There’s a lot of good in this one, I’ve been waiting for something with Tigerstar’s POV for years, and although this was shorter than I would have liked, it does its job well. Seeing the story from his point of view reveals a more “human” side and hints more at his motivation which was something that was never explained in the first series past “he’s ambitious”.
When Tigerclaw leaves ThunderClan, he is ashamed of himself. He thinks about how Thistleclaw would be ashamed of him and give him a cuff over the ears. He then immediately follows it up the thought that Thistleclaw would never have had the guts to do what he did. This establishes that, at least at one point, Tigerclaw had deep respect for his mentor, and that he’s possibly the only one he’s ever looked up to. It can be argued that the following line indicates a kind of arrogance, that he’s surpassed his mentor and outgrown him. And while I think there’s a degree of arrogance to the line, I think part of him is just trying to justify his defeat.
This is all very revealing, but sadly, this novella has a rather unfortunate retcon which undermines a lot of these inner thoughts. Mapleshade. There’s really nothing wrong with Mapleshade as a character or villain, but she simply does not belong in this story. Tigerstar is suppose to be the schemer, the manipulator. He’s a proud and independent character, and suggesting that Mapleshade had influence on his actions, just undermines his villainy and makes him seem like some sort of victim. This is a terrible thing to do because it’s like the writer was trying to shift the blame for Tigerstar’s crimes. And what really is the point of that? It wasn’t as if Tigerstar was such any innocent and good-natured character before, nor is he too stupid to think of a way to seize control on his own.
There’s a scene which everyone seems to like to talk about where Tigerclaw sees Bramblekit in a tree while the ThunderClan camp is on fire. People say how it gives more depth to Tigerclaw, but really we’re seen this type of thing from him before, albeit in more subtle gestures. Either way, this type of scene is fairly standard when it comes to this kind of story. What really caught my attention was a scene shortly before it where Tigerclaw kills Runningnose. When I read the original book, it always seemed to me like an action of cold hatred, but here Tigerclaw is portrayed as a almost maniac killer. He decided to act the patrol almost out of nowhere, entirely out of impulse.
This was so strange it was almost out of character (though I hesitate to say that) because he could have so easily been called out for starting an unnecessary war, causing Whitethroat’s death or just dragging ShadowClan along on his revenge just for this one action. If he had not formulated a quick lie, his chances with ShadowClan would have ended at that very second.
In the rest of the novella, Tigerclaw slowly seizes control of ShadowClan by taking advantage of their sickness, and beguiling the warriors, slowly earning their trust. He acts very humble, and pretends to respect Runningnose’s authority while offering help which ultimately grants him power over the clan. And when he gets power he is careful to make sure he doesn’t feel he “owes” it to anyone, even his own followers, as soon when he decides not to make Jaggedtooth deputy. It’s a move that demonstrates his absolute authority. That he’s the one who decides who gets to climb the ladder. If he had accepted Jaggedtooth as his deputy, he would have been essentially falling for the same tactics he used against Runningnose. Honestly, its one of the most brilliant bits of writing I’ve seen from the Erins.