If you are a fan of the Warriors series, it is likely you like cats or just the general idea of a feral/animal based storyline. The Named is in many ways a similar story to Warriors in that it follows cats who live in a 'Clan' and have human-like intelligence. However it is also very much its own unique story and has its own appeal. But if you are a fan of Warriors and cats/animals, you would likely very much enjoy The Named series.
The American author Clare Bell began the series back in the 1980's, with the first book; Ratha's Creature first being published in 1983. The story gradually continued for many years, and was recently brought back with the newest book; Ratha's Courage being published in 2008.
The series has become popular over the years and has won several awards such as the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award and the PEN USA Literary Award for the orginal Ratha's Creture book when it was first released in 1983.
The series is aimed at the 'young adult' audience, although at times there are some rather 'adult' themes.
If you would like to see more about The Named series, please visit the official website here.
You can also see videos from the author Clare Bell on her YouTube channel here, including an old animated adaptation of the first book Ratha's Creature from the show Storybreak, starting here.
The story of The Named takes place in prehistoric times, during the Miocene period (20 - 25 Million years ago).
It follows an ancient clan of cats known as the The Named, made up of what the author Clare Bells calls Dinaelurus illumina sapiens (for more information on this species, see The Species section) which somewhat resembles the modern cheetah.
The Named are cats who have human-like intelligence, who are unique among the other beasts of the land of the time, not only because of their intelligence, but because of their general way of life. Their clan somewhat resembles that of a lion pride, with the cats living closely together and caring for one another. However unlike the other predators, they have moved on from merely hunting the beasts they feed on, and have become herders.
The story picks up with the introduction of a young female (often referred to as a 'yearling') called Ratha, who despite the clan leader Meoran's strict rules which forbids females from becoming herders, has become the clans only female herder with the help of the convincing young herding teacher Thakur.
The story follows her life as she lives among those of The Named, as they struggle to survive. They are first threatened by their neighbours, the Un-Named, who in the eyes of The Named are as witless as the beasts they herd. Later in the series they encounter many other threats.
The story continues as Ratha learns the hardships of life as she goes from just another clan herder to an exiled traitor, to a clan leader. She suffers much as she struggles for both her own survival and that of her beloved clan. The five books follow her life, both her highs and her lows as she moves slowly forwards along with her mostly loyal friends and clan mates against the what seems like endless threats of her prehistoric world.
There are currently five books in The Named series; Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Chanllenge and Ratha's Courage. There is also a short story called Bonechewer's Lagacy that was printed in the book Firebirds Soaring: An Anthology of Original Speculative Fiction by Sharyn November, as well as a unqiue twitter fan story know as Ratha's Island.
The cover artwork shown for the books below are of the most recent editions. The Artwork is done by a loyal fan of the Named series called Tori O'Shea, you can view more of their amazing artwork on their DeviantArt page here.
Original Release Date: 1983
HER NAME IS RATHA. SHE IS A CAT LIKE NO OTHER.
Ratha and her clan are the Named, a band of intelligent wild cats whose society has laws, language, tradition, and leaders. They also have enemies. The predatory raiders of the Un-Named are driving them close to the edge of survival.
Then Ratha, a mere yearling, discovers what she calls the "Red Tongue"-Fire. Her new weapon gives the Named a new defense, but it also rouses the ire of Meoran, the clan leader. Soon Ratha finds herself in exile among the Un-Named, but is determined to survive-no matter what.
Original Release Date: 1984
TAMERS OF THE RED TONGUE
The Named are different from other cats. Since a young female, Ratha, discovered fire, they have triumphed over their enemies, the Un-Named, and their civilization is growing more complex.
But against the advice of her loyal friend Thakur, Ratha has admitted a powerful, quick-witted and politically astute stranger to the clan.
Orange-Eyes is ruthless. He knows just how much power the control of fire confers - and has ambitions of conquest that could threaten the very existence of the emerging feline society . . .
Ratha and Thistle-Chaser
Original Release Date: 1990
Maimed and traumatized by a childhood incident too frightening to remember, a solitary cat named Newt struggles to survive, haunted by nightmares of a huge monster she calls the Dreambiter. In spite of the trauma, Newt lives a peaceful life in harmony with the sea creatures of her ocean beach.
When the Named arrive on her beach in search of a temporary refuge from brought, Newt clashes with Ratha, leader of the Named, over the sea animals that Newt protects. The two cats have more in common than either of them suspects, and to resolve the present, Ratha and Newt must face the demons of the past.
