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Watership Down

Written by: Richard Adams
Narrated by: Peter Capaldi
Series: Watership Down, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 31 mins
5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the most beloved novels of our time, Watership Down is an epic journey, a stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival.

Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren; he felt sure of it. They had to leave immediately. So begins a long and perilous journey of survival for a small band of rabbits.

As the rabbits skirt danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band, its humorous characters, and its compelling culture, complete with its own folk history and mythos. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, an upland meadow. But here they face their most difficult challenges of all.

A stirring epic of courage and survival against the odds, Watership Down has become a beloved classic for all ages. Both an exciting adventure story and an involving allegory about freedom, ethics, and human nature, it has delighted generations with its unique and charming world, winning many awards and being adapted to film, television, and theater.

©1972 Richard Adams (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Peter Capaldi at his best

This was a book I was recommended by a friend of my parents, musician Fergus O’byrne when he and his band mates of Ryan’s Fancy came and stayed at our home in the 1970s shortly after it came out. I loved it, and read it several times over the years, as well as The Plague Dogs and Shardik. Also by Richard Adams. Please Audible, do the Plaque Dogs, too.
Peter Capaldi, one of my favourite Doctors Who, did a phenomenal job reading and acting the parts of the rabbits I’ve loved since a child. I will listen raptly to anything else he narrates, there’s a good chap, I literally listened to you all night and day and night again, until I finished this at 6:00 am finally. Time for sleep, but first a review, of an excellent book by a first rate actor. I will listen to this over and over again, it was so enjoyable. His voice of Kehaar saying ‘Meester PigVig” Capaldi nailed Kehaar’s voice that’s been long in my head.
Thank you for adding this book Audible, and thank you Mr. Capaldi for doing such a wonderful job bringing it to life.5 stars all the way round. next, Snitter....Snitter’s a good dog” hint hint...

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  • Becca
  • 2019-05-19

Capaldi is FANTASTIC; tech editing, not as much

Watership Down has been one of my favorite books since my childhood. I have often sought it out on Audible, but it was only there in foreign languages. Imagine, then, my utter delight when I searched one day and discovered it, unabridged, in English! It was released that very same day in fact, and even better, Peter Capaldi was the narrator! (If you are a Whovian as I am, and one who thoroughly enjoyed Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor as I did, you may have some inkling of my sheer excitement over this discovery. 😁)

Capaldi does an amazing job with the voices of the different characters. I had no idea his voice acting skills were so diverse and well-developed - what a delightful surprise as I listened! I admit, the choice of tone for some (Pipkin and the mouse, for example, though Kehaar was spot-on) were not quite how I always heard them inwardly as I read the book, but they worked, and more importantly, all the character voices were consistent throughout the book. There was great emotion in the telling and made it a riveting story to listen to, which I did with great pleasure.

However, there is one particular technical issue which I could not overlook. I have worked as an audiobook technical editor before, working on long novels of a similar length. I know how time-consuming and detailed this work often can be, so I generally don't get TOO picky, particularly when the narrator does a terrific job, as Capaldi did. The issue I have here is that in at least three separate places (chapter 12, chapter 13 or 14, and again much later somewhere around chapter 23 or so - couldn't see it at that time), the tech editor missed a splice, resulting in a repetition of lines. The listener thus heard Capaldi read the line, then read it again exactly the same a second time. Now, I used to do this in my own editing as a bookmark to ensure I had enough audio to seamlessly blend tracks from separate recording sessions, matching tone, volume, inflection, etc. The trick was to remember to go back to the bookmarks and listen to the entire sequence, removing one of the duplicate crossover lines. It almost sounded to me like someone removed the bookmarks and forgot to check the final edit of tracks. Once, that's an "oopsie" and life goes on. This happened clearly and distinctly on three occasions, however - though I give credit to the tech editor in that even with this, the actual track playback contained no obvious cuts or changes in ambient noise. (Well done!)

