A baboon who has uncovered an act of treachery.
An elephant uncertain of her fate.
A lion poised to strike.
The code of the wild has been broken. The elephant leader known as Great Mother has been murdered. Now a young baboon, elephant, and lion must come together to discover the truth—before the fragile balance of Bravelands is destroyed forever.
Detailed Plot Summary
Code of Honor begins with two yellow-billed oxpecker friends named Babble and Chatter, who are summoned along with so many other birds to a meeting called the Great Flock, where Windrider reveals that the Great Mother elephant has been murdered and the future of Bravelands is now uncertain since she did not die properly in order to pass the voice of the Great Spirit on to a successor. Many blame the scavenging crocodiles for her death, and some common hippopotamuses are battling with the scaly predators because of this. Already things seem not right because of this catastrophe, with rain pouring down seemingly endlessly. Stronghide claims that he had a dream of Great Mother guiding him to the spot she died and believes that he is the next Great Parent (Great Father in his case), the first non-elephant Great Parent - he backs this up by claiming he can speak Skytongue, the language of birds. The Strider elephant herd, now led by one of the Great Mother's daughters, Rain (one of Sky's aunts), is uncertain of what the future may hold now for Bravelands. Sky sneaks away to find some answers in the Plain of Our Ancestors, taking a fragment of her Great Mother grandmother's tusk along with her and is then suddenly joined by her little male cousin Moon. In the Brightforest baboon troop, Stinger Crownleaf creates a new rank in the troop called Strongbranch, composed of baboons who have proved their strength and courage through Strongfeat tests given by Stinger. The traditional Three Feats are replaced by the Strongfeats, in which baboons from all ranks, including Deeproots, may try to earn acceptance. Thorn Middleleaf is made a Strongbranch himself, which could let him possibly rise up enough to gain Berry's love, but is constantly haunted by the truth about Stinger's true intentions, not just for cruel domination of the troop, but even for all of Bravelands. Most other Strongbranches begin to drive Thorn crazy because of their newfound arrogance, but one, a female former Deeproot named Frog, is kinder to him. The troop leaves Tall Trees for new territory. Fearless, meanwhile, is stuck with Titanpride, spending most of his time with Valor and Swift and sometimes playing with Ruthless since Titan barely pays attention to the little cub. Titan then, as part of his own plan for complete domination over Bravelands, plots to kill a number of other predators in the area, like hyenas, by both slaughtering them and reducing the prey numbers by piling up dead grass-eater bodies in heaping piles, each member of the pride catching one prey per day - he claims that since the Code states "only kill to survive", he is killing their natural competitors in order to survive, even though he himself is breaking the Code, even dishonorably killing the plains zebra patriarch Sleekfriend. Fearless visits Stinger alone for advice on what to do, and Stinger tells him to wait for when the time is eventually right to strike down Titan, though Loyal only half agrees with this statement when Fearless shares the information with him. On Sky and Moon's journey to the Plain of Our Ancestors, the rains have stopped but now the skies remain constantly cloudy for days. They are joined by a timid young female black rhino named Silverhorn who says she's done something regretfully bad (too embarrassed to tell them) and asks for permission to enter the Plain of Our Ancestors with the two young elephants in order to seek forgiveness from Great Parent elephants from the past. While the three of them are there, Sky receives a new vision, this time of a silhouetted grown rhino (obviously not Silverhorn, but Stronghide) standing on the branch of a tall tree and seemingly not caring that much that it is cracking under the beast's own weight. After the vision, Windrider swoops in and snatches Great Mother's tusk fragment and squawks to three youngsters to follow her - they understand to do so even though none of them speak Skytongue, only Grasstongue (the language of mammals). Back with Brighforest Troop, marauding green monkeys (the same ones who had assaulted the troop in the previous book) joined by vervet monkeys attack the troop while at a gully and knock a few baboons unconscious, including Berry who even has part of her tail severed. This causes Brightforest to take refuge in an abandoned spotted hyena den (abandoned since some of the hyenas here were murdered by Titan and his followers) at the foot of an escarpment for better shelter to heal. Soon, the clouds clear, but now the following days