A Look Back at TPB by Flamecloud

Flamecloud takes a look back at the books that started it all.

Photographer unknown (Source: eBay)

The Warrior’s Series has come a long way since the Prophecies Begin, and I think we all know what I mean by long. A Starless Clan will mark the eighth arc. We have been promised revisions to the warrior code and our first Riverclan POV character!

With all of these exciting new opportunities rapidly approaching, I think now is the perfect time to look back on TPB, and revisit where it all started. Recently, I took the time to read back through the pages I hadn’t touched since I was ten.

Unsurprisingly, I noticed quite a few things that escaped little me’s interest the first go around. I’d like to share some things that really jumped out to me: the differences between TPB and the rest of the series. One is not necessarily better than the other, but they are certainly different.

Difference #1 – POV!

Firestar is the cat that got us all started, but his narrative is a very different one from those of the protagonists that follow.

For starters, he was a kittypet, and is just as new to the clans as any new reader is. All other POV characters have been clanborn. This works out very well for the start of the series, when the Erins are introducing the world of warriors. Everyone knows what a pet cat is, but at that point, none of us could yet define what a warrior is. Having Rusty enter the clan as an outsider offered a natural way for world building to be worked in, as Graypaw introduced his new friend and readers to the inner workings of the clan. It meant that Rusty could ask the questions that everyone needed answered.

Additionally, he is the only main character, another thing that doesn’t happen in any of the other main arcs, where there tend to be three. Once again, this makes sense in the context. We were all new in the beginning, so multiple POVs could have confused things.

TPB is also the only arc besides Dawn of the Clans where there isn’t a medicine cat POV, partially because there is only one POV.

And, of course, his rise to power. Firestar is also the only main character to go from a child to a leader in the course of one arc. He is made into a warrior early, he trains three apprentices, is appointed deputy, and ends the series leading Thunderclan into battle. Personally, I think this was a little rushed, and that Firestar received favoritism to keep the plot progressing. Still, it once again helped readers get a grasp of the full scale of clan life.

Essentially, Firestar was our road map of Warriors. He was our tutor and or guide, and since we’d already learned the ropes, his role was replaced later in the series by more numerous POVs that took a different path through the world he introduced. Regardless of what you think of his character, he clearly played a major role in introducing us to the series we love.

Difference #2: The Plot!

In rereading TPB, I remember finding that the progression of the plot was a lot different than the later series. It is faster and more action packed, but also much simpler.

Consider Into the Wild on its own: Thunderclan goes through two deputies, Brokenstar becomes leader, Windclan is driven out, Fireheart completes his entire warrior training, Tigerclaw rises to power, Spottedleaf is killed, Frostfur’s kits are abducted and returned, and Brokenstar is exiled.

Throughout the six books, Thunderclan confronts not one, not two, but three villains (Brokenstar, Tigerstar, Scourge). There are many, many battles, constantly shifting allegiances (Shadowclan allied with Thunderclan, then Riverclan, Windclan was allies with Thunderclan after being brought back, but then sides with Shadowclan over Brokenstar, then swaps back, in the end all unite to face Bloodclan), and several leaders are replaced.

However, despite this chaos, there is definitely a simplicity to it that is almost relieving. In the era of TBC, we have ghosts, body stealing, Warriorclan, the Sisters, and vicious battles deep inside the Dark Forest. PoT and OotS both feature cats with magic powers. AVoS brings Skyclan back to the forest. Even the New Prophecies is more extreme than TPB, with talking badgers and lengthy journeys.

The Prophecies Begin shows us conflict, yes, but it is a simple struggle for power. All of the threats come from rogues or within the clans themselves. Nobody’s magic yet. It is much less complicated, and more realistic to what you might actually find cats doing out in the forest.

Difference #3: Kin

Most of the family relations for the TPB cats are established not in TPB itself, but in later books or by author statements. Since we see when most cats get born later on, this is not an issue.

