[Mapleshade lays on a tree branch with a insidious smile]

Mapleshade- Evil or Lack of Character Development? by Foxshadow

mapleshade_by_lunarkisa-da0r3q6“I for one, wanted to hear more about Mapleshade’s past, not just an elaborated storyline of something we already knew about.”

Not too long ago I found myself lost in a sea of unread books, most of them being from series I had dropped months before. One of them being Warrior Cats (my bad). I was reminded of the release of Mapleshade’s Vengeance, and not living close enough to a bookstore to be able to go to one on my own free will (back at its release I could not yet drive myself), I purchased it (with consent from my parental figures) on a kindle—not the cool kind, no. An old kindle touch, mind you. Of course, being myself and not delving more deeply into the comments made by fans I failed to realize that it was a novella and not a super edition, and let me tell you I was sorely disappointed by the abrupt end to the story.
But enough about me and my opinions let’s get to the story. Spoilers ahead!

Alright, so the entire concept of Mapleshade’s sudden turn to COMPLETELY EVIL kind of sent me off the path of understanding and adoration for the complexity of the character to becoming suddenly confused as to why it happened in the first place.

I, being a teenager with nothing better to do, had already written short “fanfictions” that were almost headcanons or predictions of the whole “how Mapleshade turned evil” thing, and since we already knew she had given birth to three kits that then drowned and died tragically, I imagined her growing hatred for her ex-mate to be more deeply expressed. Instead, in the canon story we have a crazy sister-in-law who isn’t actually a sister-in-law, an obsessive somewhat possessive not-actually-father-in-law, a medicine cat bent on destroying everything for some mystical medicine cat reason, and…that random apprentice that suddenly beats the most evil of evil cats at that time one-on-one even though it seemed as if no-one else could? I mean don’t get me wrong, interesting cast of characters, but most of the story fell flat with me. I for one, wanted to hear more about Mapleshade’s past, not just an elaborated storyline of something we already knew about. Let’s just start out with something basic.

How about Frecklewish?

Since the name had already been used before, I found myself very confused as to who she was in terms of other stories…and why she existed. It seemed she was only there to yell at Mapleshade and hate her. I get it, her brother died, but I never found myself able to like her. She seemed very hateful and angry, and didn’t seem to do much else throughout the story…I didn’t exactly enjoy her character.

Then there was Ravenwing, who calmly and composedly destroyed the rest of Mapleshade’s life because heaven forbid she let her kittens learn to swim! Thank you, Ravenwing, for everything you’ve done. Hats off to you, sir.

Don’t even get me started on Oakstar. His purpose was really only to be very stupid and forget what his son looked like (because no those kits did not look like Birchface)…and then to get mad at Mapleshade and exile her. I didn’t think it was very necessary…
But honestly, if I continue to do these short little character criticisms, this will get boring very fast, so let’s skip to the main idea; Mapleshade becoming evil.

If I recall correctly, the book literally described it as “a seed of evil being planted within her.” The first thing I remember thinking was….wait really? That’s it? Basically it takes Mapleshade’s character—in my eyes at least—and downgrades it by at least 50%. She’s no longer this complex villain character, but just another jealous she-cat. Like a more murderous, female Ashfur. The whole “I thought I would be your mate before so-and-so came along and you took everything I love so I’m going to do the same to you” storyline seems to have become steadily overused throughout the survival of this series. The book felt very step-by-step…Mapleshade has kits, kits die, mate turns out to not actually love her, she kills everyone. Only it’s even worse than it sounds to me because we know nothing about her.

Who were Mapleshade’s parents? Did she ever have littermates? How did she meet Appledusk? Why did she fall in love with him? What was Mapleshade’s relationship to Birchface? Did she ever really love him? What was Mapleshade’s relationship to her mentor?

All questions left unanswered as she seems to have vanished from the books after the release of her novella.
In my opinion, it would have made more sense to further explain this mysterious, dark character instead of take her story and squash it in between an inch of a book cover.

But that’s just me talking.

So, was Mapleshade actually reasonably “evil” per se, or was it lack of character development that made her the way she is now?

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  • Great article! This is really well thought out! I agree that a super edition would have been much better. The novella was just more of the same story we’ve heard a billion times before. Most novellas usually do a good job at expanding on characters backstories, I.e. We learned about Goosefeather and his curse and what made him so crazy in his novella, we learned what happened to Hollyleaf in the tunnels, and so much about other characters but with Mapleshade it was, let’s detail what you did, that’ll tide the fans over. I would have loved to see her early life and how she lived her life before and after she met Appledusk. If I remember correctly, Beetail seemed a little put off when Mapleshade told him she was expecting. Was that just because he didn’t know what to do or was he upset because he liked her and didn’t want her to have another toms kits? (Secret OTP of mine.) Also why did Mapleshade think it was a good idea to lie about her kits father because she wanted to tell the truth later? I man I know she said she didn’t lie out loud but when Frecklewish asks you if their father is Birchface and you respond with “You have answered my prayers, my kits are no longer alone”, even if she didn’t expressly say they were his, it’s looks like she’s pretty obviously saying they are. Anyway, there were just so many questions left unanswered and I wish she had gotten a super edition.

