The bear on the front cover is unknown and the cover shows the three different types of bears all gathered together.
- The final epic book in Erin Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Seekers series! The Longest Day Gathering is about to begin—and with it, the end of the bears’ great journey.
- Lusa, Toklo, Kallik, and Yakone have returned to Great Bear Lake for the Longest Day Gathering. This means being reunited with the familiar faces of bears they have encountered throughout their travels—but it also means returning to life among their own kind, which may not be as easy as they thought.
- The sixth and final book in the action-packed Return to the Wild story arc is full of adventure, tough choices, and even tougher good-byes. For the fans who have made Seekers a repeated bestseller and who have eagerly awaited the end of the bears’ travels, this thrilling series finale is not to be missed.
Detailed Plot Summary
- The bears stand together on the ridge above Great Bear Lake. Lusa doesn't feel ready to leave her friends, but they wish her luck as she goes to find the black bears.
- Lusa recognizes the forest where the black bears stayed from the previous year. Ossi and Pokkoli are there to welcome her but feel hostile toward the brown and white bears. When Lusa goes to the lake to drink, Ossi warns her that the brown bears are arguing more than usual after the death of their previous leader, Oogrook. Lusa worries that Toklo will be in the middle of an argument.
- Toklo is greeted by Shesh, the bear who told him the story of Arcturus and Paw Print Island at the last gathering. He tells Toklo about Oogrook's death and wants Toklo to be their new leader. Hattack unexpectedly barges in and complains that Toklo stole the glory from him, and he was going to swim across the lake when in reality he lied. Hattack starts a rivalry with Wenona, a she-bear who lived in the territory next to Oogrook's. While hunting alone with Toklo, Hattack tells him he is unfit to be the leader and is bossing the other bears around.
- Kallik and Yakone arrive on the white bears' shore and are surprised by Illa and Tunerq. To Kallik's delight, Kissimi is also with them. Taqqiq, his mate Shila, and her brother Tonraq are next to arrive, and Taqqiq is friendly to Kallik this time. While the white bears are swimming out in the lake, four grizzlies tell them to stay on their side of the water. Kallik refuses to fight, but the male bears are too willing to resist.
- Lusa has a nightmare about bears in danger, but Pokkoli and Ossi think it's just a dream. Lusa is sure Ujurak is sending a message, which becomes clearer after she hears Chula's voice calling for help in the dream.
- She asks Ossi which route he used to reach the lake, and he shows her.
- By a BlackPath, a firebeast carrying logs on its back has crashed and spilled them beside the path, trapping a group of black bears underneath. Lusa and Ossi work to free the bears. Chula has a log trapping her leg, which Lusa and Ossi have to use a stick to lever off. Miki and Hashi were with the group, but are now missing. Rudi is trapped in a small space between the logs and the firebeast, and Sheena is stuck without her cubs. Lusa finds Hashi on the ground, badly wounded, and Ossi enters the nearby woods and finds Tibik, Sheena's son. Her daughter, Hala, was crushed to death by the logs. Lusa does her best to tend to Hashi's wound and Chula's leg before Sheena leaves to get help and returns unwillingly with Kallik and Yakone. The white bears are strong enough to lift the logs away from Rudi and carry Hashi back, bringing Hala's body and letting Chula ride on Ossi. Hashi dies before they reach the camp, and the white bears clear out once the black bears arrive.
- Before dawn, Lusa returns to the scene of the accident to look for Miki, but Toklo comes with her and helps her look. They find Miki in the woods, with a head injury. Toklo carries him to the black bears' camp and then returns to his own. Neither Shesh nor Hattack is pleased that Toklo helped black bears. A cub named Akocha volunteers to help the older bears gather sticks for the Longest Day ceremony. Akocha heads into the woods to play with Toklo, annoying him with his constant chattering. Nevertheless, Toklo is concerned when Akocha falls into a river hidden in the woods, but they find an amazing cave behind a waterfall.
- Yakone and Kallik try to return to the black bears' forest to help Lusa treat all the injured bears, but the black bears reject their help. Rudi is frightened of Kallik when she sniffs his wounds. Lusa finally asks them to leave, since she will not get any rest with the other black bears worrying and complaining. She attends the burial of Hashi and Hala and listens to Dustu tell a story about Hashi climbing the tallest tree in that same forest. She starts to feel that someone is watching her.
