Spoilers for recent and old books below.
It's been a while since I've done an analytical blog, so I thought I'd talk about a subject that's baffled me for a while: that being what should and shouldn't be considered a good leader in the Clans. To do this, I'll list off multiple situations in which a leader must make vital decisions and compare three leaders, Leopardstar, Blackstar, and Firestar, and I'll decide who made the proper decisions.
This is merely my opinion, mind you. But know I have thought this out and tried to use my abilities of logic the best I can. I'm open to conversation even if you disagree with me.
Situation 1: Disloyalty in the Clan
Leopardstar and Graystripe
- The first instance of Leopardstar dealing with a disloyal cat in RiverClan came with Graystripe, who entered the Clan to be with his kits. When Graystripe, in battle against ThunderClan, turned on Leopardstar to help Fireheart she acted quickly and decisively. She banished him from the Clan without a second thought, which was the proper thing to do. There is no room for disloyal cats in a Clan, and the only things making Graystripe at all loyal to RiverClan was his kits and the memory of his mate. His disloyalty could have meant the difference between victory and failure for RiverClan, and ejecting him to make him rejoin ThunderClan was the best choice.
Blackstar and Tawnypelt
- While Blackstar does not eject Tawnypelt from ShadowClan, he does do something Leopardstar did not think to do: he avoids allowing Tawnypelt to have contact with her Clan of birth. Leopardstar purposefully put Graystripe in a situation in which he would have to prove where his loyalty lay. Blackstar knows that he has a good warrior in Tawnypelt and never involves her in a battle with ThunderClan. If you look, in any battle between these two Clans Tawnypelt is never seen or mentioned. I see this as a wise decision, personally, as it means he gets to keep a loyal cat without forcing her to do battle with her kin.
Firestar and Darkstripe
- Firestar handled Darkstripe very poorly. As a deputy, Firestar personally found Darkstripe escorting two of ThunderClan's kits to see Tigerstar, which risked losing said kits. In this situation, Darkstripe proved that his loyalty was to Tigerstar, not to ThunderClan. In this instance Firestar did not banish Darkstripe, but kept the cat in his Clan. What proved that this move was a poor one was the fact that this allowed Darkstripe to continue giving out information on ThunderClan to ShadowClan, which only ended when yet another kit was nearly killed. This was a very, very poor decision on Firestar's part, which disadvantaged his Clan and nearly got Cats killed.
Situation 2: Disability of a Warrior
Leopardstar and Heavystep
- While this happens out-of-sight of the narrators of the book, I do believe that Leopardstar handled Heavystep well. Heavystep's disabilities due to his kidney disease made him incapable of being a warrior, which quickly resulted in him being placed in the elder's den. Sure, Heavystep was probably upset that he could not be of more help to his Clan, but that wasn't what mattered. What mattered was the fact that his disease would have made him a liability in battle or even in everyday tasks like hunting. The elder's den was the only place for him.
Blackstar and Cedarheart
- This situation is slightly more well known than Heavystep's since ThunderClan cats were involved in the situation that disabled him. Let's face it, Clans don't advertise the fact that they've lost a warrior often. Anyway, the case of Cedarheart was simple: he was injured and apparently lost most of the use of one of his legs. Yes, Cedarheart can still get around and could survive with some assistance, but he is incapable of performing the tasks of a warrior. The loss of even one limb would result in poor hunting skills at best and an opening an enemy could take advantage of in a fight. Again, the elder's den was his only destination.
Firestar and Briarlight
- Briarlight's case is truly a sad one: a cat so young that escaped death twice before lost the use of the lower half of her body. In the wild, for this to happen would mean either a quick death via a predator or a slow, painful death from infection of either the lungs of the intestine. Yes, a cat owned by a human could be helped with a lot of money given to a vet, but in the wild this is not possible.
- Firestar's treatment of this situation was deplorable. Briarpaw would have been best off with a quick death upon being found clinging to life. Some deathberries would have been a kindness to give to Briarpaw.
- But no.
- He made her a warrior.
- This honor could have been bestowed upon Briarlight with the dying apprentice ceremony before ending her suffering. Instead she is forced now to have that name, the name and rank of a warrior, when she cannot be a warrior. This treatment of this situation is a cruel one, and Briarlight does not deserve the suffering she is bound to encounter.
