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A Dangerous Path
First edition cover
Author Erin Hunter
Cover artist Wayne McLoughlin
Country United States
Language English
Series Warriors
Genre Children's literature
Fantasy novel
Published 1 June 2004 (Avon)
Media type Print (Paperback and Hardcover)
Pages 336
ISBN 978-0-06-052565-1
Preceded by Rising Storm 
Followed by The Darkest Hour 

A Dangerous Path is a fantasy novel, the fifth book in the Warriors series, written under the pseudonym of Erin Hunter. This individual book was written by Cherith Baldry. The story centers around Fireheart, deputy of ThunderClan, as he attempts to keep his Clan safe with the help of his ailing leader, while fighting off outside threats such as dogs and enemy Clans.

The book was first published in the US as a hardcover on 1 June 2004. It has since been published as a paperback and as an e-book, and been published in other countries. A Dangerous Path has also been published in foreign languages, including French and Chinese. The book received positive reviews from reviewers such as Booklist and Horn Book Review, who praised the tensions and fast pace.



The story takes place in a fictional forest populated by four groups of feral cats, ThunderClan, RiverClan, WindClan and ShadowClan. Each Clan has their own territory in which they live and hunt for prey in. They protect themselves from enemies such as rival Clans and wild animals. The story follows Fireheart and his adventures in ThunderClan.

The forest is based on New Forest, which is located in Southern England. Besides New Forest, Loch Lomond, the Scottish Highlands, and the Forest of Dean also inspired the fictional locales in the novel.


When prey in ThunderClan territory begins to go missing, Fireheart, deputy of ThunderClan, suspects that Tigerstar, ShadowClan's treacherous new leader, is behind it. Meanwhile, Bluestar is mentally shaken by Tigerstar's recent attack on ThunderClan. She believes that StarClan, the spirits of dead Clan cats, would not have let it happen had they been on her side, and she declares herself at war with them, much to the shock and horror of her Clanmates.

Bluestar chooses to name Cloudpaw a warrior due to the fact that he doesn't believe in StarClan, while neglecting the other apprentices. Two of the apprentices, Swiftpaw and Brightpaw, decide to track down what is stealing ThunderClan's prey in an attempt to prove themselves. However, the prey-stealers turn out to be a ravenous pack of dogs, and Swiftpaw is killed and Brightpaw badly disfigured by the pack, losing half of her face. Believing that Brightpaw would die, Bluestar "promotes" Brightpaw to the status of warrior, but she shames Brightpaw, and by extension StarClan, by giving her the name Lostface.

Graystripe returns from RiverClan to live with ThunderClan once more. His loyalty is questioned by his Clan.

Normal Clan life resumes, but Fireheart begins to wonder about the dogs. He asks Lostface if she remembers what happened, but she can only remember the words "Pack, pack, kill, kill". Whitestorm, a senior warrior of ThunderClan, reports to Fireheart that his patrol smelled dogs near Snakerocks, a pile of rocks where adders live, so Fireheart ventures there to investigate.

On his way to Snakerocks, Fireheart finds a trail of dead rabbits leading back to the ThunderClan camp, which ends with the body of Brindleface, the gentle ThunderClan queen, who had been slaughtered by Tigerstar in order to give the dogs a taste for cat blood. Fireheart orders a patrol to get rid of the rabbits. Brindleface's death shocks everyone, and after her hasty burial, the camp is evacuated to Sunningrocks to protect them from the dogs. With Bluestar still mentally unstable, it is up to Fireheart to decide how to get rid of the pack and protect ThunderClan. He and the senior warriors decide that a patrol of cats will lead the dogs to the nearby gorge and knock them off the edge. The plan works; each cat successfully leads the pack closer to the gorge, breaking away from the group once they lead the dogs to a certain spot, where a fresh runner lies in wait so they can lead the dogs to the next point. Fernpaw and Ashpaw took part in the chase, as Brindleface was their mother and they wanted to honor her memory. Fireheart, the last in line, keeps a good distance between him and the pack leader, until Tigerstar jumps from some bushes and pins Fireheart down, so that the pack can catch up. As the pack's leader gets dangerously close, Tigerstar leaps away, leaving Fireheart to be killed by the pack. Just as it seems that Fireheart is going to die, Bluestar, her mind clear once more, slams into the dog, causing it to release its grip on Fireheart, and knocking it–and herself–over the side of the gorge.

Fireheart leaps down the cliff into the river and dives in to save Bluestar. Fireheart manages to get a hold on her, but is barely able to keep their heads above the water. However, Bluestar's RiverClan children, Stonefur and Mistyfoot, discover Fireheart struggling in the river, trying to save Bluestar, and help drag the two cats to the bank. There, Bluestar pleads with her kits to forgive her for lying to them about who their parents were. They forgive her, as they had not known their true heritage until then. Bluestar then tells Fireheart that she realized her Clanmates were not all traitors. She also tells him that he is now the leader of ThunderClan, and he was the fire who saved her life. With that, she loses her final life, and her spirit is sent to StarClan, to be reunited with her mate and lost kit.

Fireheart is overcome with grief. Mistyfoot asks if she and Stonefur can help carry her back to the ThunderClan camp and sit vigil for her.

Main characters

  • Fireheart, young and courageous deputy of ThunderClan
  • Tigerstar, the leader of ShadowClan; formerly of ThunderClan; staged an attack on ThunderClan and was exiled for it
  • Bluestar, ailing leader of ThunderClan
  • Stonefur, deputy of RiverClan, Mistyfoot's brother and Bluestar's kit
  • Mistyfoot, warrior of RiverClan, Stonefur's sister and Bluestar's kit
  • Cloudpaw (later Cloudtail), Fireheart's unruly apprentice and nephew; was born as a kittypet (housecat)
  • Swiftpaw, an apprentice who dies to a dog pack
  • Brightpaw (later Lostface), an apprentice who is badly disfigured by a dog pack
  • Sandstorm, Fireheart's mate
  • Whitestorm, a sernior warrior of ThunderClan
  • Brindleface, gentle ThunderClan queen who is slaughtered by Tigerstar
  • Cinderpelt, ThunderClan's medicine cat, who has a permanent limp
  • Graystripe, Fireheart's best friend
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