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Watership Down, Opinions?

the_faery_queen

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Dec 17, 2005
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it took me a long time to be able to read it, it's not the easiest of things, and i've never read it since, but i did enjoy it at the time. bunnies are great :)
 

ray gower

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Sort of Exodus for rabbits.
Not as moving as say Black Beauty or perhaps Bambi (forget Disney version), but better to read than Tarka or Adams' own Shardik.

Think some find it a little slow to start, but well worth the effort for the comfortable feeling at the end
 

j d worthington

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It certainly made quite a splash when it first came out -- and not as YA, either. It was a best-selling novel for quite some time. I'd say it's one of Adams' best books, definitely; and the legendry and mythology he creates for his rabbits (who are rather complex symbols themselves) is quite fascinating.

As others have said, you may find it a bit slow to get started (then again, you may not) but it is well worth the read; if you enjoy fantasy, this one is often considered a classic of the form, and justly so....
 

Lirael

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Favourites Book: Probably "The Sight". Film: Goo
I read this a while back now, and it took some time let me tell you, but I loved it. I'd say it's one of my favourite stories, but I'm not overly keen to read it again. The only book I have read twice is The Sight, I believe... But that's a little off topic. >_<

Anyway, the plot was original, I felt, and I believe that many stories have sprouted from the foundations lain down by this tail of survival in the wild, told from the perspectives of the animals we, as humans, look down on. It was very well written, and I believe I felt it better than the film. Maybe I'll have to re-read it.
 

The Ace

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Aye. Have a dream !
This was Adams' first novel, and many say his best. It's a pity, but none of his later work came even close to the sheer quality of it.
 

Thadlerian

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My all-time favourite book.

I read it at around 8, the first remotely adult-orientated novel I opened. The Watership Down setting/story conjures images/feelings (i feel books in my head, rather than seeing them) that are of a completely different essence than anything I've read later. I am still searching for a book that offers the same dreamlike, while at the same time epic, feeling, but unsuccessfully (LotR and perhaps parts of The Golden Compass came a little close, but that's that). I think I'm just too old to ever have a reading experience remotely like Watership Down again.

Only recently (with a nudge from Michael Moorcock's "Epic Pooh") I've actually thought the book over critically, to see if it's actually any good. Compared to my more recent reads, it's rather mediocre. The descriptions and the universe (what kind of creature is King Darzin? No explanation - excellent!) are great, but the characterization is dowright poor - one character rarely has more than one characteristic (if any. Who were Speedwell, Buckthorn and Acorn?). The sexism of the book is also pretty extreme - I can still see no reason for all but one (and she's more of a damsel in distress type when she enters) of the characters to be male, nor for the cold, instrumental way the males related to the females (I mean, these guys die to save each others, and the females are never more than reproduction machines).

And the follow-up, Tales from Watership Down was dire. It was hard to believe they were written by the same person. I tried The Plague Dogs as well, but couldn't get into it.

But there's no helping it; Watership Down is, and will probably remain, my favourite book.
 
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virginiaprograsser

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I read Watership Down many, many years ago and then tried to re-read it a few years ago. I quit about 3/4 of the way through. Even though it is a classic of the fantasy animal-quest genre, I do not think that it has aged that well. Too much description and too little character development IMO.

I very much agree with the post that states that Adam's follow-up novels were terrible. After reading WD initially, I launched immediately into 'The Plague Dogs' with great expectations; I think that I made it through 5 or 6 chapters before laying it aside forever. I cannot think of another instance of where a writer crashed and burned so fast.

Steve S-N
"the virginiaprogreasser"
Tidewater, Virginia, USA
 

Ramoth's Rider

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Dec 9, 2007
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Yeah got to say it is a great book. reading through some of the above posts it seems a lot of us read it when we were younger possibly at school and enjoyed it! I know i did so much so that i went and bought it to keep as my very own a couple of years ago.
 

Steve S

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Oct 6, 2006
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Watership Down is one of my favourite books and a major inspiration for my own writing. Although I can appreciate that it is not to all tastes, I would strongly recommend it. It seems to have, unfairly I feel, a reputation for being a slightly twee and sentimental book which does put some readers off. Perhaps that is a legacy of 'bright eyes' although I confess to having enjoying the film version!

In my humble opinion I think that the descriptions of the English countryside within 'Watership Down' are amongst the most beautiful I've ever read and give an evocative sense of the changing landscape and the passing of the seasons, as well as a sharp reminder of the damage being wrought by our ceaseless drive to build and modernise. From my window I can see the slow but inexorable march of a new housing estate over what was once a series of hills and fields - Watership Down may be fantasy but it is grounded in a painful reality.

It is an unusual book but what you get with Watership Down is a book untainted by market forces or trends; for better or worse it is simply an author's unique vision, a story he wanted to tell and I think he tells it in a powerful and moving way.
 

AE35Unit

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I've yet to read it or any of Richard Adams books but I love the film,one of the few serious animations I enjoyed. But I'm sure there's a bit in the film where a seagull swears repeatedly,tellin one of the bunnys to p©©© off!
 

GOLLUM

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I read the book and I'm sure saw a movie of it too. I remember really loving it at the time. Don't have a copy anymore, perhaps it should be added to the library. Must be more than 25 years since I read it.
 

Feordel

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Aug 10, 2007
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I have it and di start reading it but I really couldnt get into it, maybe I should try again. I have seen the animated film and love the story, but I couldnt get into the book!

And yes the seagull swearing is one of my favourite parts :p
 

The Ace

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Aye. Have a dream !
I've yet to read it or any of Richard Adams books but I love the film,one of the few serious animations I enjoyed. But I'm sure there's a bit in the film where a seagull swears repeatedly,tellin one of the bunnys to p©©© off!
Kehar, he's injured when they first meet him and very suspicious, he does indeed tell Hazel and Fiver to p*** off. :) Their gaining of his trust, and how he helps them in return, is one of the high points of the book
 

The Procrastinator

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Why do people apostrophise plural's? Is it capital
Watership Down is one of my all time faves and is on my list of circulating rereaders. I lost it once, must've lent it to someone (bad move when you have a terrible memory) but luckily its easy to get second hand so I had no trouble replacing it.

I really enjoy the fabulous job Adams did in creating rabbit characters that were at once understandable from a human perspective, even like humans in some ways, and yet at the same time completely like rabbits. Its so rare to see this meld of perspectives done well.

I have to agree with previous comments that its a book like no other in many ways. Having said that I can certainly recommend another novel to people looking for a similar experience - Duncton Wood, by William Horwood. You know how you can try to tell someone what Watership Down is about, and get stuck saying, "Well, its about rabbits", knowing that conveys nothing of the magic of it - well - Duncton Wood is about moles in the same way that Watership is about rabbits. Well worth checking out. There are quite a few sequels to Duncton but the first book is by far the best, and if you enjoyed the feel of Watership, you really should try Duncton.

About Richard Adams' other books - the only one I really enjoyed was Shardik. A very different book from Watership, and I was initially a bit underwhelmed by it, but after a while I read it again and was so glad I did. Its one of those that really rewards rereading, I find, and its had a permanent place on my bookshelf, nestled amongst the other rereaders, for many years now.
 

ray gower

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If looking at alternatives, no recommendation list can be without the originals- Black Beauty, An Otter's Story by Emil Liers. (Very difficult to get UK side of the pond), Monarch of the Glen and Wind in the Willows.

Wind in the Willows has spawned a number of Horwood written sequels, of them I've only read Willows in Winter, which is good, considering.
 
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