Warriors Wednesday: Midnight, by Erin Hunter

Warrior’s Wednesday has returned from its 2-week hiatus to bring you a review of the first book of the second series involving the feral cat Clans, Midnight.

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Author’s website
Publication date – May 10, 2005

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Darkness, air, water, and sky will come together…

The wild cats of the forest have lived in peace and harmony for many moons but a doom that will change everything is coming. Strange messages from their warrior ancestors speak of terrifying new prophecies, danger, and a mysterious destiny.

All the signs point to young warrior Brambleclaw as the cat with the fate of the forest in his paws. But why would the son of wicked cat Tigerstar be chosen to be a hero? And who are the other cats mentioned in the prophecy? All Brambleclaw knows for sure is that the strength and courage of the greatest warriors will be needed now, as the quest to save the Clans begins.

…and shake the forest to its roots.

Thoughts: Where the first series of Warriors books started with an interesting situation and ended shortly after an all-out war, this new series starts with a fizzle rather than a bang. The writing style is similar enough to previous books, but also different enough to make me strongly believe that someone else in the Erin Hunter collective was taking the lead on this project. The cats felt less like actual cats and more like cats who’ve been “human-ed” up in order to be more relatable. This is evident in a sudden change in speech patterns, such as the cats developping phrases very similar to how we would say, “God only knows” or “God help us,” or whatever your own personal substitute for the word “god” is. Here, it’s “StarClan.” Cats are suddenly and constantly invoking the name of StarClan in every situation you can think of, and it doesn’t go over very well when compared to how, in the previous series, the attitude towards StarClan was more along the lines of watching warrior ancestors who occasionally interfere with weather patterns and send portents and omens to specifically chosen cats rather than something to be invoked at every turn. It was like the author was trying to both connect the cats to humanity while still making sure that we all know that they have a different set of beliefs.

The concept behind the novel is an interesting one. StarClan has foreseen danger coming to the forest, and so has chosen a cat from east Clan to head it off. This involves following the usual cryptic double-talk associated with prophecy (“[they] must listen to what midnight tells [them]” is revealed to be the advice of a badger named Midnight, and as cheesy as that is, at least an legitimate reason is given as to why a bunch of cats had to travel to the ocean to get that advice rather than getting it closer to home), and trying to avoid the dangers they face in unfamiliar territory.

Meanwhile, back in the forest, cats from all Clans are trying to figure out where their missing members ran off to. One of Firestar’s daughters (who really needs a good smackdown, because she’s a little brat and I absolutely hate reading about her) has run away with the band of cats who left to go find Midnight. he’s especially worried because of a vision from Starclan, which showed a tiger made of fire, and destruction in the forest. He interpreted that as his child (Squirrelpaw) and the child of Tigerstar (Brambleclaw, who was chosen to make the journey to Midnight) bringing about the ruin of the forest, and so spent some time being Bluestar-level paranoid and aggressive about keeping them apart, bordering on cruelty at times. It seemed remarkably out-of-character for Firestar to act that way, and it seems to me like little more than a set-up to get Squirrelpaw to run off with Brambleclaw.

The bits of the story that didn’t seem forced seemed rather dull. Most of it was cats talking, arguing amongst themselves, fretting over things they’d fretted about a hundred times already, and there was precious little action to keep the story interesting, especially compared to the previous series. If I had started reading the Warriors books here, I admit I’d have absolutely no idea what all the fuss was about. Luckily I’ve read the next few books and know that the story picks up a lot, so it’s worth hanging on. But really, so much could have been done better here, and it didn’t make for very enjoyable reading at times.

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