Nyroc, son of the wicked Nyra, the mate of Kludd, is born on the night of a lunar eclipse. Kludd is dead now and the Tytonic Union of Pure Ones is reduced to a small band of survivors. Nyroc, the extraordinary hatchling, is their hope. Nyra has high expectations for her only son. She believes that it is Nyroc's destiny to be a king, the leader of the Pure Ones. She does her best to raise Nyroc to be like his father: brutal and merciless.
However, there is something in Nyroc's heart and gizzard that guards him against his mother's twisted teachings. And that brightness is fed by his only friend, Dustytuft, a Sooty Owl.
Gwyndor, a Masked Owl and a rogue smith, helps with the ceremony of burning Kludd's bones. Nyra tells Nyroc to pay attention the broken part of Kludd's spine, telling him that his uncle, Soren, had killed his father.
As the fire consumes the bones, Gwyndor notices that Nyroc seems to be absorbed in looking in the fire. He looks into Nyroc's eyes and is amazed to see the Ember of Hoole, which existence is thought to be merely a myth. He predicts that Nyroc is a flame reader, and can see things in the flame.
Gwyndor is later troubled. Nyroc has completed all of the ceremonies that an owl goes through except for one: the Special Ceremony, or Tupsi. Feeling a sense of the utmost foreboding, Gwyndor flies to meet the Rogue Smith of Silverveil, who might know more about Tupsi.
Just as Gwyndor suspected, Tupsi is not good. It is the ceremony where one must murder someone close to him. After getting mobbed by crows, Gwyndor frantically flies back to St. Aggie's Academy to warn Nyroc. Nyroc doesn't believe him but seems distressed when he looks once again into the flames. He sees things that he doesnÂ¡'t wish to see.
Nyroc goes on a quest for truth, and he invites Dustytuft along with him. Nyroc wants to find out who is lying: the flames or his mother. Dustytuft (aka Philip) tells Nyroc that Soren didn't kill Kludd. A Great Gray named Twilight had killed him. Nyroc makes up his mind to get out of the canyonlands and make for the Great Gahoole Tree.
As morning rises, the two friends make a desperate flight to get as far away from the Pure Ones as possible. It is not so soon when their disappearances are discovered by the Pure Ones. Nyra is furious. She enlists the help of Doc Finebeak, a terrific tracker who will work for anyone with pay.
Nyroc and Dustytuft are forced to go through the Needles and Shredders and are buffeted by the harsh winds that only owls of Gahoole can navigate through. Nyroc and Dustytuft appear at the end, where they are captured.
Nyroc wakes up to find his mother waiting. She leads him to Dustytuft and orders Nyroc to kill him. Nyroc is appalled and shocked at his mother's words. He knows that killing Dustytuft is not bravery, but murder. Outraged, Nyroc attacks her son and then kills Dustytuft.
Nyroc rebels and flies away where he spends his time in solitude. He secretly listens in on owls who tell the legends of Gahoole. He meets a rabbit who is a web-reader, who can learn about certain creatures and events by looking at webs.
Meanwhile, an owl named Otulissa is studying the Fire Cycle of the legends. She realizes that the poem is actually a prophecy, foretelling of a flame-reader, who will retrieve the Ember of Hoole, and is an outcast, with a kind heart and gizzard. She is visited by Strix Struma's scroom, who tells her that a young Barn Owl needs help. Otulissa must decide whether or not to trust her practicality or follow her heart.
This report prepared by Jenny