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Watership Down

by Richard Adams
474 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Aslan's Lamb

Amazing read for older readers who can handle the violence.

Plot

A group of rabbits leave their home warren and set out on a journey to find a place that they can call home. Along the way, they encounter many dangers and meet both friends and enemies.

Morality

The rabbits have their own mythology. Their mythological heroes often use trickery and deceit. The main characters tell lies when caught in extreme circumstances, such as when they're trapped in an enemy warren. They try to avoid violence but they do fight back when attacked, sometimes killing their opponent. On the other hand, the main characters also display loyalty, courage and kindness. The strong help the weak. The brave encourage the timid. Hazel, the leader of the group, runs all kinds of risks and is willing to sacrifice himself for his friends.

Spiritual Content

The rabbits believe in one God. They use the word "Frith" for both "sun" and "God," implying that they believe the sun is God. They believe that he created everything and they occasionally pray to him. They believe that he made certain promises to rabbits at the beginning of the world and they believe in those promises.
One rabbit can sometimes see what's going to happen in the future. It is not explained where this power comes from.

Violence

Quite a bit of it. Rabbit gets shot by man. Rabbit's ears are mutilated by enemy. Rabbit is caught in a trap. Rabbit is eaten by a fox (although it isn't graphic). The worst violence occurs when rabbits fight each other. Both good and bad rabbits bite, kick, scratch and sometimes kill each other in battle.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Poisoned air makes some rabbits act crazy.

Sexual Content

There is mention of "mating" between rabbits. Enemy bucks (male rabbits) claim does(female rabbits) for themselves and it is mentioned that they bring them into their rabbit holes at night.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The rabbits use the word "stinking" the way a human might use a curse and swear by Frith and Frith's name. One character uses "D-n." On rabbit tells another, in their language, to go eat rabbit-dung.

Conclusion

This is an engrossing and beautifully written book with believable, likable characters. But it's definitely not a book for younger readers. Some parts are very dark and violent, and some will only be understood by adults.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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