By Taylor Theodore
By Taylor Theodore
Theodore Taylor was born in North Carolina in June of 1921. Taylor moved around a lot throughout his lifetime, even as a child, but always considered himself to be deeply rooted to his hometown. Taylor was always interested in reading and writing and began his writing career at the age of thirteen as a school sports reporter for the local paper, Evening Star. When Taylor was seventeen he took off to Washington DC to work as a copy boy; soon he made his way to NBC in New York where he wrote for radio network sports. He fought in World War II as a member of the US Navy and after the war began writing novels. While expanding his literary career Taylor worked for Paramount Pictures as an agent, an editor, and eventually a producer which introduced him to many influential names in Hollywood.
Taylor wrote on a variety of topics, both fiction and nonfiction and for all age groups. Of everything he has written, The Cay (1969) is his most celebrated. The book tells a story of a white boy and a black man who are trapped together and deals with the topics of racism and prejudice. Taylor has stated that the boy in the story is modeled after a friend of his from his childhood in North Carolina whose mother instilled in him a deep hatred for African-Americans. The Cay was briefly banned from some schools due to racist elements but has achieved enough notoriety and praise to earn Taylor eleven different awards including the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. Theodore Taylor continued writing right up to his death in 2006.
Phillip is a twelve-year-old boy who is living in Curacao in 1942, in the midst of World War II. Phillip’s family is American but is on the island because his father is working for an oil refinery as part of the war effort. Phillip’s mother misses life in Virginia and feels uncomfortable living in the midst of war, so she decides that she and Phillip are going to leave Curacao and head back to the states, against Phillip’s wishes, leaving his father behind. When Phillip and his mother finally get a boat back to the US, the boat is attacked, and Phillip is knocked unconscious as the boat sinks. When Phillip comes to, he is on a raft with an old Black man named Timothy and a cat called Stew.
Phillip, Timothy, and Stew make their way to a small island, which Timothy calls a “cay.” Their situation is further complicated by the fact that Phillip has gone blind, which Timothy attributes to too much sun. Phillip is wary of Timothy at first, especially because of his mother’s attitudes about Black people, but they soon become good friends. Phillip learns a lot from Timothy about survival and is soon able to navigate the island on his own and fend for himself; this comes in handy when Timothy is tragically killed after a hurricane comes through. Phillip is eventually rescued from the island though he has a hard time adjusting to life back home and without Timothy.
Survival is a prominent theme within this novel because it is the main focus of the characters, especially Timothy, while they are stranded. Phillip does not understand the importance of survival nor does he appreciate Timothy at first, though when he realizes how valuable Timothy’s teachings have been to him he comes to respect the man much more. When Timothy dies, Phillip is truly grateful to his friend for having given him the tools to survive, so really it is Timothy’s survival instinct and nurturing nature that creates their bond.
From the moment the reader meets Timothy, it is obvious that he is a strong man who is knowledgeable about nature. When Timothy rescues Phillip and finds that Phillip is a rather whiney kid he seems to understand that he needs to teach Phillip strength and determination if they are to survive. Timothy’s faith in Phillip’s abilities transforms Phillip into a strong young man who is capable of survival on his own, which comes in handy after Timothy passes.
The friendship between Timothy and Phillip is slow to form but becomes the single most significant thing in Phillip’s life. When Phillip first realizes he is stranded with a Black man he is unsure what to think because of what his mother has told him about Black people. When Phillip realizes how caring, nurturing, and generous Timothy is he finds that the old man is a great comfort to him, and he knows that he would have never survived without him. After Timothy dies, and even after Phillip is rescued, he has a hard time dealing with the loss of his friend.
Loneliness is something that Phillip experienced throughout the novel for various reasons. When he first meets Timothy he is lonely because he is with a stranger; when he loses his sight he is lonely because he feels like he is the only person in the world; and when Timothy dies he feels lonely because he is actually alone. The scariest moment of loneliness for Phillip is surely when he loses Timothy because he is alone on the cay with no idea of when, or if, he may be rescued. Even after Timothy returns home he feels alone because he knows the only person who will understand what he has been through is buried on the island.
Solitude goes along with loneliness in this novel, though they are not mutually inclusive. Solitude is something that Phillip and Timothy experience together, along with Stew. They are alone on the water and the island with no inkling as to when they may be rescued or if they may be trapped on that island for the rest of their lives. In a way, the solitude of the island is a refuge from the world that Phillip was so frustrated with back home, though it eventually makes him appreciate what he had. The solitude is actually a blessing because it changes Phillip and forces him to grow from a child into a young man and develop an inner strength that he never knew existed.
Nature, and Phillip’s and Timothy’s relationship with it, is so influential in the context of this novel because it is their means of survival in situation that feels near hopelessness. Timothy’s experience with nature and instincts are what keep himself and Phillip alive, though ironically it is also nature that takes Timothy’s life. Phillip comes to appreciate nature fully by the end of the novel because he has truly become “one” with it, especially because of his blindness. Phillip learns to read nature by its sounds and smells, which aids him in survival after Timothy is gone.
Race is certainly an issue, especially in the World War II era, before the Civil Rights Movement. As Phillip’s family is both American and Southern, his mother is a bit racist and has passed her thoughts about Black people on to her son. When Phillip first realizes he is stuck with an “old” and “ugly” Black man he is unsure how to think of the man. Phillip seems to go through an internal struggle between what his mother has told him and what he feels when he learns how kind and generous Timothy is.
