A Vision of Shadows
|The Silent Thaw|
|Veil of Shadows|
|The Place of No Stars|
|A Light in the Mist|
This series started off strong in concept, faltered in the middle, and had a decent conclusion. I love that the three main characters are all in different clans. It was such an interesting idea to have Bramblestar possessed and causing strife by his rigid punishment of code breakers. However, the pacing issues, inconsistent lore rules, and strange decisions make this arc a frustrating read.
-The three leads are in different clans this time.
-Shadowsight is set up to be our StarClan chosen cat, when in actuality he’s just being manipulated by Ashfur. It’s a good subversion, and makes the reader pity Shadowsight as everyone turns against him.
-The imposter had the potential to initiate interesting conflict. The chapters of the Imposter Bramblestar is turning Thunderclan against each other are very interesting.
-Bramblestar being possessed, and using Squirrelflight, is super dark.
-Rootspring has some charming moments in the beginning of the arc, especially when he was the only one who could see Bramblestar’s ghost.
-Bristlefrost being the Imposter’s second in command was really interesting, but underdeveloped. I wish she would’ve doubled down, and became an antagonist.
-Starclan being absent leads to interesting stakes and drama.
-Bristlefrost being perma-killed provided a much needed bittersweet ending, it was daring killing off a main character.
-Squirrelflight doesn’t die, or have to cave into Ashfur.
-Starclan finally starts modifying the shotty Warrior Code.
-Graystripe gets a nice send off.
-There is a lot of talking in circles among characters. The same conversations are had over and over again to the point where I began skimming whole chapters.
-The Imposter is underused, and revealed way too early. Thunderclan should’ve been the bad clan this time, it was making for interesting drama.
-It’s hard to root for Bramblestar and Squirrelflight following Squirrelflight’s Hope. Why would I want to see these two back together after unpossessed Bramblestar showed himself to such a cruel and ineffective leader? The Erins should’ve wrote him to be likable so we’d care that he was possessed. Most of the fandom doesn’t even want him back.
-The Sisters are willing to help the clans for some reason. Darkness Within, was all filler.
-The lore of this universe is all over the place. Ashfur is now a magic cat who can possess bodies, control spirits, and drag living cats into the Dark Forest, but can also kill cats in the Dark Forest? It’s way over the top, and feels out of left field.
-Bristlefrost x Rootspring is just so hard to like. He has an immature crush on her, and she doesn’t think about him at all until Darkness Within where she’s suddenly in love with him. There’s no real chemistry to their relationship until the very end, and even then it's hard to root for it.
-Mistystar is still alive and is wildly out of character.
-Jayfeather has gone from being a grumpy likable character to just mean in Lost Stars. He reveals Mothwing’s secret with no regret and little prompting just to spite her.
-The lore of Star Clan gets worse and worse. They’re less mysterious than ever, and are just as squabbling as ever, and imperfect. The finality of the Dark Forest is also brutal. I hate that everyone’s fate is just decided by a council.
-Too much time is spent wandering around the dark forest.
The Broken Code - Super Editions and Novellas
Squirrelflight’s Hope did the unnecessary, and quite unfortunate, task of solidifying Bramblestar as being an abuser, who no longer can be my favorite character. This comes as quite the disappointment given that I was so excited to finally have another Squirrelflight POV book. Unfortunately, as with most stories about this character, it's marred by relationship pains and mellow drama that is gross and tiring.
I will offer some praise for the book, it was a quick read. Even though I experienced much dismay, I was never bored when reading this novel. I liked the Sisters as a concept, and once again thought it was good to see a group of cats living another way of life. I loved the scenes of Squirrelflight and Leafpool, and felt legitimately sad for them when they parted ways at the end of the book. I liked that justice didn’t save the day, and that the book served as a cautionary tale about impatience and disregard for others. But that’s where my praise ends.
