The Prophecies Begin
|Into the Wild|
|Fire & Ice|
|Forest of Secrets|
|A Dangerous Path|
|The Darkest Hour|
I’m amazed at how well the original six books still hold up. I’ve read them all 3 times, and have thoroughly enjoyed each reread. The characters are memorable, the story is dramatic, and the slow building tension between Firestar and Tigerstar drives the series. It’s so satisfying to watch Firestar’s journey from kittypet to clan leader.
The set up of this story is rather simple - introduce a fish out of water type character into a new world, and experience said world through that character’s eyes. Firestar’s origins as a kittypet being allowed into the Thunderclan let the reader experience clan life from the perspective of someone with no background knowledge. Not only that, but Firestar is an exceedingly likable underdog that the reader roots for again and again. Firestar experiences every aspect of warriors life from apprentice, warrior, deputy, to leader.
Plotwise, the biggest strength of the Prophecies Begin is its cohesion and theming. From the beginning, Firestar must navigate the treachery of Tigerstar, culminating in the final confrontation between all clans. There is a real sense of set up and pay-off that a lot of the later books lack.
World-wise, the clans are not afraid to battle in this series, making for interesting confrontations and forbidden romance drama. The reader meets likable characters in every clan (Lionheart, Whitestorm, Graypool, Mistyfoot, Yellowfang, Littlecloud, Onewhisker, Tallstar) and unlikable characters from every clan (Mudclaw, Leopardstar, Brokenstar, Blackfoot, Darkstripe, Tigerstar). This series is not afraid of killing off characters or allowing drama to fester within Thunderclan, which is a good thing. The Prophecies Begin also has a decent StarClan. They are still mysterious, seemingly wise, and tucked nicely away in “cat-heaven”.
These books are not perfect however. Firestar, as much as I like him, does suffer from a bit of “not sharing important information with other characters syndrome”, especially after Tigerstar becomes leader of Shadowclan. Additionally, Firestar and Graystripe break the Warrior Code constantly. This lends to many tense moments, which isn’t a bad thing, but at points it can be hard to understand the Warrior Code when it’s constantly being ignored. Finally, I think Spottedleaf was killed off way too early to be worth anything. She’s revered as a love interest, but it comes off more as a “lust” interest.
Overall, I have a lot of love and nostalgia for this series. I’ve read it three times, and am not afraid to experience it over and over again.
The Prophecies Begin: Super Editions, Novellas, and Mangas
From there, it’s a lot of chapters of travelling then recruiting cats to form a clan. The climax is a battle against rats, one of which can talk to the cats. I like the idea of this story, but I wasn’t crazy about the execution.
However, because Skyclan exists on its own, the implementation of daylight warriors is something Leafstar is willing to do. Conflicts like this, unique to a solitary clan, make the book interesting.
Not only that, but when strangers arrive at Skyclan with their own agenda, more mystery and intrigue begins. Leafstar is unsure of their intentions, her deputy’s intentions, the daylight warriors, and her own feelings for Billystorm.
I was satisfied by the end of the book with how everything turned out. It has become one of my favorites, and I find it to be highly underrated.
Lightning Round - Novellas and Manga
|Tigerstar and Sasha|
|A Shadow in Riverclan|
Tigerclaw’s Fury - LOVED this novella. It was great to get a glimpse into Tigerclaw’s perspective. As much as he wants to conquer the forest, there are bits and pieces of loyalty to Thunderclan. I had always wondered how he managed to take over Shadowclan, and this side-story explains that perfectly, and believably.
Tigerstar and Sasha - This series has a strong first volume detailing the relationship between Tigerstar and the rogue Sasha. It still feels a little forced that Tigerstar fell in love with a kittypet (why not just make her a rogue?), but it ended up being fine. I do think she finds out about his treachery a bit too early. Volume 2 is pretty much filler only about Sasha, and Tigerstar is dead and gone by Volume 3. I guess it was good insight to see how Hawkfrost and Mothwing ended up in Riverclan, but eh.
A Shadow in Riverclan - An excellent manga centered on Feathertail! Feathertail is a compelling point of view character, and it was a pleasant surprise to see a story focused on her grief and anger surrounding Leopardstar’s decision during Riverclan’s time as Tigerclan. Her character progression, and ultimately resolution, feel earned.
Mothwing’s Secret - Possibly my favorite novella, Mothwing's Secret was a such an interesting read. I love the moments of her and Hawkfrost before her brother became truly evil. I love her internal struggle with believing in Star Clan, and losing her only true kin. I also love how this book addresses Mothwing after Omen of the Stars as well - she concedes that Starclan exists, but still chooses to be without them.
Ravenpaw’s Path - A nice little romp focused on Ravenpaw and Barley. I liked seeing the drama they face together with the ex-Blood Clan cats, and their ultimate loyalty to each other.
Blackfoot's Reckoning - A great novella that finally explores how Blackfoot, a very cruel and evil cat in the Prohpecies Begin, comes to be accepted by Starclan and turn into its honorable leader. It also provides context to his actions in the Prophecies Begin, without necessarily excusing them.