Original Release Date: 1991
The Named believe that they are the only cats who can think and speak, so they are shocked and intrigued to discover a mammoth-hunting tribe of cats who also speak. The other tribe, united in a kind of group mind, is so different that understanding them appears impossible, and conflict threatens. Should Ratha increase her efforts to talk to these strange cats, or should she destroy them with the Red Tongue so the Named can take their mammoths? Ratha's daughter Thistle-chaser, has strange gifts that could lead to a solution, but she can't do it alone. Mother and daughter must challenge the darkness of their shared past before they can work together.
Original Release Date: 2008
Ratha, the fiery and determined female leader of the sentient prehistoric cat clan called the Named, continues her story in this new novel. InRatha's Courage, the Named attempt an alliance with the other clan of "face-tail" (mammoth and mastodon) hunting cats introduced in Ratha's Challenge.
The hunter clan's group mind, and strange, frighteningly effective unity fascinates yet repels the independent-minded Named, creating a dangerous potential for conflict. The contrasting values of the two very different cultures lead to misunderstanding , tragedy, and war. Ratha learns that reaching out to others, especially when the chasm is so wide, takes true courage.
With rich sensory description, well-developed characters, and intense conflict, both internal and external, this new novel returns to the strengths of the first book in the series, Ratha's Creature. The story envelops the reader in the mind of a big cat, looking out through her eyes while discovering her world.
Bonechewer's Lagacy was a short story released as part of the book Firebirds Soaring: An Anthology of Original Speculative Fiction by Sharyn November.
Original Release Date: 5 March 2009
First there was Firebirds (Firebird, 2005), then Firebirds Rising (Firebird, 2006) - now editor Sharyn November presents Firebirds Soaring, a third collection of all-new stories by some of today's hottest young adult authors. These authors, including Nancy Farmer, Ellen Klages, Margo Lanagan and Jane Yolen, have brought new worlds and Old Magic to life. Mike Dringenberg, co-creator of Sandman with Neil Gaiman, contributes decorative vignettes.
Ratha's Courage was a project to entertain Clare Bell's followers on twitter and get them interested in The Named.
Beginning on March 14, 2009, a new experiment in Y/A fantasy fiction appeared on Twitter. Ratha's Island, a novelette designed specifically for the micro-blogging service's 140 character format, ran twice daily in blocks of 6-10 sequential tweets. Ratha's Island ran every day, with the exception of a one-weekend break, and drew over 1000 followers at Clare Bells @rathacat Twitter stream.
The characters of the series are all very well developed and all have their unique traits and personality's.
Character: Curious, adventurous, determined and loyal.
Role: Named herder, Exiled Un-Named, Named leader.
Character: Very wise and warm hearted.
Role: Named herding teacher. Ratha's mate.
Character: Very spirited, assertive and somewhat sarcastic but also truly caring.
Role: Named fire-keeper leader.
Character: Somewhat harsh and rough but also very warm hearted deep down.
Role: Exiled Un-Named. Bonechewer's brother and Ratha's first mate.
Character: At first timid, scared, angry and unpredictable but later becomes strong and assertive very much like Ratha
Role: Loner, partial Named member, partial Tail-Face hunter clan member and translator between The Named and the Tail-Face hunter clan. Ratha's daughter.
There are many other characters in The Named series such as Meoran the previous clan leader of The Named, Shongshar an outsider who later joins the clan and causes trouble. Bira a young fire-keeper and Quiet Hunter, Thistle-Chasers mate from the Tail-Face hunter clan, as well as many others.
Even Aree and her offspring which are lemur like animals who Thakur adopts into the clan.
The information below is taken directly from the official website here. All Images belong to Clare Bell, please view the website for more details.
The species in the books was originally based on the ancient Nimravus species which is part of the Nimravidae family (also known as false saber-toothed cat) that lived during the early Miocene period (20 - 25 Million years ago).
The Nimravus were sort of leopard-like creatures. Compared to modern days cats, they may have somewhat resembled the Caracal.
Clare Bell chose this as here original inspiration after seeing a painting by Charles R. Knight (shown below). This painting depicted a Nimvarus fighting with another of its ancient 'nimravids' cousins known as a Eusmilus, which is also part of the Nimravidae family (Although at the time of painting nimravids were thought to be early felids and were called "paleofelids").
