keep his family alive like Old Yeller did; he feels bad for shooting his dog when he did not even do anything to deserve it. Soon the rain comes, and the hydrophobic plague is washed away from the land. Papa comes home in the morning, thinner than he was when he left but happy to have money and a horse for Travis. Travis appreciates the horse, but Papa can tell something is wrong with him. Papa gets the story from Mama, and after dinner, he walks down to the creek with Travis and tells him that he knows about Old Yeller. He tells Travis that he did exactly the right thing, just as a grown man would do, and he is proud of him. Papa tells Travis to think about the good parts of each situation because if he dwells on the bad then all of life will be bad. Travis understands what his father is saying, but he is still sad. A week later, Travis hears Mama yelling at the puppy for stealing cornbread, Little Arliss crying because Mama hit the puppy, and Papa laughing at the whole situation; Travis feels a little better. When Travis returns from riding his horse he sees Little Arliss playing naked in the water with the puppy and Travis starts laughing uncontrollably. He decides that he will bring Little Arliss and the puppy squirrel hunting because if the puppy is going to act like Old Yeller he may as well be of use.
Vin is in her room, piles of paper all around her on the floor. She continues to sort through the pages, rearranging them as she rereads different parts. She even starts to take notes of some quotes that she wants to remember. OreSeur watches her, commenting that she should use the desk instead of the floor. Elend walks in, and he is amazed that she is researching. He is also impressed with her penmanship, based on the pretty letters in her notes. Elend takes Vin with him to meet the messenger that has come from his father’s army. Vin is shocked to find that this messenger is also the man that was following her, the watcher. The messenger’s name is Zane, and he acts like an ambassador. Later, Vin and OreSeur wait outside for Zane. The two Mistborn spar, jumping from one rooftop to another. Zane says that Vin is different from the rest. She shouldn’t allow herself to be used by them. Vin doesn’t know what he means. When Zane leaves, Vin is sure she wants to spar with him more.
Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.
Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.
Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.
Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.
Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.
Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.
Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.
Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.
Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.
Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.
The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.
At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.
Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.
The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.
Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.
Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.
Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.
Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?
Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.
Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.
Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship. Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.
Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.
Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.