(long post, sorry)
I finished Tallstar's Revenge about a week ago; I'm really glad to be seeing discussion about the book.
I enjoyed the book a lot as a whole -- getting to read about WindClan's territory in the old forest and seeing how the cats that actually lived there viewed it was really interesting. That was one of my favorite parts of the novel, actually -- being able to read about all the scenery that the WindClan cats were surrounded by, as well as how their Clan functioned together and how much they valued their cleverness and swiftness as whole. I also liked reading about how much Tallpaw loved his territory when he was first discovering it, how he learned to run like a true WindClan cat -- things like that made me really appreciate our hero a lot more. The small details were fantastic to me, and reading about WindClan made me appreciate it a lot more than I did before.
however, my greatest issue with the book, similarly to yours, was basically how Talltail didn't let go of the fact that his father died in the tunnels while Sparrow escaped -- it was understandable to a point, but when he decided to leave the Clan mainly to hurt Sparrow, it seemed as if the issue he had was being really blown out of proportion. I did enjoy Talltail's interactions with Jake and how well they seemed to bond with one another -- and how the authors were able to tie that back to how Tallstar cared about Firestar, knowing full well that he was Jake's son. I also kind of liked how they included Talltail's feeling of being closed in by his own territory, as expansive as it was, to his quest instead of making it about his desire for revenge alone.
another issue that I had was how so much of the book was building up to Talltail's seeking Sparrow and murdering him, and I felt like the climax kind of fell flat after Sparrow was able to survive without any harm done; given how much Talltail was looking forward to hurting him, it seemed a bit odd for him to suddenly drop those feelings, even if there was some buildup to it beforehand. Also, I know if wouldn't have fit the story, but I might have preferred for Talltail to end up trying to save Sparrow after attempting to murder him and losing him, then having to come to terms with that instead. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I felt as if that would have been more interesting.
on the characters;
I was really irritated with Shrewclaw throughout the book, mainly because of the way he treated Tallstar from kithood forwards. I know that he was mostly just teasing, but his repetitive insults and not having a lot of endearing qualities made him kind of an unlikeable character to me. I did appreciate how his character was shown in a different light following Sandgorse's death, which definitely added to the depth that he had as a cat, but overall I wasn't much of a fan of him.
Speaking of Sandgorse, his relationship with Talltail was pretty interesting to read about as well. Even if his reaction to the fact that his beloved son wasn't going to follow in his pawsteps as a tunneler was fairly predictable, I enjoyed how he treated his son beforehand and was interested in what happened after. I do like the fact that Talltail didn't harbor any anger against his father -- which made his reaction to his death more understandable -- and the distance between them after the fact felt realistic, if not a little forced. He was a pretty good father to his son to a point, unlike some other parents we've seen (i.e. Rainflower in Crookedstar's Promise) and I liked him as a character because of his strong work ethic and intelligence. Reading about how he directed and dug many of the tunnels was really neat to me, and I appreciated that.
Anyways, I mostly enjoyed the book as a whole, even if there were some issues with it. I hope that we get to see more threads (and books) like this in the future!