Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren; he felt sure of it. They had to leave immediately. So begins a long and perilous journey of survival for a small band of rabbits. As the rabbits skirt danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band, its humorous characters, and its compelling culture, complete with its own folk history and mythos. Fiver's vision finally leads them to Watership Down, an upland meadow. But here they face their most difficult challenges of all.
A stirring epic of courage and survival against the odds, Watership Down has become a beloved classic for all ages. Both an exciting adventure story and an involving allegory about freedom, ethics, and human nature, it has delighted generations with its unique and charming world, winning many awards and being adapted to film, television, and theater.
©2000 Richard George Adams (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Quite marvelous...A powerful new vision of the great chain of being.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Spellbinding....Marvelous....A taut tale of suspense, hot pursuit, and derring-do.” (Chicago Tribune)
“A classic....A great book.” (Los Angeles Times)
I first read this book when it was published in 1972, and after reading it I remember being incredulous that a book about rabbits with names like Hazel and Bigwig could be so engaging and thought provoking. I had pretty much forgotten about it through the years when I happened upon it at Audible and I immediately used a credit. Am I ever glad that I did. After all this time it's still compelling because although it certainly is a story about rabbits, it's also about the ethos of honor, trust, friendship, courage and perseverance, which are important no matter what type of creature you happen to be. You can search google and find a copy of the "Watershipdown Lapine Glossary" to learn the words that the rabbits use to communicate with each other. For example, Silf = Eat & Flay = Outside, so to "Silfflay" means going outside the warren to eat. You can usually figure it out, but I found a glossary helpful as I began to read the story. They also use a common language known as "hedgerow" to communicate with other non-lapine creatures, which are an important aspect of the story.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
When my mother gave me Watership Down in junior high school in the early 1970s, I thought, "Is she kidding? A book about rabbits?" But I gave it a chance and immediately was completely caught, finished it, and never forgot the general story and a couple standout scenes and great characters. Listening to the audiobook version now after about 40 years was an extraordinary experience, as I re-discovered just how wonderful the book is, how rich in rabbit lore, how unsentimental, epic, scary, funny, original, universal, beautiful, and moving. I couldn't stop listening to the last 90 minutes, even though I was lying in bed exhausted by a long day of work. I had forgotten how well the stories about the legendary rabbit trickster founder hero, El-ahrairah, mesh with the main plot and themes. I had forgotten how effectively the interesting epigraphs foreshadow the action of each chapter. I had forgotten how the mystical elements fall like moon (Inle) shadow on the realistic body of the book. I had forgotten that I would follow Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Dandelion, Blackberry, and Bluebell anywhere!
Ralph Cosham does an excellent job reading the novel. I like his savory voice and restrained manner. He doesn't strain for pyrotechnic effects or manipulative emotions or cartoonish personalities, but instead does just enough, distinguishing well between different characters, like Bigwig (deep and rough), Fiver (high and sensitive), Hazel (his natural speaking voice), and Kehaar (a Norwegian seagull), and between different moods and scenes, like quiet grazing, desperate violence, and numinous natural beauty. In short, Cosham lets the text do its thing even as he perfectly enhances its effects. His reading of Dandelion's performance of the hilarious El-ahrairah story "Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog" and of the transcendent final chapter alone are worth the price of admission. No pyrotechnics, just perfect, clear, sympathetic, and appealing reading.
Somehow I never read the print version of this book, so I was coming to this audio book fresh. I loved this story! The characters were so believable and likeable. Then I realized that the rabbit fairy tales, far from being a distraction, were foreshadowing what would come next. Wonderful story telling!
The reader of this book was amazing. What a variety of voices and accents -- my absolute favorites were the gruff, no-nonsense English-accented voice of Bigwig the rabbit and the harsh Norwegian-accented voice of Kehaar the seagull.
I found myself wanting to share the story with my wife every night after listening during my commute. She began asking me about the story before I even brought it up. After listening to the fairy tale "Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog", I was laughing so hard that I had to share it, so I played it for her when I got home.
Here I am...a guy who read Stephen King and Crichton novels, and I find this book. I am reluctant, but give it a shot since I read these great reviews. Wow... what an excellent piece of art this book is! And the narration is SUPURB. This is now my favorite novel I have ever listened to. Awesome.
It can be difficult to explain how a book about rabbits can feel so touchingly human. Before I was even past the fifth chapter, I felt for Hazel, Fiver, Big Wig, and the rest of their company so completely that I had trouble not listening to the rest of the book.
Richard Adams paints a beautiful story using the wilds of the English Countryside as his canvas, and Ralph Cosham is a masterful narrator of this classic.
This is one I will certainly be listening to again in the future.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Just finished listening to this book with the kids. It seems to effortlessly float between the walls of genre fiction. At once Watership Down is a children's book, a heroic fantasy novel and a clever, classical exploration of heroic themes. Adams' seems very comfortable in exploring ideas of heroism, sacrifice and community (and others) using the language and strategies of the Greek and Latin masters (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid) . I'm not sure if it is more incredible that Adams dared to drop a heroic quest novel into a warren of rabbits or that he actually pulled it off.
Looking for complex, believable characters, an engaging storyline, and good narration! Fan of sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, and horror.
For all of my life I will be moved by this story of friendship and adventure. I have read the book so many times now... it was nice have it read to me. It gave me a different perspective. Lucky is the person who gets to experience this book for the first time!
Watership Down is one of my all time favorite books. I love the hard copy. The story is exciting and I learned so much about rabbits. The narrator did a wonderful job. Listening to this book is a great pleasure for me.
