Lavenderbreeze discusses Ashfur and his usage in the series.
This is a detailed look into Ashfur as a character and a critique of his change from a loyal warrior to a traitor whose purpose was the push the plot in a certain direction. This analysis will contain spoilers for the first three series and parts of the fourth, as well as Firestar’s Quest. This is a rather lengthy article as I will delve into Ashfur’s motives, friendships, and each moment that I think shows who he truly is as a character. I also want to state that while I am pointing out what I believe are flaws with the story, I know that at the end of the day the Erins have a lot of cats to keep track of and some of them are bound to be out of character at times due to this. I also want to state this is only my opinion, formed on a long look at Ashfur and his character development. I would love to hear what others think about this topic.
The Prophecies Begin
Ashfur was born to Brindleface, and raised alongside his sister Ferncloud and his adopted brother Cloudtail. As kits the three share a bond, they sneak out of camp to go hunting together in Fire and Ice.
Together in Forest of Secrets, they watch Thornpaw and Brightpaw’s apprentice ceremonies and play together in the snow.
In Rising Storm, Fernpaw and Ashpaw join Cloudpaw in being apprentices. Ashpaw is Dustpelt’s first apprentice and is elated at the prospect of starting his training and is clearly fond of his new mentor. Throughout Rising Storm, Ashpaw shows he is a loyal friend to Cloudpaw. The pair often go on patrol together and when Cloudpaw begins eating kittypet food, Ashpaw doesn’t betray his secret. Ashpaw is the first to ask about Cloudpaw’s disappearance, despite being asked by Darkstripe to find out where Cloudpaw went, he admits he asked because he is worried about him since Cloudpaw said he’d be back by mealtime and he always keeps his word. When Fireheart tells him what happened to Cloudpaw, Ashpaw is extremely upset. Even when Fireheart stops believing in Cloudpaw, Ashpaw still believes he never would have left without telling him and states that he doesn’t believe he would leave. When Cloudpaw returns, Ashpaw welcomes him back estaticaly, running to him to touch noses with him. Despite everyone’s doubts about Cloudpaw, Ashpaw never gives up hope that his friend and adopted littermate would do the right thing.
In a Dangerous Path, Ashpaw gets more time to show his loyalty to his clan and his kin. When Swiftpaw and Brightpaw decide to track down the source of the recent prey theft in Thunderclan, Ashpaw and Fernpaw refuse to join them. Despite their anger at Bluestar for not making them warriors as well as Cloudtail, the pair refuses to take part in this scheme outside of the warrior code. When their mother, Brindleface, is killed by Tigerstar to be bait for the dogs, Ashpaw and Fernpaw step up to take a risk to protect their clan and avenge their mother. Both Ashpaw and Fernpaw successfully outrun the dogs and do not stray from their orders not to attack the dogs as revenge, proving their dedication to the clan. After this, Ashpaw admits that despite his act of bravery, he was terrified during the ordeal with the dogs, proving his humility. His relationship with Dustpelt is shown to be strong as the warrior comforts him and reassures him that fear is a reasonable emotion to feel during these times. He also joins the rescue patrol to Windclan. During the battle against Bloodclan, Ashpaw starts the attack with Bramblepaw against Bone to avenge Whitestorm’s death. He and the other apprentices kill Bone and continue to drive away Bloodclan. Ashpaw fought bravely and proved himself to be a loyal warrior of Thunderclan.
In Firestar’s Quest, Ashfur has recently become a warrior and is shown to be close friends with Brambleclaw. Ashfur also helps fight a badger in this book and his shoulder is injured but he still helps Firestar carry Willowpelt’s body for burial before going to see Cinderpelt for his shoulder.
The New Prophecy
Here we begin to see Ashfur change as a character. In Midnight he is still shown as a thoughtful and loyal warrior. He continues to show his bravery by searching for a badger and evading it, and his kind heart is shown as he wishes to take revenge on the badger who may have been the same one that killed Willowpelt.