- While Taqqiq is playing with Kallik, Shila, and Kissimi, Salik and his cronies hassle him for playing a cub's game. Shila successfully stands up to them. A little while later, during a discussion led by Anarteq and Kunik, Shila has an idea for picking a new leader since their old one, Siqiniq, has also died: the bears can hold trials to test themselves. Kallik passes on the news of the trials to the brown bears, right after Aiyanna and the others from the Forest of Wolves arrive on the brown bears' shore.
- Toklo, like Lusa, feels like someone's watching him in the forest. He and Aiyanna even come across a half-eaten rabbit. Kallik, in the meantime, has an argument with Yakone about his paw and feeling weak and unable to protect her. The news of the trials is passed on to the black bears, meeting Dustu's approval.
- Ossi takes Lusa on a walk to eat a feast of grubs, but some strange bear has already dug them up. Lusa doesn't want to be Ossi's mate, no matter what everyone is asking her. Akocha interrupts Toklo's hunt by telling him he got lost, then a strange bear growled at him and purposely frightened him. He describes this bear as looking "like a ghost". Toklo tells him that bear spirits live in rivers, they don't walk around in the forest like that.
- The white bears' first trial is to swim from the shore to a nearby island and back again. Salik cheats on the island by making sure his paws were still in the water when he turned, and Iqaluk and Kallik stop him. Kallik dives under Salik and another bear named Kotori in the final rush and comes in second, just behind Taqqiq. Yakone refused to participate in any trials because of his maimed paw, but he stays upset with Kallik after her victory.
- Dustu quickly announces the black bears' first trial, a tree-climbing race. Lusa does very well until the end, when she is surprised by Hakan at the base of her tree, asking where his sister Chenoa is, and Ossi wins the race. Hakan becomes angry and tries to attack Lusa when she tells him Chenoa died falling over a waterfall, blaming her for it. The other black bears stop him, telling him Lusa healed the bears injured in the firebeast crash.
- Wenona tells the brown bears where they may hold their first trial: a perfect river for fishing salmon in beyond the white bears' territory. The white bears are wary, but allow the brown bears to pass. The fishing trial begins, with the winner being the first bear to catch a salmon, but no bear sees one. Hattack leads them upstream, where they find a branch with claw marks in it effectively blocking the salmon. He blames the white bears, leading the other brown bears to fight them, but Toklo rushes out to stop him.
- The brown bears are confronting the white bears angrily when Toklo arrives and tries to sort out their misunderstanding. Illa calms the bears by asking them to show the white bears the branch. The brown bears agree, and once they examine the branch, neither group believes the other put it there. Toklo, receiving the news about Hakan attacking Lusa, starts to think he put the branch there. Before the adult bears can start fishing, the cub Akocha catches a salmon of his own, to their dismay, since the trials are to find a new leader to lead the Longest Day ceremony.
- The second trial for the white bears is to stalk a wading bird at the edge of the lake. Kallik tries to talk to Yakone before her turn but doesn't get a chance. Once she starts stalking, she notices the movement of her shadow and uses the sun's position to hide it from her bird, getting the closest to her prey and winning the trial.
- The black bears' next trial is to gather as much honeycomb from a beehive as one can. Lusa gets a big piece, but Pokkoli gets a far bigger one. Lusa shares her honey with Miki and the cub Tibik, still unsure about liking Ossi or Miki. Hakan attacks Lusa again, but the other bears realize he's grieving for his sister and take him into camp to help him.
- The brown bears return to start the next trial, which is fighting matches with no bear using their teeth or claws. Toklo beats Wenona in his first match by shoving her over, then wins all his matches until he finally faces Hattack. Once they begin, Hattack starts to bite and claw Toklo secretly, angering the bear until Ujurak tells Toklo not to cheat. The star-bear helps Toklo win the fight by taking advantage of Hattack's weakness. After a nap, Toklo wakes to find that a cub named Elki has been attacked by something. They don't know what, since she is currently unconscious, but they think it might have been wolves.
