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Dawn: Warriors, The New Prophecy #3    by Erin Hunter order for
by Erin Hunter
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dawn is the third - following Midnight and Moonrise - in Erin Hunter's second Warrior series, The New Prophecy. In her first series, she developed her feline hero from a despised kittypet to a great leader, Firestar, of the forest ThunderClan. Though the Clans suffered war and natural disaster, it was nothing compared to the prospect of total annihilation faced in this second series, as humans bring in machines to destroy the forest.

In Midnight, StarClan sent cats from each of the four Clans on a quest to save their kin. They reached the ocean, and Moonrise told the story of their return through the mountains, while in the forest all the Clans struggled with a fast deteriorating situation. The second episode ended with a cliffhanger as Firestar's healer daughter Leafpaw was trapped in a TwoLeg cage. Now the questors deal with varying reactions to their return from each of their Clans, and all the cats watch in horror the destruction of Fourtrees - 'the heart of the forest ... had been ripped out.' They also try to make sense of the Yoda-like prophecy of Midnight the badger, 'But you will not be without a guide. When return, stand on Great Rock when Silverpelt shines down. A dying warrior the way will show.' This guide proves elusive.

As the story develops, Tigerstar's other offspring are revealed for who they are - Leafpaw's friend, healer Mothwing, and cold, ambitious Hawkfrost. Here, Firestar shows his noble soul, advocating for their place in the Clans - 'I want them to stay because Tigerstar was their father ... Tigerstar was a great warrior, and these cats have proved they have inherited his courage'. Thrilling rescues (in one of which a beloved cat is lost) finally bring the Clans together, and lead to an exodus from the forest, reminiscent of Richard Adams' Watership Down. 'Like cobwebs in the rain, the Clan boundaries were beginning to dissolve.' They worry about whether StarClan will accompany them to their new home, but they finally do see the promised sign ... and the promised land.

This was a brilliant conclusion to the first trilogy in the new series. I especially enjoyed the more prominent role given to original characters, especially Firestar, and the variety of developing subplots. As always, I'm looking forward to what's next, in Starlight.

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