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  • Ah, it's time for another field guide.

  • As separated from the normal story-driven books as they are, the first field guide was

  • a joy to read in my case, so I'm happy to revisit the concept for this entry.

  • This one, however, may be a slight challenge to convey in the spoken word because of its

  • reliance on another, more visual medium.

  • Cats of the Clans came out on June 24th, 2008, two months after Outcast and Warrior's Return

  • and the same day as another, standalone manga that I will be covering in the next episode.

  • It was written by Victoria Holmes this time and, importantly, illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin.

  • McLoughlin was the main cover artist for four and a half Warriors arcs, more than a decade

  • of Warriors' history.

  • However, in 2015, he passed away, and many of his work on the covers has since been replaced

  • with rerelease covers primarily done by Owen Richardson.

  • I mention this because Cats of the Clans is built on its illustrations more than any other

  • non-manga book.

  • These were the first official renderings of several characters and are still widely known

  • and recognized as who the characters truly are to this day.

  • Considering I rarely show the covers of books within these episodes, it felt especially

  • important to show off some of this art now to give recognition to McLoughlin's well-loved

  • work.

  • That being said, this book is divided into different clans as Secrets of the Clans was,

  • and gives page-long descriptions of each cat it covers, along with showing a vibrant and

  • detailed illustration of that cat on the adjacent page.

  • For anyone who appreciates the visuals of the stories they read, this book may be far

  • more fun for you to look at yourself than to hear me talk about.

  • With that said, it begins with the framing device for the book.

  • Three Starclan kits meet Rock, that cat who Fallen Leaves met when he went down into the

  • tunnels before he died, and who told Jaypaw to go to the mountains.

  • The first kit is Mosskit, Bluestar's daughter and Mistyfoot and Stonefur's sister.

  • Wait a moment.

  • Sister?

  • While we didn't know their name before, Bluestar explicitly used he/him pronouns in

  • reference to her third kit who died on the way to Riverclan.

  • So yes, for anyone who was curious, the book that retconned Mosskit's gender was Cats

  • of the Clans of all things.

  • Anyway, the other two kits here are Adderkit, a Windclan tom who apparently died to a snake

  • which became his namesake, and Blossomkit, a Shadowclan kit who died in battle under

  • Brokenstar in an effort to become an early warrior.

  • Rock promises to tell the three kits the stories of many cats in the clans, but also those

  • outside the clans as he doesn't think much of the clans' general arrogance, believing

  • they are the center of the world.

  • Beginning with Thunderclan, and after mentioning that the hunter's crouch is a Thunderclan-specific

  • technique, Rock first tells us about Firestar.

  • The fiery tom is described as a champion who has long since moved past his kittypet roots.

  • Rock wishes for him to have a long life, but immediately laughs at the notion because he

  • already knows how each of Firestar's lives will be lost.

  • Moving on to Bluestar, with heavily emphasis on Mosskit's connection to her, Rock says

  • she was a great leader who paid a steep price to become leader instead of Thistleclaw and

  • acted as a mother figure to Firestar in their stead.

  • He's sure to emphasize the sacrifices she made at the beginning and end of her leadership

  • to explain her behavior in her last moons of life.

  • Graystripe meanwhile is described as every cat's friend, torn away from his friends

  • and clan when he left for Riverclan with his kits.

  • Rock is also rather complimentary of Millie and her unacknowledged achievements in getting

  • Graystripe back.

  • Sandstorm is a loyal mate and mother, but Rock points out that she should be remembered

  • as much more than that since it was Sandstorm who pushed Firestar into much of the heroics

  • he managed to accomplish, and she matched him pawstep for pawstep on their journey to

  • rescue Skyclan, even being the clan's medicine cat until they found their own and saving

  • Firestar's body when he was killed by the rats.

  • Yellowfang's life and connection to Blossomkit are summarized briefly and Rock mentions that

  • while she was stubborn and grumpy, she was the most loyal cat you could ever meet, brave

  • as well, and someone who blamed herself for Brokenstar's evil deeds.

  • Cinderpelt is explicitly called out as a cat who should have been a warrior, and whose

  • fate shocked even Starclan, implying that cats do, at large, have general overarching

  • destinies.

  • It is also called out that she doesn't have an especially strong connection with Starclan,

  • a confirmation of a theory based on her misinterpretation of the Fire and Tiger omen, and Rock implies

  • that her being told about her own death before being reincarnated as Sorreltail's kit was

  • actually a test to show she was deserving of her next life.

  • Rock doesn't necessarily know what Starclan was actually thinking but if that was the

  • real reason they told herthat's a little messed up guys.

  • Onto someone with an even worse relationship with her ancestors though, because Rock next

  • tells us about Leafpool, oh and also that Blossomkit wanted to be a medicine cat like

  • her.

  • Rock talks about her magical connection with Squirrelflight, her receiving the blood will

  • spill blood prophecy, and then immediately jumps into blaming her for her relationship

  • with Crowfeather that her ancestors could never have approved ofyou know, except

  • when they came down on two different occasions and directly set them up together.

  • Rock doesn't mention that part for some reason.

  • Squirrelflight is lauded for her fiery spirit, sharp tongue, and strong morals, though Rock

  • also briefly implies that she has some sort of secret.

