THE DARKEST HOUR by Erin Hunter | YES IT’S THE END! 🎉🎉🎉
I have finally finished the first Warriors series, and to be honest… I’m really glad I’m done with this series. I was super excited to read all of the current Warriors books, but I started the first book more than a month ago, and now I’m just not in the mood for cats battling each other every few pages or so, yanno?
And it wasn’t because this book was bad or anything — by the end of rereading the series, I just felt like there were only so many times cats could die dramatically in this book and still affect me.
Tigerstar’s death, as a result, was meh.
However, there were a few themes and concepts that I did like and would therefore like to discuss, so without further ado, let’s get started!
From a Kittypet to a Leader
Throughout this series, Rusty… um, I mean Fireheart — wait no, Firestar — has been renamed a total of three times, and each time Firestar was renamed, it was as if he started a new stage of his life. In The Darkest Hour, Fireheart becomes Firestar, and much of the story is centered around Firestar’s discovery that being the leader was much more difficult than he first thought.
The story begins with Firestar-before-he-was-officially-named-Firestar carrying a dead Bluestar back to the Clan and coming to terms with the fact that he is now the leader of ThunderClan. Even then, Firestar faces discrimination from some of his Clan mates due to his kittypet past.
Before Fireheart could reply, Darkstripe sprang to his paws. “Accept a kittypet as Clan leader? Are we all mad?” (25)
But like always, Fireheart gets he wants in the story and becomes leader without that much conflict from the rest of ThunderClan. If I were really into the story, I guess I would be cheering on for Firestar, but once again, I wasn’t in the mood — and when I’m not in the mood for a story, I’m not going to be like this when Firestar gains his nine lives:
It was cool to see how a leader gets nine lives from StarClan, as Erin Hunter repeatedly emphasized throughout the book that “[n]o leader ever spoke of the mystic rite, so not other cat, except for the medicine cats, knew what happened” (35) to leaders at the Moonstone.
One main thing Firestar whined — I mean, learned — about being a leader was that loneliness came with it. One main shift was that Firestar slept alone in his own sleeping quarters instead of with other Warriors. I suppose Firestar could sleep with the Warriors, but perhaps Hunter was trying to illustrate how in increase in status and power comes with separation from the majority of the community — but more on the concept of power later.
Overall, Firestar kinda annoyed me in this book. I’m not saying I would be amazing as a Clan leader, but Firestar’s decisions were sometimes just so frustrating. That’s probably why I was really excited to finish this series because by the end, I was ready to put Firestar and his awful decision-making skills away.
It got to a point where I thought I would do so much better than Firestar as Zoiestar in the novel. I’m not even kidding.
I have to admit, though, Zoiestar does have a nice ring to it…
Bramblepaw in the Story
[Bramblepaw and I are] more allike than I ever realized, Firestar thought. Constantly having to prove our loyalties by fighting twice as hard, defending ourselves twice as much to our enemies — and to our Clan mates. (84)
Congratulations on finally realizing this, Firestar! You definitely deserve some applause for this.
Now that you’ve realized this, let’s push Bramblepaw out of the story until he has to confront Tigerclaw so you can focus on your own woes and troubles. Yay?
Is There a “Right” Kind of Ostracism?
A theme throughout this series is clearly ostracism — from the moment Firestar arrives in ThunderClan, he’s been ostracized by others because of his kittypet origins. Cloudpaw-now-Cloudtail, who arrives later in the novel, has to deal with this problem as well. Then there’s Graystripe because of his having kits with Silverstream, then Silverstream’s kits, and many other cats in the novel…
But there’s another example that might be overlooked, and it has to do with the antagonists of the story.
Dustpelt emerged from the den just as Darkstripe reached it; Firestar couldn’t help noticing that the brown tabby veered sharply away as he went to join Fernpaw outside the apprentice’s den. The cats of ThunderClan were making their feelings very clear. Dustpelt had been Darkstripe’s apprentice, and now he didn’t even want to speak to his former mentor. (97)
Clearly, being inclusive doesn’t extend to those who go against the Clan they’re supposed to be loyal to (AKA Dustpelt and Tigerstar and all his followers). However, this still is an example of ostracism, but while it was clear readers aren’t supposed to cheer for Darkstripe’s hatred of Firestar’s kittypet past, it seems like we’re supposed to join in on the disgust the Clan members have of Darkstripe due to his belief that Tigerstar is the right leader to follow.
So… does that mean there’s a “right” kind of ostracism? Or should the cats of ThunderClan have been more open-minded? Perhaps asking Darkstripe to explain why he believed so avidly in Tigerstar’s plans for the future would have helped ThunderClan gain more insight into why Tigerstar acted the way he did, as well as why cats were following him.
If we look at the cats who followed Tigerstar, we have cats like Darkstripe, ShadowClan cats (painted as ambitious cats hungry for power), and BloodClan, which consist of starving, abandoned street cats wanting a better life than their current one.
Despite the vicious name BloodClan has, I still felt bad for them when they explained their lifestyle. Yes, they’re brutal and wear teeth on their collars… but in the end, they didn’t seem desperate for a battle to quench their bloodlust. They just wanted a to live in a place better than a messy street alleyway, but in the forest, they were outsiders who needed to fight for what they wanted: a safer home.
Fireheart never thought to wonder why BloodClan was acting so vicious (another frustating part of his character). Instead, he proceeded to deal with BloodClan and Tigerstar with one mentality — Let’s “drive out these evil cats!” (284) — without opening his mind to other choices.
Wasn’t the entire plot thread of Rusty becoming Firestar supposed to show that outsiders can succeed and be happy, too?
Was Hunter trying to show how some outsiders were meant to fail while some were meant to succeed?
That’s all I have to say for now about this topic — but definitely feel free to comment if you have something to say about this theme.
Reason Why the Clans Don’t Combine
Okay, and lastly, with my fried brain, I shall discuss one last topic: the reason why the Clans don’t combine into one happy Clan of the forest. This was a concept that I supported in one of my earlier book chats. However, I have learned that this probably isn’t the best idea for the four Clans from 1) completing this series and 2) discussing this concept with other people.
And no, it’s not because “StarClan knew that the forest needed four Clans” (213) and therefore the forest shall have four clans for all of eternity.
It’s because of power — if the four Clans combine, then what about the four leaders? How would they rule equally? Would there not be four leaders and only one leader and one deputy? And would the other three leaders really give up their power so easily for one to take over?
In the end, the desire to keep power prevents peaceful solutions, open-mindedness, and the combining of four Clans into one from happening, and that’s my biggest takeaway from this book. I feel like this concept could apply to so many current issues and events happening in the world, and because of that, I’m really glad I reread the Warriors series. I hope you took something important away from this series, too.
Thanks for reading, and I will cya next time!