Talus, a young adult novel in the tradition of Watership Down, begins with the birth of the title character: a mustang filly determined to become a lead mare like her mother before her. At first, Talus appears on pace to fulfill her destiny; a series of youthful misadventures establish her as the strongest, swiftest foal on Mount MesteÃ Â±o (a fictional mountain in southeastern Oregon). However, during a roundup conducted by the Bureau of Land Management, she leads her band into the path of a helicopter, causing the capture of her entire family. Talus and most of her companions are released, but the colt Bitterroot and the old mare Penstemon fall victim to the humans.
Humbled by her mistake and tortured by guilt, Talus gives up on her dream of leading a band one day. Resigned to an average life, she leaves her natal range in search of a mate. Eventually she joins the family of the young stallion Fireweed. His lead mare, Aster, recognizes Talus’s potential and convinces the filly to pursue her aspirations again. Under Aster’s tutelage, Talus regains her confidence and learns the skills required of a lead mare. She promises to take Aster’s place as leader when the time comes. Unfortunately, that time arrives sooner than expected—Aster dies in a tragic accident.
Rattled by her mentor’s death, Talus refuses to step into her role as top mare until the humans return to Mount MesteÃ Â±o to cull more wild horses. Relying on Aster’s teachings and her own courage, the filly guides her band to safety. Victory carries a high personal cost. While fleeing a helicopter, Talus suffers a near-fatal injury. During her arduous recovery, she becomes a symbol of hope for her kind. Mustangs from all over Mount MesteÃ Â±o travel to her range to pay
their respects. Talus is now the great leader she always longed to be. In the final pages of the novel, she delivers a daughter of her own, initiating the next chapter of her life.