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Warriors: The Lost Warrior #1

Review

Warriors: The Lost Warrior #1

created by Erin Hunter; written by Dan Jolley; art by James L. Barry

Erin Hunter’s Warriors series of fantasy novels is like catnip to sixth-graders, so it’s not surprising that HarperCollins and Tokyopop teamed up to create manga based on the series. The manga tell new stories about the characters in the novels, and it’s not necessary to read the novels to enjoy the manga. On the contrary, with their clear, linear art, simple storyline, and short length, the manga appear to be targeted at younger readers than the novels.

These two volumes are the first two-thirds of a trilogy telling the story of Graystripe, a warrior cat who was separated from his clan and taken in by a human family in the novel Dawn. The story moves rather slowly at first. Graystripe enjoys the comfort and affection in his new home, but his warrior self chafes at confinement, and he fears he is losing his fighting and hunting skills. Everything about his environment reinforces that --- the sameness of suburban yards, the noisy machines that menace him from either side, and the mean neighborhood cat that bullies him. The one bright spot is Millie, a pampered housecat who befriends Graystripe and takes him to the wild fringes of their neighborhood. Eventually, Graystripe decides that he must make the journey back to his old home, and after some delay, Millie decides to join him.

In the second volume, Graystripe and Millie end up on a farm where the owners and their dogs are hostile to cats, and the barn cats live in fear, afraid to go out during the day. Through observation, courage, and a kind cross-species gesture, Millie and Graystripe break down the hostility between cats, dogs, and humans and induce everyone to get along. Then they hit the road again, but when they arrive at their destination, they realize that it has been despoiled by humans and is no longer home to Graystripe’s clan.

The art in Warriors is clean and easy to follow but detailed enough to be interesting. Hunter (a pseudonym, actually, for three writers) brings in some universal themes, such as the spoiling of the environment, the monotony of suburbia, the struggle between safety and the desire for adventure, and the importance of kindness to strangers. The morals poke through a little obviously at times, but the cats’ lively personalities keep the story light.

The cats in Warriors have their own cat-centered terms for the things in their world: twolegs (people), kittypet (a cat kept as a pet), thunderpath (road), and highstones (mountains), for example. While it sounds a bit awkward, this cat jargon is easy to decode. The manga also introduces the cats’ social organization and their unusual theology: Cats who die go join Starclan, a heavenly band of cats where all is well, and they occasionally visit their earthbound companions in dreams to offer advice and reassurance.

The engaging characters, simple storyline, and lovely art make these manga a good choice for younger readers who are encountering Warriors for the first time, as well as a nice supplement to the novels for older fans.

Reviewed by Brigid Alverson on April 24, 2007

Warriors: The Lost Warrior #1
created by Erin Hunter; written by Dan Jolley; art by James L. Barry

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2007
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: TokyoPop
  • ISBN-10: 0061240206
  • ISBN-13: 9780061240201