It's a series that aligns perfectly with our "Tails and Tales" Summer Reading theme--Erin Hunter's long-running Warriors!
Warriors is an adventure series initially published in 2004. It tells the story of cat colonies thriving in forest "clans" with an established social structure and spiritual philosophy. The series has grown exponentially with a current total of 76(!) titles, an intimidating amount of books for anyone curious to dive into the story. There's no need to fear, because I'm here to help find a suitable starting point, and then you can customize your reading experience.
"Where do I start?"
The initial arc, retroactively subtitled The Prophecies Begin, is the best start for anyone interested in Warriors. It focuses on Rusty, a young housecat who chooses to leave his domestic ways and join Thunderclan as Firepaw, ever brave and open to help a cat in need. His timing couldn't be more perfect as the structure of this clan is on the brink of collapse, and he may be the prophesied "fire" that could save it. I recommend this arc first because it not only explains the way the clans operate, it establishes the mythos carrying into the rest of the series. After this, you can easily jump into any of the other arcs with enough knowledge to understand the forest cats' culture.
Dawn of the Clans, a prequel story covering how these clans initially began, is another good starting point. The cast is self-contained, with the current exception of one super edition and two short stories, and it is a fan favorite among its dedicated readers. For anyone unsure if they want to dive into the entire Warriors oeuvre, this would be another good first read aside from The Prophecies Begin.
"What comes next?"
The second published arc is The New Prophecy, focusing on a generation of cats begotten from our initial cast. When their forest home is threatened with human destruction, the clans will need to migrate to a new home. Will they be able to adapt to this sudden change, or will the status quo be shaken beyond repair? This arc expands the cast of characters and marks the beginning of some of the series' long-standing characters, like Squirrelflight, Crowfeather, and Mothwing. It also establishes the lake territories where the clans are currently living.
After that is The Power of Three, an arc revolving around a trio of siblings and the mysterious powers they may possess. This arc and the following, Omen of the Stars, are best read together as the former directly influences the latter, and the final book of Omen of the Stars wraps up lingering threads from The Power of Three. These two can be recommended because they are the bookend of Firepaw--now Firestar's--overall story and resolve the turbulent conflict between him and Tigerstar.
Following those arcs is A Vision of Shadows, where a long-lost fifth clan found in Firestar's Quest is reintegrated into the lake territories and clan tension is at its highest. The current running arc awaiting its final volume is The Broken Code. The clans have lost contact with their spiritual ancestors save for one lone healer who bears a message: cats have been breaking the warrior code, and they must be punished before the clans can mend their connection. Both are good arcs to follow after reading The Prophecies Begin and can be treated as a timeskip after its events.
"What else can I read?"
As for the super editions, comics, and short stories they're mostly optional reads if you want to read about specific characters. There are a few books that come highly recommended if you want to be filled in on specific parts of the clans and outside cats' cultures.
Are there other series you would like to see reading guides about? Have you read these books and want to share your thought? Please speak in the comment section below, and thank you for reading!