Hey, everyone! Today, I want to introduce a truly EPIX book series revolving around cats living in the wild. Erin Hunter has weaved a great tale into the Warriors series, and she has made it a favorite for many people. Even if you don’t like cats, don’t worry, there’s Survivors (dogs) and Seekers (bears) for you to read, also by Erin Hunter!
The series starts when an inquisitive housecat, Rusty, decides to cross the fence into the forest beyond. After a life cooped up cozily in a household with Twolegs (humans, as the Clan cats call them), he wants to explore. He has had recurring dreams about life in the forest, and he’d rather be there, chasing mice, than stuck staring into the forest and trying to catch birds from the small expanse of the backyard for the rest of his life. Therefore, instead of sitting still and yearning for the other way of life, he takes the risk and jumps down.
All his life he has heard tales of wildcats in the woods, the ones who eat bones and mark their territories with the blood of their enemies, so it comes as a shock to him when he meets the Thunderclan apprentice Graypaw, Thunderclan warrior Lionheart, and Thunderclan leader, Bluestar. He accepts Bluestar’s offer to join Thunderclan, and is swept into a world of wonder that his kittypet (the Clans’ word for housecats) life never allowed.
He learns about the four clans of half-rivals: Thunderclan, Riverclan, Shadowclan, and Windclan. Riverclan cats love to hunt fish and swim around in the water. Shadowclan is used to the dense undergrowth and pine trees. Windclan takes advantage of the wide open spaces with their long legs and pale pelts. Thunderclan cats are the ones in the average forest, advantages only they know how to use–too closed in for Windclan, too much space and light colors for Shadowclan’s dark pelts, too much for Riverclan to trip over. Each clan has its own territory to patrol and hunt within. Battles are often fought over stolen prey, murders (not often), territory extension, power, catnapping, and more. Every night, during the full moon, they have a truce and go to Fourtrees (four giant oak trees in a circle at the point where all territories meet) for the Gathering, where leaders announce news and cats can meet one another under friendly circumstances.
Each clan has a leader, a deputy (second in command, takes over when the leader dies, retires–rarely–or disappears), and a medicine cat (healer). They also have queens (mother cats) who take care of kits. Once the kit reaches 6 moons (months) of age, he/she becomes an apprentice (taking the name of ‘paw’ ex. Acornkit –> Acornpaw), assigned to a warrior who is then their mentor. It is their job to train the apprentice to learn the ways of the clan, including how to hunt properly, and fighting techniques. When the mentor decides that the apprentice is ready to become a warrior and serve the clan, he/she tells the leader after a final assessment and the ceremony takes place at sunhigh (midday), and they have to sit in *silent* vigil throughout the night, keeping watch over the camp. They then assume a different name (ex. Acornpaw –> Acornfur or Fernpaw –> Ferncloud).Those who cannot hunt or defend themselves are supported by warriors and apprentices.
Warriors can hunt for the clan, fight for the clan, and serve the clan any way they can. They take an oath, and promise to follow the Warrior Code (rules) and protect their clan in any way possible, even at the cost of their life. When they get too old to continue, they can retire as an elder, and they have several seasons of experience and a long period of service to the clan to contribute.
The deputy dies more often than the leader, and there is a reason, but we’ll get to that later. If a deputy dies, retires, or is required to step up as leader, a new deputy is chosen. Deputies must be there to succeed the current leader, lest something goes wrong. They organize patrols and are often consulted by the leader.
The medicine cat is also consulted by the leader. A medicine cat’s destiny is chosen from the beginning of their life. Instead of training as a warrior, they turn to a path of stars. Their apprenticeship is spent learning about different herbs in the forest, curing sickness, and it’s largely devoted to Starclan, their warrior ancestors (when clan cats die, they go to Starclan, among the stars–bad cats go to the Dark Forest). Medicine cats have a special connection with Starclan, and their ancestors usually choose to speak with them through dreams. Every half-moon, the medicine cats from each clan meet at the Moonstone, away from the territories, to visit Starclan in their dreams and consult with them. Medicine cats are peaceful with each other, and their friendship is not broken by borders or even clan rivalries. Did I mention that they can’t mate or have kits?
The leader, when chosen, goes to the Moonstone to meet Starclan, accompanied by the medicine cat. There, the new leader receives 9 lives to help serve and fairly lead their clan, and takes on the name ‘star’ (ex. Bluefur –> Bluestar).
Rusty, newly named Firepaw, has earned his place among Thunderclan, training alongside Graypaw, Ravenpaw, Sandpaw, and Dustpaw. Just as he arrives, the current deputy, Redtail, is reported dead, and Tigerclaw is named as the new deputy. As Firepaw begins his new life as a clan cat and works his way to a trusted position, learning the ways of the clan, he discovers something fishy going on at the heart of the clan, and he resolves–along with his new best friend Graypaw–to find out exactly what it is.
Read the first book, Into The Wild, to learn what happens next! Please, PLEASE, don’t read out of order, because
- It spoils a perfectly good ending,
- You won’t understand anything,
- You don’t see the magic of a sequential story, and
- It’s annoying to those who do read in order.
Enjoy! The cover of the book is shown above. 😀
Note: You might also see this new cover, on the newly produced books: