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.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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