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"I know that you won't want to hear this, but…It's time to tell the other Clans. We need help."
Mothwing to RiverClan in River, page 250

River is a New York Times Best Seller[8] and the first book in the A Starless Clan arc.[5] On the cover, Mistystar is in the middle, Frostpaw is on the far left, Flamepaw is next to her, and Sunbeam is on the far right.[9] It features Flamepaw, Frostpaw, and Sunbeam as the main protagonists, with Spireclaw in the prologue.


Special thanks to Cherith Baldry


They have always lived by the code—but only change can keep the peace.
A dark age has given way to an era of peace in the five warrior Clans, and with it comes a promise of hope. As their leaders deliberate on unprecedented changes to the warrior code, three young warriors set their paws on the paths that will decide their futures.
In ThunderClan, warrior apprentice Flamepaw—a descendent of the legendary leader Firestar—struggles under the weight of his famous kin's legacy, while young ShadowClan warrior Sunbeam has doubts of her own. How is she supposed to protect her Clan when her own Clanmates can't agree on the right path? But in RiverClan, medicine cat apprentice Frostpaw looks eagerly towards the horizon, awaiting the day she will be called upon to help her Clan—a day that may dawn sooner than she ever dreamed.

Detailed plot description

The next Gathering after Ashfur's defeat, the Clans gather to discuss changes to the warrior code. A black-and-white ShadowClan tom and a brown splotched SkyClan she-cat sit next to each other and hope they can be together with the warrior code's new changes. In ThunderClan's camp, Flamepaw and Baypaw sit together and listen to the senior warriors arguing about the proposed changes to the warrior code. Flamepaw is disinterested in the proposed changes, and he instead wonders why he is named after Firestar as he doesn't look like the former leader. Flamepaw share an awkward encounter with his mother Sparkpelt when she wishes him good luck on his warrior assessment, and Flamepaw recalls how he had been nursed by Sorrelstripe and had never been able to form a close bond with Sparkpelt. The assessment begins, and Flamepaw ambitiously decides to make a spectacular catch. However, the black apprentice misses a squirrel and a magpie and ends up with a measly mouse. Lilyheart fails him, while Flamepaw's denmates pass.
Frostpaw, RiverClan's newest medicine cat apprentice, and her mentor Mothwing set off to the medicine cat meeting to introduce Frostpaw to StarClan. Frostpaw is eager to begin her training as her Clan's sole connection with their ancestors, having prophectic dreams as a kit. At the Moonpool, Frostpaw is introduced to the others and forms a bond with Whistlepaw. When Frostpaw touches the Moonpool, she spots Willowshine and joyously thinks to herself that she is a real medicine cat now.
At the next Gathering, Graypaw teases Flamepaw for failing in his assessment while his denmates did not, but a ShadowClan she-cat chides them. Mistystar delivers the news the medicine cats will present two proposals to the warrior code to StarClan. One of them regards the process to change Clans to be with their mate, in which the cat in question must complete a task given by the Clan who receives the warrior. Flamepaw ends up making a fool of himself by proposing a suggestion, but is met with laughter from the other apprentices. The other proposal is that if seventy-five percent of the Clan members agree that the leader is unfit, and if StarClan permits, StarClan will remove their remaining nine lives and deputy will become leader. Both drafts are met with enormous outrage, but Mistystar holds true to the fact that the leaders discussed these proposals.
In RiverClan, an argument breaks out concerning the changes to the warrior code. An idea pops up that the proposed rules came to fruition because all the Lights in the Mist would benefit from it as most of them had half-Clan relationships. When the RiverClan leader tries to defend herself and the others, she abruptly collapses and dies shortly afterward. Frostpaw succeeds in speaking with StarClan, and a green-eyed cat tells her that Mistystar is safe with them and to carry on with her burial. The Clan mourns for Mistystar, but knows that her deputy Reedwhisker will make a great leader in her steed. He is on a hunting patrol, and the Clan resolves to wait for him to return. However, Reedwhisker's patrol returns without Reedwhisker later that evening. The patrol tells the Clan that Reedwhisker had wandered off when chasing a piece of prey, so Mothwing sets out search parties. The Clan prepare for the vigil as Frostpaw comforts Mothwing by telling her that Mistystar is safe in StarClan, hoping for RiverClan to move on.
In ShadowClan, Blazefire and Sunbeam share moment of teasing each other as the former calls out how the latter is a rule-follower. Sunbeam and Lightleap go out to hunt and as they reach a pair of playing squirrels, though Lightleap recklessly scales a nearby tree but falls and lands on Sunbeam. Lightleap takes Sunbeam to the medicine cats' den, though makes her promise not to tell anyone. However, Sunbeam confides in Shadowsight of her worries about Lightleap trying to prove herself after not being able to enter the Dark Forest. Shadowsight informs their parents, who scold Lightleap and Sunbeam for their behavior. Lightleap blames Sunbeam for breaking her promise, and Sunbeam asks Blazefire to speak to her in her place since she is still confined in the medicine cats' den. Later, Sunbeam tries to make up with Lightleap, who still doesn't forgive her. While pursuing prey, Sunbeam hears what sounds like a cat fighting someone near RiverClan's territory. She spots Lightleap limping, and after confronting her, the dark brown tabby she-cat accuses Sunbeam of spying on her.
With Reedwhisker still missing, search parties are sent to the other Clans, raising suspicions. However, RiverClan resolves not to tell the other Clans what had happened. When Brackenpelt and Sneezecloud arrive in ShadowClan asking if they have seen Reedwhisker, Sunbeam recalls her previous encounter with Lightleap to Blazefire, who seemingly defends Lightleap instead of siding with his friend. Sunbeam resolves that something must have gone wrong. In ThunderClan, Flamepaw and Lilyheart do some battle training before his mentor leaves the black apprentice to do the elders' bedding. He allows Graykit, Bristlekit, and Stemkit help him with his tedious task, though Daisy and later Lilyheart confront Flamepaw about it. The black apprentice states that he did it because the kits were nagging him, and Sparkpelt sides with her son. The flame-colored she-cat talks to her son about Finchlight being a warrior while he is an apprentice, so Flamepaw rudely states that it wouldn't matter to Sparkpelt because she cares more about Finchlight anyways. The pair talk about the apprentices' huge standards he needs to meet, being kin of such great cats, and Flamepaw berates Sparkpelt for not being there for him when he needed it most. Sorrelstripe finds Flamepaw moping, and she tells him that she believes in his ability to pass his assessment and become a warrior.