Take Sandstorm and Graystripe, for instance. They are probably the most important characters in the arc, save for Firestar, but even though they’re just ‘paws to start out, their parentage is never mentioned. Later, the authors chose parents for them, Brindleface and Redtail, and Patchpelt and Willowpelt, respectively, but I believe both of these have been at least partially retconned.

There are many circumstances like that. Who is Snowkit’s dad? Did you know that Spottedleaf is Tigerclaw’s aunt? Or that Dustpelt is Ferncloud’s uncle? Based solely on TPB, you would have no way of knowing.

This might be partially Firepaw, a newcomer, wouldn’t know. From an outside view, I suspect that the Erins didn’t realize how huge their universe would become, and didn’t feel the need to give everyone kin at the time. Regardless, the effect is the same.

Difference #4: Gender Roles….

This isn’t the first time I’ve said this in an article, and it probably won’t be the last, but I want to make it very clear that I am not trying to criticize the Erins. Warrior’s is far from terrible; after all, we mustn’t forget that TPB is home to Bluestar and Leopardstar, two female leaders.

However, those two set aside, I did notice that TPB definitely enforces some more standard gender roles, as compared to the later series.

For instance, while Firestar trains Cinderpaw, Brackenpaw, Cloudpaw, and Bramblepaw at different points in TPB, Mousefur is the only Thunderclan she-cat to receive an apprentice during TPB.

Most of the female characters are queens. Not only do toms not stay in the nursery, but many times they’re so detached from the kit raising process that they’re not even identified as the father. Additionally, the queens stay queens for quite a while, and the descriptions of them throughout the arc implies that it is normal for a she-cat to have many litters of kits.

I think this was an early attempt to make Warriors more similar to real life cats, where the queens would indeed raise a litter every year. Luckily, the later books shift the narrative more, so it’s not a big deal.

Difference #5: Starclan

As the series progresses, more and more is revealed about Starclan. In TPB, since Firestar is a newcomer and there is no medicine cat POV, Starclan is much more mystical and less concrete. There are few clear discussions with Starclan, with more vague omens and dreams involved instead.

In a way, it makes Starclan more interesting. Its existence is easier to debate, and it makes it seem very powerful and grand. It also makes more sense for them to communicate in their obscure manner. Later, of course, we learn that Starclan is very inconsistent, and made up of very ordinary old dead people who, for whatever reason, have to be irritatingly vague.

Difference #6: Miscellaneous

Here are some other random details I’ve noticed, which aren’t very important but are kind of amusing:

-Bluestar is very worried about Thunderclan having “only” four apprentices and “only” four queens who have or will soon have kits, despite this being a fairly high number compared to the rest of the books.

-The kits don’t get called by name most of the time. Important ones like Bramblekit and Cloudkit do, but others, like Brackenfur and Ashfur, aren’t named until their apprentice ceremonies, despite appearing earlier. It’s not just Fireheart not knowing them, either- Graystripe refers to his own children as the “she-cat and the tom” for a while, and also calls either Brackenfur or Thornclaw by generic terms when rescuing them from Shadowclan. They’re often described by their pelt colors, or referred to as [ mom’s name]’s kit.

-There are quite a few forbidden romances in TPB compared to the rest of the series. We have Bluestar x Oakheart, Firestar x Spottedleaf, Graystripe x Silverstream, and Yellowfang x Raggedstar, which all come up then. At least the others stuck to one per arc!

-Many kits get apprenticed at strange times. For instance, Frostfur’s litter of four had two get apprenticed too early, and the other half get apprenticed late.

-The tone of the dialogue in TPB is very formal, especially when leaders are being addressed. This continues on, but in this arc it’s almost as if Bluestar’s a military general who’s going to demote ‘paws to kits if they forget to salute properly.

Well, that’s all I have for you at the moment, folks! I will write another article shortly regarding how my personal opinions shifted after my reread, so keep an eye out for that! Thank you for taking the time to read this article, which you hopefully found enjoyable.

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