Oct 13, 2009

Tales from Watership Down

by Richard Adams

I had no idea there was a companion novel to Watership Down until one day I saw this book in someone's storage closet. I was surprised and thrilled at first. I thought it was a sequel to Watership Down, but what I found rather disappointed me. Tales from Watership Down is mostly stories about El-ahrairah, the fabled rabbit hero that characters of the first novel talk about. About two-thirds of the book is short stories that make up the rabbits' mythology, the hero's deeds and exploits to foil his enemies and obtain advantages for his fellow rabbits. They are clever and amusing, but some are hard to make sense of and inconsistent with the style of the first book. There are also a handful of chapters that follow the original characters from Watership Down, extending the storyline a bit- but it doesn't even begin to approach the quality of the first book. It's a lot more lighthearted, not nearly as complex and detailed or plot-driven. If you've read and enjoyed Watership Down, you might like this one, but don't expect much.

Rating: 2/5                         352 pages, 1996

More opinions at:
Things Mean a Lot
Fifty Books Project
Steve's Book Journal
anyone else?

9 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, that is disappointing! I read Watership Down as a youth, and loved it...

Amanda said...

How's this for dumb - I didn't know Watership Down was an animal story until about 1.5 years ago. I thought it was some navy war-thriller. I've since added it to my TBR pile, because it feels like something I should read someday.

Jenny said...

What a shame this isn't closer to the brilliance of Watership Down. Though it must be very difficult to have written that as your first novel, and then to have to live up to it repeatedly thereafter.

Jeane said...

Sandy- I feel exactly the same.

Amanda- For the longest time as a teen I had heard of Watership Down but had absolutely no desire to read it, becuase I had a similar impression! I was dumbfounded when I discoverd it was an adventure story about rabbits.

Jenny- So many times I feel that an author's first novel is their very best. This one feels like a mere appendage to the original.

Janet said...

I saw this title when I was searching for WD in our library's online catalog. I'm glad to have your thoughts on it -- I'll save myself the trouble!

An Anonymous Child said...

I'd heard this before and though it's disappointing, I'm not sure it isn't what I expected. I understand the title to mean as extras from the world, not necessarily a sequel. And it may sound strange, but I like the idea of revisiting this world in a simpler, lighter way, especially after having thought "Watership Down" was brilliant. I may someday read this, but now I know not to keep my hopes too high.

Nymeth said...

I'm sorry to hear you were let down! I really loved it myself. My ramblings are here: http://www.thingsmeanalot.com/2008/04/tales-from-watership-down-by-richard.html

Trish said...

I haven't read Watership Down and honestly don't know very much about it. Not sure if I'll read it anytime soon but I'll be sure to skip this one!

Jeane said...

Janet- I don't think my library has it.

Anonymous Child- After I realized what the book was I was expecting short stories. But the quality and characterization just wasn't quite the same and it felt weak by comparison to Watership Down.

Nymeth- I just went back and read your post again. I had forgotten that Adams addressed the opposition of man to rabbits so often in the book- for that I might want to reread it and form a new opinion. I was thinking of it purely from a storytelling standpoint.

Trish- Watership Down itself is a great book- about a group of rabbits who run away from an area threatened by development to find a new home- and have all sorts of adventures. It's so well-written!