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Into the Wild (novel)

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Into the Wild
First edition cover
AuthorErin Hunter
Cover artistWayne McLoughlin
CountryUnited States
GenreFantasy novel
PublisherAvon, HarperCollins
Publication date
January 21, 2003
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages272 (depending on edition)
LC ClassPZ7.H916625 In 2003
Followed byFire and Ice 

Into the Wild is a fantasy novel written by Erin Hunter. The novel was published by HarperCollins in Canada and the United States in January 2003, and in the United Kingdom in February 2003. It is the first novel in the Warriors series. The book has been published in paperback, and e-book formats in twenty different languages. The story is about a young domestic cat named Rusty who leaves his human owners to join a group of forest-dwelling feral cats called ThunderClan, adopting a new name: Firepaw. He is trained to defend and hunt for the Clan, becomes embroiled in a murder and betrayal within the Clan, and, at the end of the book, receives his warrior name, Fireheart, after a battle with another Clan. He must face the evil Tigerclaw. The novel is written from the perspective of Fireheart (previously known as Rusty for a short time, then, for most of the book, Firepaw).

The series began in 2003 when HarperCollins requested Holmes to write a book on feral cats. After creating one storyline Holmes brought in Kate Cary to finish writing the book as Holmes went behind the scenes to edit and supervise the details. Holmes has compared the style of the book to a different language as the books are written by three separate authors. She feels that Erin Hunter must have a consistent voice the entire series. The story uses a lexicon with words such as "twoleg" substituted for "human" or "new-leaf" for "spring". The style has been compared to the Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien and Brian Jacques. Themes include family, loyalty, death, courage, and survival. Into the Wild was critically well received. Booklist believed the book would appeal to followers of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. Among other awards, it claimed third place in the 2006 Young Reader's Choice Award.

Development and publication[edit]


Feral cats seemed like an excellent compromise between regular domestic pussycats and a truly wild animal: they have all the freedom and independence of living in the wild, but they would be instantly recognizable to readers as the pet lying on their lap.
— Victoria Holmes answering how the idea for Warriors began.[1]

In 2003, HarperCollins requested Victoria Holmes to create a fantasy series about feral cats, but, being more interested in dogs and not a reader of fantasy, she was less than enthusiastic.[2] She "couldn't imagine coming up with enough ideas".[3] Nonetheless, she worked with the concept, expanding the storyline with elements of war, politics, revenge, doomed love, and religious conflict. Although the original plan was a stand-alone novel, enough material was created for several books, and the publisher decided upon a six-volume series.[3] Holmes then enlisted the help of another author, Kate Cary whom Holmes had previously edited for and knew she loved cats.[4] The first volume, Into the Wild, was written by Kate Cary under the pseudonym Erin Hunter, and completed in about three months.[5] Holmes continued to act behind the scenes editing and supervising details. Afterwards, Holmes began to like the idea of using cats since she realized how thoughtful they can be leading private lives without any humans realizing.[1]


With four authors at the time Holmes decided to have a pseudonym since having four authors would place the books at different places at libraries, confusing and possibly scaring off potential readers. The last name Hunter was chosen since it put the books next to the similar Redwall series.[2]

Publication history[edit]

Into the Wild was first published as a hardcover by HarperCollins on January 9, 2003, in Canada.[6] The book was released on January 21, 2003, in the United States,[7] and in February 2003 in the United Kingdom.[8] Into the Wild was released as a paperback in the US on January 6, 2004.[9] On September 4, 2007, the book was released as an eBook,[10] and on Amazon's Kindle.[11] The book was one of the first to be in HarperCollins' "Browse Inside" program where twenty percent of the novel is available online. For a limited time, the complete novel was also available online.[12] The paperback version sold 150,637 copies in 2008.[13]

The novel has been released and translated in twenty countries[14] including German, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Portugal, Hungary, Brazil, Norway and Greece. In Germany, the book has also been released as an audiobook.[15] The Chinese version was released on October 31, 2008, with a 3-D card of Firepaw.[14]


The fictional forest of the novel was originally inspired by New Forest (above) and other locales in England and Scotland.