Timothy embodies sacrifice in this novel; he is such a noble character. From the moment Timothy meets Phillip, he is sacrificing himself for the boy; he pulls him out of the water, gives him larger portions of food, fishes, constructs shelter, and keeps Phillip safe and warm. Timothy’s ultimate sacrifice comes with the hurricane; he uses his own body to shield Phillip from the storm even when he is in excruciating pain, and his skin has been torn off his back. In the end, Timothy makes the ultimate sacrifice of his own life just to give Phillip a chance.
Phillip goes through tremendous personal growth throughout the novel. He begins as a whiney child who knows nothing about himself, the world, responsibility, or survival. Phillip’s friendship with Timothy truly changes him as individual and helps him to grow into a young man who appreciates what life has given him. By the time Phillip is rescued from the island he has come to respect nature, he is self-sufficient, he is responsible, he has experienced loss, and he has understood what war truly means.
The days following Timothy’s death seem to be when Phillip realizes exactly how much he has learned, how much he has valued his friendship with Timothy, and exactly how much he has lost. Timothy’s passing also makes Phillip see how much he has grown as a person because suddenly he is forced to be fully self-sufficient and get himself rescued because he has no one else to rely on, and he finds that he is perfectly capable of doing so. Timothy’s loss may be the most difficult thing Phillip has ever experienced, but it was also a blessing because it forced him to be the man that Timothy knew he could become.
When the novel begins Phillip is an ungrateful twelve year old boy who is rude to his mother, his best friend, and the man who rescues him from the water when his ship sinks. When Phillip loses his sight he learns to trust Timothy to keep him safe, and this is the basis for a life-changing friendship. Phillip trusts not only Timothy, but nature and his own instincts, as well. By the time Phillip is rescued from the cay, he has grown tremendously as a person through responsibility, determination, and devastating loss.
Timothy is a old Black man from the West Indies, though he was living in Curacao at the time of the novel. Timothy proves himself to be strong, kind, generous, selfless, patient, capable, and nurturing throughout the novel; he is a fantastic friend and protector to Phillip, even when the boy does not deserve his kindness. Timothy is a symbol of Phillip’s transformation and of sacrifice, as he makes the ultimate sacrifice when he gives his life to give Phillip a chance to live his own.
Stew is a cat which belonged to the cook on the S.S. Hato. Stew manages to survive the sinking of the ship and hop aboard the raft with Timothy and Phillip. Despite being an animal which obviously cannot speak, Stew becomes a great friend Phillip and Phillip is focused on keeping Stew safe from harm. Timothy believes that Stew may be an evil spirit bringing them bad luck, but Phillip does not believe this to be the case. Stew disappears during the storm though he returns shortly after Timothy passes, which comforts Phillip tremendously.
Grace is the mother of Phillip and the wife of Phillip Sr. Grace is from Virginia and wishes to return there when she becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the war situation in Curacao and fears for the safety of her family. There is a lot of tension between Grace and her husband because of her desire to leave, and Phillip is caught between them. Grace is a bit racist toward Black people and passes her thoughts on to her son, though he questions her opinions when he befriends Timothy.
Phillip Sr. is the father of Phillip and the husband of Grace. He works for an oil refinery in Curacao as a part of the war effort and is not willing to leave Curacao until his job is complete, despite the danger that is faced on the island. Phillip Sr. and Grace argue often about the fact that Grace wants to return to Virginia thought eventually he agrees they should leave, though he is against the idea of them going by boat. Phillip has a lot of respect and love for his father and does not want to leave him.
Henrik is Phillip’s best friend in Curacao. Henrik is Dutch, as many of the people on the island are, and his country was destroyed by the Nazis which is why his family moved to Curacao. At the beginning of the novel, Henrik and Phillip are similar as they are immature boys who do not listen to their parents and want to watch the war happen before their eyes. By the end of the novel Phillip think of Henrik as much younger than himself because he has grown so much as a person through his ordeal.
The Cay is not a character, but at the same time it is an exceptionally important part of the novel. The Cay is the island where Timothy and Phillip become stranded, and Phillip learns a lot about himself from the island. Though Phillip is unable to see he listens to what the island tells him, feels what it is showing him, and smells what is around him which is how he survives. Also, the cay becomes the place where Phillip became a man, where he experienced loss, and where his best friend is buried.
The story begins in Willemstad, Curacao in February of 1942. German naval ships surround Willemstad and have been attacking the oil refineries in nearby Aruba. The narrator is a young boy named Phillip who is not scared of the fighting but rather wants to go see the U-boats and protest their presence with the other people in town; however, his mother is not about to allow that to happen. School has been cancelled for Phillip on this day and his mother wants him to stay in the house; however as soon as Phillip’s mother leaves the house he and his friend Henrik van Boven, whose family is Dutch, head over to Fort Amsterdam to check out the boats.
On the bridge, the boys see no boats and Henrik tells Phillip that according to his father, a member of the government, Aruba has been almost entirely destroyed. Phillip, who is of an American family, believes the US Navy will come and save the day. When the boys are shooed off the bridge by the police they head home and Phillip’s mother is upset to learn where he has been, though she is happy to have him home safe. Phillip’s father, also Phillip, comes home from work and Phillip thinks about how he and his father used to be close, but these days his father is always busy. Phillip asks his father whether the Germans are going to shoot at them that evening and his father is not sure but wants Phillip, and his mother to sleep downstairs just in case. Phillip’s mother does not want him to ask so many questions, but his father feels like he should know these things. Phillip’s mother, Grace, is from Virginia and did not want to come to Curacao, but they did so for his father’s job working for one of the refineries. Phillip’s parents do not seem to be close since they moved to the island.
