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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
There are plenty of cat stories out there in the publishing universe. I can honestly say I've never read any cat story that's quite like the work of Clare Bell. Don't look for cuddly bright eyed kittens here! Part Clan of the Cave Bear, part Jungle Book, Clare's prehistoric feline fantasy takes us into the world of a clan of sentient cats called the Named and one spirited yearling named Ratha. Back in print after many years, these works are back on the shelf and in the hands of eager readers again.

This first book is Ratha's story, her journey in discovering her own strength as she changes roles from herder, to rebel, exile and heroine. When a spirited Ratha discovers ways to handle the fire that so terrifies her people, she doesn't realize that her actions will lead to exile, and a loss of all she's ever known. As Ratha is forced to grow up and struggle through hardship to find her way, she must learn what road to travel, despite the price she pays to walk it. When the Clan who exiled her is threatened with being destroyed, she must decide if she will be the key to their survival against the attacks of the Unnamed.

Reading this again after so many years I was pleasantly surprised to find this book has lost none of its impact and strength. Ms. Bell has created a harsh prehistoric world that her cat clan lives in. This is not a land of magic or easy choices. Each choice leads to inevitable consequences, even when it may be the right choice to make. The author's deft handling of her characters allows for readers to suspend their disbelief and really visualize this band of sentient cats that herd animals for food. The cats still have to contend with the lack of hands and the demands of their nature, but the personalities and societal pressures are very familiar and all too human.

While the tale moves quickly and is relatively short, this is not a light story--there are extremely poignant moments, and triumph is often mixed with tragedy. The author manages to pull the reader into the world without lengthy scene setting or world building detours. The book moves fast--but the tale never stumbles over itself in the telling. It's a powerful story. It's the story of what makes a leader and what kinds of roads they often travel. It's the story of love and loss and betrayal. It's a story of big cats in an unforgiving wilderness and how they survive.

This is not a cute or cuddly story. It's a serious adventure and coming of age tale that will likely appeal to young teen and young adult readers. Given some of the mature elements in the story, this may not be as appropriate for younger readers: the complex characters and mature relationships make for demanding reading! If you want to read more about Ratha and her clan, take heart! There's more to the The Named series. "Clan Ground", "Ratha and Thistle Chaser", and "Ratha's Challenge" are all back in print and the brand new "Ratha's Courage" is due out soon! If you like cat stories like these, you might want to check out "Tailchaser's Song" by Tad Williams and the "Catfantastic" story anthologies edited by Andre Norton.

Happy Reading! ^_^ Shanshad
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2002
Format: Library Binding
Ratha's Creature gets you interested in just who these characters are right from the start, and the plot carries you through the growth and maturation and eventual "awakening" of Ratha, and her heartbreak at the cubs she birthed being without the gift that her clan prizes in its members.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Now a college senior, I still look for the "Ratha" books in every bookstore I enter. The emotions and relationships are very real, while the plot is exciting. I love Bell's cat-books. Wish still in print.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I am a cat person. I happen to believe that all cat people would enjoy this book, given they like a good infusion of adventure. Clare Bell brilliantly reimagines a prehistory where sentient cats are suggested as being the top species and a cat called Ratha dares to experiment fire. The writing here is top-notch and vivid with description that never gets too flowery. These are cats, but they are not cute and cuddly--think cousins of the saber-toothed cats. Bell gives their characters a wonderful blend of humanity and pure cat instinct. I don't know if I would consider this children's literature, but rather something anyone could read. Wonderful pick for any lover of fantasy adventure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
After discovering I am going to be part of the Cybil Book Judge Panel for MG SFF I decided that I needed to take care of a few books prior to this reading challenge taking place. One of the books I wanted to read was Ratha's Creature which is the first book in The Named series. The premise of the book is quite simple, but the storyline is far from simple. There are prehistoric cats divided up into two tribes so to speak - The Named and Un-Named. The Named are a tribe that has developed a system to herd animals and keep for food. The tribe trains cats to be herders and keep the tribe alive. Females are typically not allowed to be trained under the cruel leadership of their leader named Meoran. The main character/cat is Ratha who is a female that is an exception to the rule when her teacher Thakur promised great things from her. On top of training the cats and herding their herds they also have to be on watch from the Un-Named who are constantly trying to raid and kill their food supply.

Ratha comes across a discovery that throws everything in disarray. A forest fire occurs and she learns how to use fire as a tool. However, after a very intense scene she is banned from the clan and sent out on her own to survive. The problem is that she has only been trained to herd so hunting is not her forte. The whole element of survival comes into play in the animal world. Everything she has been taught in her tribe is flipped upside down and the story takes off and never slows down.

I will admit that at first I thought it was cheesy that these cats could herd animals and some could speak. However, those thoughts quickly went away and I found myself absorbed in the story line. In essence, this novel is a coming of age story just through the eyes of Ratha (who is not human), but as a reader one could relate to the struggles.

There are many things that Ratha does in this story that really drove me nuts. But, I could not help but like her as the main character. I think that is what will draw the interest of readers is because despite her faults there is so much to like. In many ways this is how all of us are - we have our faults - and we are still good people.

I read this book on my iPad in a few days. I bought it from Amazon as I don't think it is in print anymore. However, I know that I read somewhere that they are going to start making this available again with new covers and design. This story is from the early 80's (1983 I think) so it has been around a long time.

