Warriors Wednesday – Fire and Ice, by Erin Hunter

 Buy from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or IndieBound

Author’s website
Publication date – May 20, 2004

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Book Two of WARRIORS continues Fireheart’s quest to be a true warrior, when he finds new danger lurking in the woods as the chill of winter sets in.

WindClan is missing, and hostilities between the remaining three clans place all the cats in peril. Illness and tragic accidents weaken the camp, and ThunderClan needs all its warriors to defent itself – but Fireheart suspects that certain cats may not be as loyal as they appear.

Thoughts: Firepaw has become Fireheart, a full warrior in Thunderclan. Book 2 picks up only a few hours after the first book finished, jumping back into the story immediately.

You can really start to see what the series is going to become when you read this book. The first book of the series was something of a coming-of-age tale, in a sense, with a good introduction to how things work without bogging you down in too much information. Here there are still some explanations, but it’s clear that the author expects you to have remembered plenty from before, and doesn’t go nuts with repetition about the practicalities of Clan life and how Fireheart is now expected to live.

You also get to see the plot really start to pick up. Tigerclaw starts to become far more suspicious than he was previously, Fireheart has to suffer from multiple divided loyalties, Graystripe breaks the warrior code and falls in love with a cat from another Clan, and Fireheart also gets his first apprentice. And danger, illness, and injury are always lying around the next corner. There’s plenty of action, intrigue, and detail to keep any reader interested. Characters do a lot of evolving and growing up as the story goes on, and it’s interesting to see such dynamic character design while still keeping everyone the same familiar cats we got used to in the first book of the series. I do enjoy books where characters grown and learn and change where circumstances dictate it, especially in mid-grade a YA books.

The big failing in this book comes from reading it when you’re not exactly in the book intended age range, however, and it’s a failing that spans the entire series. Fireheart’s introspection, and ending practically every chapter with a question. “Could so-and-so really be what they seem?” “Could he have made a mistake?” “Was it that this thing really was that thing in disguise?” I understand that these books were written for a younger audience, and the cliffhanger-as-question thing is a good way to get kids to keep turning pages, but it does get a little tedious when  you’re reading these books as an adult.

But in spite of that, a good story is still told, and in such a way that this series has hooked countless readers of all ages. I still contend that this is a series worth checking out.

And with that being said, just wait until the events of the third book, where everything you expect about a kids series just gets blown right out of the water!

Warriors Wednesday – Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter

  Buy from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or IndieBound

Author’s website
Publication date – January 9, 2003

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying– and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary house cat named Rusty . . . who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

Thoughts: From the time I first picked up this book, to now, I have had a soft spot for this series. While on the surface it may seem like something bland an uninteresting, a series for little kids, rest assured that this series contains some very heavy stuff as it goes along.

However, you don’t get to see much of that in this first book. Into the Wild is more of a coming-of-age tale of Rusty, a housecat who longs to be free and roam the outdoors. Through luck and skill, he manages to find a place within one of the four cat Clans in the nearby forest, and becomes Firepaw, and eventually Fireheart when he becomes a full warrior for the Clan.

In many ways, this book isn’t too different from many fish-out-of-water tales, either. As someone who has lived his life as an outsider, Firepaw is in that wonderful position to have everything explained to him by others, making him a proxy for the reader. As Firepaw learns, so do we. This is handled quite well, really, and the info-dumps are neither long nor boring. Erin Hunter (who is actually a group of authors writing under a pseudonym, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll refer to them as a single person) certainly shows off a high degree of creative talent in the world that is set up around the Clan cats. Rituals, history, mythology, all of it’s there, from the perspective of feral cats.

I find that this series straddles the line between a simple children’s tale and deeper fantasy. While there are clear fantastical elements, such as the presence of the supernatural and prophecies, most of the characters are more concerned with their mundane lives than with grand spiritual affairs, though spiritual believe certainly runs through them all. It’s a hard book to classify into a genre, though I think fantasy is probably the closest.

This is definitely a strong start to what I already know is a fantastic and deep series of books, though taken as part of the whole, it can be a little bit dull. There’s some political intrigue, discovery, plenty of action, but for the most part it’s intended as an introduction to the world that we’ll be seeing a lot more of in future books, and to much greater detail. If you read this and find yourself a little put off by how slow it can be sometimes, I’d recommend sticking it out and seeing your opinion after the second book, when much more of the plot really starts to take off.

The starting of Warriors Wednesday

Recently, I was struck by the urge to reread Erin Hunter’s Warriors books. As much as they’re not the usual fare for this blog (I did review one of them here once, though), I still very much enjoy the series, and definitely think that they’re more interesting than a lot of people give them credit for. And they do have a fantasy bent to them. It isn’t a strong one, but there are definitely supernatural elements at work in the world that was created around clans of feral cats.

And since I’m so behind on my reading goals this year, rereading (and finally properly reviewing) this series will help a lot. But to keep this blog from being inundated with posts about the series (they’re short books, and I can get through a few of them in a day if I’m not doing much else), I’m going to start a new feature here. Warriors Wednesdays, which will continue until I’ve reviewed all the books in the series.

Or at least all of the ones that I have.

And so if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and write up the first review. Expect it here in an hour or so.