That night Phillip gets little sleep. He stays awake wondering if the Germans are going to come and worrying about the Chinese men who are on the tankers. Phillip grabs a hatchet and keeps it beneath the couch that he is sleeping on just in case he will need it. Phillip’s parents get into an argument because his mother wants to go back to Virginia, but his father will not allow it unless she flies which she refuses to do. Phillip does not want to go back to Virginia because he likes his life in Curacao. In the morning, Phillip learns that the Chinese sailors are refusing to board the tankers and have been charged as mutinous, but Phillip’s father does not blame them for being fearful of the Germans. With no one manning the tankers, there is a shortage of fresh water on the island because it is no longer being delivered; eventually a group of Chinese sailors man one of the tankers but the torpedoing begins again and they are afraid. Phillip and his father go to watch a British tanker launch and see it go up in flames when the Germans hit it with torpedoes.
Grace has decided that she and Phillip are going to head back to Virginia. Phillip’s father thinks that she is making a mistake because they are going by boat, but she will not be swayed from her decision. In April Grace tells Phillip that his father has gotten them tickets for a boat heading to Miami and he must say goodbye to his friends. Phillip is upset with his mother, and he tells her that he hates her. Phillip wants to stay with his father but is told that he must go with his mother. On the day they are to leave, Phillip says goodbye to his friend Henrik and listens to his father joke about Germans not wasting torpedoes on Phillip and Grace’s boat, the S.S. Hato, while checking the lifeboats anyway. Phillip parts ways with his father and watches him waving from the bridge.
It is April 6, 1942 when a torpedo hits the S.S. Hato. Phillip and his mother get into lifeboats, but as they are lowered into the water they tip over and there is a loud crash. Phillip is hit on the head with something and he is knocked unconscious. When Phillip comes to he is on a boat with a old “Negro” whom Phillip describes as “ugly” and the cat named Stew which belonged to the cook from the boat. The strange man tells Phillip that he has no idea where they are or where anyone else is but he pulled Phillip aboard his raft. Phillip notices that the man has a thick West Indian accent. The young boy is freaked out by his circumstances and finds himself in tears and seasick. As the old man builds a shelter out of pieces of raft and clothing, Phillip falls asleep.
When Phillip wakes the old man introduces himself as Timothy; Phillip introduces himself as well, but Timothy refers to him as “young boss”. Phillip asks Timothy for a drink of water when he notices there is a keg aboard but Timothy only gives him a small amount because they must conserve what they have. Phillip pouts because he cannot have more water and he thinks that maybe his mother, who is quite racist, is right about Black people. Later in the day Phillip sees fish flying out of the water and is surprised to see Timothy catch one. Timothy gives Phillip the majority of the fish, but Phillip is disgusted by the idea of eating raw fish; Timothy wastes no time eating his own portion. Phillip pouts once again and blames the whole situation on his mother for making him move in the first place. Timothy asks Phillip why he is blaming his mother as if she was the one who started the war.
Phillip finds it strange the company that he is in; he is from Virginia and stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean with a large, old Black man and a cat. Phillip has never known any Black people before; he has seen some but never known any though Henrik did. Timothy tells Phillip that he is from St. Thomas which is on the Virgin Islands. Phillip knows that the US has recently purchased the Virgin Islands, so he tells Timothy that they are both American though Timothy says he had never seriously considered himself American before. Timothy tells Phillip that he has never known his parents and Phillip wonders whether Timothy is really from Africa because he looks a lot like the men in photos that Phillip has seen in school. Phillip tells Timothy that he is twelve years old, which Timothy considers an important age, but Timothy is unsure how old he is.
Phillip has a terrible headache which Timothy attributes to being out in the sun all day. To quell his headache Phillip tucks himself up between Timothy and Stew and falls asleep. When Phillip wakes he is disappointed that his headache still persists. After eating again Phillip notices that his eyes seem to be getting cloudy but he chalks it up to sun exposure and goes back to sleep. Next time Phillip wakes he thinks that it is nighttime because everything is dark, but he soon realizes that it is still daylight, and he has gone blind. Timothy is surprised but tells Phillip that he has seen this happen before, and the blindness will not last forever. Phillip is no longer in pain, but he is overwhelmed by his circumstances and begins lashing out. He starts to hit Timothy and the old man allows him to keep going until he tires himself out.
Phillip, Timothy, and Stew have been floating on their raft for three days. There is an airplane coming and Phillip and Timothy think that they may finally be saved, but when Timothy lights a torch and yells out the airplane does not stop or seem to give any notice. Phillip lies back on the raft and lets his hand float in the warm water, but Timothy cautions him that there are sharks in the water; he thinks that as long as they keep all of their limbs on the raft the sharks will leave them be. Timothy is becoming discouraged with their situation, and he thinks that maybe Stew is bringing them bad luck but Phillip disagrees. Timothy would like to kill Stew to ward off the bad luck, but he feels that committing murder would be even worse. Phillip is still unable to see, so he asks Timothy to describe their surroundings to him. Timothy tells Phillip that all he can see is sky, water, and a bird that is known as a “booby”. Phillip is sad at the thought of the bird because it makes him wonder if he will ever see one again.
It is early the next morning when Timothy tells Phillip that he can see land. Phillip, who still cannot see, is so excited by the news that he stands up on the raft and falls right into the ocean. Timothy jumps into the water after Phillip to save him from the possibility of being eaten by sharks and scolds him for being careless. Once they are settled back onto the raft Timothy judges that they are a couple of miles away from the island, and it appears to be small with no inhabitants. Phillip is less excited when he hears this news because he believes that there is more of a chance of rescue on the open water than on a small island with no other people on it. Still Timothy makes the decision that they will head to the island and when they get there they will find a way to get some help.
