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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.
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.
89 of 94 people found this review helpful
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.
95 of 101 people found this review helpful
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.
49 of 53 people found this review helpful
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.
73 of 80 people found this review helpful
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.
38 of 42 people found this review helpful
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.
45 of 50 people found this review helpful
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!
59 of 67 people found this review helpful
Like everyone else, I first read this in the 70's. It was required reading in my English Class in college. My memories of it, were that it was an excellent book, six stars. I felt like I was one of the rabbits and I loved the book.
With this audible version, and with it over 30 years later, I have to wonder about my water colored memories, could it be it was all so simple then or did time rewrite every line. Then I was young, I was not as well read, matter of fact I did not like to read in High School.
I enjoyed the book the second time around, but no where near as much as I did 30 years ago. This is a good audio version, so I don't know if it is better to read the book or listen. Most likely I am more critical when I read now. This is a very intelligent book and is not a children's book, anymore then Bullwinkle and Rocky was a children's cartoon. I think a child would greatly enjoy the book, but not totally understand all that is going on and an adult will enjoy the book, understanding the more adult themes of the book. You have to shut out the more critical part of your mind and just enjoy.
Hazel is a great leader and a make love, not war type rabbit. I had problems with Big Wig and war like rabbits who fight cats. That was a little hard to swallow the second time around. Doe's are good for one thing and one thing only and sometimes they are not even good at that. A modern women could have problems with that message.
I recommend the book, but suggest you don't over analysis.
34 of 39 people found this review helpful
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.
31 of 38 people found this review helpful
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.
20 of 25 people found this review helpful
I love this book . Its so good .I am just an 8 year old and I love it . 10/10bGreat for you as well
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
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.....!!
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Heroic, brave characters and compelling story, interspersed with stories of of the Rabbit Spirit everyone should know. Perfect for long car rides :p
Shame about the narrator though. The narrator is pretty monotone, doesn't differentiate between voices too much, and barely has any change in pace during exciting vs calm times.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Few books have described the English countryside with a more loving eye for detail. This helps realise the world in which our rabbit heros and villians live out their adventures. It's hard to know whether it was I or my 8 year old daughter who loved it more. It was I however who shed more tears.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Thiroughly enjoyable book for all ages. Certaintly has not lost it's relevance or appeal over time.
Have read this book and used to listen to it as children (although a bit scary at times). Highly recommend it. Not merely a story about rabbit's!
I have watched the film and now i have read the book i really enjoyed it
Having read Watership Down decades ago, I had forgotten the pleasure of Richard Adam's prose. And to hear it read, for the first time, by Ralph Cosham, was a pleasure increased. I have a vague memory of the book being frowned upon for anthropomorphism, but that does not detract from the beauty of the writing, nor indeed from the fascination of the story itself. How lucky were his daughters to have had a father who could create such stories primarily for the entertainment .
Having read the book several times as a child, I was pleased to hear that it had been transferred into audiobook in fine fashion.
An engaging tale for any age. Adams' truly epic tale of escape, adventure and ultimately survival, will keep your ears pricked up well past the witching hour, and into the wee hours if you let it.
A definite lifelong favourite.
Would you listen to Watership Down again? Why?
Absolutely the narrators were great and it such a classic
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Who doesn't cry at Watership Down i was also scared...