A Vision of Shadows

The Apprentice's Quest
Thunder and Shadow
Shattered Sky
Darkest Night
River of Fire
The Raging Storm
Average Rating:

A Vision of Shadows was one of my favorite arcs, and yet at the same time, the most disappointing series since Omen of the Stars. It’s a rollercoaster of incredibly high highs, and extremely disappointing lows. This series explodes with intense drama, character moments, and a true sense of loss, only to fizzle out into seemingly nothing by the end, a sign that this story could’ve have been told with either less books or more points of view.

The beginning of A Vision of Shadows shows so much potential. Alderheart (Alderpaw at the beginning) is the first main protagonist of this series. The first book, the Apprentice’s Quest, is a refreshing one character POV all told from his perspective. I was immediately attached to Alderheart’s shy personality, and bonds with his dad and Sandstorm. It was exciting that this young apprentice was going to re-introduce Skyclan into the main series through his visions, and eventual quest. I loved the supporting characters, especially the little shit that is Needletail. Emotional moments really packed a punch. Sandstorm’s premature death felt like a real loss to the quest, and to Alderheart himself. That, coupled with the fact that Skyclan had already fallen by the time Alderheart arrived, really adds to the intrigue. The final moments of Needletail and Alderheart bringing Twigbranch and Violetshine back to the clans really finalizes this interesting set up.

The next two books only get better. Twigbranch and Violetshine’s forced separation and the emotional turmoil that ensues is so heart wrenching and dramatic. Darktail influencing the fall of Shadowclan, and his ruthless take over of the territories was a breath of fresh air. This was the concrete villain that Warriors has needed. Characters are murdered, stakes are high, and it all culminates in Needletail’s reconciliation and sacrifice to save Violetshine, Onestar’s revelation that Darktail is his son, and Skyclan’s triumphant return that had me unable to put the books down.

The story was so exciting and gripping, and then, The Darkest Night happens. The Darkest Night, book four, is where the story starts losing its footing. With the main antagonist defeated, the new drama is rebuilding ShadowClan and finding a home for SkyClan. This conflict extends into the final two books and is filled with wishy washy characters choice, forced prolonged arguments, and a lot of filler. I was satisfied by how the arc wrapped up, but I could feel boredom setting in during River of Fire. Alderheart, Violetshine, and Twigbranch all have excellent character moments, but there isn’t much focus. It also feels a bit disjointed, as apparently reading Hawkwing’s Journey and Tigerheart’s Shadow are needed to fill in some of the gaps. (Seriously, so many SkyClan cats are just gone. Where are my faves??)

Despite all my complaints, I do love A Vision of Shadows. I standby the notion that it's a worthwhile arc, and I can only hope that the writing continues to improve.

Misc. Points of Praise and Criticism:
I love that in this arc characters finally communicate with each other. There are really great conversations and chemistry between these new characters, and it’s so nice to see minimal “I shouldn’t tell anyone” moments.
I love that Needletail is pretty morally gray, and has a major impact on Alderheart and VioletShine. Her loss was very impactful.
I wish there had been more moments between Sandstorm and Alderheart after book one. I was hoping she’d be his StarClan guide.
Speaking of which, I also hoped that Alderheart would’ve been SkyClan’s new medicine cat. He seemed poised for the position, but it never came.
It was exhausting to watch wishy washy Shadowclan and Skyclan by the end of the series. Someone goes to search for Skyclan three times this series, and that got frustrating.
We need more cats that the reader has a personal connection with in Riverclan.
I did love the how the medicine cat den worked with Alderheart, Leafpool, and Jayfeather together. These characters have lovely chemistry.
Sparkpelt is wasted potential. She’s poised to be a major character, maybe antagonist, but then fades into the background.

A Vision of Shadows - Super Editions and Novellas

Hawkwing's Journey

This was the book that filled in a lot of the information missing in AVOS regarding the downfall of SkyClan. As is par for the course, SkyClan is forced from its home and made to endure tragedy after tragedy as they attempt, in vain, to follow a vague prophecy.

As with almost all other SkyClan material, I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure, despite how miserable it was. Hawkwing’s life in particular is marred with love, loss, and regret over decisions. It was satisfying to see him mellow out from a hot-tempered young adult, all while not losing his optimism that maybe, one day, SkyClan will be safe. It makes his reunion with Violetshine and Twigbranch in AVOS so much more impactful.

There were multiple points where I was devastated by the loss of so many familiar characters from previous SkyClan novels. The loss of Billstorm, Echosong, Firefern, and Stormheart all felt difficult in their own way.

My only critiques have to do with the relationship building and StarClan. Relationship-wise, Pebbleshine and Hawkwing really needed more time to form as a couple. Hawkwing literally goes from hating her to loving her with few interactions in between. As for Starclan, their inconsistency is frustrating. There just doesn’t feel like a true concrete reason why they cannot guide SkyClan to the lake. StarClan guided the other clans, and have spoken directly to many characters in previous entries. In fact, a Starclan cat guides Echosong directly back to the group. It felt like StarClan was forced to be vague for the sake of mystery, and needless suffering.

Tigerheart's Shadow

Solid super edition, but not spectacular. I really enjoyed have Tigerheart as a protagonist, and seeing an older, stronger, version of Dovewing. Their relationship is one that I like a lot, and it was nice to see them explore a place where they could start their family in peace. The city was a great change of location, and made for a more interesting setting as opposed to yet another twoleg-place.

I did feel that this book dragged a bit. Chapters on chapters were spent just walking, or thinking about vague dreams. Parts of the book really felt like padding to get to 400 pages.

Tree's Roots
Pebbleshine's Kits
Tawnypelt's Clan

Tree's Roots - Solid story that fills in a lot of that gaps of Tree’s strange powers and odd habits. I like that he resented his cultural practices, that is toms being forced to leave the Sisters at 6 moons of age. It made for some nice drama as we rarely see characters in warriors resent their cat cultures/religions.

Pebbleshine's Kits - A bit of a boring journey book. The reader knows it does not end well, and it feels a bit unnecessary. I did like that there was a cat and dog friendship - I’ve been waiting a while to see something like that in Warriors.

Tawnypelt's Clan - Finally nice to have Tawnypelt's perspective. It's nice to see her trying to reconcile with the events of AVOS, while also giving her an adventure with Dovewing. That being said, I can't help but feel like this was not the right angel for a Tawnypelt novella. I've always been MUCH more interested to see the story of why she left Thunderclan, and the reasons for staying in Shadowclan after Tigerstar died.

Warriors © of Erin Hunter 2021
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