The raft approaches the shore of the island and Timothy hops off, carrying Phillip on his back. After placing Phillip on land Timothy goes back and pulls the raft and Stew ashore. Timothy decides to look for a place to set up camp and this news disappoints Phillip because it means they will be staying on the island longer than he would like. Timothy tells Phillip that he is setting up camp as a precaution, but soon he will light a fire that passing planes will be able to see. Phillip wonders where they are, and Timothy says he does not know but Phillip senses that he is lying.
Phillip is left alone while Timothy finds a place to camp and Stew wanders off to check out their surroundings. He does not at all feel comfortable being left alone and blind on a strange island and tells Timothy so when he returns. As they prepare to eat, Timothy tells Phillip that he will not leave him alone again. Phillip insists that Timothy tell him what he knows about the island that they are on, and reluctantly Timothy tells him that they appear to be on a cay in the Devil’s Mouth; this is a part of the sea comprised of many small islands that are surrounded by coral and difficult to navigate. Phillip knows that this means it is unlikely other boats will go by. Timothy tells Phillip that they will signal a plane a not to worry, but Phillip thinks if a plane flies overhead the pilot will only assume they are fishermen.
Timothy finds materials to build a hut and gets going on the construction. While Timothy works Phillip sits and thinks; he wonders about his mother and how many people are out looking for the two of them. When Timothy finishes building the hut, he unthinkingly tells Phillip to have a look at it, which of course Phillip cannot because he has gone blind. Phillip calls Timothy some pretty nasty names in his head for being so insensitive to his condition. Timothy leaves Phillip alone again to look for “langosta”, which is a native lobster. Phillip is angry with Timothy because he does not want to be left alone. He once again thinks that his mother’s feelings about Black people just may be right.
Phillip sits in the sand and cries while holding Stew. He ignores Timothy when he returns, despite the fact that the old man has brought back some langosta. After they eat their langosta Phillip and Timothy crawl into their new bed. Phillip hears Timothy groaning a lot and asks him how old he thinks that he is; Timothy believes that he is more than seventy years old. When the morning comes the pair decides to set up their signal fire which will hopefully get them rescued. They make a fire pile on the beach which they will use to make smoke signals and Timothy has the idea to write “help” on the beach. Timothy does not know how to spell but does not want to admit it; once Phillip figures it out he writes the word himself and feels superior to Timothy.
Timothy has the idea to make Phillip a rope which will lead him to the fire pile for times when Timothy is not around. Phillip begins pulling vines from his rope, but it is not long before he is tired of working. Timothy tells Phillip that he needs to work because there is stuff that must be done and he asks Phillip to make some sleeping mats out of the vines. Phillip gets angry with Timothy and says that he cannot make sleeping mats because he cannot see. Timothy states that he once knew a man who made lovely sleeping mats and was blind. Phillip loses his temper with Timothy and tells him that he is ugly and also teases the old man for not knowing how to spell. Timothy gets angry with Phillip for his attitude and slaps him across the face. Phillip immediately feels bad for being mean to Timothy when the old man has been trying to help him. Phillip gives Timothy time to cool down and then asks if he will show him how to make mats. He then asks Timothy to be his friend, though Timothy says that they have always been friends. Phillip asks Timothy to call him by his name rather than “young boss”.
Phillip and Timothy have been on the island for seventeen days when Phillip stays up and listens to the rain. Phillip likes when it rains because he can hear it and feel it even though he cannot see it. Phillip asks Timothy about his childhood and Timothy tells him what he can, but he does not remember much. Timothy recalls that he did not attend school and he began work on the fishing boats when he was only nine years old. He also recalls attending a carnival once dressed in a donkey skin and drinking rum. Phillip tells Timothy about his mother and then thinks about his mother’s racism. He asks Timothy why people have different skin colors; Timothy tells Phillip that all fish come in different colors but under their skin they are all the same.
Timothy falls asleep, and Phillip is still thinking about his family. As he snuggles up to Timothy, Phillip wonders what his parents would think of his new friendship with this man whom he does not see as White or Black anymore. In the morning, the friends eat breakfast and Timothy thinks Phillip should climb and tree and get some coconuts, but he is too scared. Timothy tells Phillip how much he has changed physically; his skin has tanned and his hair has begun to grow into dreadlocks. Timothy also thinks about how Phillip’s eyes have changed; he just stares into space now and Timothy finds it a bit creepy. Phillip asks Timothy how long it took the guy he knew to regain his sight and Timothy tells him it took a few months; Phillip reminds him that he said three days last time and Timothy only tells him that they have a lot of work to do.
Phillip starts to explore the layout of the island with the help of a cane that Timothy fashioned for him. He wishes that he was able to see the island because he thinks that is seems beautiful. Phillip begins to become more independent, and Timothy encourages him to do things for himself. Phillip briefly considers what might happen to him if Timothy dies and he is left alone and blind. Later on Phillip and Timothy wonder why they have not been rescued yet and Timothy things that maybe Stew is bringing them bad luck. People from the West Indies believe in voodoo, but Phillip does not want to let himself believe that Stew is the spirit of a dead person, as this is what Timothy believes.
