Into The Wild (Warriors) by Erin Hunter is a children’s fantasy novel about the life and times of cat clans that have shared the forest for generations. These clans include ThunderClan, Riverclan, Shadowclan, Windclan and Starclan. Also, there are cats outside the major clans; such as Yellowfang, Smudge and Barley.
Hunter outlines a complex system of governance among the cats. Each warrior cat has an apprentice. Each clan has a leader and a deputy. In addition, there are cat queens and elders who dispense wisdom.
The story opens with a wild catfight between ThunderClan members and an encroaching tribe of cats called the RiverClan warriors. Knowing their turf, the ThunderClan cats dive through some rocks and disappear into the forest without a trace.
In another moving scene, Hunter describes the death of Redtail from a stealth attack by the RiverClan. The ThunderClan ceremony began with each member looking up to the Silverpelt thick band of stars.
In the cat folklore, each dead cat in the clan is said to represent one of the StarClan warriors in the Silverpelt constellation. In an unusual post funeral event, Bluestar names Lionheart as a new deputy of the ThunderClan to replace Redtail.
Eventually, the ThunderClan welcomes Rusty, who is seen as a potential savior for the group. The medicine cat doesn’t agree completely. Instead, he believes that ultimately the ThunderClan will be saved by fire.
Hunter’s governing principles for the cats involve an organizational hierarchy with leaders, deputies, warriors and apprentices, its exploration of social structures making it reminiscent of the work of George Orwell in Animal Farm or William Golding in Lord of the Flies.
Golding’s Lord of the Flies also describes a social order which breaks down on an island until the stranded boys are found by British officers. By contrast, Hunter’s social order of cats remains substantially intact in the Warriors Into The Wild.
Warriors Into The Wild is a good beginner book to introduce themes of governance in the animal kingdom. Hunter’s book should be read and understood at some point by teens, high school students and other readers before they progress to the more complex literary themes in Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies.