|"They'll drown. The bear spirits will drown and be lost forever!"|
|— Lusa witnessing the bear spirits trapped in the river in River of Lost Bears, page 214|
River of Lost Bears is the third book in the Return to the Wild arc. It is currently unknown who the bear on the cover is, but it could be Toklo or Ujurak. Below the portrait is Toklo catching a fish, with Kallik, Yakone, and Lusa watching.
- Now that Kallik and Yakone have decided to join Toklo and Lusa on the rest of their journey home, the foursome heads toward warmer territories. Spring is coming, and Toklo and Lusa are overjoyed to be away from the ice, surrounded by green forests and flowing rivers once again.
- But their progress is slow, and Toklo grows desperate to leave the struggles of their journey behind. As the group pushes toward the mountains where brown bears roam, Toklo must decide whether to see the quest through to the end...or to start a new life on his own.
Detailed Plot Summary
- The bears have reached land at last. Lusa is overjoyed to be back in the warm forests. Toklo says that he recognizes the sound of the river, suggesting that he was coming nearer to his birthplace. Lusa suggests that they could live here, and they were close enough to the melting sea to see Kallik and Yakone, but Toklo stares at her with a baffled expression, saying that it wasn't the right place for him. Kallik manages to catch a fish, but Lusa does not eat her share because there would be insects and things she had not eaten in a while for her.
- Lusa is almost run over by a firebeast when she didn't realize the sound of firebeasts from the river.
- When they reach the other side of the blackpath, Lusa tries fishing and catches a fish along with Yakone and Toklo. They hear a growl and Toklo realizes that they must be in some other bear's territory. It's a black bear, they later find out is named Hakan.
- Toklo apologizes for being in his territory and says that Hakan won't see them again. Toklo is off hunting when he hears a she-bear crying out for help. He recognizes Hakan, from their earlier encounter and finds out that the she-bear is Hakan's sister, Chenoa. He fights with Hakan, curbing his strength so he won't really hurt the black bear. The younger black bear, Chenoa, explains that her brother thinks that she killed their mother when they were cubs. Chenoa tripped on a blackpath, causing their mother to come back and help her, that's when the firebeast hit her and killed her. Hakan blames Chenoa for their mother's death, and Chenoa blames herself as well.
- Toklo tells Chenoa that he had a brother, Tobi, who died, and then his mother Oka didn't want him anymore. Chenoa asks where his territory is, and Toklo says that he's been traveling with Lusa, Kallik, and Yakone. And Ujurak. Chenoa says that if she wasn't around, maybe Hakan wouldn't be so angry all the time. She says it's because she reminds Hakan of their mother all the time.
- Back at the riverside, Kallik and Yakone plan their future. Kallik says she's looking forward to their first burn-sky together. Yakone says that they will watch the sun and hunt for one another, he also says when snow-sky comes they can share a den and stay warm together. Kallik looks up at the sky and hears Ujurak, telling her that he is still with her, and not to miss her too much.
- Later at night while the bears are sleeping, Toklo and the others find out that they are surrounded by some wolverines. Toklo, Yakone, and Kallik fight off the wolverines but find out that Lusa isn't there and they call for her.
- Lusa is running away from the wolverines and is separated from the others. She climbs a tree and tries to fight them off, but one bites her rump and rips some flesh. But then she spots another black bear in the tree who she finds out later is Chenoa who helps her and leads her to the others.
- In the morning Kallik looks at Lusa's wound and tells her it's really bad when Lusa collapses. Chenoa and Toklo go into the mountains when they come across Hakan. Hakan threatens Chenoa and attacks her for being with Toklo and his friends then leaves. Hakan forces Chenoa to stay with him. Lusa begs Toklo to let her stay but he tells her to stay and leaves.
- Later, Lusa has a dream from Ujurak showing the time when Tobi had died and Oka was burying him. She then confronts Toklo to go and ask Chenoa to travel with them and that it would be Chenoa's decision and no one else. Toklo agrees and goes to find her, but is attacked by Hakan who tries to drown him. Chenoa stops him and yells at him and decides that she wants to go with Toklo. Hakan is furious and storms off.
- The bears find another river and stay there until Lusa is healed. While Kallik, Toklo, and Yakone hunt; Chenoa teaches Lusa how to ride the water currents. Toklo comes and joins them. When Lusa goes into a stronger current, she is almost hit by a flat-face raft, and Toklo has to go and save her. After he saves Lusa, he decides that they should get moving.
- After a while, the bears come across a waterfall and Toklo thinks that they have to go all the way back to get around it. But Yakone suggests they should climb it. When they're at the top they spot some flat-faces and their firebeast close to them. They decide to swim to the other side to get away. Kallik and Yakone go first; and Toklo, Lusa, and Chenoa go together. When Lusa slips trying to get on a rock, Chenoa helps her but the strong current pushes her over the edge of the waterfall. Lusa and the others climb back down and find her dead and they bury her next to a tree. Toklo feels guilty that he led Chenoa to her death. Lusa is left depressed and when Kallik tries to comfort her Lusa growls an angry response and runs off into the forest and climbs a tree where she sleeps. When Lusa wakes up she sees Chenoa's face in the swirls of the bark. Then Lusa hears a buzzing and sees a tree cut down by flat-faces with big, shiny paws; frightened, Lusa runs back to the others where they are huddled together watching the tree line. Lusa tells them about Chenoa's spirit tree and that they need to save her. But none of them do anything.
- They come across a river with a bunch of flat-face stuff and to Lusa's horror they see a net full of trees, including Chenoa's. Ujurak appears as a moose and encourages them and they break the chain that held the trees and the bear spirits are set free. Later that night Kallik wakes up and sees Yakone looking up at stars and he asks her which stars are Ujurak. She tells them and they argue about continuing the journey.
- Then when they set off again Yakone is caught in a flat-face trap and loses two toes. He continues bleeding and to their horror finds a pack of coyotes following them waiting for him to die. They set up a trap and Yakone pretends to die then they attack the coyotes, killing two. They continue on where Toklo recognizes the silver path and leads them where they can jump on the firesnake when they are cornered by the coyotes again. They all jump onto the fire snake when the pack leader attacks Toklo and bites his throat. Yakone swipes the coyote where it is smushed by the train. They sit on the firesnake on the way to Toklo's birthplace.
- Praise for Seekers: “Hunter creates a richly sensuous world filled with cruelty, beauty, tenderness, savagery and just enough underlying legendary background to add mystery…fans of animal fantasies will haunt the shelves for the next volume.” (Kirkus Reviews )
- “These stories will be welcomed by the Warriors series’ many fans.” (ALA Booklist )
- Nanulak (mentioned)
- Alach (mentioned)
- Even though bear claws constantly keep contact with the ground, it is said in River of Lost Bears that Toklo "Unsheathed his claws to get a better grip", but bears can only keep their claws out.
|The Original Series||The Quest Begins • Great Bear Lake • Smoke Mountain • The Last Wilderness • Fire in the Sky • Spirits in the Stars|
|Return to the Wild||Island of Shadows • The Melting Sea • River of Lost Bears • Forest of Wolves • The Burning Horizon • The Longest Day|
|Mangas||Toklo's Story • Kallik's Adventure • Lusa's Tale|
|River of Lost Bears Chapters|
|Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10 • Chapter 11 • Chapter 12 • Chapter 13 • Chapter 14 • Chapter 15 • Chapter 16 • Chapter 17 • Chapter 18 • Chapter 19 • Chapter 20 • Chapter 21 • Chapter 22 • Chapter 23 • Chapter 24|
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