Sunningrocks is located at the very border between RiverClan and ThunderClan in the old forest, next to the river. It is a large, flat rock formation in full view of the sun, getting very warm, therefore, it is a desirable location for warriors to take a break or elders to get out and stretch their legs. Its sheer side shadows the river. There are lots of prey animals nearby.
LeopardClan gained the river, including Sunningrocks, when one of their warriors, Fleetfoot, defeated two enormous wild boars that threatened the Clans. The story is that a boar known as Rage had been rampaging through the forest, creating trouble, which was brought up in the next Gathering. One of the LeopardClan warriors said that she could defeat it if LeopardClan was given the river for a moon. The deal was done and the warrior soon killed Rage. But then Rage's mate, Fury, a much larger and more ferocious boar, attacked. After much fighting, Fury and the warrior fell into the river and Fury drowned. At the next Gathering, it had been decided by because of the warrior's courage, LeopardClan would have permanent rights to the river.[source?]
There are contradicting descriptions of Sunningrocks' history. Secrets of the Clans states that Sunningrocks used to be an island in the middle of the river and could be reached only by RiverClan cats.Code of the Clans states that Sunningrocks was originally on the right side of the river, never being an island except during a flood. In any case, after a flood, the river changed course, connecting Sunningrocks with ThunderClan's territory, and they claimed it as their own. Ever since, RiverClan has fought with ThunderClan over Sunningrocks, but neither can ever manage to hold on to it for very long.
At the start of the book, ThunderClan intrude on Sunningrocks - which is RiverClan land, but however, Hailstar refuses to fight back, as a flood had recently savaged RiverClan's camp, weakened the cats, and the medicine cat, Brambleberry, has a herb supply that is dangerously low, due to the flood damaging herbs that are good for treating battle wounds. However, a patrol confronts the sunning ThunderClan cats, informing them that the rocks are theirs for a day, but no more, as RiverClan will fight for them, just not now.
RiverClan fights for Sunningrocks once more, but their patrol is confronted by two ThunderClan patrols, who end up being victorious. The battle leaves RiverClan with deep wounds, and worst of all, it causes Hailstar to lose one of his nine lives. Echomist, Hailstar's mate, reveals that he is on his ninth life.
Once more, they decide to take back Sunningrocks from ThunderClan, but the patrol loses, leaving the rocks to ThunderClan's power.
Hailstar announces that they will take back Sunningrocks, but his patrol only consists of a handful of warriors. They go to Sunningrocks, which, thankfully, is free of the ThunderClan cats, possibly because of the scorching heat. After they scent-mark the rocks, they encounter a ThunderClan patrol, led by Adderfang. Mudfur, still grieving from the loss of his mate, Brightsky, and her three kits, challenges Adderfang to battle him solo, leaving the rest of their patrols watching. As they battle one-on-one, Mudfur ends up winning after Adderfang surrenders, leaving RiverClan to have the rocks once more.
At this point in time, ThunderClan holds Sunningrocks as its territory. A RiverClan patrol led by Hailstar invades, swarming onto the rocks and claiming them as their own. The ThunderClan leader Pinestar leads a patrol to battle them, and a second patrol led by Stormtail causes the RiverClan cats to flee. No cat is seriously hurt and ThunderClan keep Sunningrocks as their own.
Some moons pass, and it is revealed that Pinestar has let RiverClan move the border and reclaim Sunningrocks, having no wish to continue a feud over a piece of territory ThunderClan does not need. Some ThunderClan cats are unhappy with this decision, though some see the logic behind it. The deputy, Sunfall, always sends strong patrols along the border where Sunningrocks is to make sure RiverClan does not take more. This caution pays off, as a RiverClan patrol led by its deputy Shellheart cross the border. After a quick and fierce battle with Sunfall's and Thrushpelt's patrols, the RiverClan patrol flees, but they still hold Sunningrocks.
Shortly before leaf-bare, the new ThunderClan leader Sunstar announces that ThunderClan will take back Sunningrocks, saying ThunderClan needs all its territory. He takes a patrol to the RiverClan camp and tells them that ThunderClan is taking back Sunningrocks, and they are being fairly warned that any opposition will be met with battle. The next day at dusk, a patrol goes out and sets a new border, reclaiming Sunningrocks as ThunderClan territory. RiverClan do not attack the patrol, and the border is made peacefully.
Bluefur, in order to become deputy and eventually leader of her Clan, must give up her newborn kits. She takes them to Sunningrocks and meets her mate, and the father of her kits, Oakheart there, who takes them to RiverClan.Mosskit dies on the way there.
RiverClan takes back Sunningrocks shortly after Bluestar becomes leader, and ThunderClan warriors fail to take it back. They are sent back to camp discouraged and wounded.
Firestar feels restless after his vision of the wailing SkyClan cats and goes for a walk with Sandstorm, ending up at Sunningrocks. They lie on the warm stones, discussing about the Clan, but Firestar does not mention his visions.
When Firestar and Sandstorm set out for their journey, they pass Sunningrocks when following the river. Later, when they arrive at the SkyClan gorge, the sun-heated stones they use for resting remind them of Sunningrocks.
In the opening chapter, Tigerclaw and his patrol consisting of Ravenpaw, Mousefur and Redtail are marking the border at Sunningrocks. A group of RiverClan cats, led by their deputy, Oakheart, attack them. The ThunderClan cats are outnumbered and after a fierce battle they are forced to flee. Mousefur and Ravenpaw receive serious injuries and RiverClan now controls Sunningrocks for a short period of time.