Ashfur begins to change in Moonrise, when Cloudtail and Brightheart go missing, Ashfur claims that he thinks they left the clan deliberately. This is odd as he previously defended Cloudtail for being a cat of his word who wouldn’t leave the clan. Their friendship seems to have disappeared from the plot for no real reason. He also agrees with Mousefur’s remark that Cloudtail would leave the clan to find kittypet food despite the fact that Ashfur should know better than anyone that Cloudtail regretted ever doing that and would never desert his clan to live with twolegs. Suddenly, the close friendship and kinship between the pair has vanished into thin air. Ashfur also is angry with Firestar for allowing Windclan warriors to get away with stealing prey, which is uncharacteristic for a cat who fought as an ally to Windclan multiple times in the past.
In Dawn Ashfur seems a bit more like his usual self, he is kind to Squirrelpaw and Brambleclaw when they return to the forest and attempts to protect the pair from the news about the Fourtrees being destroyed when Whitepaw blurted it out. When the topic of a new deputy first comes up, Ashfur supports his close friend, Brambleclaw, stating that he was the best choice to be the new deputy. When Shrewpaw dies, Ashfur makes sure that his nephew, Birchkit, is fed while his sister grieved. This book shows us a small glance at the Ashfur we know and love, but it is quickly ripped away from us in the rest of the series.
In Starlight, Ashfur quickly becomes close with Squirrelflight, his close friendship with Brambleclaw seemingly forgotten. He is shown as falling for Squirrelflight despite her previous closeness with Brambleclaw. Ironically, he chose to pursue Squirrelflight over his friendship with Brambleclaw, and later accuses Brambleclaw of stealing Squirrelflight from him. Throughout the entire book, the once loyal friend Ashfur, is never seen spending time with any of his old friends (Cloudtail, Brambleclaw, Ferncloud, or Dustpelt). He is practically a new cat, spending all his time with Squirrelflight and existing solely as an obstacle between Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw.
In Twilight, a small hint of the friendship between Brambleclaw and Ashfur is mentioned when Ashfur defends Brambleclaw to Spiderleg, stating that he’s a good warrior and would be a good deputy. Later, Ashfur becomes mentor to Birchfall and also states that he believes Daisy’s kits would make a good addition to the clan, a brief moment where he seems a bit like his old self. In the badger attack, Ashfur tries to help defend Squirrelflight.
In Sunset, Squirrelflight choses to be with Brambleclaw. She tells Ashfur that she wanted to love him but it was never right and explained her feelings for Brambleclaw. After this Ashfur becomes irate at both of them and suddenly decides that Brambleclaw is an untrustworthy cat due to his parentage. Ashfur’s newfound belief that Brambleclaw is untrustworthy due to his father being Tigerstar, who killed Ashfur’s mother, came out of nowhere. In the previous books the pair were good friends despite Brambleclaw’s parentage, and Ashfur consistently stated that Brambleclaw was a great and loyal warrior and even suggested he be deputy. In contrast to his previous suggestions that Brambleclaw be deputy, now that the time has come for Brambleclaw to step up as deputy, he openly challenges this choice.
Later, when Firestar is trapped in the fox trap, he rushes back to camp to ask for help, claiming he couldn’t fight off both Hawkfrost and Brambleclaw. At this time, to me it seems unlikely that Ashfur was actually part of the plan to kill Firestar, but instead that he merely wanted to expose Brambleclaw as a traitor.
Although it was later revealed that Ashfur was part of this plot, I believe this was written in afterwards. The Erins needed a cat to take the fall as a traitor and Ashfur fit the bill. Ashfur, who lost his own mother to Tigerstar, probably would not have helped Hawkfrost execute Tigerstar’s plan to kill Firestar. Nor would the cat who was previously kind and loyal decide to attempt to kill the father of the cat he loved to make her suffer. I don’t believe a cat who experienced the loss of a parent would have wished this on someone he felt so strongly for.
The Power of Three
Right away, Ashfur is named Lionpaw’s mentor. Brambleclaw and Firestar, being the deputy and leader of the clan, chose to make a cat who resented Lionpaw’s parents his mentor. This seems to be a moment where the character’s are no longer making choices based on what they think is best, but based on plot convenience. Throughout Lionpaw’s apprenticeship, Ashfur is extremely cold to him and practically every moment we spend with Ashfur shows him to be a cold and heartless cat who harbors a grudge towards his apprentice. He fights with Lionpaw on multiple occasions.