It is a fast read with lots of action, great plot development, and violence as they are cats trying to survive. By cats I mean the size of like a lion or tiger and not house pets. I would recommend this novel for older readers because of the violent nature of some scenes and one mating scene. The mating scene is not very graphic and it is depicted through the animal world, but just be aware that it is there. It would be very easy to skip over if that bothers you.

If you can track this book down go ahead and read it. It is well worth your time. There are several more books in the series as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am an avid reader of anthropomorphic fantasy, including Erin Hunter's Warriors series, which focuses on multiple clans of wild cats battling for survival in the modern day. When I heard about the re-release of the Named series, which now includes Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-chaser, Ratha's Challenge, and the long-awaited fifth book, Ratha's Courage, I eagerly purchased the first book.
Clare Bell's "Books of the Named" tell the story of a prehistoric clan of wild cats based off of modern cheetahs and pumas who have developed human-level intelligence and self-awareness, which they utilize to herd large herbivorous mammals for food. However, the clan's herds are frequently raided by the savage cats of the Un-Named, most which are not intelligent enough to understand anything other than the hunting instinct and the will to survive. This book focuses mainly on Ratha, a young clan female, who discovers what she calls the "Red Tongue", or fire. Believing it to be the perfect defense against the raiders, she brings it to the tyrannical clan leader, Meoran, only to be exiled from clan ground for her free thinking. Beyond the safety of the Named, Ratha finds peril, friendship, and ultimately a tragedy that will scar her forever.
From the moment I began Ratha's Creature, I was intrigued by the compelling plot and complex characters. Ratha herself is stubborn, headstrong, rash, and yet ultimately endearing, and her adventures bring a brisk, thrilling pace to the plot. Despite the anthropomorphic qualties of these prehistoric cats, I was surprised to find them entirely palpable; their human-like charactersitics do not overshadow their animal instincts, which only deepen the characters and make them all tyhe more enthralling. Despite the book's quick pace, Ratha's world was a fully-realized, sprawling prehistoric universe, and her adventures encompassed many important human themes and explored the prospect of this remarkably resourceful band of cats with deft, brilliant prose. The writing is elegant and the detail absorbing; Clare Bell is clearly a talented author if she managed to explore so many morals and evoke so many emotions in her readers in such a relatively short novel.
Because of the complexity of the plot, the book demands an audience mature enough to handle its themes. Several scenes may be considered too graphic for younger readers, including a mating sequence and a battle which is described with chilling detail. This is a book that does not shy away from the harsher side of nature, and brings forth a world where trials and tribulations can be rewarded with both great victory and great loss.
This book is a compelling start to a compelling series. I am now reading the third back, Ratha and Thistle-chaser, and the books have still not lost the invetivness and originality which hooked me in this first book. Cat and fantasy lovers will certainly be pleased by Bell's magnificent achievment in both Ratha's Creature and its sequels.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2003
Format: Library Binding
Ratha's Creature is a fabulous book with characters that stick with you well after you have finished it. The plot and setting are ingenious and highly origional. I don't believe I have ever seen another book with that setting. Excellent book, one of my favorites.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is defenetly ONE TO REMEMBER!! Ratha's creature came highly recomened by my big brother. I'm so glade I didn't ignore his recomendation!! You follow Ratha from her cub-hood struggles to her adult life. A wonderfull book and I recomend it to people who like books about animals with human emotions. I'm sure most who read the book would agree with me when I say this book is the best! This is my first time reading anything by Clare Bell, and I think I will read more. The emotions are so real that you can feel Ratha's joy and saddness. So well, infact it made me cry! This is mostly why I liked it I think. I normaly take a month to finish a short book,{out of lack of intrest in them} but it took me only two days to finish Rasha's Creature! If Clare Bell is reading this, I beg you to not deprive others of such a phenomenal book and put it back in print!!! On a scale of one-ten I give it a ten!! I loved it!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Named Series is a collection that has survived in the hearts of readers for decades, inspiring fanart, fanfiction, and more. Here is the book that started it all - Ratha's Creature, an epic, memorable tale of strife, forgiveness, and triumph. This novel resurrects an ancient world and delivers in full detail, the savage brutality endured by those of arcane laws, a code of claws and fangs - while thrusting into harsh, honest light, what it means to question and discover the meaning of 'Self Awareness'.
Lion King worshipers, Warriors devotees, Animal enthusiasts - you have not stalked the feline path, until you have unearthed these treasures.

For more information, copy and paste the following links:

Clare Bell's official domain:
[...]
For an exclusive look including fanart, fanfiction, and more visit Trails Of Conquest:
[...]
For Named (Ratha) Series Cat Role Play (rp) stop by Into The Mist:
[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I have read many feline fantasies,but none of them touch this one.It is better than the Warriors books,and I think that older Warriors fans will love this book.The harsh landscape and the complicated,realistic characters are wonderful!A word of warning,though:this is not a cutsey kitty book.Ratha's Creature is a very deep,allegorical,and thought provoking book.Some of the raw,savage images(mating,wounding a cub,death by fire)may be too much for younger,sensitive readers.I would reccomend this book for mature teens who will be able to understand and enjoy this magnificent,powerful book.Well done,Clare Bell!!
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