Watership Down - Richard Adams I think there are generally two classes of people when it comes to this book: those who see beyond the surface and love it, and those who just don't get it and wonder how anyone can praise a silly book about talking rabbits.

Given my rating of it, I obviously fall into the former group. On the surface this is an engaging tale about a group of outcast rabbits who leave their warren at the promptings of one of their fellows who is able to foresee a great catastrophe on the horizon. Their adventures are varied and engaging, both while they trek to the place they will eventually call home (the eponymous Watership Down), and as they attempt to search for does to help re-populate their new warren from the militaristic Efrafa.

Adams does a neat trick in dealing with his rabbit characters. They are not quite humans and the way they try to puzzle out the world around them in a very animal-like way makes them more than just people in bunny-suits, though at the same time they are human-like, and varied, enough to engage the reader. They have their own language (with words and concepts derived from their understanding of the world), and perhaps most engagingly, they tell stories and myths based on their beloved folk-hero El-ahrairah. These stories, peppered throughout the book as chapters, are some of the most enjoyable parts of the tale and add a depth and interest to the rabbits and their 'culture' that is very endearing.

The rabbits themselves fill certain archetypal roles (the leader, the warrior, the seer, the scientist, the villain) while at the same time retaining individual characters and even developing as the story progresses. This is definitely not a children's story of 'fluffy wabbits' even if only taken at surface level; and when looked at below the surface it is a satisfying and fulfilling tale well worthy of the title "classic".

Re-read, September, 2012: Yup, this is still a fantastic read. Man, that ending always gets me *sniff*. I think what really makes this story sing are the layers. Everything builds on all that came before it, whether it's plot, character, or theme. We grow to love a group of characters that may at first have seemed rather silly and what had started out as a simple here-to-there quest turns into, for me at least, something much more. Oh and one other thing: Bigwig is the man, his last stand against Woundwort is an amazing moment, but there's a reason why Hazel was Chief Rabbit.