The next morning Phillip wakes to both Timothy and Stew being gone, and he panics. He uses his cane to search the island and finds Timothy but not Stew; Timothy says he has not seen the cat, but Phillip suspects that he has done something terrible to the cat. After breakfast, Timothy sets out with his hunting knife and Phillip tries to find Stew again with no luck. Phillip starts to worry that Timothy may come after him next if he has already hurt the cat. Phillip wants to get on the raft to get away from Timothy, but the rope has been cut which worries Phillip more. When Timothy returns to the hut he nails a carving to the roof; it is a cat with spikes in it. Phillip does not feel well though he is better when Timothy brings Stew to him; he had placed the cat on the raft while he warded off the evil spirits. He believes they will begin to have good luck, but Phillip tells the reader that things only got worse from there.
In May Timothy falls ill. Phillip wakes one morning to hear Timothy drawing ragged breaths and obviously having a difficult time breathing. Timothy has malaria, and he tells Phillip so. Phillip is unsure what he can do for Timothy so he places a cool cloth on his head and listens to Timothy’s teeth chattering. That same day Timothy falls delirious and is unable to stop mumbling to himself and randomly breaking out into laughter. In the afternoon Timothy tries to walk off alone but soon Phillip hears him fall and land in the ocean. Phillip finds Timothy and pulls him out of the water thought it is difficult for him because he is sure Timothy weighs more than two-hundred pounds. Phillip finds some grape leaves to cover Timothy with and brings him some water because he does not know what else to do. Later that afternoon Timothy’s fever breaks and he comes out of his delirium. Timothy is confused about how he got onto the beach, and he lets Phillip lead him back to the hut. Phillip states that after this day Timothy was never as strong as he once was.
It is late in May, and Phillip and Timothy have been stranded on the island for 48 days, according to the pebbles that they have been collecting to keep track of the time that has gone by. Timothy has not come down with a fever again, but he fears that he will and he wants Phillip to become more self-sufficient in case the fever comes back. He teaches Phillip how to fish by setting up guide posts for Phillip to follow and describing the fishing hole to him. Phillip learns to use mussels as bait and soon he is catching fish; Phillip feels like he has actually accomplished something now that he can fish by feel rather than sight. Once he learns to fish Phillip is responsible for catching all the fish for the pair.
Phillip learns a lot from Timothy through their conversations. Timothy tells Phillip everything that he knows about the island they are on and nature in general. He teaches Phillip that most plants that grew on the island were transplanted there by storms or birds, which fascinates Phillip. After a few days of Phillip’s newfound confidence, he decides that he will finally climb the tree for coconuts. Phillip only gets about ten feet up the tree on his first attempt before he gets scared and comes back down. Sensing that Timothy is disappointed in him Phillip climbs the tree again and shakes down two coconuts and is quite proud of himself; he feels that Timothy is proud of him too. That night in the hut Phillip does not think of Timothy as ugly anymore, but as strong and kind. Phillip wonders aloud if Timothy is “still Black” which makes Timothy laugh.
One day in July Timothy and Phillip are collecting scallops when there is a loud noise out at sea that Timothy is explains is a storm coming, possibly a hurricane. They stop collecting scallops and head back to their camp to make preparations for the coming storm. Timothy ties their belongings to palm trees and leaves a rope to tether himself and Phillip to a palm in case the waves rise too high for them to stand. Timothy says that the sea has become angry because of the war and that is what has brought on the freak storm out of season. Phillip worries for Stew but Timothy assures him that Stew will make his way up a tree when the weather gets bad. Timothy tells Phillip that the last time he saw a storm like this one it was 1928 and he is the only one from his ship, the Hettie Redd, who survived it. Later in the day Phillip and Timothy have their fill of fish because once the storm is over it could be a week or more before the fish come back near the island. Timothy places his knife in a box and ties it to the tree; he and Phillip are ready for the storm now.
When it becomes dark that night, the air begins to get heavy and breeze comes through the island. When the rain starts, the hut fills with lizards trying to get away from the storm and Phillip knows that the storm is about to get bad. As the waves start crashing into the hut, the entire hut blows away. Timothy covers himself, Phillip, and Stew to shelter them from the storm for the next couple hours before he decides that they will be safer tethered to the palm. While they are tied to the tree, Timothy blocks Phillip with his body and takes the brunt of the storm, until the eye passes by. Phillip and Timothy sink to the ground and Timothy is exhausted, hoarse, and moaning in pain. When the storm begins again, Timothy shields Phillip’s body just as he had done before though Phillip can still feel the effects of the rain and he blacks out. When Phillip regains consciousness he sees Timothy lying on the ground barely breathing and he notices that Stew is missing. Phillip unties himself and Timothy and holds his friend’s hand. Timothy’s back is badly cut up from the storm and is losing a lot of blood, but Phillip cannot do anything to help. Phillip lies next to Timothy and falls asleep; when he wakes Timothy is no longer breathing. Phillip is too emotional to even cry and just falls back asleep. When Phillip wakes again, he hears Stew. Phillip holds the cat close to him and cries because his friend is dead and he is stranded on an island blind and alone.
Phillip decides to give Timothy a proper burial. As Phillip digs the grave for his friend, he finds that he is angry with Timothy for leaving him alone on the island. The more he thinks about it the calmer Phillip gets because he knows that Timothy did everything he could to keep Phillip safe and prepare for him life on his own should it ever come to that. Phillip thinks that being blind helps him to accept the loss of his friend because he has already experienced loss and learned to cope with it. After Phillip buries Timothy, he gets to work on rebuilding his camp. Phillip cleans up any debris that is in the way and retrieves the items that Timothy had tied to the trees which includes the keg, the knife, and some fishing poles. As Phillip gathers palm fronds to make a bed out of, he finds that he is grateful to Timothy for teaching him how to get around the island on his own these past couple months. It is not long before the birds start to come back onto the island, but they are protective of the new home they built and attack Phillip when he gets close to them. Stew defends Phillip and kills the birds, but Phillip is not upset with the birds because he understands their drive to survive and protect what is theirs.
