|"We trust the Teller of the Pointed Stones to know where our future lies. We will follow the path of the rising sun, but we will always carry the mountains, and all of you, in our hearts."|
|— Shaded Moss as the Early Settlers prepare to leave in The Sun Trail, page 43|
The Sun Trail is the first book of the Dawn of the Clans arc. Gray Wing is the cat depicted on the reprinted cover. It features Gray Wing as the main protagonist. Half Moon is featured in the prologue, while Petal is the main protagonist of the bonus scene.
- Special thanks to Cherith Baldry
- For many moons, a tribe of cats have lived peacefully near the top of a mountain. But prey is scarce and season are harsh—and their leader fears they will not survive. When a mysterious vision reveals a land filled with food and water, a group of brave young cats set off in search of a better home.
- But great danger awaits them. In this unfamiliar world, faced with loners and fierce rogues all vying for territory and power, the travelling cats must find a new way to live side by side—or risk tearing one another apart.
Detailed plot description
Looking for a shorter overview? Find one here!
- The book begins in the mountains, from the point of view of Half Moon. She is worried because the Tribe is overcrowded and starving. Lion's Roar says that maybe they need to find another place to live, but Half Moon points out the mountains are where Jay's Wing led them. However, she sees a vision of a golden sunrise, and believes that maybe some of the Tribe could leave to find a new home, while the rest stay behind.
- Meanwhile, a cat named Gray Wing is out hunting with his brother, Clear Sky. Together they take down a hawk and bring it back to the Tribe. Clear Sky affectionately nuzzles his mate, Bright Stream, while a she-cat named Turtle Tail talks to Gray Wing. Stoneteller comes out into the cave and says that she has had a vision of a new home that the new cats could be led to. Clear Sky wants to go immediately, as does Gray Wing's little brother Jagged Peak, but Gray Wing is unsure sure about leaving. Bright Stream is also worried and skeptical about leaving, but Clear Sky wants to go, and says that the journey wouldn't be the same without her. Stoneteller appoints a cat called Shaded Moss to lead the followers of the sun trail. Bright Stream goes hunting with Gray Wing, and tells him that she will go with Clear Sky to follow the sun trail.
- Gray Wing, on the other paw, has decided to stay. Back at the cave, Gray Wing's younger sister, Fluttering Bird, dies of hunger. Quiet Rain, Gray Wing's mother, is grief-stricken, and tells Gray Wing that he must leave so that not all of her kits will die. The Tribe comes to blows over cats leaving, so Stoneteller has them all cast stones over leaving. Gray Wing votes for the cats to stay, but the side that wants to leave the mountains wins. Gray Wing later talks with Stoneteller and asks if she ever wanted love and kits. She replies that all of the Tribe are her kits, but she did know love once.
- Soon, the followers of the sun trail set out. The group is composed of Shattered Ice, Clear Sky, Quick Water, Tall Shadow, Cloud Spots, Jackdaw's Cry, Shaded Moss, Bright Stream, Rainswept Flower, Dappled Pelt, Turtle Tail, Falling Feather, Hawk Swoop, and Moon Shadow. The rest of the Tribe stays behind and finds out there is now a lot more food to go around. Jagged Peak wants to go hunting, so Gray Wing teaches him. The next day, he finds out Jagged Peak has gone missing. Misty Water, the Tribe's best tracker, figures out that Jagged Peak left to find the followers of the sun trail. Quiet Rain finally manages to convince Gray Wing to leave by telling him it is his responsibility to make sure Jagged Peak makes it to the new territory safely. Gray Wing agrees to go after Jagged Peak.
- A blizzard delays Gray Wing's departure, but he eventually manages to leave. Quiet Rain follows Gray Wing some of the way, until they reach a river. She tells him to cross quickly, due to the extremely thin ice that can only hold one cat. He says good-bye, but after he steps onto the ice, it starts to crack. He makes a run for safety, and is very lucky to not have been taken away in the current. A huge wall of mist rises, and he looks back, calling a last good-bye to Quiet Rain, but she is unable to hear him over the roaring of the river. To put an end to several hopeless days of searching, he finds Jagged Peak being attacked by an eagle, and he rescues him. Jagged Peak believes that Gray Wing is going to take him back to the Tribe, but Gray Wing explains that he will help him find the followers of the sun trail.
