A story about rabbits has no business being this wonderful…but here were are. You won’t find Watership Down in the fantasy and science fiction sections of bookstores, but I don’t know that there is a more perfect example of world-building and character development than what we get in this book. The relationships and emotions all feel human enough and yet are explored through the lens of how rabbits live. It’s an incredible achievement.
This is a story of rabbits fleeing their home before it is destroyed and trying to find a new place to settle and rebuild. At its core, it’s about strong bonds getting a desperate group through the most trying of times. The characters are all distinct and memorable.
There are countless memorable scenes in this beautiful work. Mundane things like crossing a river and seeing cars drive down the street, are big events through the eyes of our characters. Though the entire story is enrapturing, it really takes off to another level when our male rabbits go on a mission to Efrafa to find and bring back does. There we meet General Woundwort, one of the truly great villains in literature.
From that point on we see countless acts of compassion, bravery, and loyalty. I’ll never forget Bigwig’s stand, protecting the Warren and revealing to Woundwort that he isn’t the chief rabbit. I read Watership Down with skepticism…it was a story about rabbits after all. Its brilliance transcended my skepticism. It is truly one of the greatest novels ever written.