Into the Wild begins with a battle in a forest between the cats of outnumbered ThunderClan (ones that live in a part of the forest that is primarily deciduous woodland) and RiverClan (ones that live in a part of the forest that is primarily wetland, or shores of lakes, rivers, and streams) over Sunningrocks, a group of rocks in the forest, around RiverClan and ThunderClan territory where warrior cats bask in the sun. ThunderClan's deputy, Redtail the tortoiseshell tom, calls a retreat. Spottedleaf the dark tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat and Bluestar the blue-gray she-cat call on StarClan - deceased warrior ancestors of the Clans who live on in spirit form after dying and watch over the living Clan cats - for answers. Spottedleaf is given a prophecy; "Fire Alone Will Save Our Clan".

Rusty, a curious flame-colored tom Kittypet (a cat under domestication), is driven to the forest after a dream of him hunting a mouse. Rusty runs into Graypaw, dark gray tom from ThunderClan who has just become an apprentice. Rusty, however, does not run away and fights the apprentice. After the battle, Graypaw tells Rusty he fought very well, for a Kittypet, and proceeds to tell him about the Clans. Bluestar and a golden tabby tom named Lionheart, also from ThunderClan, who were watching the whole time, reveal themselves and invite Rusty to join ThunderClan.

Due to his domesticated past, some members of the Clan are hostile towards Rusty. This hostility eventually leads Rusty to attack Longtail, a pale brown black-striped tabby tom who purposefully fights Rusty to prove his worth, losing his jingling collar in the ensuing fight, as well as tearing Longtail's ear. Bluestar then ends the fight and announces that Rusty has earned his apprentice name, Firepaw. Ravenpaw the jet-black tom interrupts this, alerting the Clan of the death of Redtail before he collaspes. Tigerclaw the large dark brown tabby tom brings the lifeless body to the Clan. Lionheart becomes the new deputy of ThunderClan.

Firepaw forms a strong friendship with Graypaw, and Ravenpaw, who is the apprentice of the ambitious warrior Tigerclaw. Firepaw finds a banished loner named Yellowfang, a skinny dark gray she-cat. After breaking the warrior code to feed her, he is required to care for her.

When Bluestar, Tigerclaw, Ravenpaw, Firepaw and Graypaw go on a journey to the mystical Moonstone, located in a sacred site within an abandoned Twoleg (human) mine called Highstones by the Clan cats, so Bluestar can commune with StarClan, ShadowClan (cats that live in the marshlands and amongst the pines of the forest) attacks ThunderClan's camp. The five cats on the journey return in time to turn the tide of the battle, during which ThunderClan's new deputy Lionheart is killed. A few days later, Spottedleaf is slaughtered and Frostfur the snow-white she-cat's kits are stolen by Brokenstar the dark brown tabby tom and his warriors. Everyone except Firepaw and Graypaw believe that Yellowfang has betrayed the Clan.

Firepaw learns from Ravenpaw that Tigerclaw killed Redtail. Searching for the kidnapped kits, Firepaw and Graypaw lead Ravenpaw to a barn where he can be safe and have company, living with a loner named Barley, short black-and-white tom. Firepaw then leads a rescue party with Yellowfang to rescue the lost kits in ShadowClan territory and emerges victorious. Brokenstar and his followers are banished from the Clan.

Tigerclaw, still trusted by the Clan, suspects Firepaw knows his secret. Because of their heroism on the rescue party, Firepaw and Graypaw are promoted to warriors by Bluestar, who gives them their warrior names, Fireheart and Graystripe. Yellowfang is promoted to medicine cat. Graystripe and Fireheart sit vigil, promising to protect the Clan with their lives.


"Into the Wild did occasionally remind me of the Harry Potter books, both in writing style and content. Rusty forms a firm friendship with an apprentice (warrior in training, more than six months old) called Graypaw, a longhaired solid grey tom. Graypaw adds the laughter to what is, when you really think about it, a rather gritty story. This friendship reminded me strongly of Harry and Ron when they first met in the Philosopher's Stone. Cats such as Bluestar and Yellowfang form the older authority figures. These two characters reminded me of Dumbledore and Snape (though not too closely)."
—A review from Fantasy Book Review comparing Into the Wild and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.[16] Kate Cary describes the voice as their natural writing style.[1]