  • Extra development of her character would have been nice, but Mapleshade would still be evil. She was a murderer, and even after her death she didn’t stop. I doubt that any more development would make her seem any less evil, unless something tragic happened before Mapleshade’s Vengence that wasn’t touched upon justifies her going insane (but it would be weird not to include such major things which makes me doubt that was the case.) The novella was most likely there to make how she landed herself in the DF clearer for the readers who didn’t catch it the first time or wanted to know in a little more detail. It was a good novella too, and I think that it achieved what it wanted to do. The characters who mistreated her were a little hit-and-miss, but when you only have about 90 pages to write a story character development becomes the least of your problems. It was about Mapleshade after all, not Appledusk, Oakstar and the rest of them. Poor Mapleshade; too much to put into a novella, not enough for a Super Edition XD

    Interesting article 🙂

  • I completely agree with you. I always wanted to know about Mapleshade’s backstory and was super excited to hear “Mapleshade’s Vengeance” was coming out… until I discovered it was a novella. I really think she required a Super Edition because we knew so little about her and her story /could/ be explored. Novellas work when finding out some extra info about characters who we already know quite well like Hollyleaf and Dovewing for example. I would have loved to have seen her from a kit, learn about Thunderclan in the past, got to meet Birchface, got to see how ‘great’ he was and how well he got on with his father, Oakstar, got to see Mapleshade’s relationship with Appledusk start and progress and even see the battle in which Birchface was killed. We know so little about that time in Thunderclan history; it would have been a great opportunity to elaborate on it. Plus I’ve always wanted an SE from a villain’s point of view to really see the character development. Like, was she always aggressive? Did she have a battle-hungry streak? She always seemed like a good fighter in the Dark Forest, was she always like that? You get my point 😛

  • Hmm.. I never considered this. I always believed she became evil because she had hallucinations of her kits telling her to kill other cats.

  • Great article, Foxshadow! Maybe you should make a few articles that defend your side and the others who think Mapleshade is evil and let the readers decide for themselves?

  • I agree with you Mapleshade should of had more character development. She’s still one of my favorite characters though. Great article!

    • I just wanted to comment,so I’m not criticising your comment Owlheart. I think that her mother should be Icedawn, and her father be Eaglefire. Icedawn is a pure white she-cat with yellow eyes and darker flecks, and Eaglefire is a ruffled Gray Tom with amber eyes and a black tipped tail. She is born with a litter of five, her littermates are Yellowkit, Sandkit, Cinderkit, and Willowkit. Cinderkit dies at birth, and Yellowkit and Sandkit die of greencough 3 moons after their birth. Willowkit and Maplekit grow very close and they grow up together. Willowkit becomes Willowstorm, and Maplekit to Mapleshade (obviously). Much like the flood in tpb, the river floods the camp of RiverClan, and they have to take cover at ThunderClan camp. Appledusk is ordered to sleep in the warriors den, as the medicine den is full, and there is nowhere else for anyone to sleep, except the warriors den. He sleeps next to Mapleshade, and when they wake up, it is love at first sight. They make excuses to hunt and patrol together, and share prey. Sort of like Tigerheart and Dovewing. They fall in love, and agree to meet every night beside the river. They spend the night together, and soon they have kits together, then so on and so on, as it goes in the book.

  • I totally agree! The novella should have at least shown the battle with RiverClan to give us a bit of context about what all this anti-RiverClan thing was in ThunderClan at the time.

    I’m not going to go all “first semester college student who took one psychology class” here, but what Mapleshade did was a perfectly normal reaction for a traumatized grieving mother to do. She became so tired from being banished from Clan after Clan that she began to dream with her eyes open and naturally had PTSD-esque nightmares about her children dying. She was so angry and grief striken that she dreamt of them telling her to commit murder. Not defending what she did, but it was explainable.