  • Rock then moves on to talking about her as a companion for Brambleclaw, or even Stormfur,

  • and then Ashfur, pointing out that he totally would have been loyal to the end and simply

  • didn't appreciate her strength enough for her to like him back.

  • This page also has a line famous to me, that Squirrelflightneeded someone to match

  • her fire, not contain it, and that cat was always going to be Brambleclaw.”

  • Famous because it's poetic nonsense that doesn't actually get at whether they are

  • matching wits playfully or arguing all the time.

  • Rock also says that she's been a great mother to our current protagonists and he hopes she

  • is rewarded for that devotion.

  • Hahahahaokay we'll see about that one.

  • Brambleclaw's story is framed as that of a tragic but noble, loyal, and brave cat who

  • led the clans to safety and acted as the leader of the sun-drowned place journey, and yet

  • who also let Tigerstar train him in his dreams with Hawkfrost.

  • Rock asks if he is truly as goodhearted as he wants cats to believe, and says he already

  • knows the answer, but won't tell the kits.

  • Ashfur is up next, and to Rock it is a “shamethat he will always be spoken of in relation

  • to Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw when he is a strong and brave warrior that Rock himself

  • would want at his side.

  • Rock gives him a lot of credit as Lionpaw's mentor and defends him in comparison to Dustpelt,

  • who didn't particularly like Fireheart but who is a strong warrior now.

  • He also says more cats should listen to his side of the story.

  • Sure buddy.

  • Brightheart is also a cat Rock feels kinship with, as cats apparently shy away when they

  • see his face too, and he is completely blind.

  • Once upon a time he had thick fur and clear eyes but those days passed a long time ago.

  • We learn that Brightheart never goes down to the lake because she doesn't like seeing

  • her own reflection, and her first warrior name, Lostface, echoes in her mind when she

  • is alone.

  • Cloudtail alone saw the beauty and courage in her and never flinched away, which Rock

  • attributes to him also knowing what it's like to be different as a kittypet-born clan

  • cat.

  • And finally, onto our current protagonists.

  • Rock describes Lionpaw as a fierce and skilled warrior, Hollypaw as a tactician deeply rooted

  • in the warrior code, and Jaypaw as, I kid you not, the blind cat who can see in his

  • dreams, following this with the supposition that this means he couldn't be anything

  • but a medicine cat.

  • And thatis also very not cool Rock, not good.

  • You mentioned personality and honed skills for both other protagonists and for Jaypaw

  • all you could think of is his magic, his injury, and how those necessarily lead to his job.

  • Please consider revising.

  • It's at this point that I should probably acknowledge that if you've read all the

  • books up until now and remember the protagonists in them, this book will not give you much

  • if any new information.

  • The two things it will give are first, some random tidbits of information to fill in gaps

  • like the name, and I guess retconned gender, of Bluestar's third kit, and second, specifically

  • *Rock's* perspective on each of these cats.

  • This is not an objective guide on who the cats are at their hearts and what their stories

  • are.

  • What you are primarily learning from this book if you already know these characters,

  • and aside of course from the fantastic illustrated versions of each of them, is who Rock is and

  • what his opinions are on the modern clan cats.

  • Rock is an ancient and mysterious figure at this point in time, and random bits of lore

  • like his ability to see the future or his connection to Starclan in his ability to speak

  • with these three kits who explicitlywandered a long way fromStarclan are interesting

  • in that we get to learn more about him.

  • Seeing as they've now brought up Rock's existence in three books: Dark River, Outcast,

  • and now Cats of the Clans, it will be interesting to see if he gets any greater prominence later

  • in the series.

  • With that in mind, I am going to speed up a little as we go into the other clans.

  • Just know that Rock always has an opinion on every clan and cat he talks about and they

  • are absolutely never objective judgments of character.

  • Shadowclan is known to be evil, and they nurture that reputation themselves, but with the least

  • prey-rich land they need to be willing to add whatever they can to their prey pile.

  • They're mighty, fierce hunters, proud, independent, and willing to follow their leaders into anything,

  • even less than savory endeavors.

  • Tigerstar is ruthless, dangerous, ambitious, strong, and brave.

  • Brokenstar, who Rock has to comfort Blossomkit at the name of, was doomed from birth but,

  • by Rock's testimony, killed Raggedstar as it was the only way to make his clanmates

  • respect him.

  • Rock also says he didn't know that Raggedstar was his father whichis not true.

  • That is not the case.

  • Even the previous field Guide, Secrets of the Clans, showed a scene with Raggedstar

  • handing Brokenkit to Lizardfang and immediately taking ownership of the kit as a father.

  • Brokenstar grew up entirely aware of who his father was, just not aware of who his mother

  • was.

  • Blackstar is described as the first step in a long journey away from the reputations made

  • by their previous leaders as he tries to make Shadowclan proud and confident as one of the

  • four clans at the lake.

  • Rock defends him and his clanmates to Mosskit, saying that they once again have the least

  • prey-rich territory, and that he shouldn't be punished for having pride in his clan.

  • Tawnypelt is apparently a noble cat trying to be loyal to Shadowclan without any darkness