Avid listener on my daily commute!
Great golden Frith above us, this is an absolute masterpiece!! To say I love this book more each time I read or listen to it would be an understatement. Allegorically speaking, this is the filet mignon (or the finest vegetarian sushi dinner, if you're not a fan of red meat) of audiobooks. Please experience it if you haven't fallen in love with it already. Ralph Cosham's impeccable narration brings the story alive even more than it did when my son and I used to read it aloud to one another, hour after hour, on long summer evenings almost annually many years ago. I guarantee that your first listen won't be your last. This is one you will return to (and listen to with your loved ones on long car trips, or when gathered around the fire in winter) year after year.
The Introduction by the author was an unexpected treat I only discovered on this listen. It is fascinating; it is the only book introduction you could ever reasonably call "spellbinding." However, I have the very tiniest bone to pick with the author over one small matter. At the end of the introduction the author says, "I want to emphasize that Watership Down was never intended to be some sort of allegory or parable; it is simply a story about rabbits, made up in the car." At the moment I heard those words, I was already mentally composing my review, which I had decided to title "PLEASE STOP CALLING THIS A STORY ABOUT RABBITS!!" So much for what I know! In all seriousness, however, this is so much more than a story about rabbits; it's about very human personalities, relationships, class struggles, the 1% vs the 99%, war, heroism, resilience, redemption, superstition, tradition, adventure, and courage (especially the courage to cast off all social constructs and start over when needed). It remains one of the top ten audiobooks ever recorded. Thank you, Ralph Cosham; thank you, Audible! This is a treasure beyond measure.
This is a wonderful book. It is challenging and thought provoking. Richard Adams has written a classic book that makes you consider our relationship to nature, the way we act in community, trust, loyalty and friendship. The narrator, Ralph Cosham, is perfect.
I love this book . Its so good .I am just an 8 year old and I love it . 10/10bGreat for you as well
This is so beautifully read - our family (Incl all the children aged 8,10,14,16) were all captivated for the whole 51 hours! Imagine, 51 hours of peace.....!!
I had only vague memories of this story from when I was a child and doubt I would have chosen it to listen to now had the other reviews not been so good. I'm am so glad I allowed those reviews to convince me. Brilliant story, which was elegantly written and perfectly narrated. Recommend to anyone who like a good story - don't let that it's about rabbits turn you away.
Regretfully, I find myself with little time for reading these days. I've never listened to an audio book before and I wasn't sure if I could stop my overactive mind wandering enough to concentrate on a story, so I decided to try a book that I know well so I didn't lose the plot if my mind did wander. Watership Down has been a favourite book of mine since I was 9, and I chose it to try out listening to audio books at work. Well, I was hooked from the first line. Ralph Cosham narrates this story beautifully; his voice fits the story and writing story perfectly. I'm a fast reader (actually I rush to tell the truth) and having the story read out gave me a much deeper experience of reading the book as every word was heard and enjoyed. Thoroughly recommended.
"A True Classic"
I read Watership Down in the 1970s when it first came out in paperback and was delighted to see the unabridged edition appear on Audible. That being said I was somewhat nervous in case the book had failed to stand the test of time, after all I first read it at the age of 20 and I will be 60 in a few weeks time! What can I say? Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig et al and their adventures, have worn far better than I have! They are as fresh today as they were back then, Ralph Cosham's performance is faultless and I am sure that the book will appeal to a whole new audience, as well as remind old enthusiasts like myself, why the book was such an enormous success at the time.
"It exceeded my high expection"
I never read this story as a child, so there was no nostalgia, but I still absolutely loved it.
Story – 4.5/5
Although this story is quite brutal in places (death, violence and peril), it wasn’t as brutal as I was expecting. I have seen parts of the film years ago, and I remembered some things being worse than they actually are in the novel.
It is a fantastic tale of adventure, friendship and ethics. Although it is a fictional world of rabbits that communicate and think on the same level as humans, there are a lot of real elements of wild rabbit life included that makes the reader think.
I honestly think everyone should give this story a read, child and adult alike. There are happy, sad, scary and funny moments – it will take you through all of the emotions. Richard Adams has done an excellent job in writing a classic for all ages.
Performance – 4.5/5
Ralph Coshom is an excellent narrator, he helped to take the reader/listener through all of the emotions evoked in the story. I didn’t find myself drifting from the story once, which is a very rare occurrence
His voice acting is flawless, each animal had a distinctly recognisable voice. His tone portrayed the story’s mood perfectly, and I would definitely not think twice about picking up another story narrated by him.
I absolutely loved the introduction to the story, and how Richard Adams decided to start writing Watership Down, and how it got published etc. A very nice touch for a classic such as this
Overall – 4.5/5
"Brings the world of rabbits to life"
Only ever previously seen the film and loved it as a child, its one of those books I never got around to reading. This is really nicely narrated and has really opened up the magical world of rabbits for me, I never realised how much more there was in the book that was cut out of the film. I especially like the little tangent stories about El-ahrairah great fun and a great listen.
"As Beautiful As Ever"
A gorgeous story full of emotion and adventure, and narrated beautifully as any great British story should be; gentle intonation and inflection. Loved it. Gave me a chance to reminisce about my childhood.
Have the book at home, thought I would give this a go and was not disappointed. Excellent narration.
"my favourite children's book still captivates me"
my favourite children's book still captivates me as an adult, characters you really care about and a great story
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