Watership Down by Richard Adams

(No Series)

Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”

No, this wasn't a book I read and loved as a child. I knew little about it until the past few years when it popped up on classics lists and random discussions. I found out it was about rabbits (I love bunnies in general), and that this was some kind of allegory on life. Since I enjoyed Animal Farm so much, I sought to give this book a try.

Fiver is basically a psychic bun - he gets instincts and revelations on impending disasters and saving graces, so he convinces some of the other warren bunnies to follow his lead and leave the safe haven they've always known. Throughout the the book they risk tail and life to escape peril, run into other warrens that are more than they seem, politically outmaneuver viciousness, and keep seeking the dream worth seeking.

As a whole, it's a great book. The story is focused on life, different allegories for things that affect people as we experience them through bunny notions. Risks and betrayals, bravery and adventures. The group starts out small but starts to grow, yet the mains stay the same through: Fiver, who I figured at first to be the main but kind of blends into the background later; Hazel, a leading rabbit who has loyalty and the best for the other rabbits in mind; Bunwat, a brave rabbit who has a tuft on the top of his head like my housebunny, Kirby; other random rabbits who honestly kind of blend together and pop up when extra bodies are needed.

There's tension when some of the rabbits are at risk, and the better parts of the book are when they are exploring new warrens and figuring out what's wrong with the falsely happy worlds. It was a little dystopian, cult feel.

Unfortunately, while the writer waves a beautiful pen and crafts stunning words and phrasing, he spends too long lingering over the description of fields, feeding, and drifting. The book could have been better had it been shorter, with all the unneeded baggage left behind. Sure, rabbits place heavy importance on grazing, fields, warrens, digging, and all that...but it gets old after awhile to keep reading the same repetitious scenes.

It's a worthy classic to read, and the ending is especially peaceful and heartwarming. I didn't get into the stories that would take a chapter a piece about their worship and deity, but it came fully across in the final chapter to tie into something very relevant.

It has flaws over being slow and overly descriptive, and sadly the bunnies personalities blend together to where they don't really stand out from each other (other than a particularly ferocious foe who is like a super rabbit villain). While slower scenes aren't riveting, the emphasis on a rabbits sedate habits gives the story credibility. Not perfect but certainly worthy of its classic status.

   Book Quotes:

“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.” 

“We all have to meet our match sometime or other.” 

   Book Quotes:

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