Never trust a fox. Looks like a dog, behaves like a cat.
First published way back in 2003, Into the Wild is part one of what equates to an episodic-eseque set of novels by Erin Hunter called Warriors. I was pretty in love with these books as a kid, though as I got older I ended up getting rid of my copies only to purchase and return to the series as I near my 30s. And I have to say, I definitely have a nostalgic love for the orange kittypet turned Warrior. I have a stronger emotional attachment to this series than I ever realized.
Fire Will Save Our Clan
Kittypet Rusty’s short life has consisted of a comfy home free of hardship. But it is also free of adventure and purpose. So, when he is presented with the opportunity to join the warrior clan cats of the forest, he takes it. Soon, he is given the name Firepaw and begins his journey to become a warrior. To do so, he must first prove to his new clan he is worthy of the life they have given him. With the help of his new friend, Greypaw, he will brave training, fierce battles, and the shadow of treachery that exists inside ThunderClan.
Soon he learns about the three other clans of the wild; River, Wind, and Shadow. Soon, Firepaw is making decisions that will shape not only his, but also the future of all clan cats. As the name Erin Hunter is a pseudonym for seven different authors throughout the series, Into the Wild was written by Kate Cary.
What’s interesting about these books is just how well the system of the world works. You very quickly find yourself understanding the ways of clan life and the systems by which they survive. For a middlegrade novel, this story is a bit more violent that you’d initially expect. Wounds and deaths are fairly commonplace throughout the book.
The overall themes are very mature, though not in a way that is inaccessible to young readers. And this continues to be true for the subsequent sequels. Important to note is that middlegraders who are easily upset by death, especially of animals, may struggle with this read. Looking back, I can say that overarching ideas made an impression on me. In general, though, the finer and darker details were a lot clearer this time around.
The series presents itself somewhat episodically, kind of existing in what presents to me as a season with six episodes. A lot of young reader books are like this, generally focusing on smaller plots that eventually lead to a grand finale.
Firepaw is a fairly young cat, new to both clan life and the world in general. He has a lot to learn and shows this often with sometimes incredibly brash actions. Even so, he is thoroughly intelligent. It’s easy to grow attached to the main characters, particularly Firepaw, Greypaw, and Ravenpaw. Even Bluestar and Lionheart, the clan leaders, evoke an emotional reaction. They sort of exist as caring authority figures, very reminiscent of mentors kids respect.
The focus of the first “episode” of Warriors centers around the evil deeds of one cat in particular, the monstrous Brokenstar. Clan leader for ShadowClan, this cat has dangerous ambitions that put all of the cats in the forest at risk. And while the cats of the forest focus their attention on him, Hunter expertly builds the series plot beneath the surface.
Firepaw’s tale is impressively written. His journey is just beginning, with readers lucky to get a brilliant glimpse into his life and legacy. I had a lot of fun reading the books, as a child and even now. I’m certainly glad to have the novels back in my collection.
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