| Spoiler warning!|
This article contains a lot of plot details about the story.
"Thistle-chaser. Stubborn, scrappy, mentally and physically crippled, sullen, prickly, can barely speak, not pretty, hot-tempered, yet she rivals Ratha in the affections of readers." - Clare Bell
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|Species:||Dinaelurus illumina sapiens
(3/4 Named cross)
|Pelt Color:||Rusty black mottled with orange|
|Past:||Un-Named, Unaffiliated (but close to Named)|
|Current:||Ambassador for the Hunters Tribe|
|Book Appearances:||Ratha's Creature, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge, Ratha's Courage|
Thistle-chaser has a unique rusty black, mottled with orange pelt and pointed face with a black mask running across it to emphasize her milky, sea green eyes. Her left forelimb was bitten when she was a cub and because of lack of physical use, had shrunken and clung to her tiny body. After meeting Thakur, he uses his knowledge of healing by combining her hobby of swimming by having her exercise the weaken muscles to strength them. Now her limb is almost as large as her other limbs. She still retains a slight limp.
She has been described as unattractive for the Named one's perception: with small body, scrawny tail and her mottled pelt with black patches as main unattractive features. However after the events in Ratha's Challenge she's said to have been grown more attractive.
She has an unique way of speech, showing some lack in knowledge of terms and vocabulary, but displaying an interesting personal way of talking (including self-created terms: as calling her mother "Ratha-mother" or "Thistle-mess" when she admits of having make a mistake).
Thistle-chaser makes her first appearance as the only female in a litter of three born to Ratha and Bonechewer, named so by her father for her tendencies of chasing thistles despite it sticking in her nose, and him having to pull the spines out afterwards. She is noted to be rambunctious and aggressive to anything that moves close to her. Ratha is estastic for her first litter and begins to make mental plans as to creating a new clan with her close-nit family and patiently awaiting for signs of "the gift" to appear in their eyes.
Unfortunately, Ratha's inexperience in motherhood and lack of patience drastically swings her perspective of her cubs and she begins to doubt their intelligence. It shows especially in her behavior with Thistle as she ignores her cries for help when a burr is caught in her nose again which understandably upset Bonechewer. When Ratha and Bonechewer gets into an altercation, Ratha discovers "the truth" that her off-spring had genetically inherit being witless through Bonechewer's heritage and had no hope of speech, as he described similiar results to his cubs he sired before Ratha. She flies into a blind rage and violently attacks Bonechewer and without realizing it, fatally biting Thistle in the process. Enraged himself now, Bonechewer banishes Ratha from the family they've worked hard to create and is the last time she sees her cubs for some time.
After the Named reign victorious agianst the Un-Named, a dying Bonechewer tells Ratha that Thistle-chaser had indeed survive the assualt, "half-mad as she is" and that she may been seen running with the Un-Named.
Thistle-chaser is the main protagonist of a good part of the story, her point of view follows her wandering from the Un-Named ones territories toward the coast. She's used to call herself "Newt" because of how her coat matches the orange and black of newt. Because of her shriveled foreleg from cubhood she gets around of three legs. She is tormented by nightmares and sudden moments of unconsciousness when she see the shadow of her mother attacking her (such nightmare's figure is called "Dreambeater" by her). "Newt" meets peaceful aquatic creatures, the seamares, and befriend a mother after saving her surviving calf. She begins a mutualistic relationship with seamares and learn to swim. A sudden meeting with Thakur change her life, because even if she's not used to develop it, the Named one realize how the strange young female is gifted with will even if she often hide such rare quality. Thakur spent times learning her trust and they exchange knowledges and friendship (Thakurn learn basic swimming skills and he teach her to speak). However the Named ones will move close her territory because due a draught the herds needed new water: Ratha will also order an attempt to capture and include the seamares among the bests herded by the Clan and this decision will cause a break with "Newt". Thakur realize how the crippled mottled female could be actually the lost daughter of Ratha, Thistle-chaser, but this isn't enough to prevent the conflict because Thistle identify Ratha as the Dreambiter and took decision to kill her. The dramatic last struggle will see Thistle exploiting her skills as swimmer to ambush Ratha and when the fight will move on a small island, it will be the presence of the little Mishanti to change the situation. Having almost wounded the little cub to kill her mother, Thistle-chaser realize how she was going to turn into a "Dream-biter" herself, and that she could find a way to separate her mother from her nightmare.
