Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

 AVON, 1975/1972

From Goodreads:

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for over thirty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of rabbits on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, 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.

It’s been years since I last read and/or watched Watership Down. I remember loving the story then and time truly hasn’t changed that. The story starts in a warren were a small and weakly rabbit called Fiver has a vision that the warren will face terrible consequences if it doesn’t leave the field. Most of the rabbits don’t believe him but he and his brother Hazel collect a small group that escapes from the warren and starts looking for a new life. All of the rabbits are unfamiliar with the life as wanderers and they encounter many situations were they would normally feel completely helpless, but the need to survive drives them forward.

The book features several characters, rabbits and other animals, with different personalities and skills. At the beginning it is somewhat hard to remember who is who, but as the story progresses, they become your close friends. I definitely felt for the rabbits and their quest; I felt happiness for their success and I held my breath during the escapes and fights, fearing the worst.

The book includes a lot of words or phrases that are in “rabbit-language” – hlessil, Frith, elil, etc. Some of these are explained in the book and some are left for the reader to deduce. For some readers it might be off-putting but I think that it actually helped me to connect with the characters better and helped to create this fantasy world of rabbits.

I highly recommend people to read this book because it is absolutely phenomenal. It has the elements of a great epic, only set in the world of rabbits. There are fighting, romance, courage, friendship, and elements of supernatural. The ending is a happy one but I cried because it was the end. After finishing the book I held on to it, not wanting to let it go, and just sat on my armchair for hours. It is emotional but it is also worth it.

To end this review I will quote a comment (by Terry (Dulac3)) on Goodreads that I absolutely agree with:

I think there are generally two classes of people when it comes to this book: those who see beyond the surface and love it, and those who just don’t get it and wonder how anyone can praise a silly book about talking rabbits.


“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”


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