Discussing Tallstar’s Revenge by Stormpaw

Stormpaw shares their opinion on Tallstar’s Revenge.

Official art by Wayne McLoughlin

Growing up, Tallstar’s parents were both tunnelers, and his mother Palebird was shown as being lethargic because she was still getting over the death of her kit. Now let’s go deeper into that.. A lot of other queens have lost a kit, but Palebird seems to act like it drained all life out of her & she wouldn’t be able to live. I think she was being unfair to Tallkit. She never wanted to go anywhere outside of the nursery, she didn’t even try to stop feeling remorseful! I know she loved Tallkit, but she could have tried harder. Finchkit wasn’t the only kit she had! Palebird was kind of an absent mother to her son and seemed to care more about her 2nd litter with Woollytail.

Now let’s talk about Sandgorse. Sandgorse was a good father in the beginning, and very eager to share his tunnel talents with his son. But Tallpaw was meant to be a moor runner, and Sandgorse couldn’t seem to accept that.He practically disowns his own kit and accuses him of being a coward when the tunnel is flooded! But Sandgorse never heard the whole story and didn’t believe that it had been Woollytail, cause he’d rather accuse Tallpaw of being fox-hearted. Am I right? (Poor Tallpaw… )

Now onto the next thing! Did Palebird & Sandgorse have a healthy relationship? It’s never shown them having any arguments, but it’s also never shown them together. Sandgorse was always too busy with the tunnels to go check on Palebird, or even to comfort her. When Palebird was sad he sent Tallkit to go comfort her instead of doing it himself. So I don’t really think they spent enough time together to have a strong relationship. At least not after Tallkit comes, because I don’t know what they were like before. But hey! Not spending time together means they never argued much. But I don’t think I know enough to confidently answer that question… I’ll just leave that for you to answer.

What about the tunnels? Was Heatherstar right to stop it? Yes, ofc she was! The tunnelers were always working on the tunnels day and night it seemed, and for what? For a place to escape and hide from a battle? I guess they could have used them for a surprise attack, but no WindClan cat ever though of that. Besides, that plan wouldn’t have been of any help if they themselves were attacked by surprise. And it seemed like the tunnels were always collapsing! Lilywhisker was badly injured and had to retire to the elder’s den early; Leafshine died, Sandgorse died, and Sparrow & Tallpaw almost died. Also, half of the clan was gone tunneling when ShadowClan attacked. WindClan could have lost their home! What use would the tunnels have been then? They would have been left on that land for the ShadowClan cat’s to use or fill back up with dirt.

Ok, now how about Sparrow & Sandgorse’s death? Was Sparrow guilty or not? In the end of the super edition when Talltail find’s the rogues and attempts to kill Sparrow he hears the truth that Sparrow isn’t guilty and decides not to kill him. But is that really true? Sparrow had never paid any attention to the tunnels until Heatherstar announced there would be no more tunneling. And then Sparrow is seen talking to Sandgorse:
“You say Heatherstar’s forbid you from going down there?” Sparrow asked.
“Yes,” Sandgorse whispered. (…)
“What a waste,” murmured the rouge.
Sandgorse nodded. “All that paw-work for nothing.”
“You sound proud of the tunnel.”
“I know it better than I know my own pelt,” Sandgorse declared.
“Then surely you can go down there?” Sparrow reasoned. “

So Sparrow wasn’t only suggesting to go against Heatherstar’s orders, but for him to go back into a dangerous tunnel that he knew had flooded, and therefore ending up with Sandgorse drowning. But then after Sandgorse is dead; who drowned by saving Sparrow, the tom is acting like it was Sandgorse’s own fault that he drowned! He says: “I was lucky I made it out. There was no way I could have helped Sandgorse. He’s the one with all the skills. He shouldn’t have taken me down there. He should have known it was too dangerous.”
But he left out the part of him persuading Sandgorse to go down there, didn’t he? And his carelessness about the death of Talltail’s father is obvious. If it was me I would have killed Sparrow, (just saying), then Talltail could have stayed and become mates with Reena before going home. Anyway, then Sparrow leaves with the rogues and Talltail’s quest begins.
As Sparrow is clinging onto the rocks for his life, he tell’s Talltail that his father had died saving him. But that explanation doesn’t make any sense from his previous actions! Then he replies to Talltail when he asks why he hadn’t said that earlier; saying that it wouldn’t have made any difference. Yet he didn’t even try telling Talltail until he was about to murder him? Even if Sparrow was telling the truth and not a lie, then he was still guilty for helping Sandgorse to his death.
So was he guilty or not? Yes and no! He’s still to blame and didn’t deserve all the attention he received from WindClan, but he wasn’t truly responsible for Sandgorse’s death. Although I still think he’s sus… thx for reading!

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  • This was a great article Stormpaw! I don’t like Palebird or Sandgorse! They were rotten parents! I agree that Sparrow is sort of to blame. His foolish wish to be taken into the tunnels resulted in Sandgorse dying. But Sandgorse didn’t have to take Sparrow down there when he knew that Heatherstar had forbidden it.

