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.
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.
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.
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.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. 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!
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
There are some books that are so wonderfully written and perfectly narrated that they are trophies to be cherished. This is one of those trophies. Too many books start well but seem to have no idea how to follow through to a satisfying conclusion. Many contemporary authors could learn from Adams how to create characters that a reader can believe in and commit to. Few human characters that I have read in recent books can compare in depth and dimension to the rabbits of Watership Down. The creation of a culture and language for the rabbits and other creatures rivals Tolkien’s masterpieces. Trying to choose a favorite is impossible – Hazel is of course the hero, but my heart also belongs to Big Wig, Fiver and Pipkin for their courage, to Blueberry, Blackberry and Dandelion for their lightness of spirit, and to Kehar the gull just for being himself. I loved the fables reminiscent of the Brer Rabbit tales that offered deeper insight into the culture, and the life lessons gently taught through the various adventures in creating the new warren. This may not be a cute bunny story for preschoolers, but school agers and older should be able to understand and handle the dangers of animal enemies and rivalries. Certainly television and movies show greater levels of violence than is found here.
Though I had thoroughly enjoyed the book in print, never did I have such rich voices in my head as those provided by Ralph Cosham’s superb reading. The toughness of Big Wig and General Woundwort, the brave innocence of Fiver and Pipkin, and the off-beat uniqueness of Kehar are perfectly voiced. Those who have not read it in a long time may be delighted to rediscover an old favorite. I give this wonderful classic my highest recommendation.
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.
I always feel weird admitting that one of my favourite books of all time is about rabbits. It is, but it is also about the relations between people, putting things broadly. The characters are all engaging and their adventures are edge-of-your-seat compelling. Richard Adams’ descriptions of the English countryside are also beautiful.
I recommend this book unreservedly. Watership Down is a classic and a book for all ages. I just finishing re-listening to it with my son, aged 10 and he absolutely loved it.
Final note. While there are some strong female characters, they have smaller roles and appear only briefly in the story. It’s kind of a “guy book”. An exceptional one, but still a guy-book.
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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
"Classic book which was lovely to revisit"
When my husband chosse this I was a bit peeved - after all I had read it many times over the years. However, I soon got caught up in the story and the characters. I liked the narrator's voice and characterisation.
Worth listening to even if you think you know it well. Very entertaining.
"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
"Reliving a wonderful tale"
It was a joy to relive this superb tale of life through a rabbits eyes.
Very well written. Lovely story and very emotional . I will definitely listen to this book again
"Classic story, really well read"
I read this many years ago and really looked forward to listening to the audiobook version. Ralph does a great job of bringing the characters to life. You can tell which character is speaking even before the narrative tells you.
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