Warriors Wednesday: The Darkest Hour, by Erin Hunter

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Author’s website
Publication date – September 22, 2005

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) ThunderClan’s darkest hour is upon them, as Tigerstar’s quest for power plunges all the Clans into terrible danger. In order to save his Clan and his friends, Fireheart must uncover the meaning of an ominous proclamation.

Thoughts: This book was a hard one to rate. On one hand, it’s a beautiful finale to the first Warriors series. The writing has improved in style and substance as the books have gone on, the maturity level has been amped up, and the story is fantastic.

On the other hand, I have some personal grievances regarding this one.

Now  understand that these books are supposed to be fantasy. That’s obvious when you realize that the main characters are all cats, that they have their own religious system, and that they can use herbal medicines and treatments. That’s easy enough to swallow, seeing as how the forest cats are rather secretive to start with, and it’s not like humans sit around and watch cats grind up leaves to aid a sick comrade. I can handle all that.

But this book brings in a clan of cats who use the teeth from dogs they’ve killed to enhance their own claws. Threatening, yes. Realistic even by the bounds of this series? Debateable. Personally, I think that was going overboard, and actually took something away from the threatening presence of BloodClan. It’s not just a gang of power-hungry rogues that can overwhelm you with sheer numbers. No, it’s a gang of power-hungry rogues who can overwhelm you with sheer numbers and weapons! It was just a little too much, and it actually took away from the established world that had been so carefully created over the previous 5 novels.

So why did I still rate this book as highly as most of the others? Because of the impression it left on me. it was a story of triumph, of mistakes being made and rectified, of rivals banding together for the common good, and for a well done feeling of tension that was established as the threats to not only Firestar and ThunderClan but also the whole forest become clear. It rates highly because you get to see far more of StarClan, and just what the spiritual belief in their ancestors does for Clan cats.

And it made its impression on me by having one of the most disturbing deaths I’ve read. Tigerstar’s death. It’s distressing enough for me to think of a cat dying (I’ve got such a soft spot for my own furry babies that such deaths can be difficult to read). And you’d think that I should give a cheer for the final death of a cat who spent the series being a jerkass at best and an outright cold-blooded murderer at worst. But when you’re reading about the agony of a cat being disemboweled and dying nine consecutive deaths, it leaves you feeling more than just a little uncomfortable.

Even Firestar reflected on this, thinking that as much as he wanted Tigerstar death, nobody should have to die like that.

As an ending to the first series, this was, for the most part, very fitting, and it tied up all the loose ends that had been dangling for a couple of novels. It was good to see it all so wrapped up without getting overly saccharine with the morals and message of triumph over adversity. It was a good story, one that both kids and adults can appreciate, and one that you will find ceaselessly entertaining. As I’ve said before, even if you don’t have children to read these books to or with, read them on your own. You’ll get more than you bargained for, I can promise you that.

One comment on “Warriors Wednesday: The Darkest Hour, by Erin Hunter

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