- After several misadventures with Jagged Peak, Gray Wing has a dream about what the followers of the sun trail are doing. However, rather than being prophetic, this dream leads Gray Wing to realize that the followers of the sun trail are right above him, and he was hearing their voices as he slept. Gray Wing and Jagged Peak join the followers of the sun trail on their quest to find a new home. Gray Wing finds out Bright Stream is pregnant, but does not want the other followers of the sun trail to know because she thinks they will think that she will hold them back. As the group moves, eagles attack. They get away, and Clear Sky comes up with a plan to catch an eagle. Gray Wing and Bright Stream go out together, but Gray Wing hurts his leg. Because of his injured leg, Gray Wing is unable to save Bright Stream from the eagle and she is carried off. Turtle Tail tries to tell Gray Wing that Bright Stream's death wasn't his fault, but Gray Wing believes that it was his fault. The followers of the sun trail finally leave the mountains, and are shocked at how much food they find. However, not everything is easy. Gray Wing is stewing in guilt, and the crew has to fight kittypets, monsters, dogs, and sheep. Hawk Swoop dislocates her leg while running from some sheep, but Cloud Spots fixes it for her.
- A rogue tells the followers of the sun trail about Highstones. Gray Wing and the others are sure that they will find their new home beyond the peaks of Highstones, and set out with high spirits. However, a dog attacks, and Shaded Moss is run over by a monster while trying to get away. The cats hold a funeral for him and continue on. The cats walk by Mothermouth, but ignore it. After some more traveling, they reach the moor. The cats set up camp there. A few days later, Gray Wing is hunting a rabbit when he crashes into Gorse. Wind is there as well, and a fight threatens to start. However, Tall Shadow shows up and prevents it. Later, Moon Shadow catches two squirrels in the woods. Tall Shadow tells him not to go in the woods, because there are hostile cats living there. When Moon Shadow asks who died and made her leader, Tall Shadow responds that Shaded Moss did. Tall Shadow isn't known to be a liar, so she takes over as the leader of the followers of the sun trail.
- Gray Wing finds Clear Sky alone and apologizes for causing Bright Stream's death. However, Clear Sky blames himself because he wanted to fight the eagles. Gray Wing realizes that Bright Stream wouldn't want them to be so unhappy, and the brothers decide to move forward in life. The brothers explore the forest and find Sunningrocks. There they meet a black she-cat with a white paw and green eyes. She yells at them before swimming away. As the brothers head back to the moor, Gray Wing notices a kittypet following them. Gray Wing finds Moon Shadow fighting the swimming cat, a tom, and a yellow tabby she-cat. The cats get mad at Moon Shadow for picking random fights. Then Turtle Tail has an affectionate moment with Gray Wing at Fourtrees. It gets interrupted by the kittypet from before.
- She introduces herself as Bumble, and offers to show the two cats around her housefolk's nest. Gray Wing and Turtle Tail head back to the moor separately, and Gray Wing sees Wind and Gorse chasing a rabbit. Wind snags the rabbit from a tunnel. After Gray Wing assures the two that he doesn't want to pick a fight, Wind shows him the way through the tunnels. Dappled Pelt goes for a swim and Gray Wing finds Turtle Tail talking with Bumble again. That night, foxes attack. However, Clear Sky is able to come up with a plan and the cats manage to defeat them. Clear Sky eventually gets fed up with living in the moor and gets a vote to move to the trees. Only Clear Sky, Moon Shadow, Quick Water, Falling Feather, and Jagged Peak vote to go to the trees. But the five cats who wanted to move break off from the followers of the sun trail anyway.
- The next day, Gray Wing goes to visit Clear Sky. He tries jumping through the trees with the group, but falls out of one and lands on a stump. A silver she-cat saves him from some wasps and leaves after making some sarcastic comments. Gray Wing goes hunting with Turtle Tail after that, but they each head back to the moor alone again. That night, Gray Wing finds Turtle Tail's nest empty. He figures that she's gone to the Twolegplace, so he heads there and meets the silver she-cat again. She introduces herself as Storm, and doesn't remember Gray Wing's full name. Storm shows Bumble's den to Gray Wing, and he finds Turtle Tail there. The two of them go back to the moor. Later, Gray Wing saves Storm from the yellow cat and a white tom, and Storm asks to see where the mountain cats are living. Gray Wing takes Storm to the top of the hollow and they arrange to meet again so Storm can show him the forest. As she leaves, Rainswept Flower notes that Gray Wing is falling for Storm.