are filled with endless dry heat with no clouds and rain at all. In this sweltering heat, Sky, Moon, and Silverhorn continue following Windrider to a strange mountain in the distance, but are suddenly ambushed by a group of lions led by Titan himself. Titan has recruited younger adult male lions into Titanpride to be his own personal army of fighters and plans to conquer the neighboring Dauntlesspride by killing their leader Dauntless. But before that, he plans to take out the young of the biggest herbivore species of Bravelands (such as elephants and rhinos). Here, he and his cronies assault the three young herbivores, only to be defeated and thwarted off by the arrival of a noble young adult male elephant named Rock, but Moon sadly dies of fatal injuries. With Brightforest, Thorn no longer speaks with Mud since the other Strongbranches scorn anyone not a Strongbranch, making Thorn sad. Stinger feels that something has to be done about the vervets and green monkeys that attacked the troop and asks Stronghide for advice, in which the rhino just simply says to fight them, as he is telling other animals with similar problems, like Thompson's gazelles being attacked by Titanpride. At a grove, the baboons meet the vervets of Thorntree Troop who aided the green monkeys in their recent assault, and a dueling challenge is declared and won by the baboons. Later, Frog reveals to Thorn that she has found something out about Great Mother's death but is secretly killed by Stinger before she can show him, saddening him. Thorn goes to find out himself, to see what Frog wanted to show him, and discovers, with the aid of a sacred ibis, the chipped fragment of a rhino's horn tip that has been imbedded in the dead Great Mother's side. Stronghide was the one who really killed Great Mother and blamed the crocodiles for it, claiming to be Great Father, though Stinger acts unsurprised and unimpressed by this news, yet agrees to spread the word of Stronghide's treachery. Stinger also disbands the troop council and replaces it with his Strongbranches, for more power, in addition to also banishing the wise Beetle Highleaf for questioning him. Sky, Silverhorn, and Rock reach the top of the mountain and a mystical pool of water is discovered that gives Sky the temporary ability to understand and speak Skytongue to Windrider and her fellow vultures, who reveal that Stronghide is not the new Great Parent, but a fraud. The real new Great Parent is unknown, both in species and sex, and it is not Sky (though she is still gifted) and the vultures agree with Sky that they will find this new prophet. Silverhorn reveals that she is from Stronghide's crash and confesses that the thing she feels guilty for is not stopping Stronghide from killing Great Mother, and tells that Stronghide's reason was partly due to him being jealous that a rhino has never been Great Parent but mostly because Sky's grandmother could do nothing to help Stronghide's dying young daughter Brighteyes. Fearless, meanwhile, now banished from the pride for showing mercy to the young male lion Keen of Dauntlesspride (son of Dauntless), is with Valor as they stay by their mother's side as she dies, yet she tells them that Loyal has a dark secret in that he broke an oath. So many animals gather at the waterhole and tell Stronghide that they now know, thanks to Stinger, that he is not Great Father and that he was the one who killed Great Mother. He is driven away, tumbles down a slope and is fatally injured. Thorn catches up to him and Stronghide tells him, before he dies, that Stinger had manipulated with his own emotions regarding Brighteyes's death and convinced him to kill Great Mother and possibly become the new Great Parent. Thorn now understands that Stinger orchestrated the whole thing perfectly, manipulating Stronghide and knowing that the rhino would fail as a false prophet, leaving room for Stinger to lie about being Great Father himself. Thorn tries to stop Stinger, but Stinger lies to the whole of Bravelands that Thorn convinced Stronghide to kill Great Mother, even convincing everyone that Thorn even killed Starleaf (even though Thorn had saved her by having her live with the exiled Nut, she was still found and killed by the Strongbranches) and orders that Thorn must be executed. Even Mud and Berry believe Stinger's lies about Thorn. Stinger also fools the other animals that he is the real new Great Parent and, after recently consulting Fearless, orders for Thorn's death to be in an isolated grove. Fearless appears to be convinced that Thorn is a traitor and he and two mean Strongbranches (Fly and Grass) drag Thorn to the selected grove and prepare for their killing of the pleading Thorn. The book ends with Babble and Chatter visiting Stronghide's dead body and are soon greeted by Windrider and some of her associates, who tell that the real next Great Parent has been found.