Warriors: A Children's Chapter Book Series Overview
42 Books in Series
After the initial success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, thousands of children’s and YA book series began in the 2000’s. Most of these series either saw mild success or were quickly forgotten. A few have risen to the top of relevance, namely books like Eragon, Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl, but one series continues to capture the hearts and minds of children around the world.
Mixing fantasy melodrama with the secret lives of feral cats, the Warriors novel series by Erin Hunter has seen tremendous success since the first book was published in 2003. Spawning seven self-contained series, standalone “super editions” and even a manga series, Hunter’s books clearly have tapped into the imaginations of people everywhere.
The series begins with Into the Wild, where housecat Rusty discovers a secret world of feral cats living within the woods behind his home. Looking for adventure and excitement, he leaves quiet life to join Thunderclan, one of four main cat groups living in this secret society.
Rusty takes on a new name, Firepaw, and soon becomes entangled within the political and social dramas of the warring clans. The Warriors series is famous for its complex, intersecting plotlines and numerous characters who all have their own personalities and relationships with each. These plotlines are often called “Shakesperian” or compared to the lore-heavy fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkein, which the writers acknowledge as influences.
One of the most unique aspects of the Warriors books is that while they are credited under one author, Erin Hunter, it’s been no secret that Hunter is actually a pseudonym for a host of writers that all work on the series.
The initial series was created by Victoria Holmes, who was asked by publisher HarperCollins to come up with a fantasy book involving cats. Despite not being a cat lover, Holmes soon became invested in the world that she created, fleshing out the politics, social hierarchies, and even beliefs and religions of the clans. She imagined storylines full of political intrigue, doomed love, and warring factions.
Holmes came up with so many ideas that the initial pitch of one novel was expanded into a six-book-series, which in turn increased the scope of the world. Holmes decided to enlist the help of Kate Cary, not only to assist in the writing process, but also because Cary is a lifelong cat lover. The first book in the Warriors series was published in 2003 and soon became a smash hit.
As the series continued, Holmes brought on more writers who all took on different roles in creating the series. There are currently eight writers under the Erin Hunter pen name: Victoria Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Gillian Philip, Inbali Iserles, Tui T. Sutherland, Kasey Widhalm and Rosie Best. While these eight people all use the same name, only Holmes, Cary, Baldry, and Sutherland work on the Warriors series. The other four write the other series inspired by the Warrior books that also follow groups of animals: Seekers, Survivors, and Bravelands.
Each book is created in a similar way: Holmes comes up with the storylines for each book, while the other authors take turns writing each entry. While each writer is encouraged to come up with their own characters and side plots, they pride themselves on their attention to detail and continuity, making sure each plotline and character remains consistent.
They also ensure that each book reads as if it was written by one person, making sure they have the “Hunter Style.” Holmes sees Hunter’s style as the result of combining the initial three writers’ styles.
“I think of it as being able to ‘speak ‘Erin Hunter’, like speaking a different language,” said Holmes. “After working on more than twelve scripts, I know pretty much at once if a line or phrase doesn’t sound right.”
While many may believe too many cooks in the kitchen can ruin a meal, Holmes doesn’t see that when it comes to writing books.
“I am very used to working in this way, and think it’s way more fun than the standard sort of editing where you work with one person alone,” Holmes said.
After the initial six books, the team of authors began to write more books in the series, expanding the story into seven more individual story arcs, each covering about six books. The protagonists change in each arc, but the characters from the series still show up from time to time, retaining their positions from the end of the last series.
The authors have even expanded the world with seperate series. There are the “Super Editions” which are usually double the length of a normal novel and serve the expand the backstories of characters or reveal previously hidden events. There’s also the various Field Guides, which provide handy information about the individual clans and the mythology of the world.
There are even various manga series that tell many side stories similar to the “Super Editions,” though these are plots are normally large enough to be explored in multiple editions rather than told in a single novel.
Currently on its seventh story arc, the Warriors series sees no sign of stopping any time soon. Using fantasy elements to engage young readers in political turmoil and complex webs of relationships, the series continues to capture the imaginations of its fan base, and will make you wonder what adventures your feline friend gets up to when you’re not around.
List of Books:
The Prophecy Begins
Into the Wild
Fire and Ice
Forest of Secrets
A Dangerous Path
The Darkest Hour
The New Prophecy
The Power of Three
Omen of Stars
The Fourth Apprentice
Sign of the Moon
The Forgotten Warrior
The Last Hope
Dawn of the Clans
The Sun Trail
The First Battle
The Blazing Star
A Forest Divided
Path of Stars
A Vision of Shadows
The Apprentice's Quest
Thunder and Shadow
River of Fire
The Raging Storm
The Broken Code
The Silent Thaw