May 18

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down by Richard Adams
“El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”

Watership Down

Watership Down is a modern fantasy classic that follows a small group of rabbits that must leave their warren, strike out on their own, and establish a new place to call home.  What makes this a modern-day classic is how Richard Adams takes a simple idea of creating a children’s tale about how rabbits live together, communicate, and go through what would be a typical rabbit’s trials and daily routine and writes it in such a way that I was instantly swept up in their epic adventure.  I would say that this book is written for early teenagers, maybe a little younger than that, it just depends on their reading level.  The hard part might be convincing them to read a book about a bunch of rabbits.  Watership Down definitely fits the old adage that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

The book centers on a group of rabbits led by Hazel a smart rabbit who is not the biggest in the group but he leads by example willing listen to other and rabbits and place his own life on the line instead of risking others.  Hazel who looks after his little brother and the runt of the litter Fiver, they are out feeding one day when Fiver starts to get a bad feeling about their warren.  Fiver who will never be a large rabbit and thus forced to be on the outskirts of the warren society for the rest of his life does have a special rare gift of a sixth sense that most rabbits do not have.  Hazel, being smart enough to see Fiver’s gift goes to the warren’s chief rabbit and tries to get him to believe their home is in danger.  The chief rabbit ignores Hazel’s plea and Hazel is left with two choices, take the chance that Fiver is wrong or strike out and create a new home.  Hazel and Fiver spread the alarm and soon there is a small group that will go with them out into the wilderness to start a new warren.

Along the way Hazel and his band of rabbits will come across many challenges from predators to the environment, and they will soon realize that what they think might be a friend could be an enemy and what could be an enemy are actually friends.  Adams does a wonderful job creating the setting and working with a rabbit’s natural lifestyle but at the same time giving each of them unique human characteristics so that each rabbit becomes realistic and engaging.

Watership Down is a five shell book because it just gets better with age.  What I mean by that is that a younger person could read it and easily take it at face value and be entertained by a first rate adventure story.  An older person might pick it up and see it as a work that discusses ethics and political systems.  Now it can be wordy and Adams developed a very descriptive world for his rabbits to live in, but to not read this book just because it is about talking rabbits would be a real shame to anybody that likes to read.  If you have not read this book you should give it chance just keep an open mind and before you know it you will be on an epic adventure. 
5 shells

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  1. freda

    Kenny!, I don’t have time to read (at least I don’t think I do). This pricked my interest. I just might have to reserve this book at the library.

    1. Kenny and Karen

      It is a good one. A little bit longer then some of the other books that I have reviewed but it is worth a read.

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