- Gray Wing meets Wind and Gorse, who chase a plump hare into Gray Wing, that he kills. They are now friendly to him, and the cats go to the hollow and share the hare with the followers of the sun trail. Later, Gray Wing sees Storm again. He offers to introduce her to Clear Sky, but a cat tries to stop them. After Gray Wing introduces himself as Clear Sky's brother, the cat takes Gray Wing and Storm to see Clear Sky. The cat is named Fox, and he is the brother of Petal, the yellow she-cat from before. There is awkwardness between Storm and Clear Sky, and Storm runs off. Gray Wing talks with Turtle Tail. Turtle Tail is obviously in love with him, but Gray Wing doesn't notice and instead tells her about his love of Storm. Turtle Tail pads off sadly.
- Due to her frustration and crush on Gray Wing, Turtle Tail decides to live with Bumble. A distraught Gray Wing finds Storm and decides to confess his feelings for her. However, Storm reveals that she is Clear Sky's mate, and she's going to live with him. Gray Wing is hurt by her decision, but tries to accept it. Clear Sky was heartbroken when he lost Bright Stream, and deserves a second chance to be happy. Jackdaw's Cry tries to visit Falling Feather, his sister. However, Fox and another cat called Frost won't let him into Clear Sky's camp. Gray Wing confronts Clear Sky over this, and Clear Sky claims that he wants to make his community stronger. Falling Feather shows up, and explains Jagged Peak hurt his leg while jumping through the trees. Dappled Pelt comes, and after examining Jagged Peak explains that his leg is broken. She decides to stay with him for a little while. As Gray Wing leaves, he looks longingly at Storm.
- Half a moon later, Jackdaw's Cry and Shattered Ice invent tunneling and explain its uses, including battle uses. Gray Wing is skeptical about the possibility of battle, but is inwardly worried about the chance. Afterwards, Frost shows up and wordlessly drops Jagged Peak on the ground. Because of Clear Sky's new views, he has exiled Jagged Peak because he thinks he will be useless to the group. The followers of the sun trail take him in again and try to help him get better. Gray Wing is shocked, and he heads back to confront Clear Sky over his treatment of Jagged Peak. Clear Sky expresses no regret for his actions, saying he must put the needs of the group first and he can't go any easier on his own kin. Horrified and disgusted by these words, Gray Wing attacks Clear Sky, but his brother overpowers him and coldly tells him to leave and never come back.
- Later, Gray Wing accidentally strays into Clear Sky's territory and is attacked by Fox. Realizing that he is fighting for his life, Gray Wing lashes out at Fox in self defense, accidentally slitting his throat and killing him. This throws Clear Sky into a rage and he declares their brotherhood over. Having had enough, Storm calls Clear Sky out on his abusive behavior, and runs away to Twolegplace. Though saddened, Clear Sky lets Storm leave, believing that his community of cats must come first. The season changes, and Hawk Swoop becomes pregnant with Jackdaw's Cry's kits. Gray Wing heads to Twolegplace to try and find Storm. He meets up with Turtle Tail and frustrates her further by telling her he's looking for Storm. However, Bumble takes him to an abandoned Twoleg den that smells strongly of monsters where Storm is staying. She's had three kits, but she refuses to let Gray Wing see them, as she wants to cut him and Clear Sky out of her life.
- The next day, Gray Wing is leaving, he sees a monster coming to demolish Storm's Twoleg den. He runs back in, but it's too late and Storm dies trying to protect her kits. Gray Wing thinks that the kits are dead, but he realizes that one survived. He takes the kit back out to Turtle Tail and Bumble, and gives him the name Thunder. Gray Wing decides to give Thunder back to Clear Sky. However, Clear Sky refuses to take his son, claiming that Storm's death is a lot like Bright Stream's death. Gray Wing declares that he's wrong, because Storm's death had meaning. She may be gone, but she managed to save Thunder. Clear Sky still rejects Thunder, and Gray Wing realizes that they are now bitter enemies. Back at the hollow, Hawk Swoop agrees to give Thunder her milk. Gray Wing declares that Thunder will have cats to care for him, because from now on, he will be Thunder's father.
