The Prophecies Begin: Prequel Super Editions, Novellas, and Mangas

Tallstar's Revenge
This is a lot of people’s favorite for a reason, and no, it’s not just because of Tallstar’s relationship with Jake (though, that certainly helps). This SE is a much needed WindClan point of view book in the old territories. It gives great insight into some of the clans older, and more unique customs, through the lens of a very likable - if not hot-headed - character.
I loved that Tallstar struggled to fit into his assigned role in the clan, he was torn between what he wanted to do and wanting to please his father. I love that his father’s death, and unresolved emotions surrounding that, is the catalyst for Tallstar’s journey. He’s so consumed with rage that he, ultimately, makes a bad judgment. But this is alright, because he learns and grows from it.
Of course, that character development is aided by his excellent relationship with Jake. Although Jake is not present through the entire adventure, his chapters are notably strong. He bounces off of Tallstar very naturally, and their friendship feels authentic. I do like that it is coded to be more romantic, especially from Tallstar.
Overall, a very strong coming of age story that serves to make Tallstar a much more rounded and experienced character. It’s also the only interesting Windclan book.

Crockedstar's Promise
Another interesting prequel tale about a leader I really didn’t know anything about. Crookedstar is a likable and sympathetic character right from the beginning of his book. He is shown to want to prove himself desperately after an accident permanently disfigures his jaw. I liked the complicated depiction from him and his cruel mother (who renames him from Storm- to Crocked-). Even so, he never ceases to love her, even up until her death.
It was also interesting to see Mapleshade as the villain of this book. This was my first introduction to her, and having no other context, she was weaved into the story so well.
My biggest gripe is that the relationship between Crookedstar and Mapleshade is basically governed by Brambleberry’s inability to confront Crookedstar about it until the end of the book. Characters just do not communicate with each other, and Crookedstar would have been saved a lot of confusion if Brambleberry would have just asked him about Mapleshade directly.
Even still, this was an enjoyable read and look into Riverclan.

Yellowfang's Secret

I was so onboard with this book, for so much of it, but there were little things that bothered me throughout it.
On a positive note, I loved that we got a Shadowclan p.o.v book from a character with an interesting life. Shadowclan was also depicted as the “evil” clan in the Prophecies Begin, so it was a breath of fresh air to see them behave as an honorable group. Yellowfang was a strong lead with a bold personality, if not missing a bit of her classic crankiness. Seeing her fall apart as Brokentail rose to power was also heartbreaking, but in a compelling way.
Now, for my problems. Raggedstar is portrayed as a moody jerk throughout most of the book, being very hot and cold with Yellowfang. The main series always described him as the noble Shadowclan leader, but in this book he seems slightly unhinged. His romance with Yellowfang would have been so much better if he was never cruel to her, just sad. It would’ve made it so much more heartbreaking if he respected her decision to become a medicine cat, and still loved her.
Speaking of which, Yellowfang’s ‘ability’ was yet another forced “you have to be a medicine cat” type trait. As soon as she becomes one she learns to control it, which could have easily let her live the life of a warrior. It would have been so much better if it was her choice and not her destiny.
Finally, and this is more of a problem in later books, it seems odd that Yellowfang eventually renounces Shadowclan when she moves onto Starclan. She barely spent time in Thunderclan, and most of her Shadowclan life was very positive. Her “empathy powers” are also never mentioned again.
Overall, I did like this book, but its flaws are difficult to look past.

Bluestar's Prophecy

This was the first prequel SE I read, and I loved it. Granted, it’s not an earth shattering story, but it was really nice to spend time with Thunderclan prior to the Prophecies Begin. My favorite aspect of the book was getting to see the origins of iconic characters such as Lionheart, Tigerstar, Whitestorm and especially Bluestar.
I am a little on the fence about Bluestar’s characterization. Her life is a series of tragedies that causes her to become angry and withdrawn for a lot of the book. Just when the reader thinks Bluestar has gained her footing, another devastating event impacts her life (the loss of Moonflower, Snowfur, Mosskit, etc.). I was satisfied by the end of the book, and Bluestar’s ultimate choice to become deputy instead of Thistleclaw.