Thistle-chaser was at first seen living in her beach, raising Mishanti. However the discovery of a new group of sentient ones, will push Ratha to ask help from Thistle-chaser (while Fessran remain behind, taking the place of Thistle-chaser). The young loner is still trouble from the past events and the relationship with her mother and struggle to suppress her ancient fears of the "Dreambiter". As expected, Thistle-chaser proves of priceless help to establish the first contacts with the Hunter Tribe: Thistle-chaser can manage to expand her consciousness toward her inner-self, and touch the "song". However this almost risked to destroy the Tribe, because the hunters attempts to use a technique they learn from Thistle-chaser with the result of put in danger the life of their leader True-of-voice. Despite this failure, Thistle-chaser manage to establish a good relationship with Quiet Hunter and with many difficulties, she will defeat the ghost of the "Dreambiter" besides saving the life of True-of-voice himself. At the end of the novel, she fully reconciled with her mother, the Clan and begins to be an intermediary between the Clan and the Tribe.
Thistle-chaser is said to have been greatly improved her leg, thanks exercises she has made with the help of Quiet Hunter. The young Ratha's daughter play an important role in the short story: in the final confrontation to free her mother from her captors, she's the one to put in doubt the identity of the false Bonechewer, awakening hope into a broken Ratha. Later, she stress the importance that the Clan Leader needs to keep chasing her ideals: even if they may have a cost, it's a cost worth fighting for. At the end of the story, Ratha realize that the Bonechewer's Legacy is alive into their daughter.
Thistle-chaser role as intermediary between the Named ones and the hunters has been implemented with the growing mutual affection toward Quiet Voice. Thistle-chaser is now living among the Named ones, and she's expected to be in heat for the first time. The young female still find time to develop feeling for Quite Hunter (something uncommon among the Named), while travelling together, Thistle-chaser makes an innovation: using Dapplebacks to carry items as food supplies.
Later, when the Clan is attacked by the renegades, Thistle-chaser is extremely distressed by the forced mating attempts made by the hunter males. Quiet Hunter at first was captured by the "song" and fight against the Clan, but he manage to get rid of such influence and later join the Clan in the counter-offensive.
At the end of the book it's shown that Quiet Hunter display all his caring love for Thistle-chaser: despite she's in heat, the young male doesn't try or ask her for a mating, knowing she's still distressed after the past experience.
"A memory came to her, a picture of a copper-furred face with amber eyes. She remembered a warm tongue that washed her, a male scent and a deep purring voice. And then the face in her mind stared to move, the mouth opening and making sounds. The same sounds came repeatedly until the thought had risen in her mind that the sound were supposed to mean something. And she had been on the verge of understanding them just as the Dreambiter had attacked, driving the kind one away and burying her dawning awareness under an avalanche of pain."
-Narration on Thistle in Ratha and Thistle-chaser, page 8
"Clan language in all its forms had obviously been denied to her, yet he could see she hungered for some means of expression. She was not so much mute as was trapped, caught between a desperate desire to have language and something that frighten her away from it."
-Thakur describing Newt in Ratha and Thistle-chaser, page 96
Thistle wondered if anyone would ever watch her sharpening her claws and think that she was strong and beautiful. No. Even if her limp went away, she would still be small and awkward. And ugly, for pelt was rusty black, mottled with orange.
-Thistle comparing her beauty to her mother in Ratha's Challenge, page 23
"I have heard my mother talk about a 'gift' that you Named ones have. That it shows in eyes. These hunters have something like it, but instead of looking out, they look in. Instead of speaking, they listen. Instead of trying to make sense, they make dreams."
-Thistle explaining the way of the hunter tribe to the best of her ability to Thakur in Ratha's Challenge, page 66
"Who is she, this one who came from my blood, from my belly? My daughter, chaser of thistles, wayfarer on strange trails. Who is she? I know, and I do not."
-Ratha questioning who her daughter is in Ratha's Challenge, page 186
- Thistle-chaser is the only one of Ratha and Bonechewer's three cubs whom was given a 'name'. Her other two brothers were never described to having names.