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  • If it wasn't clear enough in my video on Warrior's Refuge, I've been really enjoying

  • the first series of mangas centered around Graystripe, Millie, and their quest to find

  • Thunderclan once again.

  • However, I'll say now that I really do not like this book nearly as much as I like the

  • sweet little tale of The Lost Warrior, let alone the everlasting cuteness that is Warrior's

  • Refuge.

  • Graystripe's character in these mangas never matched that of the main series, but this

  • book's portrayal of him contradicts even its own previous works and is genuinely uncomfortable

  • to read at points, especially knowing how previous entries handled their relationship

  • and how Millie reacts to it all.

  • Warrior's Return was released on April 22nd of 2008, four months after both Warriors Refuge

  • and Dark River and the same day as Outcast.

  • Four months to complete a book is already a rapid turnaround but making a graphic novel

  • in that timeframe is ridiculously impressive.

  • As with the previous two entries, Warrior's Return was written by Dan Jolley and illustrated

  • by James L. Barry, who I must assume was either working on two manga entries at once or did

  • not get much sleep for those four months.

  • Also as with the other two entries in this series, this book begins with an anonymous

  • Erin Hunter's note, this time giving a mild refresher on the last book's content and

  • mostly asking probing questions to engage the reader and get them excited about where

  • Graystripe's journey may lead now that he is finally faced with the prospect of following

  • the clans to their new home.

  • Unlike the last two entries though, Warrior's Return only has a distinct speaking cast of

  • 11 cats, a drop by 5, and unsurprisingly, the percentage of lines in the top 5 cats

  • went up substantially, from 85% to 96%, and even the cat with the fifth most lines in

  • the book, Barley, only speaks 6 times.

  • Even with these statistics, though, it's nice to note that Graystripe and Millie's

  • linecounts have evened out a bit for this book, with Millie having over a hundred lines

  • for the first time so that she seems on par with Graystripe, who also has more lines in

  • this manga than either of the previous ones.

  • Now without further ado, let's see how Graystripe's adventure ends.

  • When last we left off, Graystripe had just located the Great Sycamore, one of the last

  • recognizable elements of his old home and also one of the last trees left standing in

  • Thunderclan territory.

  • Though he had found where his home used to be, that home itself, and the cats in it,

  • were gone.

  • Now he sadly walks through what used to be his camp and, resting in the medicine den,

  • tells Millie more about the clans.

  • When he wakes up the next morning, she has already decided that they're going to go

  • looking for his clan.

  • Graystripe assumed that they were all taken like he was, but Millie wants him to be certain

  • before he gives up, and with Millie's hopes and Graystripe's memories, they decide to

  • keep going, past the sun-drowned place that the traveling group from The New Prophecy

  • talked about.

  • First though, they visit and see what has become of each clan's territory, and soon

  • enough they find Ravenpaw and Barley at their barn, who explain what happened to Firestar

  • and the rest of the clans, along with the general direction they went.

  • Graystripe and Millie spend the night in the barn where Millie gets a chance to demonstrate

  • how talented she has become before they set off.

  • As they're leaving, we get a very sweet little moment where Barley asks if Ravenpaw

  • is okay, and Ravenpaw says that he is, but that Graystripe was the last connection he

  • had to the forest, and now that is gone too.

  • Graystripe and Millie begin traveling, first through a dense twolegplace with some mean

  • twolegs and messy sewers and then towards the outskirts, where there is a house surrounded

  • by grass and a tree with a tire swing, much closer to where Millie came from.

  • Because they are hungry, Millie wants to take the opportunity to get some food from inside,

  • which Graystripe isshall we say, less than receptive to.

  • He gets very angry with her for even suggesting it, because clan cats hunt.

  • They aren't kittypets.

  • Millie is perturbed but doesn't argue further.

  • The next day they reach a fenced-in flock of sheep and Graystripe wants to go through

  • them.

  • Millie asks why they couldn't just walk around and Graystripe gives two responses:

  • first that it would take too long, and second that going Millie's way would require walking

  • on a twoleg path.

  • It is this second response that Millie takes issue with, as it seems that anything even

  • related to twolegs has now become off-limits.

  • Millie points out that he didn't take this much issue with twolegs when he was a kittypet

  • himself and Graystripe says he was wrong and he needs to correct his behavior now that

  • he's once again dedicated to being a warrior.

  • Millie, once again, reluctantly agrees and takes Graystripe's way through the sheep,

  • who promptly run them over as soon as the herding dogs showed up.

  • Graystripe and Millie are now hungry and nearly died.

  • This makes Millie even more mad and Graystripe decides to just leave rather than responding

  • and, in his head, comments on how he can't back down now because it might mean losing

  • sight of what a warrior is again.

  • They arrive at a truckstop, a place that disturbs Graystripe because of the excess of monsters,

  • and find a cat there who is unfortunately asleep at that moment.

  • Spotting a cat-flap in the main building, Millie decides on her own to go in and get

  • some food, and despite Graystripe's continued protests she goes in anyway and leaves him

  • to mope on his own.

