Erin Hunter, Author . HarperCollins $15.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-000002-8

In the first exciting installment of the Warriors fantasy series, debut novelist Hunter creates a cat world shared by four tribal clans, drawing on the habits of feral animals and also inserting valuable themes regarding family, friendship and responsibility. Rusty, a young tomcat, forsakes the soft world of the "Twolegs" for the riskier life of the wildcat clans that rule in the woods, beyond the Twolegplace. When Rusty tries to snare a mouse in what proves to be ThunderClan territory, he meets Bluestar, the leader of the Clan, who invites him to learn "what it is to be a real cat. The strength and the fellowship of the Clan will always be with you, even when you hunt alone." Becoming "Firepaw," a warrior-cat-in-training, the once pampered pet adapts quickly to the tribal rules, bonds with his fellow apprentices and with the old she-cat Yellowfang, who is on the run from ShadowClan. When the merciless leader of ShadowClan drives out WindClan and demands to share ShadowClan's hunting territories, the stage is set for more action-packed adventure. (The second Warriors novel, Fire and Ice, is due out in June.) Certain to please any young reader who has ever wondered what dreams of grandeur may haunt the family cat. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
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