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Watership Down

Watership Down - Richard Adams A group read with a bunch of Pantaloonless Buddies.

The plot of this book is fairly well-known. I will outline it anyway as yours truly was one of the dwellers under a rock who never read this novel before and had only a very vague general idea what the book was about. For starters let me just quote a blurb from it: “a stirring tale of adventure, courage, survival, and endless descriptions of every single field and meadow…” Sorry, the last part was entirely my own.

Let me start again. In case your knowledge of Ancient Greek myths is rusty I will gently remind that Cassandra
was a prophet cursed in such a way that nobody would believe her (always coming to be) prophesies. It seems to me that this could also happen among rabbits as there was a rabbit called Fiver who had some psychic abilities and who was believed even less than his human counterpart. Luckily he had a big brother called Hazel to take care of him.

One day Fiver had a vision of complete destruction of their warren and convinced Hazel to listen to him. The pair accompanied by some of other rabbits they managed to convince started off to find a safe place. And so the story begins.

As everybody and their brother know literally everything that is bigger than a rabbit feels it is its sacred duty to hunt some – unless we are talking about Australia. Fortunately the band of travelling rabbits has a very bright one called Blackberry and the leader (Hazel) who is not deaf to what both smart and psychic rabbits tell him, so there is some hope of survival for them.

When it comes to problems I had with the novel I had quite a few. I already mentioned endless descriptions. These kept first half of the book very slow. Rabbits wondered around, but for some reason it lacked some excitement. During my read I never told myself, “Wow, they came upon yet another field. I cannot wait to read its description”.

Every single human being in the book had speech impediment. Serious one. Never in my life have I heard anybody speaks this way, especially not in Great Britain where the tale is supposed to take place. To get a very good idea of what they all sound like (with the sole and thus notable exception of a doctor) try to make the following experiment. Take a mouthful of very hot potatoes. Wait until the inside of your mouth is thoroughly burnt and swallow or spit the potatoes – it really does not matter. Now try to speak and you will have exactly the kind of accent I talk about. As you can imagine it does not make it any easy to read.

Read the book and if you think rabbits can only be cute like this:
Cute bunny
you will change your mind and realize rabbits can be not so cute, like this:
Scary bunny
As I mentioned the biggest problem for me was a lack of some special excitement. I will not deny however that this is a good book even if not exactly what I expected – I wanted for it to have less mysticism and more realism. Some of the words of Rabbit-speak were great: try to pronounce “hrududu” to have fun.

The rating is solid 3.5 stars with no additional reason to round it up or down. I almost threw a coin to figure out the rounding, but I finally decided to go up just out of respect for the novel classic status. It is a good read, but there are better ones out there.