The story is told in a third person point of view following the protagonist Firepaw. The narration stays with Firepaw until the next series, Warriors: The New Prophecy, in which the point of view alternates between cats since the authors felt that "we'd really told Firestar's story, and so we wanted to get a fresh viewpoint".[5]

The style of the book has also been compared to the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. A reviewer for The Plain Dealer wrote that the book "is patterned in the style of classics by J.R.R. Tolkien or Brian Jacques".[17] While School Library Journal recommended the book to Redwall fans, the reviewer still felt the style wasn't as elegant.[18]


The book has a lexicon with certain different names for foreign objects. A Children's Literature review noted the words "kittypet" and "twoleg" which mean housecat and humans respectively. In the book, instead, of using "said", Cary uses the word "mewed". This was criticized with the reviewer writing "that 'he mewed', 'she purred', and 'the warrior mewed', which pass for cat talk, grows old fast".[19] In response to a question at the Q&A section of the forum Holmes explained that the names come "in two parts, either or both of which can reflect something about the cat's appearance, personality, or habits". However, they must also be part of the world they know; Holmes originally gave Tigerclaw the name Hammerclaw until one of the editors pointed out the cats wouldn't know what a hammer is.[20] For the names, Kate Cary says that she takes in inspiration for the names from "sight, sounds and scents the cats would experience". At the same time, more names become available as the cat's world becomes more diverse.[1]


Harper Collins originally requested that Holmes write a "fantasy story on feral cats". Though troubled on what to write about at first, Holmes realized she could add human themes and issues into the book such as "war, politics, revenge, doomed love, religious conflict".[3] An interviewer has described the plot as "Shakespearian: a mad leader, intra-clan betrayal, war, star-crossed lovers, death".[1] Reviews have also called the story an "animal adventure".[21]

The novel was picked to be part of the young adult fantasy genre due to its increasing popularity. Cherith Baldry feel that the growth of genre is due to the fact that "fantasy is something very deeply rooted in the human mind, not just for children". Fantasy stories are able to deal with human emotions helping readers to deal with them in the real world. Another Erin Hunter, Kate Cary felt that fantasy books such as Harry Potter "is a sign of a deepening need for fantasy to brighten our lives". She describes how as a child she was far less restricted than today's children whose days are structured and scheduled. Cary feels that fantasy stories help kids "escape into the world of the imagination, because it’s the only place they can be really free and un-judged".[1]


Publishers Weekly noted that themes such as family, friendship and responsibility are also taught in the warrior code, the set of rules that the Clans must follow.[22] Holmes has said that one of her favorite things about writing the series is being able to add in themes that apply to us all such as family, loss, honor, bravery, death, loyalty, and following rules. Other themes include "death and spirituality and family and relationships".[23] She also added in human themes such as "starting at a new school (Rusty joining ThunderClan), falling in love with the wrong person (Graystripe and Silverstream) and being bullied by someone who should look after you (Tigerclaw bullying Ravenpaw)".[24] To a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, the human theme of fitting in was easily found and applauded when Rusty succeeds.[21]

