Thursday, September 11, 2008

40. Warriors: The New Prophecy: Book 1: Midnight by Erin Hunter

Warriors Book 1 pictureI was gripped by some insane frenzy while in California and purchased several new "trade paperbacks", including this first book of a series of cat fantasy books for young readers. I'm a big fan of cats and fantasy and had been curious about these when I'd seen them on the shelf, but they are so clearly commercialized from the start and there are so many of them, that I had never planned on actually reading them. But somehow I decided to take the plunge. I got #1, but it wasn't until I was about a quarter of the way through and totally mixed up about the characters, that I figured out this was the first book of the second series! This is why you shouldn't buy books like this on the spur of the moment! Let that be a warning to you, my friends.

This is the kind of book that has 2 maps (one from the cats' perspective and one from the humans), including logos for each clan, as well as several pages of characters, organized by clan and rank. I like that kind of stuff, but every single cat's name is a compound noun, like Tigerclaw or Whitepaw or Cedarhart or Russetfur and there are so many of them and they are thrown at you so quickly, without any real characterization that they just all become a blur. I finally started to distinguish most of the main protagonists about halfway through the book, when they had split off from the homelands to go on a quest. I think this wouldn't have been such a challenge if I had started from the first series (or if I were 11 years old and was into obsessively memorizing lists of facts, as I used to be).

For me, the appeal of fantasy cats is that it opens up the world around us and reveals it as a place of wonder and excitement. The cleft of a tree becomes a cozy shelter, a deserted shed becomes an ambush site, a tractor a devouring monster and so on. The best animal books capture this (Watership Down obviously, and the works of Colin Dunn of which I need to read more). These Warrior books, once you finally figure out who is who, are not bad and by the time I finished this book I was kind of tempted to get the next one. But ultimately, they are a bit thin for me and with so much else on deck, I probably will only pick these up if some confluence of events puts me with a lot of time and limited reading choice. But if I were stuck on a desert island with only the Warriors series, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world either.

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