[a headshot of Mapleshade snarling with glowing eyes]

Mapleshade’s Vengeance and the Importance of Perspective by Eggpaw

Art by Mewnnee

Eggpaw analyzes Mapleshade’s Vengeance – what do you think?

Of all the characters in the Warriors universe, one seems to grab the fandom’s attention more than anything else. Mapleshade. What makes her so special? What makes people have such strong opinions of her? And, most of all, is her story really so one-sided?

Mapleshade’s story is sad at best and devastating at worst. Her story begins when she’s mates with a RiverClan tom named Appledusk. She gets mad at Reedshine for rubbing up against him. Then, after a while, she tells him she’s bearing his kits. He’s truly very excited, noting that it’s incredible he’ll be a father. Mapleshade has his kits and lets her Clanmates believe that Birchface, a dead ThunderClan warrior, is the father. She takes her kits out for swims at the river, and some ThunderClan cats suspect that something is up with the kits. Finally, when Mapleshade is telling Appledusk about their kits and letting her kits swim in the river, Ravenwing, the ThunderClan medicine cat, sees the whole thing happen. He gets a sign from StarClan: A tiny stream in the medicine cat den with three reeds floating in it. Ravenwing notes that the reeds don’t belong in ThunderClan, and he finally sees that the reeds represent Mapleshade’s kits. Enraged that his Clanmate broke the warrior code and disrespected one of his warrior ancestors, he tells the leader, Oakstar, and Mapleshade and her kits are banished. Mapleshade takes her kits to the river, thinking they’d have a nice home in RiverClan. However, the river is flooded and the only option is to swim across. She lets her kits swim across the river, but it’s too strong, and Mapleshade almost drowns to save them. A RiverClan patrol tries to save them, too, but it’s too late; They’ve drowned. Mapleshade is devastated, and Appledusk takes her to RiverClan camp. Appledusk then tells the RiverClan leader, Darkstar, about what happened to Mapleshade, but Mapleshade notes that Appledusk is making it sound like it was all her fault. Appledusk sits with Reedshine instead of the ThunderClan she-cat, proving his loyalty to RiverClan. Darkstar turns Mapleshade away, not even letting her sit vigil with her kits. Mapleshade, crestfallen and heartbroken, vows vengeance on all who wronged her. She begins hallucinating that her kits were pushing her to commit murder, and she goes crazy with sadness and anger. First, she kills Ravenwing at the Moonstone and leaves his body for a hawk. Then, she is told that Frecklewish, brother of Birchfall and ThunderClan warrior, watched her kits drown and didn’t do anything to save them. Enraged, Mapleshade blinds Frecklewish at Snakerocks. Finally, she goes to RiverClan territory to kill Appledusk. She attacks a pregnant Reedshine but kills Appledusk instead. She is then fatally wounded by Appledusk’s apprentice, Perchpaw. Mapleshade, still crazy and heartbroken, vows to haunt Appledusk’s kin for many, many moons to come. She ascends to the Dark Forest, and she feels not sadness, but triumph. From there, she could cause more pain than ever before.

Mapleshade’s story is of heartbreak. It’s quite sad, isn’t it? Some people choose to see only at this level, loving Mapleshade and hating all who wronged her. Just like Mapleshade did herself. This book was written very interestingly since many people have been swayed by Mapleshade’s own thoughts, similar to Tallstar’s Revenge! But others choose to dig deeper. These are the Mapleshade haters, who hate Mapleshade and love all who wronged her. Well, something like that. Frecklewish’s brother died, she was blinded with grief. Appledusk chose his loyalty to RiverClan over his mate, and you can’t be mad at him for that. Ravenwing was just doing his job as a medicine cat. There were bridges she could’ve crossed! While none of these points are wrong, neither Mapleshade lovers nor Mapleshade haters dig deep enough to see the truth. When you look at the whole story, you begin to see the bigger picture. Some people say there are no good cats in this story, others say Mapleshade is the only one. But here’s what I think.

There are no bad cats in the story. There are no good ones, either.

You might be thinking, “That’s not possible!” But hear me out. When Mapleshade gets mad at Reedshine, it’s because Appledusk was cheating on her, in front of her own eyes. That’s something everyone gets mad at. When Mapleshade lies about Birchface being the father, it’s only to protect her kits. Many other loved characters have done this before. When Mapleshade crosses the river instead of the bridge, if you think about it, there are many reasons she couldn’t have crossed the bridge. The bridge could’ve flooded, or it could’ve been too far. She couldn’t wait. ThunderClan territory was hostile. When she did anything, “bad” or “good”, killed a cat, badly injured someone… there’s always a reason. Near the end, she was hallucinating and going insane. Can you blame her for being so heartbroken?

But what about the others? Appledusk did have to choose his loyalty at some point, and he chose RiverClan. That’s not bad. It’s only bad to Mapleshade. But it’s not good, either; He hurt his mate. If he’d been a little more empathetic, he could’ve saved her and he could’ve prevented her from going crazy in the first place. That was his mistake, and he had his benefits as well. As for Frecklewish, she was a ThunderClan cat who couldn’t swim—well, so was Mapleshade, but you get the idea. She was also grieving for her dead brother, so of course, she wouldn’t think rationally. As for Ravenwing, well, protecting the warrior code is his job as a medicine cat. He couldn’t have done otherwise. So, the big idea is, no-one here is wrong, and no-one here is right. No-one here is bad, and no-one here is good. Everyone, in the story and outside of the story, is “a bit okay-ish”. But you can do good things. You can try to be good so no-one ends up as Mapleshade did in her neutral, beautiful novella.

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