While Finchlight encourages Flamepaw, Minnowtail and Havenpelt enter ThunderClan's camp and ask if any cat had seen Reedwhisker. Soon, an argument is sparked about cats who sided with the impostor, and it almost boils into a fight when Squirrelflight interrupts, telling the observing cats to tend to their duties. After cats disperse, Flamepaw begins his assessment with Squirrelflight overseeing it along with Lilyheart. Flamepaw manages catch a thrush right under a hawk, and while Lilyheart praises him, Squirrelflight brings up the potential risks of the apprentice's catch, causing his mentor to fail him for the second time. Finchlight tries to comfort her brother, but they end up arguing. In RiverClan, an argument breaks out on who will take Mistystar's place as leader with Reedwhisker still missing. Frostpaw discovers a star-shaped dock leaf in her nest, and the Clan decides that Frostpaw and Mothwing will lead the Clan in the event that Reedwhisker does not come back. Soon, on a hunting patrol near the RiverClan border, Hopwhisker injures herself, causing Sunbeam and Hollowspring to take her to RiverClan for a quick treatment. Bizarrely to Sunbeam, Mothwing and Frostpaw treat the injured warrior quite a bit away from their camp, but Sunbeam ultimately decides not to tell Tigerstar.
After a hunting patrol, Bramblestar comments on their small catch, unconsciously prompting the patrol to go back out and look for more. Flamepaw and Finchlight end up talking about how Sparkpelt got to spend much more time with Finchlight than Flamepaw. Their conversation is cut short by Squirrelflight and Bramblestar bickering about WindClan stealing prey, which results in Squirrelflight going behind the ThunderClan leader's back and forming a patrol of herself, Flamepaw, and Sparkpelt to chat with WindClan. On the way, Squirrelflight expresses her worries for her mate since his time in the Dark Forest; he has been experiencing nightmares and lacks the confidence he needs to lead. At the WindClan border, Sparkpelt, Squirrelflight, and Flamepaw meet with Crowfeather. The WindClan deputy expresses his sorrow for what Bramblestar had to go through, but Squirrelflight accentuates that prey stealing will not be tolerated.
At the half-moon meeting, each Clans' respective medicine cats are confused by RiverClan sending patrols to each Clan searching for Reedwhisker. The senior medicine cats attempt to pry information out of Mothwing, but the interactions with StarClan commence as Leopardstar gives a vague description of Reedwhisker's location to Frostpaw. On a hunting patrol in ShadowClan territory, Sunbeam finds out that Lightleap has been spending a lot of time recently with Blazefire, so she sets out to confront the pair about this. However, Lightleap bursts into ShadowClan camp, yowling for help as Blazefire is trapped underneath some rocks in a shallow tunnel. After pulling him free, Shadowsight announces that Blazefire's leg is broken, and Sunbeam scolds Lightleap putting Blazefire in that position. The next morning, Blazefire admits that even though he loves Sunbeam, he doesn't think that they are fit to be mates, citing their differences, and Sunbeam is devastated. In RiverClan territory, Frostpaw leads a patrol to find Reedwhisker, and discover his lifeless body at the bottom of a rocky cliff. Frostpaw notices badger-like marks on his spine, though Curlfeather brushes them off as a result of the fall.
Spireclaw encourages Sunbeam to go on despite her gloom, though Sunbeam believes that Blazefire loves Lightleap since Sunbeam herself is not as reckless. She accumulates several scratches retrieving a pigeon from a bramble thicket, and Blazefire reconciles with Sunbeam that he doesn't love Lightleap and instead wants to be friends with both of them. Soon after, Berryheart tells Sunbeam about her distaste on the proposed changes to the warrior code since it will benefit cats like Tigerstar, Dovewing, and their troublesome children the most.
At the next Gathering, Flamepaw is forced to go to the Gathering by Sparkpelt and Lilyheart, and Mothwing takes Mistystar's place, citing that both the leader and deputy were dealing with whitecough. Harestar states that the proposed changes to the warrior code were accepted by StarClan, and Fernstripe will be leaving WindClan to join ThunderClan to be with Shellfur, while Leafstar announces that Fringewhisker will be leaving SkyClan to join ShadowClan to be with Spireclaw. Berryheart brings up her concern that cats are giving up too easily on finding love within their own Clan, but Flamepaw is distracted by hearing whispers of cats questioning why he isn't a warrior yet. The black apprentice ends up encountering Sunbeam, and the two find comfort in each other over their own problems.
In ShadowClan's camp, Fringewhisker successfully pushes a heavy branch in camp as her exam to get into ShadowClan. While several of the younger warriors celebrate her success, Sunbeam overhears Berryheart protesting with other older warriors against the sincerity of the trial, stating that the warrior code had forbidden half-Clan relationships for a reason and the Clan may need a reminder. Upon hearing this, Sunbeam intends to inform Tigerstar, but she ultimately decides not to avoid getting into trouble. Berryheart invites her daughter to the next discussion, citing that every cat involved wants to preserve the ShadowClan they love. Sunbeam uncomfortably agrees.
Flamepaw successfully passes his assessment by hiding in a rabbit's burrow to catch it, and both Squirrelflight and Lilyheart are pleased. Upon entering camp, the Clan congratulate him, and Sparkpelt reroutes his success to the fact that Firestar's blood runs through his veins, deeply angering Flamepaw. During his warrior ceremony, Bramblestar honors Flamepaw's ancestry with Firestar by naming him Flameheart in honor. Utterly stunned, Flamepaw refuses his warrior name, and while Squirrelflight and Sparkpelt meet this with outrage, Bramblestar reaches a compromise. He decides to name the black tom Nightheart, honoring his appearance as well as the Firestar-like traits he possesses.
Frostpaw visits the Moonpool to ask for a sign from StarClan about who should be their new leader, and notices a curled feather near the pool, interpreting it as Curlfeather should be their leader. Mothwing is dubious of physical signs, but Frostpaw dreams of several white feathers at the Moonpool, validating her sign. Mothwing and Frostpaw confirm with each other that the sign was indeed real, and Frostpaw nervously announces her vision to the Clan. The Clan reacts well to this, and Frostpaw and Curlfeather set off to the Moonpool. They discuss how even though Frostpaw wishes she was not the sole decider of this news, StarClan still has to accept Curlfeather's leadership with nine lives. Almost at the Moonpool, Curlfeather picks up the scent of dogs, and she tells her daughter to run. Frostpaw begins to climb a tree, and when she turns back, she sees Curlfeather killed underneath the pack of dogs. The medicine cat apprentice retreats back to RiverClan camp, and her Clanmates come to her aid. As the older warriors leave to find Curlfeather's body, Mistpaw and Graypaw comfort their littermate. Their Clanmates return to camp after finding Curlfeather's body, and discuss what their next plan of action must be, but Frostpaw is too traumatized to return to the Moonpool to consult with StarClan again. Mothwing ultimately decides that they must now tell the other Clans.