  • After she comes out having eaten her fill, Graystripe finally agrees to go in and get

  • something to eat but is hit and chased out with a mop before he can get a single bite

  • in.

  • Millie genuinely apologizes since she had no idea that would happen and Graystripe absolutely

  • blows up at her, not only calling her idea, kittypet food, or the twolegplace worthless,

  • but telling Millie that he should have known her idea would be a bad one because she's

  • still a kittypet, not a warrior, and she should return to her comfy house instead of facing

  • the real world with him.

  • Millie tries to calm him down and as he turns around to insult her one last time, a car

  • hits Graystripe and sends him flying.

  • Despite everything he just said, Millie immediately leaps in to save him and that cat we saw sleeping

  • earlier, Diesel as he calls himself, helps as well.

  • They get him into the odd barn, the garage, and Diesel gives him a mouse for breakfast.

  • While Graystripe was asleep, Millie asked Diesel if he had seen any clan cats, which

  • he hadn't, but he does know where the sun-drowned place is, or as he calls it, the sea.

  • Grumpy Graystripe tries to leave right away but his leg is still very hurt and Diesel

  • teasingly taps him in the hit area to show how much he needs to rest.

  • Diesel also notices how amazing Millie is at hunting and tells Graystripe he's lucky

  • to have her.

  • Graystripe says he doesn't feel particularly lucky.

  • Graystripe keeps feeling left out as Millie teaches and spends time with Diesel and he

  • is left behind because he needs to rest.

  • The only time he spends with Millie alone is when she is taking care of him.

  • After an undetermined time skip, he finally decides to try talking to her.

  • The three cats are sitting on top of the truckstop and Diesel points out one monster that's

  • coming from the sea; he can tell because of the salt and fish smells, and the colors and

  • sounds from the monster have changed.

  • Millie asks if Diesel would ever want to go to the sea himself but he's happy there.

  • That night, Millie brings Graystripe a mouse.

  • He says he has gotten better and could hunt himself, and Millie says she knows but likes

  • being able to do things for him.

  • Graystripe then makes an attempt at confessing what we can assume are his feelings for her

  • and is cut off by Millie suggesting they should ride a monster to the sea, a faster route

  • that would put less strain on his shoulder, which of course shocks and terrifies Graystripe,

  • but Diesel shows up to explain they discussed this already and he thinks it would work.

  • Knowing Millie discussed it with Diesel before him only makes him angrier and he, once again,

  • blows up at her, asking rhetorically if she understands how dangerous monsters are, which

  • Millie does.

  • Of course she does.

  • She was a kittypet.

  • But, knowing the risks, she wanted to take that chance for him.

  • Despite this, Graystripe walks away without giving an answer again and broods about how

  • the twolegs destroyed his way of life, and wonders if going back to the clans in a monster

  • would be spitting on the warrior code.

  • By the next morning though, he had decided to go along with their plan.

  • Diesel picks out a monster heading towards the sea and, with difficulty, Millie and Graystripe

  • hop in the trunk and Graystripe tries to contain his sickness as they ride along.

  • They spend a night in a parking lot while the twolegs are in an inn and get attacked

  • by some kittypets who hate wild cats as much as Graystripe suddenly hates kittypets.

  • Even Millie saying she *was* a kittypet isn't enough to dissuade them, as she now carries

  • the smell of wilderness.

  • They fight them off but Graystripe's shoulder is hurt again and their monster starts to

  • leave, with them barely catching it in time.

  • They reach the sun-drowned place and start searching for where Firestar would have gone

  • next, asking a random cat in the woods about the clans along the way before coming upon

  • the lake.

  • Then, seeing the full moon above, Graystripe pauses and asks Millie to speak before they

  • go down.

  • He explains that he knows he's been hard to deal with and that being a warrior is difficult,

  • but Millie has helped him so much and he never would have gotten there without her.

  • He asks her to be his mate, and Millie says that's what she's always wanted.

  • They walk in quiet harmony down to the island and, on the other side, find Firestar and

  • the rest of the cats who make up his home.

  • So I did my genuine best to contain my emotions during the summary portion this time.

  • Let's uhget the good stuff out of the way first, because this isn't as bad as,

  • say, Outcast.

  • I think some of the most stand-out moments were actually at the very beginning and very

  • end of this novel.

  • The opening camp scene I'm currently drawing a page of was genuinely heart wrenching.

  • We see all of these different little places, intimately familiar to Graystripe and familiar

  • to us through the words of the first arc, and they've all been abandoned, run down,

  • or destroyed.

  • Graystripe's narration tells us of each place he recognizes, but he says nothing aloud,

  • and the only dialogue is Millie saying she is sorry before he goes in to rest and grieve

  • in the medicine den, the only piece of his home that was left standing.

  • It's a powerful, emotional scene, carried by the ability to show expressions and body

  • language rather than describing everything.

  • The very last scene is similar.

  • If we are able to completely ignore the context of everything else that happened in the book,

  • Graystripe pausing just before he gets everything he's been searching for to verbally explain

  • and thank Millie for all she has done for him and ask if they could be together forever</