One of the most beloved novels of our time, Richard Adams's Watership Down takes us to a world we have never truly seen: to the remarkable life that teems in the fields, forests and riverbanks far beyond our cities and towns. It is a powerful saga of courage, leadership and survival; an epic... read more
In the Sandleford warren, Fiver, a young runt rabbit who is a seer, receives a frightening vision of his warren's imminent destruction. When he and his brother Hazel fail to convince their chief rabbit of the need to evacuate, they set out on their own with a small band of rabbits to search... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
In the Sandleford warren, Fiver, a young runt rabbit who is a seer, receives a frightening vision of his warren's imminent destruction. When he and his brother Hazel fail to convince their chief rabbit of the need to evacuate, they set out on their own with a small band of rabbits to search for a new home, barely eluding the Owsla, the warren's military caste.
The traveling group of rabbits find themselves following the leadership of Hazel, previously an unimportant member of the warren. They travel through dangerous territory, with Bigwig and Silver, both former Owsla, as the only significantly strong rabbits among them.
The company cope with many dangers, but none so insidious as their encounter with Cowslip's Warren. Here, the company encounter an apparently prosperous rabbit colony with pampered and fastidious citizens who enjoy plenty of food and protection from predators by humans. However, Fiver is profoundly suspicious especially when he observes the local culture disdains the traditional tales of El-ahrairah in favour of maudlin fatalistic poetry. When Fiver attempts to leave, a derisive Bigwig learns firsthand the deadly secret of the warren; the whole area is a human designed rabbit farm with numerous snares placed to harvest them. After helping Bigwig escape, Fiver convinces his fellows to leave this decadent colony immediately and afterward his counsel is followed without question.
Fiver's visions promise a safe place in which to settle, and the group eventually finds Watership Down, an ideal location to set up their new warren. They are soon reunited with Holly and Bluebell, also from the Sandleford Warren, who reveal that Fiver's vision was true and the entire warren was destroyed by humans.
Although Watership Down is a peaceful habitat, Hazel realises there are no does, thus making the future of their new home uncertain. With the help of a seagull named Kehaar, they locate a nearby warren, Efrafa, which is overcrowded and has many does. Hazel sends a small emissary to Efrafa to present their request for does. While waiting for the group to return, Hazel and Pipkin successfully raid the nearby Nuthanger Farm to rescue a group of hutch rabbits there, returning with two does. When the emissary returns, Hazel and his rabbits learn Efrafa is a tyrannical police state led by the despotic General Woundwort; Hazel's rabbits barely return alive. However, the group does manage to identify an Efrafan doe named Hyzenthlay who wants to leave the warren and can recruit other does to join. Hazel and Bigwig devise a plan to rescue the group of rabbits from Efrafa to join them on Watership Down. The Efrafan escapees start their new life on Watership Down, but soon Woundwort's army arrives to attack the Watership Down warren. Through the bravery and loyalty of Bigwig and the ingenuity of Hazel, the Watership Down rabbits defeat Woundwort.
The story's epilogue tells the reader of how Hazel, dozing in his burrow one "chilly, blustery morning in March" many springs later, is visited by El-ahrairah, who invites Hazel to join his Owsla. Leaving his friends and no-longer-needed body behind, Hazel departs Watership Down with El-ahrairah, slipping away, "running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom."