- The third and final trial for the black bears is foraging berries, grubs, insects, and other sources of food. Lusa goes to the trial, but smells a rotting squirrel, half-eaten, inside a hollow tree. The smell reminds her of something, and she suddenly remembers Tibik and how sleepy and hot he was after eating her honey. Lusa examines him and discovers an infected bee sting from the honeycomb. She tries to remember the herb she needs to combat his sickness, but can't remember it until Miki helps her. Lusa finds herbs to help both Tibik's infected wound and his illness. The trial ends, with Issa having found the most food.
- Kallik wants to skip the white bears' final trial, a hunt for a fish carcass, to talk to Yakone. He still feels bitter about his paw and his inability to care for Kallik, but she wants to care for him. He worries that she won't be happy on Star Island with him, but she says her home is with him. Yakone accidentally uncovers the fish, resulting in no winner for the white bears' trials.
- Toklo joins in the brown bears' last trial, a hunting contest. He finds a piece of prey first but is distracted by Aiyanna talking to someone by an abandoned flat-face den, claiming Toklo would never do something. At first, Toklo thinks it is Hakan saying Toklo killed Chenoa but finds out it's Nanulak, still angry about being half-white bear and half brown, and bitter at Toklo for leaving him. Nanulak was lying to Aiyanna and telling her Toklo killed his family and left him all alone. Toklo tries to talk sense into Nanulak, but the mixed bear is triggered and attacks him. They roll into the flat-face den and knock something down, starting a forest fire.
- On the white bears' shore, Kissimi flees the fire and climbs up the same flat-face tower the Seekers used to save Miki from Taqqiq the previous year. Kallik goes up after him and carries him down. Most of the white bears swim to an island, but Taqqiq and Shila stay with Illa and Kissimi, and the old bears Kunik and Anarteq. Toklo and Aiyanna join them with the old brown bear Shesh and the cubs and mothers. The two groups of bears set off to save the black bears.
- Lusa and her friends are trapped in the forest. Dustu runs to Hashi's spirit tree, begging him and Hala to save them. The tree catches fire and falls on Pokkoli, resulting in him giving his life to save Dustu. Ujurak appears as an elk and pushes down some trees to clear a path through the forest. Toklo and the others arrive to save the black bears, guiding them along with the bigger bears to the river Akocha found.
- The bears safely arrive at the waterfall and enter the cave, but Nanulak appears and fights Toklo again. The vengeful young bear falls into the river and cracks his skull on a rock. Toklo tries to save him, but a burning tree falls between them.
- A rainstorm stops the fire, and on the evening of the Longest Day, all three bear species celebrate their ceremonies together. Toklo, Shesh, Aiyanna, and Hattack do the one for the brown bears, Lusa and Dustu do the one for the black bears, and Kallik, Anarteq, and Kunik do the white bears'. Anarteq reminds the bears to make friends, not enemies. After the ceremonies, the Seekers gather to say good-bye. Ujurak appears to them before they go. Lusa and Miki head for his territory, Toklo and Aiyanna for the Forest of Wolves, and Kallik says good-bye to Taqqiq before setting off with Yakone for Star Island.
- Three years later, Lusa and Miki return to the lake with their cubs, Yogi and Ashia. Toklo greets Lusa joyfully, and Aiyanna plays with their daughter, Oka. The brown and white bears don't welcome Lusa, but Shila calls out to Kallik and Yakone to announce their arrival. Kallik and Yakone greet Lusa and the others with their sons, Chulyin and Suka. The white cubs wonder what the strange bears are doing on their shore. The Seekers go down to the lake for some quality time, and the book ends with the three bigger bears going into the water to catch the biggest fish for Lusa.
- Silaluk (mentioned)
- Sakari (mentioned)
- Pakak (mentioned)
- Siqiniq (mentioned)
- Unalaq (mentioned)
- Aga (mentioned)
- Sura (mentioned)
- Nisa (mentioned)
- Nanulak's Father (mentioned)
- Chenoa (mentioned)
- Arcturus (mentioned)
- Oka (mentioned)
- Tobi (mentioned)
- Chogan (mentioned)
- Ursa (mentioned)
- Nanulak's Mother (mentioned)
|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|
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