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  • The biggest reason why Warrior Cats is so popular is simple.

  • The series has quickly and consistently put out content every year for over two decades.

  • No matter what the quality of any individual book is, the quantity of material they have,

  • the number of characters and plots they have explored, and the number of expansions they

  • have made to the world are too vast for any other member of the genre to match, at least

  • so far.

  • To keep up that pace, Warriors has always had to rely on a team of people to conceive

  • of and write the books, distinctly separating those jobs in almost all cases, and that team

  • has only grown with time to include comic artists and writers, artists for special books,

  • more ghost writers, and many more editors since Victoria Holmes left.

  • That does mean that we as readers always have a lot of material to draw from for discussion,

  • art, roleplay, games, writing, or analysis depending on our preferences and investment

  • levels, but it also means that over 20 years and many, many people giving their input to

  • the canon, we have had to grapple with several different sources of information.

  • Were there a single, definitive source that the various creators had made from which to

  • gauge all existing lore, characters, relationships, and otherwise in the world, in other words,

  • a series bible, some of the problems we have grown into could have been avoided, but by

  • now, the damage has long since been done, and we have to live with the contradictions

  • our disparate sources have made.

  • Many, many books across the series have needed to or decided to retcon in elements that weren't

  • discussed or were actively contradicted in previous material, when the new idea would

  • better fit the story they were currently writing.

  • In addition, even outside the books, various members of the Erin team have said things

  • about the characters or world that weren't in the published material and often weren't

  • agreed upon by the team, instead being thought of hastily in the moment.

  • All these different sources: different people and even different books have been considered

  • canon at different times over the years.

  • As a fandom, many of us, especially those less invested in the books, get our information

  • second or third hand from artists or writers who have already reimagined or invented materials,

  • or from people who didn't check the original source for their own information.

  • But even when we look at the same canon published material, we can still interpret it differently,

  • especially considering what other pieces of canon we may or may not have read for context,

  • and whatever ideas we may get can then spread among the rest of the fandom and be considered

  • as commonplace an idea as something in a published work.

  • All of this is undoubtedly confusing, which is why, today, I would like to go through

  • a map of sorts to show how Warriors information gets to us, and from there, maybe we'll

  • be able to figure out what to do with it.

  • Starting at the top, we have the elements that go into a published work of Warriors.

  • There are, of course, a lot of factors, but I have split it broadly into three categories:

  • Editor Notes, the extremely lengthy guidelines the editors come up with for the plots, character

  • arcs, lore decisions, and so on for a book they're currently writing, Author Interpretations,

  • the small amounts of personal choice or interpretation of a character that ghostwriters are able

  • to inject while fleshing out the editors' outline, and Publisher Guidelines, whatever

  • the needs of the publisher and team might be absent of what they would like to put into

  • a story.

  • Putting all of these together is already bringing in a lot of voices, but they do work together,

  • and it is still a relatively small and finite number of people.

  • Once the book is published, though, things become much less contained.

  • First, sometimes even before the books come out, fans of all ages will summarize the story,

  • or parts of the story, for other fans to get a sense of what happens.

  • These summaries are almost certain to contain bias of some sort, be it leaving out some

  • details the summarizer didn't care about, focusing positively or negatively on a character

  • or plot they have strong feelings about, or adding in or taking away details they genuinely

  • didn't remember because they aren't summarizing the whole story word by word.

  • Despite this, these summaries are, for many, the only ways they consume certain books,

  • either because they didn't have interest in this entry to begin with or because the

  • summary itself told them all they needed to know to make their decision.

  • Off of these summaries, fan discussions can erupt which may or may not end up accurately

  • discussing the book thanks to the inherent bias of the source.

  • There have been times where discourse has erupted over something that, as it turns out,

  • was never in the books to begin with.

  • My best advice around these is to take any summary with a grain of salt.

  • No matter how intent on honesty the summarizer is, avoiding bias in a situation like this

  • is impossible and there will almost certainly be some context somewhere that you are missing,

  • context that could make a situation in the books either better or worse.

  • Aside from general summaries, several people make active reviews of the books as they come

  • out, giving their opinions on how the story is coming together, what they think of the

  • characters, plot, and lore, and how it fits into the overall world and narrative of Warriors,

  • given what they can remember coming before.

  • These tend to be significantly more biased than summaries, by design, and they rarely

  • even claim to include a comprehensive look at the whole story.

  • Instead they tend to follow specific plot threads, characters, or details that the reviewer

  • has interest in and can fold in content from elsewhere in the series, personal theories,

  • or even fandom jokes and ideas if the reviewer finds them to be relevant.

  • People who view these reviews will get one person's take on the published material

  • and almost always will get several true facts on it, but without having read the material

  • itself it is hard to say you have a clear view of it, and especially hard to form an

  • opinion of your own distinct from what the reviewer thinks.