Situation 3: Outside cats joining the Clans
Leopardstar and Sasha
- When Sasha briefly joined ThunderClan as a queen, Leopardstar allowed her to join as a kindness. Still, the moment Hawk and Moth were old enough to be apprentices, she expected Sasha to become a warrior and earn her place in the Clan as any cat would have to. And, while Sasha was there, she did. She hunted and earned her keep. However, when Sasha decided that Clan life was not for her, Leopardstar immediately allowed her to leave while keeping her kits, as she knew that the kits would make good warriors considering who their father was. This assured Sasha that her kits would remain safe and gained warriors for RiverClan. Basically, Leopardstar did what Leopardstar always did: she treated her Clan like a business. Crisp, clean thinking.
Blackstar and Boulder/Unknown Cats
- According to Secrets of the Clans, ShadowClan apparently often takes in outside cats to swell its ranks. Certainly, this can be a wise move. However, it also means that there could be a question of loyalty among ShadowClan's warriors. Knowing how strict that Clan can be, I'm sure that any cat that stays remains loyal for their own good among other things, but in the end this can be either a good or bad decision based on who is allowed to join the Clan.
Firestar and Daisy/Millie
- Daisy has no place in any Clan.
- Firestar did show kindness in allowing Daisy to join ThunderClan for protection while she nursed her kits, but that is where her stay should have ended. She showed no interest in pulling her weight by hunting or learning to fight for the Clan. Yes, her kits proved to be useful most of the time, but she and her kits by no means needed to be a package deal. When she left with her kits and the kits wanted to return to the Clan, they should have been taken back without her. I doubt it would have been so hard to do. Instead Daisy is now a permanent fixture in the most comfortable and safe den in the Clan, getting fed every day and "helping to raise the kits", as if the pregnant she-cats or other cats in the Clan could not do so for the kits.
- However, there is a good decision made in allowing Millie to join the Clan. She does pull her weight and has proven to be an invaluable warrior. She, at least, was a good choice to add to the Clan.
- Still, Firestar needs to show some discretion when adding cats to his Clan. Any cat that comes along looking for protection or a meal should not be allowed to stay permanently.
Situation 4: Dealings With Rival Clans
Leopardstar and ThunderClan
- This actually happened when Leopardstar was deputy. When ThunderClan was forced from their territory by fire, Leopardfur helps the rival Clan and uses the situation to her advantage. She doesn't take advantage at the injured and tired cats, no, but she does hold ThunderClan to the favor RiverClan did them later as leader. She expected repayment for the favor in the form of Sunningrocks. She showed logic, as always, even if ThunderClan retaliated.
Blackstar and ThunderClan
- Blackstar is a bit more quick to anger than Leopardstar. He does not allow his Clan to be taken advantage of, not even an inch. Yes, he sees the importance of working with the other Clans when he needs to, shown when he gives one or two of his warriors up to go on a journey, but he thinks always of the needs of his Clan above all things.
Firestar and all other Clans
- Firestar tends to over-emphasize the importance of keeping all of the Clans intact. Yes, this is important, but he needs to focus on his own Clan and trust the other Clans to be able to take care of themselves.
- With RiverClan, Firestar outright betrayed his Clan by taking prey to them as a warrior.
- With ShadowClan, Firestar has sacrificed part of his Clan's territory and has given up his warriors to help them.
- With WindClan, Firestar has tried to interfere enough times that the Clan has grown to resent ThunderClan.
- With SkyClan, Firestar went as far as abandoning his Clan for what appeared to be half a year to gather together a group of random cats to remake a Clan. No, it wasn't so much a bad thing, but the fact that Firestar took this on as his responsibility shows that his loyalties are scattered.
- For overstepping his responsibilities, Firestar hasn't earned the thankfulness of the other Clans. He has only earned the derision of those that surround him.
- I do believe I've set out clearly what a good leader should be. In my opinion, Leopardstar is an ideal leader. Blackstar is good. Firestar is decidedly not. He is a good cat, I assure you, and I like him as a character, but he makes for an overly sympathetic leader that is putting his Clan in danger with his decisions.
I do enjoy discussion, as I said. If you think I should elaborate on another situation or point, I'll be happy to oblige. Or, if you think I'm wrong, I'm happy to hear your argument.