“He fought because he actually felt safer fighting than running.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Watership Down is a book about rabbits. However, it is not a fluffy children’s’ story; it is a realistic tale of survival in a world fraught with danger.

The author displays incredible insight into the trials and tribulations as well as the simple pleasures of life experienced by rabbits in their daily lives and, through this in depth understanding, creates an unforgettable world resplendent with its own history, culture and languages which exists unnoticed within our own mundane one.
Against the backdrop of rural England, Adams grips the reader right from the start with Fiver’s prophecy of doom.

All that Fiver knows is a “bad danger” is coming. In his own words “The field! It’s covered with blood!” Thus begins one of the most extraordinary adventures I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Fiver, along with his brother Hazel, must convince the rabbits of Sandleford Warren to leave everything they know and hold dear to travel into the unknown in search of a new warren and a better life.

Along the way they will have to contend with elil (the rabbits’ word for their enemies), snares, shotguns, roads, rivers, and even hostile rabbits. Friends will be made in the unlikeliest of places, alliances tested and strength and perseverance drawn to breaking point before the rabbits can settle in their new warren at Watership Down. And even then, the adventure is only beginning.
Throughout this incredible tale, the reader hears many stories of El-ahrairah, the rabbits’ folk hero, as well as snippets of games they enjoy playing and tidbits of their language, Lapine. These unobtrusive interpolations into the story provide an appreciation and understanding of rabbit culture and afford the impression that since the rabbit culture has existed since the beginning of time, in this book the reader is only witnessing a small fraction of it.
It is these elements combined, the harrowing and yet realistic tale of adventure set within such a rich culture in an incredibly familiar yet totally different world which makes Watership Down the unforgettable, exciting, moving, funny and brilliant book which it is. I cannot recommend or praise this book highly enough and firmly feel that Watership Down should take pride of place on any literary lover’s or Reading Addict’s bookshelf.

Reviewed by:

Nathan House

Added 14th June 2015

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