    Here’s my idea of how the plot could have gone with more character development:

    Maplekit is born to Rainfeather, a fluffy gray she-cat with blue-gray flecks and blue eyes (sorry I love the theory of Mapleshade being related to Bluestar), along with her two siblings Deerkit (Deerdapple in MV) and Briarkit, a dark ginger tabby tom with blue eyes. Her father is the current deputy of ThunderClan, Briarwhisker, a mottled ginger and brown tabby tom with sharp yellow eyes and black stripes, under Oakstar. He is a cold, power-hungry cat who wants to become leader and have a legacy in the Clan (like Tigerstar). He is abusive to Rainfeather, as she had trouble becoming pregnant. Rainfeather had a crush on him as a young apprentice and warrior but only discovered his horrible personality until they were mates. She stays with him out of fear for her own life and has Stockholm syndrome. Briarwhisker favors his son because he resembles him the most and is a tom. However, Briarkit becomes ill with greencough and dies at two moons old and one of Mapleshade’s earliest memories is seeing him strike Rainfeather and calling her a diseased piece of crowfood because their son died. When other cats come to see what all the commotion is, he says that Rainfeather was overcome with grief for her kit and clawed at her own face, pretending to be concerned and licking her wound. Rainfeather says nothing, just sobs. Maplekit and Deerkit grow up in fear of their father. After they become apprentices, their father takes them on night training in secret, drilling them constantly and berating them for being worthless she-cats and that their only virtue is that they will continue his bloodline. Bloomheart, Maplepaw’s mentor, notices her exhaustion during the day and scars all over her, but she assures him that everything is fine but he doesn’t believe her. Rainfeather becomes pregnant again, but the two kits are stillborn, and both are toms. A few days after, Briarwhisker asks Rainfeather to go on a walk with him to “cheer her up after the tragedy”, and the other queens encourage her to go. Maplepaw and Deerpaw watch in dread as their mother is lead out of camp by the merciless tom. Maplepaw wants to follow them and tries to get Deerpaw to come along but she refuses, as she is terrified of him too. Maplepaw follows them to the river and sees Briarwhisker beating Rainfeather, saying that she has been useless as a mate and as a warrior, and finally kills her by tossing her onto the stepping stones where she hits her head and breaks her neck. Enraged, Maplepaw leaps out and fights her father for killing the she-cat. Her calls her weak like her mother and almost wins but just then, a young RiverClan warrior, Appledusk, who had been watching the two struggle, intervenes and fights Briarwhisker. Bloomheart, who had been in the forest looking for his apprentice, arrived and Maplepaw reveals what her father had done and Bloomheart helps chase the cruel deputy off. Appledusk helps carry Rainfeather’s body back to camp and helps Bloomheart explain what happened. Maplepaw tells of her father’s long term cruelty and Deerpaw confirms it as true. The clan is shocked, and Oakstar sends out a patrol to hunt down Briarwhisker and kill him. Oakstar then makes Maplepaw and Deerpaw warriors and thanks Appledusk for his help. Before he leaves, he has a private moment with the newly named Mapleshade and tells her that she is the bravest cat he’d ever seen and looks forward to seeing her at Gatherings. They meet at the next Gathering and agree to start meeting in secret. Briarwhisker is found dead by the Thunderpath, killed by a monster.

    So it could be inherited evil and shock at how the Clan could turn against her after she helped reveal that a murderous cat was in their midst and could have been in charge of the Clan instead of pure grief.

    That was way long sorry 😛 Maybe I should write a fanfic…

    • Oh wow…

      I made my own little fanfic (haha, little…that is a huge understatement), where Mapleshade was named after her mother who either died during kitting or something else. She had a brother (Stormkit, who was named after either the brother of her mother or father who died as a kit in an accident), and an adoring father. Raised mostly by her denmate Birchkit’s mother, she grew close to him, and he appeared to have a liking for her since they were young.
      Shortly before becoming an apprentice, Stormkit, her brother, died (possibly drowned). Devastated, Maplepaw went to Birchpaw for comfort and therefor grew closer to him. The two bonded, and because he liked her so much, he was able to convince his father to allow Maplepaw to go to her first gathering despite the fact that maybe she wasn’t the most devoted apprentice to begin with. There, she accidentally met an older apprentice by the name of Applepaw after having been urged to talk to cats from other clans. I imagined him as a bit of a flirt and she felt completely flattered by his compliments and comments. Of course, as she grew, she enjoyed meeting with Applepaw at gatherings, and one day one of them presented the idea of meeting in between gatherings as well at the borders. She thought there could be no harm in it.
      Of course so on and so on the story starts to take shape.

      Even though this isn’t a canon or reasonable reason at all, I feel like she was very invested in Crookedstar (AKA Stormkit), for more than one reason. Yes, he would be powerful, but he also survived the fate that her brother Stormkit had not.
      Notice that not one Stormkit survived to apprenticeship.
      Her mother or father’s kit brother died as Stormkit
      Her brother died as Stormkit
      And by the time he was an apprentice, Stormkit had been renamed Crookedkit, and his mother treated him as if he were dead…so in a sense, that Stormkit had died too.

      I don’t know, it just seemed fun at the time.

      Your story is really cool though 😀

      • Well, Graystripe and Silverstream’s son Stormkit did survive to apprenticeship (in fact, survived well into warriorship and became Stormfur). But yeah, other than that, Stormkits don’t tend to survive very long…

        • Well true
          Poor Stormkits

          it’s a curse :O

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