Warriors v1If you liked the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, you’re gonna love Warriors. That is, if you like cats who act like cats. Mice, rabbits, and birds have the same kind of presence that fish do in Redwall: food. Matthias and Basil Stag Hare would not be in a good position here.

The author, Erin Hunter, is actually not a person, but three people: Kate Cary (takes turn writing), Cherith Baldry (takes turn writing), and Victoria Holmes (comes up with ideas and monitors consistency). All live in the UK, and as quoted in the back of the book, are:

“. . . inspired by a love of cats and a fascination with the ferocity of the natural world.”

Story overview:

A young “kittypet”–or so called by the Clans–named Rusty, lives a pleasant and comfortable life among the “twoleggs.” Though he spends many hours sitting on a fence looking into the forest, it wasn’t until he became bold enough to go exploring that his life changed.

While exploring, he was attacked by a cat named Graypaw. After fighting him off, other cats from the ThunderClan approached him. They make him an offer: join their clan and give up his “kittypet” life forever, and he will live as free cat. After giving it some thought, he decided to join.

Life became difficult for Rusty, who was given a new name (Firepaw), and a new home. He learns what it means to be a part of something, to work hard, to have real friends, and to eat like a real cat. Once things start to fall into place, life for him becomes even more complicated when one of the other clans decides to take over all the territories. Now the lessons really begin as ThunderClan fights back, and the lives of his clan depend upon him.

My thoughts:

The names thrown out at the beginning are enough to make one’s head spin, but amazingly enough they are not that hard to follow. Hunter seems to have taken a Native American’ish approach to them: Bluestar, Lionheart, Tigerclaw, Spottedleaf, Ravenpaw, Speckletail, etc. As an author myself, there’s a few areas where I would question the quality of the writing (adverb city, such as “Yellowfang replied dryly.” and “Firepaw meowed urgently;” as well as overuse of exclamation points and italics) but regardless of this, it flows pretty well. I would call this book a page turner and a must read for kids (and some adults too). The one thing that bothered me though–and perhaps I just missed it–has to do with the whole nine lives thing. Why did some cats–particularly one of the younger ones–die when being killed, yet another, older cat came back? I was confused here. And whatever happened to the fox which was hinted at?

Things to consider:

This is not your average Politically Correct tale. There are strong elements of ferocity (as mentioned by the author.) Where I believe that’s part of what makes this story so genuine, I would caution some kids, whom it may be a little freighting for. Nature is very relevant in this tale, and anyone who’s watched a nature show knows things can be dicey. I would age rate this at around eight + (tweens and older,) and for both girls and boys. No bad language and no sexual references, but as mentioned, very violent (and I don’t mean violent for the sake of violence, but rather for the sake of realism.)

Opportunities for discussion:

Death, survival, bravery, and courage are strong themes in this tale. Among them are deceit, betrayal, blame, and bias. Talk to your kids about the price of freedom. Share with them the flaws of living a soft and easy life, and tell them that they need to work hard for what they have. There’s no room for laziness in the world of nature or the world of man. Also, in the case of Yellowfang, we learn that things are not always as they seem. We should not judge and blame without knowing the facts. Innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Ask your kids if they have ever done this only to find out later that they were wrong about the person.

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Comments
  1. Warriors Fan says:

    Excellent Review! I love this series, and have read all of the books. In response to your question about nine lives: clan leaders have nine lives, a blessing from star clan.

  2. Glad you liked the review. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

    Thanks for the info on the nine lives. That makes sense now :-)

  3. Guyster says:

    My 12 and 9 year old daughters are eating-up the Warriors books at a feroscious pace! I have not read any of the books because fantasy literature just is not my thing. But, I am curious about the reading interests of my kids. I saw one website indicated that the themes of forbidden love and one faith being as good as another are common in the series. If this is the case, I’d definitely want to discuss these themes with my girls.

    Do you agree that these are common themes in the series? Also, do you have suggestions for parents who want to discuss such topics with their children?

  4. Hi Guyster,

    Unfortunately, I have only read the first book in this series so far. I didn’t really notice any of those themes in it. The “faith” part seemed geared more toward a Native American stance, and there were very few elements of love that I can remember. Mostly adventure. But that doesn’t mean to say the stories don’t develop these as it moves into other books.

    Depending on the representation of “forbidden love” it can take on several different meanings. Romeo and Juliet for example was a forbidden love, but overall nothing objectionable (other than suicide that is) in a Biblical sense.

    As far as approaching the debate of All Religions = the same, I normally recommend C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity as I feel he approaches the topic of drawing near to the Spirit of Christ in a less restrictive sense than some. But relating that to your children could be tough. Identifying with them in a way they can understand really helps, which is why I normally suggest relating it [item of discussion] to the things they are interested in.

  5. Guyster says:

    Thanks for the reply and your suggestion of Mere Christianity–no question a classic read for any young person. Also, I had not thought about Romeo and Juliet–hmmm. Maybe I should try reading one of the books just to get the flavor for myself and go from there…the old adage so many books, so little time (I’ll perhaps squeeze in a Warrior book somehow). Thanks again for your thorough reply. All the best to you!

  6. Glad to be of assistance. Maybe I’ll move the next Warriors book higher on my to-read list. I’ll be sure to monitor your concerns as I do and post comments on them when I write the review. Be sure to check back and hopefully I’ll have something on it later this year.

  7. [...] book one, Into the Wild, a house cat finds adventure when he enters the woods. Joining ThunderClan, he (Firepaw) finds it [...]

  8. Just finished reading the next book in the series. I was right in my assumptions that the “forbidden love” was a sort of Romeo and Juliet type situation. At least, it was in this book. There are still many others in the series I have yet to read. Here’s the link to the full review: http://bit.ly/llgKoW (Fire and Ice (Warriors, Book 2)).

    Hope this helps!

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