Watership Down by Richard Adams

Why I Read It: This was a monthly Darkcargo book selection.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: Those who like little bunny stories.

Narrator: Ralph Cosham

Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2010)

Length: ~16 hours

Lots of fuzzy bunnies. They’ve got ambitions, bad dreams, prerogatives. Watership Down starts off with one rabbit that has been blessed with the gift of foresight having a bad feeling and that is why he and those who will follow must leave the warren. A handful of connies set out, not really knowing where they are going nor really why, except Fiver has a vague, deep feeling of dread towards the warren.

Soon Fiver is proved right and we learn of the doom of the home warren.  The rabbits have made it to a new warren, very laid-back, breakfast served every day by humans.  Fiver and Hazel and crew consider staying for a while. However, soon Fiver is expressing his concerns and fears and the hares must move on after a nasty encounter with a wire trap.

They find a nice cozy place and dig a new warren, something male rabbits typically don’t do even though they are capable. They have no ladies with them and soon this becomes something they must acquire. They befriended a gull when they tended to it so his wing could heal up. The gull then scouts out the nearby area for other connies and tells of a nearby warren. A delegation is sent to this warren which is very organized and militant in nature lead by a general of a bunny named Woundwort. He is hard core.  And he is not interested in letting any of the does leave. Indeed, he isn’t interested in letting the delegation leave.

And I will leave the story there, so that you can find out for yourself how it ends.

Most of you have probably read this book or seen the cartoon movie. I saw the cartoon when I was a kid and it really turned me off on this book – violent, bloody hares. But I am glad to say that the book is much more civilized – most violence is referred to and not described in detail.

There was a little beforeward from Richard Adams where he explained that he started off by telling this story in shorter bits to his daughters during car trips. His daughters eventually demanded he put the tale to paper, which he did. However, he couldn’t find an English publisher for it and so the manuscript came to the US, where is was first published. Shortly there after, it made it’s way over to England and was a big hit.

I enjoyed how the rabbits had their own mythology and stories. There are several segues into these tales and they were instructive and imaginative. While there were few female characters, probably because they came into the story late, they are considered integral in sustaining the new warren.

Ralph Cosham is the voice actor for this audiobook and he did a great job. I really enjoyed listening to his voice – an even cadence and smooth pronunciation of rabbit names and words.

What I Liked: The bunny myths; Woundwart is a badass; the gull and the whole idea of interspecies cooperation.

What I Disliked: Fiver’s foretelling ability is used to kick the story off and again whenever things are boring; no true, filled out female characters.

Note: This review was originally published on Darkcargo.com on 02/02/2012 and republished, and reformatted, here with permission of Lady Darkcargo.

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