  • Out of these reviews, analyses, or theories, fan discourse can sprout up among larger groups

  • of people, many of whom will not have read the books.

  • This isn't a problem, and I'm not telling anyone they are wrong for not having read

  • a book, but it should be obvious from here how easy it would be for details to become

  • distorted, inflated, erased, or even made up over time.

  • It isn't just individuals who review or analyze books, though.

  • Entire groups on various platforms will often discuss the books as they come out, and those

  • discussions will almost inevitably end up focusing on a few key talking points and land

  • on a few key opinions over months or even years of discussing the new materials with

  • each release, leading to entire sectors of the fandom having precise, generally uniform

  • conceptions of different books or characters and often having little contact with other

  • spaces where opinions might differ.

  • Having two people who only know the books from these discussions, but on different platforms,

  • speak to each other can often sound like these people couldn't have possibly read the same

  • series, and it is where many, though not all heated arguments sprout from.

  • On a lighter note, the published material also inspires plenty of fandom materialbut

  • as you can see, those have their own categories, so we'll come back to this later.

  • With the published material through, it's time to take a look at the second sourceauthor

  • statements.

  • These can be made on a forum, on facebook or instagram, during an interview, in a letter,

  • or otherwise, but what binds these statements together is that they were made by one member

  • of the Erin Hunter team alone and often were made on a whim in answer to a spontaneous

  • question, considering only their opinion in the moment and not the long term ramifications

  • or researching what had been written before to choose an appropriate answer.

  • From my point of view, which like anyone else's is not an objective one, these are not as

  • strong a source as anything in a published book would be.

  • Even the people who made the statements don't have infinite faith in them, as in cases where

  • authors later realized the implications of their words and went back on them, and many

  • that weren't retracted simply never came to pass in the books or were even contradicted

  • in the material we had.

  • These statements aren't often even seen by a wide body of people.

  • They aren't published in many places, aren't advertised, and sometimes are only shown to

  • a few select people who were relevant to the initial question.

  • In a series made entirely by one person, comments like this could have more, though not total,

  • canonical weight thanks to being followed by more people and only filtering through

  • the mind and memory of one person, but in this series with so many people working together,

  • I honestly believe the only reason these statements have held power as long as they have is because

  • ofwell, we'll get back to that.

  • First though it's time to go into what seems to be the modern version of author statements

  • in the Warriors World: content on the Warriors website, the new version that came out in

  • 2019.

  • The website gets content from three main sources.

  • The first is theStory Team,” a label members of the Erin Hunter team use when speaking

  • about their reasons for writing certain things in the past or teasing ideas to come, along

  • with occasionally speaking on specific in-story topics.

  • Considering this comes straight from people who actually write or conceive of the stories,

  • these tend to be the most valuable in terms of telling what is true in the Warriors universe,

  • but even then, like with Author Statements, we don't know that every member of the team

  • agreed to anything said by theStory Team,” and anything said on the website isn't guaranteed

  • to be in the published books.

  • The second is theEditors,” staff who work specifically on the website that we,

  • as a general audience, know little to nothing about.

  • They put up articles on different Warriors topics and keep the website updated with announcements,

  • quotes, and quizzes for people who follow the site regularly but there isn't much

  • they can offer in terms of deciding what is canon for the books, since they have no direct

  • relation to them.

  • The third is the fans, some who are sought out to provide their input on different topics

  • and many more who are showcased for their art, fan theories, or otherwise as a tribute

  • to the fandom that has stayed alive for so long.

  • It is genuinely great to see so many fans get a chance to see their hard work recognized

  • and for some to provide their own thoughts on the books, but this position doesn't

  • hold any sway over the books themselves.

  • However, all three of these sources are displayed on the same website, and like the published

  • material, anything published on the website can be and is discussed, reviewed, joked about,

  • and otherwise by the fandom outside the website.

  • The Erins themselves also go to the website sometimes to pick up what has been said about

  • the books and to canonize certain things that weren't stated to be true before, which

  • is a dangerous venture if that information wasn't thoroughly checked over first.

  • And of course, a lot of things that go on the website wind up on one other platform.

  • It's time to discuss the Warriors Wiki.

  • Let me clear right off the bat that this is not going to be a criticism of the platform.

  • A lot of work from a lot of volunteers goes into maintaining that site and it is, at this

  • point, an irreplaceable resource.

  • I don't agree with every decision they make, but that is true for just about every group

  • ever, and what I will talking about today is how the Wiki is used.

  • The wiki is most similar to wikipedia, as it name would imply.

  • What it does is it collects and stores information in one easy to reach place rather than forcing

  • you to track down each individual source.

  • It is not a source by itself but it does gather and, importantly, cite the sources for all

  • the information it has listed.

  • If you remember reading that Leafpool has a white chest and paws but don't see it