Every Warrior Cats fan has their internal ranking of all the arcs they’ve read, or at the very least, they have favorite arcs. Currently there are seven completed arcs of Warriors, with the eighth arc in progress and set to finish in 2024. When considering my ranking, I looked at the smoothness of the actions from book to book, main characters, and major moments. However, I didn’t allow those moments to dictate the ranking entirely, as I am more aware of how the arc is in total and not only their best moments.
Each ranking will contain very minor spoilers for the series, so if you haven’t read all the arcs, feel free to skim the paragraphs! Let’s count it down from eight to one.
8. Dawn of the Clans
As much as I loved the idea of a prequel to the series, to find out how the Clans formed, most aspects of the Dawn of the Clans arc flopped. It’s the arc I’ve felt the least pull to re-read and find myself dragging through it even a second time. The concept is great, readers get to see how the Clans struggled to separate into five and get to know the first leaders. Yet, it drops to the lowest of the list because of the clunkiness of the actions through the arc and the treatment of the female characters. The plots that span the six books aren’t as cohesive as they could be; they shove a lot of new threats or antagonists into the six books without taking the time to build them up. Warriors is no stranger to treating the male characters better, even so far as using female characters to further male plots, but it is particularly bad in Dawn of the Clans. Mates or crushes come and go for our main protagonists, Gray Wing, Clear Sky, and Thunder, in a revolving door of deaths or weird circumstances. The female characters are powerful but fleeting or overshadowed (Bright Stream, Turtle Tail, Storm, Star Flower, and even Bumble). I’m not even a fan of any of the protagonists in this arc, preferring the side characters instead. The problem with the Warriors’ arcs is they all have their good and bad. Dawn of the Clans isn’t a lousy arc all around, but the other arcs are so much better it leaves DotC at the bottom.
7. A Vision of Shadows
Following Bramblestar’s Storm, the main pull of A Vision of Shadows is having one of the best villains of the series and making the big jump to have SkyClan join the other four Clans at the lake. For something so momentous, it’s a shame that it’s lower on the list. However, not even the villain Darktail can save this arc from running itself into circles, with too many arguments and no solutions between the Clans. In most of this arc, the Clans are unwilling to do anything about their problems and barely come to a final consensus at the end. The main characters, Alderheart, Twigbranch, and Violetshine, are interesting but no more so than any other protagonists. Darktail was terrifying, with a high kill count, and he performed one of the most unsettling deaths of the series. However, he only lasted for three of the six books, leaving the rest of the plot about SkyClan struggling to fit in. The prophecies and omens are confusing in this arc too, and never seem to follow through or have a final, definite conclusion. Violetshine’s arc, the best of the protagonists, and Darktail’s horrors were only enough to raise AVoS above DotC.
6. The Broken Code
Possibly the most “out there” arc of the entire series, The Broken Code plunges the Clans into darkness as StarClan mysteriously disappears. The saving grace of this arc, making it sixth on my list, is the long-awaited villainy of the character Ashfur. He is spooky, controlling, and downright insane. The authors stuck their necks out, creating an arc that is more paranormal and less in the realm of “real” than any of the other books in the series. For the most part, I think it is successful. This arc arguably has one of the most gut-wrenching and beautifully written deaths, and it handles grief and manipulation very well. All three protagonists, Shadowsight, Rootspring, and Bristlefrost, are great characters with their own complex arcs, but Bristlefrost could have been characterized a little stronger. The only reason TBC is so low on the list is a similar reason that AVoS was: there’s too much back-and-forth in this arc, and the transitions aren’t as clean as they could be. The best book in this arc is the last one, where they spend most of it in The Dark Forest, but progress and pacing is still slow.
5. The New Prophecy
Honestly, I struggled with having The New Prophecy so high on my ranking, even if it is still middle-ground. I often have to push through this arc because of the mass amounts of traveling in it, which takes up the first three books. My solace for that comes in Leafpaw’s chapters, where you get to see the slow destruction of the forest and the complications that come with it. Where this arc excels is the execution of the prophecies and omens. Although it’s split in two, with a problem in the first three and a separate problem in the last three, similar to AVoS, it executes it well. The prophecies for each, “Darkness, air, water, and sky will come together… and shake the forest to its roots” and “Before there is peace, blood will spill blood, and the lake will run red,” are direct and followed through. The scene for the second prophecy, “blood will spill blood,” is still one of the best executions of a prophecy that I’ve read in the series. As for the protagonists, as much as I dislike Brambleclaw’s character in this arc, I loved reading Squirrelflight’s and Leafpool’s starts in the series and enjoyed the dynamics of the traveling cats.