“They want to be natural, the anti-social little beasts... everyone's good depends on everyone's cooperation.”Chervil
“If a rabbit gave advice and the advice wasn't accepted, he immediately forgot it, and so did everyone else.”Hyzenthlay
“Rabbits need dignity and, above all, the will to accept their fate.”Silverweed
“Did you see his body? No. Did anyone? No. Nothing could kill him. He made rabbits bigger than they've ever been—braver, more skillful, more cunning. I know we paid for it. Some gave their lives. It was worth it, to feel we were Efrafans. For the first time ever, rabbits didn't go scurrying away. The elil feared us. And that was on account of Woundwort—him and no one but him. We weren't good enough for the General.”Groundsel
“Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.”Narrator
“'Are you angry, El-ahrairah?' asked Lord Frith. 'No, my lord,' replied El-ahrairah, 'I am not angry. But I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.' "'Wisdom is found on the desolate hillside, El-ahrairah, where none comes to feed, and the stony bank where the rabbit scratches a hole in vain.'”El-ahrairah & Lord Frith
“I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-leaves, / In the deep places of the earth, the earth and the rabbit. Frith lies in the evening sky... O take me with you, dropping behind the woods, / Far away, to the heart of light... The shining circle of the sun, the sun and the rabbit.”Silverweed
“"Siflay hraka, u embleer Rah." (Roughly: Eat shit, you pathetic king.)”Bigwig
Who wants to hear about brave deeds when he’s ashamed of his own, and who likes an open, honest tale from someone he’s deceiving?Highlighted by 73 Kindle customers
To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear! To feel the cloud that hung over us lift and disperse—the cloud that dulled the heart and made happiness no more than a memory! This at least is one joy that must have been known by almost every living creature.Highlighted by 70 Kindle customers
Quant au courage moral, il avait trouvé fort rare, disait-il, celui de deux heures après minuit; c’est-à-dire le courage de l’improviste.Highlighted by 59 Kindle customers
“It comes from men,” said Holly. “All other elil do what they have to do and Frith moves them as he moves us. They live on the earth and they need food. Men will never rest till they’ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.Highlighted by 56 Kindle customers
‘El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.’Highlighted by 54 Kindle customers
Love the animals. God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Don’t trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Dostoevsky, The Brothers KaramazovHighlighted by 48 Kindle customers
‘That wasn’t why they destroyed the warren. It was just because we were in their way. They killed us to suit themselves.’Highlighted by 48 Kindle customers
Odysseus brings not one man to shore with him. Yet he sleeps sound beside Calypso and when he wakes thinks only of Penelope.Highlighted by 37 Kindle customers
A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.’ “‘Wisdom is found on the desolate hillside, El-ahrairah, where none comes to feed, and the stony bank where the rabbit scratches a hole in vain.Highlighted by 35 Kindle customers
Human beings say, “It never rains but it pours.” This is not very apt, for it frequently does rain without pouring. The rabbits’ proverb is better expressed. They say, “One cloud feels lonely”:Highlighted by 34 Kindle customers
Part I The Journey
1. The Notice Board
2. The Chef Rabbit
3. Hazel's Decision
4. The Departure
5. In The Woods
6. The Story of the Blessing of El-ahrairah
7. The Lendri and the River
8. The Crossing
9. The Crow and the Beanfield
10. The Road and the Common
11. Hard Going
12. The Stranger in the Field
14. "Like Trees in November"
15. The Story of the King's Lettuce
17. The Shining Wire
Part II On Watership Down
18. Watership Down
19. Fear in the Dark
20. A Honeycomb and a Mouse
21. "For El-ahrairah to Cry"
22. The Story of the Trial of El-ahrairah
24. Nuthanger Farm
25. The Raid
26. Fiver Beyond
27. "You Can't Imagine It Unless You've Been There"
28. At the Foot of the Hill
29. Return and Departure
Part III Efrafa
30. A New Journey
31. The Story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inle
32. Across the Iron Road
33. The Great River
34. General Woundwort
36. Approaching Thunder
37. The Thunder Builds Up
38. The Thunder Breaks
Part IV Hazel-Rah
39. The Bridges
40. The Way Back
41. The Story of Rowsby Woof and the Fair Wogdog
42. News at Sunset
43. The Great Patrol
44. A Message from El-ahrairah
45. Nuthanger Farm Again
46. Bigwig Stands His Ground
47. The Sky Suspended
48. Deus ex Machina
49. Hazel Comes Home
50. And Last
Followed by Tales from Watership Down.
While subject material is appropriate for ages 9-12, the reading level varies, with some passages (references to classic literature, unfamiliar references to the rabbit's natural environment and living habits) being quite adult. The opening quote from the book: "Why do you cry out thus, unless at some vision of horror? The house reeks of death" (Aeschylus) The book can and should be appreciated as an adventure story by mature 9-12 year olds, especially those with an interest in nature, and may be suitable for reading aloud to younger children (with adult explanation). However, the language, themes and elaborate subtext of the novel is geared to mature readers and adults 12-up, and the book is considered to be an adult novel.
We’re hiding the errata and books that influenced this book sections. If you would like to add content to them, you must first make them visible.