Tuesday, December 21, 2010
There are six books in the first Warrior series. Into the Wild, Fire and Ice, Forest of Secrets, Rising Storm, A Dangerous Path, and The Darkest Hour. After reading all six, I am now ready to provide a review.
I must confess, when I started reading I was worried. The initial concept seemed a bit of a leap, groups of cats working together for a common purpose - that is very hard to imagine! The basic idea seemed better suited for dogs, as they are natural pack animals. However, as I got into the story I was able to make the leap and forget that odd detail. A number of typical cat-type behaviors appeared in the stories, but I found myself expecting and hoping for more uniquely eccentric cat behaviors. Even so, the books are a great cat-based adventure.
There are four clans in the forest, ThunderClan, RiverClan, ShadowClan and WindClan. Each clan has their own territory in the forest which they fiercely protect. The clans have a strict hierarchy of command leadership: clan leader, deputy, warriors, elders, queens, apprentices and kits. In each clan there is also a medicine cat who works closely with the leader. They both share a strong spiritual connection with StarClan, the spirits of all the warrior ancestors who watch over all the clans. I really connected with the prominent themes of spirituality woven throughout the stories.
These books are filled with tension and consequentially death. Because they are written for a young adult audience, the stories comprise many young adult themes, such as struggling with feelings of inadequacy, challenges in making friends, etc. All themes which I find myself drawn to.
I really enjoyed the creativity used in the storytelling. The world of the forest is depicted through the eyes of the cats. There are two seasons, leaf-bare and green-leaf. The cats must beware the thunderpath (road) where large monsters (cars) carry twolegs (humans) in their bellies. When relaxing with each other the cats will share tongues (mutual grooming), a sign of love and friendship.
On of the aspects of the story that I really enjoyed was the importance of naming. Naming is a big deal. When a new kitten was born it is given a name, such as Ravenkit. Once the kitten is at least six moons old, it can become an apprentice and starts training to become a warrior. At the apprentice ceremony, the young cat's name changes to reflect it's new status, Ravenkit becomes Ravenpaw. When the apprentice finishes it's training another ceremony is held and the name again changes to reflects it's full warrior status. The clan leader chooses a new name for the cat that represents something true about the cat, Tigerpaw becomes Tigerclaw. If a cat goes on to be chosen as leader of the clan, it will meet with StarClan and be given nine lives, at which point it's name will be changed to end in star, such as Bluestar. Names and the giving of names are meaningful and therefore worthy of ceremony.
Over all I was impressed with the Warrior books. I had many late nights while reading these books, because I didn't want to put the book down and leave the story. One of the difficulties I had with the books was all the death. There are a lot of characters, many of which I got attached to but later had to face their deaths - that was not easy. I was also impressed by the consistency in writing styles from the four authors who chose to go by one pen name, Erin Hunter, so the books would be all together on the bookstore or library shelf (books are usually arranged by author's last name).
There is much more I want to write about these stories, however doing so without giving away the story will be a challenge in itself. I will follow up later with more posts on specific themes that impacted me from these books and each post will come with a spoiler warning!
Meanwhile it's time to start reading the next series, Warriors: The New Prophecy, the second series of Warriors books.