A few days after, a ThunderClan patrol confronts RiverClan cats, and succeed in reclaiming Sunningrocks. Oakheart and Redtail die in the battle, and Tigerclaw claims that he killed Oakheart after Oakheart killed Redtail. However, later it turns out that Oakheart died when a rockslide crushed him, while Redtail was murdered by Tigerclaw, who expected to become deputy.
Sunningrocks is seen again when Lionheart and Tigerclaw show Firepaw around ThunderClan territory, identifying it as the boundary with RiverClan.
Fireheart and Graystripe take their apprentices, Cinderpaw and Brackenpaw out to hunt by Sunningrocks. They rest on the stones that feel comfortingly warm and smooth after the cold forest floor. Fireheart remembers the battle that claimed Redtail's life. After that, they hunt near the frozen river and Graystripe falls through the ice, almost drowning. He is is rescued by a young RiverClan she-cat, Silverstream.
Graystripe falls in love with Silverstream despite being from RiverClan and repeatedly sneaks out of the camp to meet her at Sunningrocks. Fireheart finds it out and is angered, disagreeing with their half-Clan relationship. Their scents are detected several times by patrols near Sunningrocks, and ThunderClan and RiverClan accuse each other of their warriors trespassing the border.
The river floods and Sunningrocks is seen as a set of gray islands in the midst of the water. When Fireheart and Graystripe patrol the RiverClan border, they notice twigs and debris floating in the river with two RiverClan kits balancing on them, heading for the almost submerged Sunningrocks. The two warriors wade in the water and rescue the kits, first hauling them up the rocks, then taking them to the shore.
Graystripe still meets with Silverstream. Later, Silverstream dies near Sunningrocks while delivering Graystripe's kits. She is then buried there. Her kits survive and are called Featherkit and Stormkit.
It is a hot summer and Firestar notices that the plants growing between the cracks at Sunningrocks have shriveled. He finds two ShadowClan cats nearby, Littlecloud and Whitethroat, who are very ill after catching a rat-borne disease and came to ThunderClan to seek help.
It is mentioned that an owl used to hunt near Sunningrocks. When the stream near the ThunderClan camp dries up, patrols go to the river to fetch water, and Halftail is nervous after hearing about the owl.
When fire strikes the ThunderClan camp, they are told to evacuate to the river, but instead, go to Sunningrocks. They stay at Sunningrocks until Crookedstar says it's okay for ThunderClan to shelter in the RiverClan camp until the fire is out. RiverClan makes no secret that they want something in return, and Fireheart suggests that they might demand Sunningrocks.
After Crookedstar's death, Leopardstar is RiverClan's new leader, and she plans to reclaim Sunningrocks. When a ThunderClan patrol reaches Sunningrocks, they meet Leopardstar who says they are taking back Sunningrocks as a debt after the help RiverClan gave to ThunderClan during the fire. A battle ensues, and more ThunderClan cats arrive to help, managing to keep Sunningrocks in the end. Leopardstar exiles Graystripe, who previously joined RiverClan, and now he rejoins ThunderClan. Mistyfoot and Stonefur learn that Bluestar is their mother.
Later, when the ThunderClan cats try to lure the dogs to the river gorge, the rest of the Clan and Bluestar leave the camp so they won't be killed by the dogs, and go to Sunningrocks where they climb the trees and on top of the rocks for shelter.
After the dogs scatter, Graystripe goes to Sunningrocks and tells the Clan that everything is safe and they can go back to the camp.
The day before the final battle with BloodClan, Firestar heads for Sunningrocks to rest, looking down on the river, and wondering if StarClan will save them. He falls asleep on the rock and has a dream about Bluestar's spirit telling him that even if StarClan do not interfere in the life of the forest cats, they watch over them, and Firestar's faith can be decisive in the upcoming battle.
Sunningrocks is mentioned when Brambleclaw suggests that they should hunt over there; however, Squirrelpaw states that in the hot weather the prey will be hiding, and Brambleclaw reluctantly admits that she is right. Later, when they patrol the RiverClan border, Squirrelpaw catches a vole at Sunningrocks.
ThunderClan shelter at Sunningrocks after their camp has been destroyed, as it was the only safe place left in their territory, and use it as a camp until the Clans set out for the journey to the lake. ShadowClan soon joins them, as Twolegs have destroyed their entire territory including their camp, and they can no longer live there.
Sunningrocks is mentioned in the story about the third rule in the Warrior Code. In a battle over the stones, ThunderClan attempts to take Sunningrocks into their territory. Most of RiverClan goes on the attack, but they are driven back.
Darkstar, the leader of RiverClan, gives an encouraging speech to her Clan, and tells them the battle is not over until they stop fighting. They attack again fiercely, catching ThunderClan by surprise. The RiverClan warrior Splashheart sees a warrior of StarClan fighting alongside him and guiding him, and he learns that it is a RiverClan ancestor called Aspentail continuing to fight to keep Sunningrocks. RiverClan send their rivals fleeing into the woods. Darkstar later dedicates the battle to the Clan's elders and kits.
While giving the reader a tour of the forest territories, Tigerstar stops at Sunningrocks and mentions that the whole forest can be viewed from on top of them. He mentions that the rocks have been the place of numerous battles between RiverClan and ThunderClan. He claims that battles here were predictable, and that if a cat had the higher place on a rock, he would win.
Tigerstar takes the reader down into a gully between the stones, and tells them it was here that he watched Redtail kill Oakheart, and then he in turn killed Redtail so he had a chance at becoming deputy. The gully between the stones was very narrow, and Tigerstar believed no cat could see what was occurring.