The first sin of this book is the horrible state of Squirrelflight’s character. Gone is the independent and fiery spirit, replaced with a submissive and morose abuse victim. Much of this personality shift can be attributed to Bramblestar, who the Erins have doubled down on as being a toxic partner. It’s really hard to read chapters on chapters of Bramblestar disregarding Squirrelfight’s feelings, putting her down, patronizing her, ignoring her, and acting cruel on purpose. It feels wildly out of character that Bramblestar, who let kittypets hang out in Thunderclan during the flood, would now decide that the Sisters aren’t worth helping. It’s framed in a way where he is making this decision to spite Squirrelflight.
It’s so tiring that the only way the Erins write Squirrelflight and Bramblestar’s relationship is through the lens of drama. At this point in the series, why can’t this couple just be happy? Why does tension between them have to be a conflict yet again? If the Erins are so insistent that these two need to fight, they should split. It’s not healthy, and should not be spoon fed to children who read the ending as, “oh Bramblestar is nice now, so this was all fine.” It’s not.
Relationship drama aside, this book’s conflict is once again about moving Skyclan around. Territory disputes are starting to make less and less sense as the clans insist on unity with each other. Wouldn’t unity make more sense if they all shared borders? How do borders promote unity? These ideas are implicitly at odds with each other. For the conflict to work, Tigerstar has to yet again be wishy washy about his border concession. These books can’t seem to decide if Tigerstar is a young and heroic leader, or a troublemaker.
And do not get me started on the whole “council of StarClan assess your sins, but also look there’s Ashfur, Hollyleaf, Bluestar, and Yellowfang!”
Overall, Squirrelflight’s Hope was a depressing experience, and one I will not be revisiting anytime soon.
Graystripe’s Vow is a pleasantly unexpected story that sets itself apart from other Super Editions by not only having a poignant thesis on nostalgia, but by also balancing two interconnected plotlines taking place years apart.
Graystripe’s Vow feels like it is intended for the audience that grew up on the Prophecies Begin, and criticize anything that came after it. Graystripe, our elder main character, is one of the few living cats from that first arc, and is exhausted by modern Thunderclan. He longs for the old forest, so much so that he travels back to, despite knowing its been destroyed, to attempt to commune with StarClan at the Moonstone. Along the way, Graystripe constantly reflects on how much he misses Firestar, about his love of Feathertail and Stormfur, about Millie and Silverstream; yet his surviving kin in Modern Thunderclan are all but absent from his thoughts.
While this is taking place, the book also switches to “Then” chapters, chronicling the events of Graystripe’s temporary role as leader while Firestar left to find SkyClan. It’s an adventure in a younger time in the series within the old territories. Though, unfortunately, some characterizations are a little off, particularly Ashfur who is written to be much more antagonistic than he ever was at that point in the books.
The two plots intersect when the reader discovers that Gremlin, a cat Graystripe assisted during his time as Temporary Leader, had a son named Fang who needs Graystripe’s help in the modern timeline.
While the book does indulge in Graystripe’s nostalgia, it does not necessarily reward it. Graystripe makes it to the Moonstone, only for lightning to immediately destroy it. Graystripe has effectively abandoned his clan for his own self discovery, and to assist a few kittypets along the way. Even so, Warriorclan is absolutely adorable, and I hope we see more of them in the future.
Overall, this was a pleasant read, and, in a way, a metaphor for the hardcore Warrior fans. No matter how much we may want the series to return to its roots, those days are over, and yet we still continue to buy the new books - just like how Graystripe returned to Thunderclan.
Spotfur's Rebllion - Nice to see Spotfur's point of view, but pretty underdeveloped. It spends more time on her backstory, rather than the actually rebellion (probably because the "rebellion" in series is really boring). There was so much untapped potential for conflict between Spotfur and Bristlefrost, but Spotfur is waaaay too nice. It would have been cool to see mistrust and a jealousy towards Bristlefrost.
Daisy's Kin -A quiant little story about Daisy, and her role in Thunderclan. It's nice to see the novella spend time on a character's grief, since the main Broken Code series really doesn't. Although, it's still disapointing that almonst all of Daisy's kin has died, given she was a good opportunity to bring gene diversity into the Clan. Also, points for cute dad Alderheart.