- Petal and Fox, two siblings, fight against a badger, which ends up slaughtering their mother. Petal frets about what they will do now, and Fox insists that they'll survive. Petal doesn't know who will take care of them now, and wishes her mother to be safe, wherever she might be. Petal knows that Fox will try their best to support both of them. They smell two cats, who think they might share their prey. They encounter the two cats, and ask. One of the cats, a she-cat, tells them to look elsewhere. They see her claws unsheathe, and know what will happen if they don't stop bothering her. They notice that the other cats with her look unsympathetic as well. Together, they end up catching a squirrel, but a gray and white she-cat leaps down, hissing that all the prey in the area was theirs. Petal realizes that the cats don't care if they're kits - they'd leave them to die regardless. Petal knows they are truly on their own, and tells Fox to find somewhere else to hunt, as she wasn't going to let him starve to death. Fox asks why they were so mean, and Petal snaps that it doesn't matter, but they had learned a lesson today - that it was just the two of them. Petal walks deeper into the forest with her brother, trying to keep all the grief away from her. She thinks that she doesn't care if she never sees another cat again.
- They are able to track down two mice, and share it between themselves. Petal finds a robin, and attempts to catch it, but the robin is distracted by yowling from the forest cats. Petal thinks she knows them, and Fox reminds them that they were the cats who had turned them away before. One of the cats, a gray tom, turns around and sees them, and the two siblings instantly flee, knowing the forest cats aren’t quite friendly. Petal thinks that she got in one fight with them, and she doesn’t want to get in another. They attempt to run away from them, but the gray tom calls them back, stating that he won’t hurt them. Petal disbelieves that. She notices that Fox is trying to cross the river in a desperate attempt to escape, and calls him back, thinking that it is too dangerous. Petal and Fox try to go back to the tom and his companions, but they are still on the stepping stones. Petal accidentally falls from one, and almost drowns, but the gray tom saves her life. He introduces himself as Clear Sky. He instructs his companions to keep the half-drowned cat warm, and Petal notices that the cats are actually very kind, sharing their prey with each other and comforting one another. Clear Sky asks if she wants to join, and Petal queries if she and Fox can meet the others. She thinks that she will work on her hunting and fighting skills, and in the future, no cat will be able to push her around.
- This is the only book in the Dawn of the Clans arc that Vicky is involved with.
- HarperCollins has released the first three books in the Dawn of the Clans arc, The Sun Trail, Thunder Rising, and The First Battle, as a three-book collection. This collection is only available through HarperCollins are sold as digital copies.
- There is a chapter released online, titled The Death of Bright Stream. 
- A compiled list of the errors present in The Sun Trail can be found here.
- The Sun Trail (EN), HarperCollins (hardcover), 5 March 2013
- The Sun Trail (EN), HarperCollins (eBook), 5 March 2013
- The Sun Trail (EN), HarperCollins (Library Binding), 5 March 2013
- The Sun Trail (EN), HarperCollins (paperback), 8 April 2014
- 追随太阳 (CN), 未来出版社 (paperback), 1 May 2014 
- Der Sonnenpfad (DE), Verlagsgruppe Beltz (hardcover), 20 July 2015
- The Sun Trail (EN), HarperCollins (paperback; reprint), 15 March 2016
- Солнечный путь (RU), OLMA Media Group (unknown binding), June 2016
- 太陽之路 (ZH), MorningStar (paperback), 1 September 2016, translated by Gao Mei
- Le sentier du soleil (FR), Pocket Jeunesse (paperback), 19 October 2017, translated by Aude Carlier
- Auringon polku (FI), Art House (hardcover), 7 June 2019
Notes and references
- Revealed on the dedication page of The Sun Trail
- Revealed on the inside right flap of The Sun Trail
- Revealed on the back cover of The Sun Trail
- Revealed on the copyright page of The Sun Trail
- Revealed on Audible.com
- Revealed on HarperCollins.com
- Revealed in Facebook messenger with the Erin Hunter Marketing team
- Revealed on Vicky's Facebook (screenshot)
- Revealed on HarperCollins.com
- Revealed on The death of Bright Stream
- Revealed on Amazon.de
- Revealed on amazon.de
- Revealed on OLMA Media Catalog
- Release month revealed on wildwarriors.narod.ru
- Revealed on MorningStar
- Revealed on Pocket Jeunesse
- Revealed on Art House
|The Sun Trail chapters|
|Prologue • Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10 • Chapter 11 • Chapter 12 • Chapter 13 • Chapter 14 • Chapter 15 • Chapter 16 • Chapter 17 • Chapter 18 • Chapter 19 • Chapter 20 • Chapter 21 • Chapter 22 • Chapter 23 • Chapter 24 • Chapter 25 • Chapter 26 • Bonus Scene|