Another theme found throughout the book is the hardship of life in the wild. Reviews have note how the story does not cover up the hardships of Clan life. School Library Journal commented on how the story describes the hardships and difficulties of a feral cat's life in detail and how there is no sugarcoating of the violence.[18] Fantasy Book Review also wrote "Erin Hunter does not spare the reader from the grim realities of living in the wild".[16] Kirkus Reviews noted that doing so shows how the Clans are on the brink of survival.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Into the Wild received generally positive reviews. Booklist thought the novel "spine-tingling" and noted that "the cat characters are true to their feline nature, making this sure to appeal to fans of Clare Bell's long-popular Ratha's Creature (1983) and its sequels and also to followers of Brian Jacques' ongoing Redwall series."[25] Publishers Weekly praised the excitement and also added that the book would please any person who "has ever wondered what dreams of grandeur may haunt the family cat". The review also praised the world of the cats and themes put into the book.[22] Although School Library Journal thought the book not as well written as the Redwall series, it did note that the novel presented an "intriguing world with an intricate structure". The review also felt that there was too many supporting characters, but "there are standouts who give dimension to the tale". The amount of violence was also noted in the review.[18] Kirkus Reviews joked the book would have cat owners look at their pets nervously before writing how Hunter doesn't have "any hint of sentimentality. Snapping bones, flowing blood, and sudden death abundantly demonstrate how these cats walk on the thin edge of survival". The review noted how teens would see how hard it is for Firepaw to fit in.[21] Washington Times notes the tension rising between Tigerclaw and Firepaw and praised the scene where Longtail challenges Firepaw's right to be in the Clan.[26]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Into the Wild claimed third place in the 2006 Young Reader's Choice Award.[27] The novel was listed on Booklist's Top 10 fantasy books for youth in 2003,[28] and was a Book Sense 76 Pick.[29]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "INTERVIEW: Erin Hunter". Writers Unboxed. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  2. ^ a b Mireles, Nabor (May 1, 2009). "Time For Kids | 10 Question for Victoria Holmes". Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Transcript of Erin Hunter Post Chat 6". Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  4. ^ "CATSWITH ATTITUDE: ?Warriors' series of books for young readers use fearless felines to entertain, teach important lessons". April 18, 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Transcript Of Erin Hunter Chat #1". Wands and Worlds. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  6. ^ "Amazon (Canada) catalog: Warriors, Book 1: Into the Wild (Hardcover)". ISBN 0060000023. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ "Amazon catalog: Into the Wild (Warriors, Book 1) (Hardcover)". ISBN 0060000023. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ "Amazon (UK) catalog: Into the Wild (Warriors) (Hardcover)". ISBN 0060000023. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  9. ^ "Warriors #1: Into the Wild (Warriors) (Paperback)". ISBN 0060525509. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ "Warriors #1: Into the Wild (eBook)". Mobipocket eBook. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  11. ^ "Warriors #1: Into the Wild (Kindle Edition)". Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  12. ^ "HarperCollins Publishers to Offer Select Books Online for Free". The New York Times. February 12, 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  13. ^ Roback, Diane (March 23, 2009). "Bestselling Children's Books 2008: Meyer%E2%80%99s Deep Run". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  14. ^ a b "晨星網路書店Morningstar::│圖書基本資料│" (in Chinese). Morningstar. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Warrior Cats — In die Wildnis (Band 1) -978-3-407-81045-8 -  Verlagsgruppe BELTZ" (in German). BELTZ. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Into the Wild by Erin Hunter reviewed on Fantasy Book Review". Fantasy Book. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  17. ^ McCarthy`, Cheryl Stritzel (March 16, 2003). "Tale of cats on the prowl is like catnip to dedicated fantasy fans". The Plain Dealer. Newsbank. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  18. ^ a b c Alpert, Mara (May 2003). "EBSCOhost: Into the Wild (Book) School Library Journal". EBSCOhost. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
  19. ^ "Barnes and Noble: Into the Wild (Warriors Series #1)". Barnes & Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  20. ^ "Q & A with Erin Hunter". Warriors Forum. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  21. ^ a b c d "Kirkus review: Into the Wild". Kirkus Reviews. 71 (1): 61. January 2003. Retrieved 2008-08-21. Hunter debuts with a suspenseful animal adventure that will leave readers eyeing Puss a bit nervously.
  22. ^ a b Roback, Diane (December 23, 2002). "EBSCOhost: INTO THE WILD (Book) Publishers Weekly". EBSCOhost. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
  23. ^ "Transcript of the Second Erin Hunter Chat". Wands and Worlds. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  24. ^ "Warriors: FAQ". Warriors. Archived from the original on 29 November 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  25. ^ Estes, Sally (February 15, 2003). "EBSCOhost: Into the Wild Booklist". EBSCOhost. Booklist. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
  26. ^ Wong, Justin (November 5, 2005). "EBSCOhost: Adventurous pet joins cat 'Warriors'". The Washington Times. EBSCOhost. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  27. ^ "The Guttersnipe: Warriors Gossip (archived by". The Guttersnipe. Archived from the original on 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  28. ^ Estes, Sally (April 15, 2003). "Top 10 fantasy books for youth. (Spotlight on SF/Fantasy).(Bibliography)". AccessMyLibrary. Booklist. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
  29. ^ "Warriors #1: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter". HarperCollins. Retrieved 19 July 2010.

External links[edit]