  • Great article, but I still think Palebird is very innocent. She lost the life of her kit. While other queens have gone through that, not every queen is the same. Palebird was going through depression over the loss of her kit, and no-one could tell her to brush it off like with other queens. I think of her as a Millie situation, where she’s so sad and depressed and anxious over one kit that she forgets about the others. And, well, you can’t really blame her for that. However, Woollytail helped her get through it. She wouldn’t have been able to move on if Woollytail wasn’t there to comfort her. It’s easy to be misled by Talltail’s judgement, saying that Palebird was too quick to move on, but that’s just him! Honestly I love this book way too much to hate anyone in it 😛

    • Agreed. Protagonists are flawed and biased just like us. No offence, but this fandom is much too eager to agree with everything the protagonist would think and say. Tallstar is simply in the wrong here. People don’t usually accept their parents’ new partners easily.
      Also I disagree with the article saying she was an “absent” parent. Absent parents are those who abandon the role of a parent, who don’t form a relationship with their child. An absent parent was Spiderleg. Palebird doesn’t match the definition. She does the things a mother does, she feeds him, she cleans him, sometimes comforts him. She’s harsh a few small times and just seems further from him. When he’s an apprentice, she shows her pride and affection multiple time. When he’s a warrior, they have distant relations at first, but then they grow close. Palebird definitely isn’t absent. She is a DISTANT parent, not an ABSENT one. This is a difference.

  • It is nice that you included the problem of Sandgorse and Palebird’s relationship being healthy or not. I think that maybe it was not strictly UNhealthy, but it wasn’t good. A lot of people blame Palebird for “moving on so fast” or “betraying Sandgorse” aka taking another mate so soon, but honestly this is ridiculous. We never see Sandgorse really trying to do something with her issues. He’s always like “oh, what do you mean, you’d be OK”. He was always busy with his own “oh Tallpaw doesn’t want to make tunnels!!!1!1!” and rarely focuses on his mate. Woollytail was caring and paid attention to her. Sandgorse didn’t really, yet she was shattered after his death, desperate for information when cats searched for him and then “falling on the ground” when she found out he’s gone. Then she moved on and started a new, loving and full family, but yet people still say that this was “disrespectful to Sandgorse” because of course big bad Palebird betrayed her lovely perfect mate… who never gave her a feeling that he is somebody who understands her.

  • Nice article! I agree with you that Sparrow is to blame for Sandgorse’s death but isn’t fully responsible. I also agree with you that Palebird was a rather absent mother, and even though I understand that she lost her kit, a lot of other queens have lost more than one kit (e.g. Ferncloud) and they didn’t act that way to their remaining kits. Still, I think that she isn’t bad, since everyone grieves differently, and her mate didn’t really try to comfort her (instead sending Tallkit, like you said).
    All in all, great article!

    • I don’t think so. Shrewclaw grew up and in the end had the courage to admit “Hey. I know I wasn’t good to you to say the least. But I still wish you have a good life, I’m proud that you got so far”. He clearly left the world on good terms with Tallstar, and during the whole nine lives thing they talked in a friendly way. People do a lot of awful things when they are young and if only they truly regret, this should be forgiven. Your opinion is your opinion, but I don’t think Shrewclaw, who got some arc, should be even compared to Bramblestar, an endless cycle of “fairly normal – snapping – crissis, arguments, toxicity – fairly normal – snapping”

  • Palebird defense just because.
    Palebird wasn’t an absent mother. She was literally going thorough depression, having lost a very young child. However, she still acts like a mother to Tallkit. She isn’t like Rainflower, Lizardstripe, or even Millie, she shows pride in him and loves him dearly, and she certainly isn’t abusive. She does the things a mother does, and is shown to be protective of her son.
    Meanwhile, we have Sandgorse. Sandgorse never seemed to comfort his grieving mate, and he never truly showed any care or concern for her, instead focusing on trying to force Tallkit into the habit of tunneling. He doesn’t accept his wishes.
    So no, Palebird isn’t really in the wrong.

  • One aspect of Tallstar’s revenge that I think can be improved is Shrewclaw’s arc. There’s a strange disconnect between what the character dialogue claims about Shrewclaw and his actual actions.

    It claimed it’s only “teasing” – But it’s so much worse than that. He assaults and threatens Tallstar. The highlights of his cruelity being:

    1) “Don’t you know any warrior moves? No wonder you couldn’t save your father!”

    2)“You’re hare-brained! You’re an embarrassment to WindClan with your dumb accusations! Nobody likes you. You should be underground! We won’t miss you.”

    3) (After Shrewclaw gets his warrior name A.K.A He’s adult and doesn’t have the excuse of being a kid anymore)
    Shrewclaw: Too cold for you up here? You could go hide in a tunnel. I won’t tell.
    Talltail: Sure you wouldn’t. Don’t you get bored of throwing the same old insults?
    Shrewclaw: Not at you.
    Talltail: We’re not supposed to be talking. StarClan won’t approve.
    Shrewclaw: They probably don’t approve anyway. You don’t deserve your warrior name after fighting like that in the assessment.
    Talltail: You were the first to unsheathe your claws.
    Shrewclaw That was just to give it a bit of edge I wasn’t trying to rip your pelt off. You caught me by surprise. Next time, I’ll shred you.

    Then when Talltail is surprised that Shrewclaw cares he’s leaving and brings up his bullying – He immediately downplays it and never acknowledges it again. Shrewclaw literally puts no effort into redeeming himself towards Talltail. He says he’s uncomfortable around him, due to years of bullying. Yet, Shrewclaw doesn’t respect his boundaries and expects Talltail to act all bubby-bubby with him.

    • Yeah, it could be improved, because sometimes I feel like Erins forgot if they already redeemed him or not, he was going better and then sudden explosion of “Talltail is ugly, ha”. Kind of like me in 4th grade writing stories, “gotta go for the same story arc again”. Also I feel like it’s kind of a similar problem to Spottedleaf, like what they say about someone constantly fights with what the “someone” does. I do like that they at least tried to make him better though, most cats are mean out of nothing and to the end of their life or apologize and then are mean again, on and on.