Publication history

  • River (EN), HarperCollins (hardcover), 5 April 2022[5]
  • River (EN), HarperCollins (library), 5 April 2022[5]
  • River (EN), HarperCollins (e-book), 5 April 2022[5]
  • River (EN), HarperCollins (audiobook), 5 April 2022[10]
  • Elv (NO), Juritzen jr (booklet), 8 April 2022[11]
  • Elv (NO), Juritzen jr (e-book), 8 April 2022[11]



Author statements

  • Cherith began writing this book in early springtime 2021.[blog 1]


A compiled list of the errors present in River can be found here.


External links

Notes and references

  1. Revealed on the dedication page of River
  2. 2.0 2.1 Revealed on the inside right flap of River
  3. Revealed on the copyright page of River
  4. Revealed on Audible.com (backup link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Revealed on HarperCollins.com (backup link)
  6. Exclusive Title and Cover Reveal: A Starless Clan #2 on the Warriors official website (backup link)
  7. Daisy is said to have returned to ThunderClan after Spotfur's kits are born. Their existence means Daisy's Kin ends after the events of A Light in the Mist.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Revealed on New York Times.com (backup link)
  9. Exclusive Title and Cover Reveal: A Starless Clan #1 on the Warriors official website (backup link)
  10. Revealed on amazon.com
  11. 11.0 11.1 Revealed on kattekrigerne.no

Author references