Ten days pass after the storm and ten more pebbles have been added to the pile. Phillip has been eating nothing but fish, and he decides to try to find something different, so he heads to the reef to look for langosta. Phillip looks around in the water for a while before he actually dives in, and he catches a langosta on his first try. Phillip is excited and decides to try for more, but after a few more dives he is empty handed. Phillip tries one last time and searches in a hole that he thinks there may be langosta hiding in but when he reaches in something clamps onto his arm. Phillip has to struggle before he can get his arm free and when he emerges from the water he finds that his arm is bleeding from whatever had ahold of him, which he assumes to be a moray eel. Phillip’s arm is not badly injured, but he knows that he will not stick his arm in any more holes searching for langosta.
Phillip finds that his senses have become heightened since he has been forced to fend for himself. Phillip is able to feel and hear everything around him, including the sound of Stew’s paws as he walks nearby. It is August when Phillip finally hears the roaring sound of an airplane engine flying near. Phillip wastes no time lighting the signal fire though the plane does not appear to take any notice because it flies on by. Phillip is upset when the plane leaves because he feels that he may have missed his chance to be rescued. Phillip believes that he may be burning the wrong thing, as wood burns a light smoke and he may need to create darker smoke for future planes to see him; Phillip thinks that if he uses bunches of oily sea grape from the water it will burn darker, and he feels hopeful with this knowledge.
It is August 20 when Phillip hears some explosions nearby. He thinks that it may be ships battling not too far away so Phillip lights the signal fire once again. This time after Phillip sets off a couple signals he hears a plane coming near. He lights one more signal and sees the plane closing in on the island, and he yells to Timothy that “they’ve come”. The plane circles the island once more but rather than landing to rescue Phillip it flies away again. Phillip is discouraged and thinks that the pilot probably mistook him for a native because of his darkened skin color. Phillip speaks to the place where Timothy is buried and asks why he couldn’t have gone with him.
That afternoon Phillip hears the sound of a boat approaching with bells and whistles sounding. Phillip is ecstatic because he knows that his black smoke had worked despite his belief that it had not. The voice that comes from the boat is American, and the person who belongs to the voice helps Phillip and Stew aboard. Just as they are leaving, Phillip remembers Timothy’s knife and asks if one of the soldiers will go back and get it for him. The captain asks Phillip questions about how he got to the island and when Phillip says that he had been on the S.S. Hato the captain is shocked because that ship had gone down nearly five months earlier. Phillip is taken to a hospital in Panama and is reunited with his parents who flew in to greet him. Phillip’s parents are shocked to see him there alive, and his mother profusely apologizes for making him get on the boat in the first place. Phillip wants to tell his parents about his friend Timothy, but he has a difficult time talking about him.
Several months after he is rescued Phillip has surgery on his eyes and is able to regain his sight. Phillip and his family continue living in Curacao, but he finds that life is not the same as it was before he was stranded. Phillip hangs out with Henrik still from time to time, but he feels like he has nothing in common with his old friend anymore, he even feels older. Phillip does spend time with the West Indian guys near the bay because they were friends with Timothy and they are the only ones he really feels comfortable speaking to about Timothy. When Phillip’s father is done with his work, the family leaves Curacao to head back to the states. Phillip spends a lot of time studying detailed maps of the Caribbean because he is determined to someday return to the island to visit Timothy. He would not know what the island looks like but as soon as he closes his eyes and feels his surroundings he will know he is there.
Wu confirms what Blomkvist and Armansky have already told the police, that Salander is very intelligent and very private. Bublanski and Modig want to look for alternate suspects but the other protest this development. Hedstrom is especially upset about the turn of events and decides that while everyone has promised not to reveal any information to the press he is going to do just that. He calls his journalist friend Tony Scala and tells him to write a story about Wu and Salander being lovers and their involvement in S&M. He also wants the story to be written as though the informant was female. Paolo Roberto has done research on Salander’s case in the library and wonders if there is anything he can do to help. Wu has been harassed by reporters at her apartment all day and just barely leaves before Blomkvist gets there to see her. Bublanski tells Modig that she is being accused of leaking information to the press, but he does not think that she did. Bjork is worried by what Blomkvist has told him, and he calls his ex-boss who confirms that he did make sure that Bjurman would be Salander’s guardian. He says Salander is nothing to worry about because she will soon be institutionalized again. Bjork still worries because he got Bjurman the police report from 1991, when Salander was committed, and that police report, if found, would connect Bjork and Zala.
For the seven days immediately following Mia and Dag’s murder Salander confines herself to her new apartment and watches everything she tried so hard to protect being broadcast all over the news. She listens when Dr. Teleborian is interviewed and finds it funny that he never mentions how the kids who seem out of control at St. Stefan’s are strapped down and put into sensory deprivation. She was sent to St. Stefan’s after “All the Evil” happened and no one would listen to her when she tried to explain what had happened. On Salander’s thirteenth birthday, she is strapped to her bed and decides she will no longer communicate with the doctors, only with the nurses and other staff. When she is fifteen she is released into foster care. Salander is confused about why the police report from 1991 is staying hidden because it details “All the Evil” and would confirm her violent past; there must be a reason it is being hidden.
