I just finished reading Watership Down. What a great story! I had always been familiar with the story and my daughter had read it. I was browsing through the library the other day and picked it up.
Watership Down began as stories Adams told to his children as they were on car trips. When the kids were older they suggested that their Dad write down the stories. He finally did and then worked them into a major story.
The characters in Watership Down are rabbits that have been given human personalities. However they are rabbits and Adams has been extremely diligent in researching and following rabbit behaviour. For example, he uses the keen senses of rabbits to navigate through some of the crises the group gets into. He also is very precise when it comes to plants in the habitat the rabbits are set in and how the rabbits use the plants. So there is much attention paid in the story to the setting and setting is used to move the story along as the rabbits travel to find a new place suitable to set up a new warren. All kinds of dangers lurk in the natural setting. Setting also plays an important part when they set out to obtain more females from another warren.
The story begins when one rabbit in an established warren senses that there is some danger looming in the near future for the warren. He persuades some of the rabbits to leave and set up a new warren in a safe place. They successfully set up a new warren when it dawns on them that they have no females in the group and that without females their new warren will not succeed. They discover that a nearby warren which is tightly controlled by a head rabbit has extra females and they decide to get females from the neighboring warren. A first direct attempt to request females is refused. They then make a plan to go back to the warren and engineer an escape for females. This is a dangerous plan and there is much conflict during the event. After much hardship they get the females back to their warren.
The warren they raided finds them and attempts to get their does back. After a terrible struggle the bad guys are defeated and Watership Down is established as free and happy warren.
I read some fantasy and so I found this story very believable and easy to buy into the themes developed. So pick up Watership Down and enjoy a good story.