The trick is to learn from your mistakes, and have the courage to be true to your heart.
Erin Hunter’s The Darkest Hour is quite easily my favorite of the series so far. I think there’s truly something brilliant to the conflicts in this novel, particularly in the buildup. And though I’m sure there are some who may have found the direction Hunter takes annoying due to its shocking nature, but I have to admit that I was thoroughly impressed.
Fireheart begins this book a Warrior as a time of mourning falls over the clan. With threats on the horizon, however, he quickly takes up the mantle of becoming Firestar with Bluestar’s blessing. The clans are about to face a threat they never could’ve imagined.
In a way, Firestar was built for leadership. Though he struggled at first as deputy, he learned quickly and garnered loyalty from a number of cars who were excellent mentors. It is that very mentorship that prompts Firestar’s own choice in deputy, one that I absolutely adored and agreed with. As he assumes leadership of Thunderclan, Firestar very quickly learns that the cats under his protection will need to face the very real threat of Tigerstar someday soon
Hardship and Brilliance
A lot happens in the final novel of The Prophesies Begin arc of the Warriors series. Much is motivated by anticipating the nefarious acts of power-mad Tigerstar. Concern for Greystripe’s kits in Riverclan mounts as Tigerstar convinces their leader, Leopardstar to join him. He insists both Firestar and Tallstar of Windclan join under his leadership, in essence creating one clan for himself.
The entire first half of the book centers around these plot threads that have been building since book one. Tigerstar is the cat to beat, the one threatening all who live in the territories. He rules cruelly, demanding fear and undying loyalty from the clans he has taken over. And he will not rest until he has everything. But Tigerstar has made a mistake, both in overestimating his power and underestimating those around him.
It is in this where the brilliance of the story lies.
Loving the Unexpected
I think it’s safe to say that the story you expect is not exactly the story you get from Hunter’s The Darkest Hour. Fortunately, this is a wonderful thing and results in one of the most epic conclusions I could have imagined for this middlegrade novel from my childhood.
Content warnings remain, of course, especially for this one. There is a lot of fighting, blood, and death involved in this concluding tale. It’s even more so than the previous books which, surprisingly, is saying something. Still, this is a conclusion worth waiting for and I am glad to have loved these books as a child and thrilled that I am able to read them now.
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