Salander leaves her apartment dressed as Irene Nesser. She breaks into Bjurman’s apartment and finds the keys to his cabin, sure that he is hiding secret files there. Later that weekend, Salander reads more things about Mimmi in the news and vows to investigate the reporters, especially Tony Scala, when everything is over. Blomkvist is called to Millennium offices to meet with Erika Berger and her friend, professional boxer, Paolo Roberto. Paolo reveals that he knows Salander, as she was trained in boxing at his gym. He knows her as a person and is sad to see how she is being portrayed in the media. He wants to help her case in any way that he can.
Blomkvist tells Paolo that if he wants to help then he can start by finding Mariam Wu and telling her to talk to Blomkvist because she seems to think that he is just another reporter. Bjork is very stressed out because he does not want it to become public knowledge that he pays underage girls for sex. He knows that Bjurman and Dag were both looking for Zala and wonders how this fits into their murders; he contemplates calling Zala himself. Salander looks into Blomkvist’s computer and finds a note from him stating that he thinks Bjork and Zala are connected; Salander knows that Bjurman and Bjork are connected. She tells Blomkvist this fact and also tells him that he needs to find the police report from 1991. Salander proclaims her innocence in the murders of Dag and Mia, but Blomkvist wonders if she did kill Bjurman. Salander purchases rope and electrical tape under the disguise of Irene Nesser and scopes out Sandstrom’s apartment. Modig is beginning to think that Salander did kill Bjurman but not Dag and Mia. According to Faste, Dag’s cell phone records indicate that he phones Bjurman only one half hour before Salander was seen in his neighborhood on the night he was killed. Blomkvist wonders if Bjork has any information about the missing police report seeing as how he is part of the Security Police.
Ever since Dag was murdered Sandstrom has been in a state of panic. He was happy to find out that Dag was killed, at first, because he thought maybe he would not be exposed if Dag’s book could not be published. Then he worried that someone may find Dag’s research and think that he killed him to keep the information under wraps. Sandstrom returns to his home around midnight and he is tased in the back by Salander. When he comes to he is tied up in his living room, and his mouth is taped. Salander tells him that he needs to share everything he knows about Zala, or she will taser and choke him to death. Sandstrom says that after he learned about the story from Dag he called men he knew worked for Zala, the Ranta brothers, and told them about Dag’s story. Paolo Roberto is standing outside of Mariam Wu’s apartment as he has been stalking it, waiting to speak with her.
Paolo sees Miriam walking up to the street and is about to get out of the car to speak with her when he sees a van pull up, and the blond giant reaches out and pulls Miriam into the car. Paolo follows the van and the battery on his phone dies just as Blomkvist is calling. Erikkson calls Blomkvist and tells him that he has found out how Bjurman and Bjork know one another, they both worked for the Security Police and Bjurman worked in immigration. Paolo follows the van to a warehouse with other cars parked out front and sees the blond giant carry Miriam into the building as a man with a ponytail drives the van away. Paolo follows them into the building and sees that the blond giant is threatening Miriam with a chainsaw for information on where Salander is. Paolo comes out into the open and the blond giant recognizes him; the two box but Paolo is no match for the huge man, and his punches have no effect.Miriam manages to kick the giant in the crotch and then Paolo hits him with a wooden plank which takes him down. Quickly, Paolo and Miriam flee to the car and escape. The giant cannot believe he was beaten and knows that his nose is broken. He wants to follow the escapees but knows he has to clean up first. Blomkvist meets Paolo and Miriam at the hospital where Miriam is resting, and Paolo is waiting to tell Blomkvist what happened.
The police follow Paolo’s directions to the warehouse and find that it has been burned down. They are on a mission to find the blond giant, the ponytailed man, and Zala. It is agreed that none of the information will leak to the press, but Hedstrom immediately goes to Tony Scala and Modig is blamed, once again. Salander is dressed as Irene, heading to Bjurman’s cabin. The blond giant is upset that things are not going as planned and he did not want any connection between Zala and Bjurman, though Zala only sees it as another chance to hurt Lisbeth Salander. The night of the murders the giant was at Bjurman’s house when Dag called to ask about Zala. When the giant realized that Bjurman knew too much he killed him, then he went and killed Dag and Mia and accidentally dropped the gun. As the police examine the warehouse rubble, they find bodies buried. At Bjurman’s cabin, Salander finds the original police report and also learns that Bjork is the one who had her institutionalized. She leaves the cabin carrying the most important of the papers. Mage Lundin and Sonny Niemenan are waiting for her; she maces Lundin and shoots him in the foot with Sonny’s gun after she tases Sonny. She then takes the gun and rides off on Lundin’s motorcycle.
Blomkvist goes to meet Bjork who agrees to spill the beans on Zala as long as Blomkvist promises that he will not be exposed for his participation; Blomkvist agrees but has every intention of publishing the book anyway. The police head to Bjurman’s cabin because they heard a report of shots fired; they find Lundin and Sonny both there wounded. Holmberg reads the files he finds inside and then calls Bublanski to inform him that Salander was there, injured two men, and stole a motorcycle. Salander leaves the bike at an amusement park and walks home. Bjork tells Blomkvist what he knows about Zala (Alexander Zalachenko); he was born in 1940, his parents died in the Battle of Stalingrad when he was only one year old, and he was taken in to a Russian military orphanage where he was given military training at a very young age. When Zala was eighteen he joined the GRU, the Russian military intelligence, where he was one of the star agents. He made a misstep in 1976 and ended up in Sweden, offering Russian secrets in exchange for asylum from the Security Police. Bjurman and Bjork were Zala’s first contacts within the Security Police, and they built their careers around his information.Blomkvist tells Bjork he thinks Zala killed Dag and Mia, but Bjork insists it cannot be, as Zala is in his 60’s and has an amputated leg. When Bjork refuses to reveal Zala’s Swedish identity Blomkvist decides to go visit Salander’s original guardian, Palmgren.
