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By Tom Demerly.

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I was in a small gift shop on an island when I first saw one of Erin Hunter’s The Warriors series books. I opened it and read one page.

And my trip began.

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Warriors is an opulent, luxurious fantasy novel series featuring fictional cats who are empowered with mythical abilities. Their mystical powers have roots in ancient lore attributed to Native American, African and Asian cats- including Egyptian mythology. The result is a dream-like journey with loveable characters overlaid on a detailed examination of cat zoology and animal behavior science. Plot lines and morals threaded through the series feel like an amalgam of sacred texts, from Buddhist writing to the Bible and many others.

The Warriors series is immensely complex, featuring a dizzying number of cat-characters. On the Wiki page for the book series one reviewer is cited as saying the series is “confusing due to its large number of characters”.

But the incredible dream-like quality of the scenes, characters and the fairy-tale, Aesop’s-like moral themes unfold at a brisk pace that is incredibly readable and engaging.

“The incredible dream-like quality of the scenes, characters and the fairy-tale, Aesop’s-like moral themes unfold at a brisk pace that is incredibly readable and engaging.”

Author Erin Hunter is actually three writers and an editor/plot director; Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland write the The Warriors series with Victoria Holms editing.

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“Warriors” writing team includes (Left to right) Victoria Holmes, Kate Cary, Tai Sutherland and Cherith Baldry.

This writing team may have created The Next Big Thing. Before you dismiss this idea, let me propose the following:

According to the A.S.P.C.A. there are 96 million pet cats in the United States. Nearly 37% of American households, more than one-third, have a cat. One celebrity cat, Tara the Hero Cat, earns an estimated “$55,000-$463,000 per year” according to the New York Times. Add in other celebrity cats and the total take for the top earning celebrity cats is well over $10 million- probably much more. Now, consider the “Hobbit” film trilogy grossed over $3 billion for three movies, and no one has a Hobbit for a pet. You get the idea; combine cats with a Star Wars style plot line and some convincing computer generated cat characters with celebrity voices and… The commercial potential for The Warriors series is titanic (pun intended), with licensing possibilities for plush toys of each of the cat characters, lines of every pet accessory attributed to the series and about every other standard movie merchandising theme imaginable. The earnings potential is boggling. Why the big movie studios haven’t grabbed this series already is a mystery.

Business potential aside, The Warriors series is why we read. It is escapist, descriptive, creative and pulls you in. Your imagination wanders the mystical forests in the moonlight with the cats. You learn about real cat behaviors and you see your own cats differently after reading these.

I’m a Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Robert F. Dorr fan- technotrhillers, not flowery fantasy stories. But The Warriors series spans genres and speaks across topics to the animal lover and storyteller in me. This series is a gem waiting for mainstream discovery. I’m looking forward to seeing this series explode in popularity and I’m thrilled I discovered it early.

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