Friday, August 1, 2014

Fiction Friday (32)

It's that time again, another book read and another review. When it came time to pick up another title, I decided to return to the forest ruled by cats in the Warriors series. I've been taking my time with these books over the past few years, and it seems each time I do, I'm surprised that it has taken me so long to return. While lacking the literary might of the Redwall series, these Middle Grade books are always compelling and seem perfect for reluctant, but good readers. Though action driven, they never ignore the importance of character relationships and broader themes of loyalty and friendship. Definitely a worthy addition to the bookshelves of anyone who enjoys talking animal stories.

Warriors #5: A Dangerous Path by Erin Hunter
(Avon 2004)

I have to admit that after the first two books in this series, I began to wonder if my time might not be better spent elsewhere. But those concerns vanished after the reading the fourth book, and now the fifth book of the original six has proved more than ever that this is a series well worth reading. It has the right mix of adventure, drama, and most importantly, characters to fear and those to cheer for.

The story opens with a dramatic surprise as Fireheart learns the identity of the new leader of Shadowclan at the monthly gathering of the four forest clans. Over the course of the series, Thunderclan has had many run-ins with Shadowclan. In fact, they've had their troubles with all of the other clans, but Shadowclan has always been portrayed as the most nefarious of the bunch. By proclaiming Tigerheart, the disgraced and traitorous former Thunderclan deputy, as their new leader, the reader's deep held fear of both Shadowclan and Tigerheart are immediately reignited. It is clear from the beginning that Thunderclan is facing troubled times, with dangers all around them, and hidden troubles within the clan itself.

Fireheart is very busy trying to keep the camp in order as they attempt to rebuild from the devastating fire that roared through Thunderclan in the last book. Bluestar, the clan's once strong leader, and Firheart's mentor, has never recovered from Tigerheart's betrayal or the hardships that have befallen her clan ever since. Convinced that Starclan have abandoned her, and that her entire clan is made up of traitors, Bluestar has retreated to her den, leaving Fireheart with the responsibility of taking care of maters in these troubled times. On top of dealing with the shortage of resources due to the fire, the lingering threat of newly named Tigerstar, disputes with Windclan and Riverclan, and the distrust of some of his own warriors, Fireheart must face the greatest danger the Clan has ever seen as a pack of dogs is discovered living in the forest.

While the troubles weigh heavily on our hero, he is often lifted by the help of his friends. The welcomed return of Graystripe to the clan is perhaps the biggest benefit to Fireheart. The promotion of Fireheart's apprentice, and nephew Cloudpaw, has also given him an ally in the clan. His close relationships with Cinderpelt and Sandstorm benefit him greatly, though they don't come without a price. One thing I love about these books is that the friendships are never without contention and strife. They thoughtfully take into account the complications that go along with trusting in others.

The last several chapters of this installment are heart pounding. The mounting threats converge in a compelling way, and can only be overcome by resolving the personal frictions between the warriors. In a dramatic conclusion, all the threads of the story come together in a wonderfully satisfying way. Easily the best book in the series that keeps getting better.

No comments:

Post a Comment