If I’m honest with myself, both The Broken Code and The New Prophecy are interchangeable rankings; either could be five or six. The nostalgia factor and the way TNP is the start of two of the best-written characters, Leafpool and Squirrelflight, are the main reasons it gets bumped to the fifth spot above TBC.
4. A Starless Clan
The newest arc of the series, A Starless Clan, isn’t fully released yet, but the content already brings it up into the top five. I am nervous keeping it here when the next two books won’t be out until later this year. They could easily fumble what has so far been a nearly perfect arc, but it’s just that good. As a fan who hasn’t loved the newer arcs or books as much as the old ones, I’m pleased to be enjoying every second of each book. Frankly, there hasn’t been a bad book in this arc. It has an intriguing mystery murder plot line while also focusing a lot on the relationships between characters and the growth of characters. The outside forces matter, but it’s more about the inside forces and turmoil. I might dislike Nightheart’s character and some of the ways Sunbeam’s character has been treated, but the actions have been effortless, and Frostpaw’s character is very endearing. My main wish for this series would be to have a stronger, more focused prophecy and for Sunbeam’s character to have more agency in previous books (though that can’t be fixed now).
3. Omen of the Stars
The continuation of powers, a double-agent, and an epic battle that ends Firestar’s arc lands Omen of the Stars in the top three of my list. I may be biased towards this series, bumping it to my third spot, because my favorite character Ivypool has her POV, but it’s still a very satisfying ending to the plots that started in Power of Three. Previous books only dabbled in the Dark Forest, but this one jumps headfirst into the gooey evilness of the cat version of hell. I thoroughly enjoy every Dark Forest training session in these books while also enjoying the complicated sisterhood of Ivypool and Dovewing. Though it was rushed, I also love the Great Battle at the end; I remember explicitly the first time I ever read it, tears streaming down my face. I even argued at the time, and now, that The Last Hope (book six in OotS) was the perfect endpoint for the entire Warriors series. It brought a close to many of the cats’ stories while bringing in cameos of heroes and villains from the series. The series continued of course, but any new Warriors fan could easily read up to the end of this arc and not have to pick up any book after.
2. Power of Three
A very close second, Power of Three has everything a character-focused reader needs. It follows three characters as they grow up, Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf, and the challenges their lives and circumstances bring them. There’s not much to not love about this arc. All three characters are dynamic, with different personalities and thoughts than each other. They all have internal struggles and external dramas, both singular and together. They are also involved in the biggest plot twist of the entire arc, which I won’t spoil here, but I remember it rocking my world when I was a kid. It’s one of the arcs where background characters and relationships are prominent and important, lending the action to be paced well and full of interactions. It’s also the start of the mysterious prophecy given to Firestar that follows the characters into OotS, “There will be three, kin of your kin…” If fans didn’t need the context of reading the first arc (which is good in itself) and the second arc, this is the arc I would tell people to start at.
1. The Prophecies Begin
Contrary to what people might think, the first Warriors arc, The Prophecies Begin, is placed at number one because of so much more than nostalgia. It plays a part but the reason it’s good enough to reach the number one spot is because of the seamless actions and straightforward plot lines that still pack a punch. This arc arguably has the most events of the entire series, but instead of feeling broken up and rushed, they flow and build toward an overall climax. Every disaster or new threat is folded into the larger threat, the big-bad villain Tigerstar. Even when that threat is vanquished, the final threat, Scourge, still has enough build-up and danger to not feel rushed. How could the series even exist without every reader’s favorite orange cat, Firestar? Not only that, but he’s an active participant in his own life. As often as it rubs other characters (and readers) the wrong way, the way that Firestar meddled in everything in his young life was what kept the arc interesting. The prophecies and omens, as vague as StarClan is, are well-rounded.