This painting was actually based on what is believed to be a true event. Charles R. Knight based the drawing on a skull that had a hole in the forehead that matched a Eusmilus saber. The Eusmilus in the drawing bit the Nimravus right through the forehead. The Nimravus skull used as a basis for the picture actually showed signs of healing, which suggests that the individual lived for a while after the attack. This little story was part of the inspiration for the first book Ratha's Creature.
There has never been a full fossil discovered of the Nimvarus, only of the head and neck. Therefore the various cover artists of The Named series over the years had to use much of their own imagination, and therefore the different covers do show some significant difference in both style and design.
However, several years after the first four books were released, Clare Bell learned about another species known as a Dinaelurus, which was also part of the Nimravidae family.
It is believed that the Dinaelurus was a cursorial predator (which means they run down their pray) and may have somewhat resembled the modern cheetah.
Clare Bell researched much about the Dinaelurus, but no one had drawn a reconstruction that resembled Nimvarus. So Clare decided to make a sculpture of her own (shown below), with only a very tiny drawing from an evolutionary tree as a reference. She was later sent some more detailed sketches by a Spanish artist called Maricio Anton. She used the new references to build on her sculpture and added other parts such as muscles as shown in the below picture.
This soon became the new basis for the cats in The Named series, however finalizing their appearance was difficult.
There has only ever been a fossil skull of the Dinaelurus crassus discovered. They have a shortened face compared to its cousin, the Nimravus and enlarged nasal passages in a similar way to cheetahs, which use them in order to get enough air into their lungs while chasing prey as the fastest land animal on the planet, reaching over 70 miles per hour. This suggested the Dinaelurus most closely resembled the modern cheetah.
To create Ratha's design, Clare used illustrations of cheetah and puma skeletons as a reference and by blending the two cats. Giving her the back legs of a cheetah for speed and power (but made stronger) and a long cheetah-like tail for balance in jumps and turns. As well as the front legs and shoulders of a puma for power in pulling down and wrestling prey (but made longer).
She drew the bones first, then outlined the body based on musculature. Ratha is a solid fawn rather than spotted, but she gave her the cheetah "tear-line" facial markings since she was inspired by the cover of the original Ratha's Challenge.
Like a puma, Ratha has a slightly raised rump, and she has similar jumping abilities. She also climbs trees like a puma. Her top speed in a sprint is less than a cheetah, but greater than a puma. She also probably has greater endurance than a cheetah.
However the above sketch was only a first step and wasn't exactly what Clare wanted.
Clare went on to work on more sculptures (shown below) to try and capture what Ratha and her clanmates would have looked like. She started with the Dinaelurus which was now the main basis for the cats of The Named. She decided that the clan of The Named would be the descendants of the Dinaelurus crassus, and she named them Dinaelurus illumina sapiens. The "Illumina" was named after the light of intelligence, and "sapiens" after their human-like minds.
On the left is the original Dinaelurus crassus and the right the Dinaelurus illumina sapiens.
She then adjusted both her previous sketch and added a detail to her Dinaelurus illumina sapien sculture to get a final idea of what The Named really looked like.
The raised forehead, rounded ears and large eyes give Ratha a cheetah-like appearance, but the muzzle is deeper and narrower than that of a cheetah. She also has the strong tooth roots that influence the facial structure of the nimravid sabertooths, although her teeth don't protrude as dramatically.
The sinus area is enlarged like that of a cheetah, for enhanced deep breathing during a chase. That causes the arch in her nose.
Clare Bell ended up deciding on a cheetah-like animal for The Named for several reasons. She original saw them as a more puma/leopard-like animal and she described them with that in mind, and also gave them the characteristics of a modern lion pride. But as she worked on more of the books, her characters took on more cheetah-like characteristics, and this made Clare rethink her original depiction of the puma/leopard-like Nimravus.
This was also evident in the later artwork for the books as they were reprinted over the years. The later artwork gave them a much more cheetah like appearance, and this also inspired Clare that this was a good depiction of her creation.
After learning about the Dinaelurus and their cheetah-like appearance, she decided it was how she wanted The Named to be depicted.
Although the first books described them as the leopard/puma like Nimravus, Clare did not edit the books on later publications as this is how the fans new and loved the books.
However she was still a little unhappy about the inconsistency. The original jacket flap copy for Ratha's Creature said that the story was set 20-25 million years ago in the early Miocene as she originally intended them to be. Cheetah-like creatures did not exist at that time and didn't appear until much later. But there was no resolution so she just left things how they were and let the fans enjoy the books as they were originally intended.
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