During the fire Ashfur corners the three and Squirrelflight, attempting to kill the three to take revenge against her, to make him feel the pain he felt. He admits that he conspired with Hawkfrost (who he had previously disliked due to his ambition) to lead Firestar to his death. When Squirrelflight admits that the three are not her kits, Ashfur decides to tell the Clans the truth at the next Gathering. The previously loyal Thunderclan warrior is now willing to humiliate his clan at a Gathering due to a personal grudge. When Ashfur dies, Whitewing and his previous apprentice, Birchfall, mourn him. None of his friends from the earlier books seem to be upset about his passing.
Omen of the Stars
Ashfur, despite his many attempts at murder, is seen in Starclan. Yellowfang explains that all he did wrong was “love too much”.
Ashfur begins the series as a loyal warrior to Thunderclan with a kind heart. He is willing to stand up for his friends and does not back down from danger when it is necessary to protect his clan. He shows that personal grudges are not more important to him than clan loyalty when he puts aside his desire to take revenge on the dogs himself to lead them off the cliff instead. He also becomes close friends with Brambleclaw and supports him continuously despite the fact his father murdered Ashfur’s mother.
Ashfur transitioned into a bitter cat who harbored many grudges and was willing to throw away his clan loyalty to take revenge. His previous friendships that he had defended with tooth and claw disappeared as if they had never existed. I believe that this was not a true transition of Ashfur becoming a bad cat due to heartbreak, but instead of Ashfur becoming a plot device. Afterall, Ashfur had already experienced heartbreak when his mother was killed by Tigerstar, but despite his grief he became a strong and loyal warrior. But the second Squirrelflight rejects him, he turns bitter due to his heartbreak, this seems out of character to me as he was strong enough to move past his mother’s death. It also strikes me as odd for Ashfur, who cared deeply for his sister, would want to punish Squirrelflight by killing her kits, when he had experienced the loss of so many of his sister’s kits. I doubt that a cat who supported his sister through so many losses would wish that on another cat simply for rejecting him.
His transformation into a treacherous cat was used to push Hollyleaf, Jayfeather, and Lionblaze to discover the truth about Squirrelflight not being their mother. He also became a plot device to push Hollyleaf to grow as a character and begin to question her beliefs in the warrior code and in the end killing Ashfur to silence him. I firmly believe that Ashfur’s deeds should eliminate him from being a Starclan cat, but yet he ended up in Starclan. This leads me to believe the Erins realize that Ashfur was a truly loyal and good cat before he was turned into a plot device. They then may have sent Ashfur to Starclan because the true Ashfur of the first books was a good cat and a loyal warrior. The Ashfur of the earlier series likely never would have committed so many atrocities, the Ashfur that existed solely as a plot device for the three was a bitter cat who deserved to go to the Dark Forest. But the true Ashfur was kind and loyal, a warrior truly worthy of Starclan.
The Ashfur that conspired with Hawkfrost and attempted to kill the three was never the Ashfur we knew and loved, he was a plot device used to push the story forward. While plot devices are sometimes necessary, I do believe that Ashfur deserved a chance to be the cat he was at the beginning of the series. He deserved to be Brambleclaw’s close friend and to continue to look out for Ferncloud and Cloudtail as his siblings, but he never did. If Ashfur hadn’t become a plot device, I believe he would have asked to be Lionpaw’s mentor, to look out for his close friend’s son. And he would have moved on and found a new mate, while remaining friends with Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw, who still wished to be friends with him after the break up. Perhaps he even would have found another mate, it’s hard to believe that a warrior like Ashfur would’ve stayed hung up over a short fling for so long, especially when Squirrelflight harbored no ill will to him. She only was doing what she thought was right by choosing to be with the cat she loved, I think the Ashfur of the beginning of the series would have been hurt but respected that and eventually moved on.
While a cat can change drastically over the course of the series, I believe Ashfur’s changes in personality were unwarranted and solely done for plot convenience. If Ashfur wasn’t needed as a cat to become the traitor that conspired with Hawkfrost or the driving force behind the three discovering their true identities, I think he would have stayed the kind hearted warrior he was in the beginning. I hope in Starclan he gets to live the life he never got to live in the later books. Although some part of me will always believe his crimes should’ve landed him in the Dark Forest, analyzing his character has lead me to believe that Ashfur from the first books and the Ashfur of the later books do not deserve the same fate.