Leaders are the head of their Clan. Their personality is the same as their Clan's and describes how their Clanmates treat others. The word of the Clan leader is law, proclaimed by the warrior code, and all other cats in the Clan must obey them. They have their own den, and are assisted by a deputy in their tasks. They are responsible for the whole Clan, calling Clan meetings, appointing cats to new ranks, and making the toughest decisions. Each Clan has one leader, and their names end with the suffix -star. (Examples: Bluestar, Tallstar, Raggedstar) At some times, they can have their warrior suffix, but are still recognized as leader. However, this cat must be waiting to receive nine lives, and cannot properly lead without them.
In order to become leader, a cat must meet these qualifications:
- Mentored at least one apprentice
- Selected by the previous leader to become deputy(with the exception of Nightstar)
- Must have been deputy at the time of the leader's death, retirement, or banishment (unless both the deputy and the leader die, as in the case of Flowerstar and Tigerstar)
In order for a cat to become leader, the previous leader must also be deceased, have retired, have left, or been banished.
A leader has various tasks and privileges:
- Oversee the daily operations of the Clan and give them orders
- Speak on behalf of their Clan at Gatherings
- Lead the Clan in battles
- Appoint new apprentices and assign them to mentors
- Appoint new warriors once they've finished their training
- Appoint a new deputy if the former deputy has died, resigned, or been banished
- Counsel with the deputy and the senior warriors and listen to their reports
- Discuss prophecies and omens with their Clan's medicine cat, and listen to their advice
- Solve conflicts between members of the Clan
- Dealing with politics/conflicts that happen out of the Clan, but can still threaten the Clan
- Decide if a non-Clan cat can join the Clan
- Exile Clan members who severely broke the warrior code or who present a danger to the Clan
- A leader is also expected to occasionally carry out warrior tasks, such as going on patrols or mentoring apprentices should they assign one to themselves
- Call Clan meetings if necessary for the good of the Clan
If the leader cannot carry out their tasks (for instance, because of illness or injury), the Clan deputy will substitute for them.
When the former Clan leader dies or willingly retires, the current Clan deputy is appointed as the new leader. They make a journey to the Clans' sacred place (such as the Moonstone or Moonpool), escorted by the Clan's medicine cat, to share tongues with their ancestors, receive their nine lives, and get their leader name.
The ancestors greet the new leader with the following words: Your old life is no more. You have now received the nine lives of a leader and StarClan grants to you the guardianship of your Clan. Defend it well, care for young and old, honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity.
Squirrelflight became the de facto leader of ThunderClan when Bramblestar failed to return to his body after losing a life. Although she never took on the leader name nor received nine lives, Bramblestar had been pronounced dead and Squirrelflight was regarded as Bramblestar's successor prior to his sudden revival.
Upon sharing tongues with StarClan at their leadership ceremony, the new leader is granted nine lives by the ancestors. This does not necessarily mean they will live longer, but they can survive accidents or injuries that would claim the life of any other cat, at the cost of one of their nine lives. Each of the lives are granted by a single ancestor, usually from the same Clan and whose life was meaningful to the cat, and a gift of an attribute. This process can be surprising and painful, but it is important for the leader to fight fiercely for the Clan. See for example Firestar's nine lives.
When the leader loses one of these lives, they black out and are taken to StarClan. From the outside, spectators see a very faint outline of the tom or she-cat rise from their body and pad away. In StarClan, though, a warrior ancestor speaks with the leader. The cat sees a pale outline of themselves that was their lost life. When the cat is revived back to consciousness, the wound or illness is removed to the best of StarClan's ability. If StarClan can't fix the ailment, each of the nine lives are ripped away, such as when Tigerstar was killed by Scourge in The Darkest Hour.
Leaders usually serve until the end of their lives, but there are some exceptions:
A Clan leader may resign if they wish to do so (such as Pinestar did). This is approved by StarClan, and the current deputy can be appointed as the new leader. The former leader loses their leader name and the lives granted by the ancestors. If the leader doesn't give up all of their remaining lives then the amount they have left will be subtracted from the next leader's nine lives.
A Clan can demote a leader if they consider them unfit for the position (such as when ShadowClan banished Brokenstar). However, this is not approved by StarClan, and the ancestors won't recognize a new leader and give them their nine lives as long as the former leader is alive. (As Nightstar was not recognized as succeeding Brokenstar— therefore he was not given nine lives) But in cases such as Pinestar, he was still alive with one life left. When Sunstar was granted nine lives, usually Pinestar would have given him one of the lives, but was not in StarClan, as well as not having gone to the Moonstone directly and stepped down. Therefore Sunstar was only granted eight lives.
The Clan leader will take part in patrols and hunting, but usually leaves the actual organization of the patrols to the deputy. Most leaders take interest in all aspects of Clan life, kits, elders, warriors, etc. They also listen to cats' personal problems and attempt to help, most likely to keep their Clan tension-free. Their main job is to keep the Clan running smoothly. When something is wrong in the Clan, cats are to immediately tell the leader first. The leader also listens to recounts of patrols, making sure nothing threatens the Clan.
History of ranks
- Owlstar's succession is unknown, but he appears in "Rules That Did Not Become Part of the Code" of Code of the Clans.
- Smallstar's succession is unknown as he died before he could become leader, but he appears in "A Loss for All Clans" of Code of the Clans.
- Dovestar's succession is unknown, but they appear in "Rules That Did Not Become Part of the Code" of Code of the Clans.
- Kate thinks the warrior code would allow a warrior to challenge their leader for leadership if it's done in the best interest of the Clan such as a weak or cruel leader.[blog 1]
- She also thinks that in the event both the leader and deputy died, the Clan would discuss amongst themselves who should be leader. StarClan might also interfere and send a sign to the medicine cat who should be leader.[blog 2]
Notes and references
- Revealed in Into the Wild, page 17
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 510
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 101
- Revealed in Into the Wild, page 248
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 59
- Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 24
- Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 114
- Revealed in The Lost Warrior, page 64
- Revealed in Starlight, page 168
- Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 68
- Revealed in Sunset, page 261
- Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 238
- Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 92
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 35
- Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 316
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 58
- Revealed in Crookedstar's Promise, page 162
- Revealed in Into the Wild, page 193
- Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 98
- Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 5
- Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 297
- Revealed in Rising Storm, page 75
- Revealed in Crookedstar's Promise, page 383
- Revealed in Long Shadows, page 48
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, page 94
- Revealed in Starlight, page 137
- Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 287
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 249
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 44
- Revealed in Long Shadows, page 259
- Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 103
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 76
- Revealed in Lost Stars, chapter 22
- Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 104
- Revealed in Long Shadows, page 239
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 302
- Revealed in Long Shadows, page 243
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 233
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 308
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 314
- Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 496
- Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 276
- Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 57
- Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 19
- Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 64
- Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 159
- Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 115
- Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 155
- Revealed in Cloudstar's Journey, chapter 2
|Hierarchy and positions in the Warriors world|
|Clan hierarchy||Kits • Apprentices • Warriors • Deputies • Leaders • Queens • Elders • Medicine cats • Mediators|
|Ceremonies||Vigil • Apprentice • Warrior • Deputy • Leader • Elder • Medicine cat • Name changing|
|Tribe hierarchy||To-bes • Cave-guards • Prey hunters • Kit mothers • Healer/Stoneteller|
|Miscellaneous||General Clan information • General Tribe information • Cat names|
|Other groups||Loners • Rogues • Kittypets|