Leopardstar's Honor

Leopardstar’s Honor is a valiant attempt to tell a backstory that not only takes place before Prophecies Begin, but also happens concurrently with its events. The results are an interesting look into the inner psyche of Leopardstar, but also a slew of egregious continuity errors compounded by a sloppy final third that seems to have missed editing all together.
Leopardstar’s story isn’t revolutionary, but is entertaining enough to hold the reader’s attention through its 500+ length. These super editions feel so much better when it chronicles the life of a character, and avoids unnecessary travel (which, thankfully, Leopardtar’s Honor does). Leopardstar is an interesting POV character in that she is a bit spoiled, aggressive, and hotheaded. Her point of view is flawed, but in a lot of ways understandable given the competitive nature of the clans. Her alliance with Tigerstar ends up being very believable. I also appreciated how Leopardstar was able to be duped by Tigerstar because Thunderclan never came clean about why Tigerstar was banished from the clan. This was a common criticism of the Prophecies Begin, and is even pointed about by Leopardstar.
Storywise, my biggest complaint was Leopardstar’s fixation on Frogleap. The whole “be deputy or a queen” drama is so overdone, and not the least bit compelling. Leopardstar never takes a mate, and I was hoping it would be because she was not interested in toms at all.
But the worst parts of this book is the absolute lack of editing in some parts. The alliances are a disaster naming cats that should not even be alive at the same time, let alone Warriors. The worst comes at the end in which the following events play out in this order:

-Leopardstar turns down an offer to join Tigerclan, and reflects that Stormkit and Featherkit are still very young.
-The NEXT DAY Leopardstar makes Stonefur and Mistyfoot Featherpaw and Stormpaw’s mentors.
-Boulder and Jaggedtooth make a snide comment at the ceremony despite being in Shadowclan and not Tigerclan.
-Leopardstar finds out Stonefur and Mistyfoot are half clan and maybe shouldn’t have been chosen as mentors. Leopardstar joins Tigerclan.
-Tigerstar asks Leopardstar if she is set on making Mistyfoot and Stonefur Featherkit and Stormkit’s mentors (despite this having already happened??). They fight about this.
-In the ending Manga, when Mistyfoot goes missing, Reedpaw is STILL a young apprentice despite Hawkfrost already being a warrior. Reedpaw was named an apprentice way before Hawkfrost was even born (in this middle of this super edition).

These errors, compounded, are very confusing and distracting. It takes the reader out of the story. I love the Warriors books, but all of this is a sign that the production schedule is way too fast, and these books need more time in the oven. Despite all of that, I really did enjoy reading this book, and loved the perspective. I would like to see more flawed characters like Leopardstar.

Lightning Round - Prequel Novellas and Manga

Cloudstar's Journey
Mapleshade's Vengeance
Pinestar's Choice
Goosefeather's Curse
The Rise of Scourge
Spottedleaf's Heart
Redtail's Debt
Exile from Shadowclan

Cloudstar’s Journey - It was alright. Interesting to see SkyClan in the old territories, but it’s one of those “StarClan is sort of incompetent” kind of books. Cloudstar’s ancestors are in denial of the situation, and give him bad advice. Overall, this was a story better left as the footnote of Firestar’s Quest.

Mapleshade’s Vengeance - I liked this one a lot! Mapleshade makes for a good villain- she’s ruthless, entitled, and completely irrational. I do not find her to be a tragic or sympathetic villain as she puts herself in a lot of her own misfortune with her delusions and lies. Overall, a good origin story for this menacing ghost.

Pinestar’s Choice - A story I liked more than I thought I would. Pinestar’s decision to become a kittypet in Bluestar’s prophecy felt abrupt, so it was nice to finally have the full context. I liked his relationship with the kittypets, and that he was still an honorable leader up until he decided to leave his clan. It’s unfortunate we never see him again, especially given the fact that he is Tigerstar’s Father.

Goosefeather’s Curse - Another, “you have to be a medicine cat because you have weird powers that no one can explain - sorry!”. Wasn’t a huge fan of this one.

The Rise of Scourge - Absolutely love Bettina Kurkoski’s illustrations in this manga, and wish that she had gotten to do more. The Rise of Scourge is a pretty predictable story, but it’s elevated by Kurkoski’s expressive style and depiction of Scourge. This story made me root for Scourge when he killed Tigerstar in the Prophecies Begin.

Spottedleaf’s Heart - Spottedleaf and Thistleclaw…? Strange story of an abusive, slightly pedophillic, relationship. There was no need to depict Spottedleaf as ever wanting to be a warrior in my opinion. The trope of conversion from warrior to medicine cat is so tried. I was hoping this would instead be the story of how Spottedleaf came to love Firestar, but alas, it is not.

Redtail’s Debt - Probably one of the worst novellas thus far. Redtail's debt is completely unnessary, and gets so many details wrong from Into the Wild. It recontextualizes events to make Tigerclaw overtly evil instead of a subtle ambitious force, while also incorrectly claiming that Redtail kills Oakheart. Cats are wildly out of character. Rushed and lazy.

Exile from Shadowclan - It was a pretty looking graphic novel, but tried way too hard to make first arc Shadowclan look like well meaning fools instead of the malicious cats they were. Nightstar is retroactively painted as a truly noble cat, when in actuality he was all in favor of keeping Windclan exiled. It was also eye rolling when Starclan said they can't pick leaders. Of all the reasons not to give Nightstar his lives, this was the weakest excuse.

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