When Bublanski and Modig continue their search through the warehouse rubble, they find even more bodies and decide that Salander probably was not responsible for the murders she is being accused of.The blond giant is waiting at Lundin’s house, feeling uneasy, when he hears that Lundin has been arrested and he flees Lundin’s home just before the police arrive. Blomkvist goes to see Palmgren and after assuring the man he is friends with Salander he asks about Zala. Palmgren reveals that Zala is Salander’s father. He and Salander’s mother, Agneta, were never married but had twin girls, Lisbeth and Camilla. Agneta’s last name was Sjolander, but she changed it to Salander because “sala” was like “zala”. Agneta was abused terribly by Zala and one day, after a particularly bad beating, Lisbeth saw Zala outside their apartment in his car and threw a milk carton filled with gasoline, and then a lit match, into the car. Zala was burned badly and needed to have his leg amputated, Salander was committed to a mental institution, and Agneta never recovered mentally and was put into a nursing home. She realizes that Zala must have covered up the beatings to make Salander seem crazy. She is determined to find the blond giant and make her lead him to Zala. Blomkvist, still speaking to Palmgren, decides he also wants to find Zala.
Salander feels terrible that Mimmi is in the hospital; she thinks it is all her fault for giving Mimmi her old apartment. She wants to visit Mimmi, but when she sees a police car she turns around, goes home, and cries. In the morning, Salander sees that Blomkvist has left another message for her on his computer; he knows about Zala and also about “All the Evil” and he wants to be of help to her if she will let him. She messages him back to thank him for being a good friend to her. Salander gets by Milton Security’s surveillance and borrows a car from them. She sets out on her mission armed with mace, a taser, and a PDA. Blomkvist is scared for Salander and scared of what she may do so he plays detective and finds out where her new apartment is; and he still has her keys. Salander plays detective as well and finds out that the blond giant is Ronald Niedermann but the only address she can find for him is a post office box. She drives to the post office and stakes out Niedermann’s box.
When Blomkvist enters Salander’s apartment the alarm sounds and her PDA alerts her that someone has entered her apartment; this means the intruder will be hit with a paint bomb soon. Blomkvist thinks fast for a password and decides on 9277 because those are the numbers that spell “wasp”, Salander’s hacker name. Salander is amazed when her PDA does not beep anymore because it means that someone has cracked her password. She pulls up surveillance cameras on the PDA and sees that it is Blomkvist; she is nervous that he will know her secrets now, but she thinks that she can trust him with them. Paolo Roberto has also done some research and found out the blond giant’s true identity and also learns that he has a disorder that causes him to feel no pain. Eriksson calls Blomkvist and tells him what Paolo has found out. Blomkvist is still in Salander’s apartment, and he feels an intense loneliness for her and is horrified when he finds the DVD of Bjurman raping her which she had kept in her desk drawer. Eriksson contacts Blomkvist with more information linking the blond giant to a man named Karl Axel Bodin whose PO box had an address linked to it. Blomkvist thinks that Salander must have the same information and be headed to Bodin’s house now. Salander, dressed as Irene Nesser, sees a young man go to the PO Box and follows him home where the mailbox reads “K A Bodin”. Blomkvist is on his way to Bodin’s house via train but fears that he is too late. As Salander watches the farmhouse she sees the blind giant come out followed by Zala who is limping on a crutch; she heads toward them through the woods.
Salander hides out in the barn next to the farmhouse until it is dark. She enters the house, it is unlocked and there appears to be no one inside. Niedermann appears and grabs Salander; she tasers him, but he does not even flinch. The giant smacks Salander to the ground and she sees Zala standing in front of her. He says that she set off all of their motion sensors, and they have been watching her in infrared cameras all day. Zala tells Salander that he is going to kill her and that Niedermann is her half-brother and is also Zala’s partner in numerous illegal enterprises such as the sex trade, drugs, and arms; Dag and Mia were very close to finding out about the whole operation. Salander feels that it is her fault Dag and Mia were killed as she is the one who gave Dag Bjurman’s name so she could find out how Bjurman and Zala were connected. Niedermann carries Salander to a freshly dug grave, but she throws dirt in her face, hits the gun out of his hand with a shovel, and runs before he can do anything.Zala shoots Salander while she is running away, in the hip, the shoulder, and the head. He kicks her body into the grave and is happy she is gone; he tells the giant to bury her.
Salander is still alive, though Zala and Niedermann think she is dead. She begins to dig her way out of the grave using the cigarette case that Mimmi gave her for her birthday. When she gets out she rests near a chopping block and hears Zala walking toward her. She manages to pull the axe out of the block and hit Zala in the face with it. Niedermann had been sleeping but wakes when he hears Zala screaming. Zala falls into the shed and Salander takes his gun, both of them bloody and weak. Niedermann is shocked to see Salander alive and narrowly escapes a bullet she aims at him. Salander locks Zala in the shed and runs into the farmhouse where she gets a glass of water and realizes that she has a hole in her head and may die. Niedermann sees a car coming down the street and flags it down for help; little does he know the driver of the car is Blomkvist who recognizes him. Blomkvist gets Niedermann down on the ground at gunpoint, ties him up with a belt, and forces him into the ditch. Blomkvist finds Zala in the shed and then runs into the house where he sees Salander on the floor. He thinks that she is dead until she barely opens her eyes and says his name.
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.