Channeling The Great Spirit
Thorn, a baboon, Sky, an elephant, and Fearless, a lion, have been friends since childhood. Due to the evil influence of another baboon, Stinger, who claims to be the Great Parent after the death of the Great Mother, the three have ended up in desperate circumstances and at odds with one another. Sky manages to keep Fearless from being killed, but he heads off to try to coerce a leaderless pride to come under his aegis, while Sky finds that she is the center of an atypical herd of many types of animals who all crave her protection. It doesn't hurt that she is carrying The Great Spirit and has some of the powers, although it is clear that she is not next in line to be the Great Mother. Thorn, along with Nut, is sent to another tribe to spy for Stinger, but they are not allowed to leave once the tribe accepts them. Told from alternating perspectives, we see how Stinger slowly falls out of favor due to his own vile character and how the three friends manage to keep their own charges safe until the final battle to determine who will rule the Bravelands and restore order and balance to them.
Thorn, Fearless and Sky are all complex characters with their own back stories and issues. Thorn is devastated to think he may have caused the death of his best friend, and doesn't really want to work for Stinger... but he doesn't want to die, either. Fearless buys Stinger's rhetoric for a while and starts to deal with his new found pride in ways that are not productive or kind, but he soon sees the error of his ways. As the bearer of The Great Spirit, and reeling from pointless deaths in the elephant community, Sky knows her mission without question, but also is unsure of her ability to carry it out.
This is a rather violent series, with animals being killed for food, dying in battle, and attacking each other for various reasons. This, along with the very strict hierarchies, complete with different names for each group of animals and each type of job or level, seems to be a large part of the appeal of these books. Bravelands is much easier to understand than Warriors because of the variety of animals, and will appeal to students who want a more exotic setting.