“ Digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”
When I was a child, we had Watership Down on cassette tape, and every night I’d listen to Richard Adams’ story about a merry band of rabbits while I dosed off to sleep.
So it was with trepidation that I chose to reread Watership Down this month, concerned the epic adventure I remembered would be revealed as a product of my nostalgia and age.
Fortunately I was not disappointed. As the story began, ‘where the ground became open and sloped down to an old fence and a brambly ditch beyond, the upper part of the field was full of rabbit holes’, I felt Richard Adam’s words envelope me like a blanket. I was 14 again.
Watership Down still stands as a masterclass in adventure and suspense, an achievement made more profound by the fact that the main characters are rabbits, and the story takes placed in a unremarkable slice of British countryside no bigger than 5 square miles. Adams shows that it’s not high stakes or impressive scale that make a thrilling adventure, it’s combining unpredictable encounters with a group of flawed characters you grow to love.
A timeless and magnificent tale.