Other than that one issue, my only other note would be regarding the use of Lapine terminology without references. In the book, the first use of a Lapine work was often footnoted for the reader with the English translation. This was not done here. Narrating footnotes can be difficult, though I think this could be worked around by including a downloadable supplemental material upon purchase, consisting of a Lapine-English glossary. Many audiobooks I have purchased do similar things with worksheets or diagrams, or even full workbooks, so this would be no challenge that I can see, and it might make it easier for the listener to know right away what/who "Inlé" and then "fu-Inlé" might be, or "silflay" or "hraka" and the like. Contextually, the meaning becomes somewhat understood, but it is not so clear that a word like "embleer" has a more crude meaning than it is generally used in the book (until the end - I do love Bigwig's comment to the General). Not to mention the names of the rabbits, particularly the does. Capaldi speaks them casually and confidently and well, but I know how they are spelled and it rang true. For a first time listener, though, it might almost sound like he spoke with marbles in his mouth. If I recall correctly, one of the copies of this book that I own also has what amounts to a "Cast of Characters" page, listing the rabbits and their originating warrens/locations. That too could be a useful supplemental download, as would the map of where the Down and the Nuthanger and Efrafa were located in relation to each other.

These are merely suggestions intended to aid the new listener who is unfamiliar with this wonderful book. I highly recommend reading the print copy as well. Capaldi did a superb job bringing this story and these characters to life, and I can say with certainty that tech "oopsie" edits and all aside, I will be listening to this more than once in the future. Bravo! Highly recommended to all! ❤️

116 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica Clapp
  • 2019-08-20

Finally back--and worth all your credits!

I've been writing to Audible for years--practically BEGGING for them to add Watership Down to their collection. It's finally here and it does not disappoint. The narration is superb and the story is just such a classic. Read no further. Just go add it to your library.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 2019-07-30

A Masterpiece of Audiobooks

This is an amazing adventure story that forty-something year old men should not love, but I have been riveted by this book. The performance is one of the best I've ever experienced. Bravo to Peter Capaldi.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Mom in Sherborn
  • 2019-08-26

A well-remembered “children’s” book that pulled me into adulthood

Mr. Capaldi’s reading of the Audible version of this masterpiece was highly enjoyable, especially his renderings of Bigwig, Kahar, and Woundwort. He did the text justice, which is high praise indeed.

I will not fully review the book itself (that is done in great depth by others). But suffice it to say, Watership Down was probably the most important of the children’s stories I read, just as I was teetering on the edge of entering the world of adult literature (I seem to have skipped “young adult” and instead plunged into the worlds of Steinbeck, Salinger, and Hemingway soon after this novel in 6th grade). As such, it seemed to pull me into a world of more adult fiction — more nuanced emotion, darker threats, but likewise more ennobling endeavors and deeper understandings. Beyond its gripping plot and layered characterizations, it is suffused with beautiful descriptions of nature and wise revelations that filter through the text like the sun breaking through a canopy of leaves. Like Hazel who in the end confuses stories of El-Ahrairah with those of the founding of the Watership warren, my recollection of the book is combined with memories of those childhood dreams that stayed with me, informing my adult sensibility.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-06-27

Absolutely Amazing

The first 3rd of this book was a bit rough. It was pretty slow, and I nearly gave up on it. I'm so glad I didn't. The last half of the book was as good as any book I've ever read. I can't remember the last time I was so engrossed in a book. It's no surprise this is a classic.

5 people found this helpful

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  • GSut
  • 2019-06-17

Best Watership Down Adaptation to Date

This audio adaptation of Watership Down is by far the finest adaptation of any kind to date for this book. Peter Capaldi does an excellent job narrating the story, as well as creating individual voices and personalities for each character. He brings out the perfect level of emotion and drama in each scene. I highly recommend this audio book for fans of Richard Adams's novel, and for those looking for a great adventure story.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-28

Outstanding voice acting!!!

I had to read this book for a project if mine.. and I believe I wouldn’t have read it without this audiobook. Peter Capaldi did an AMAZING job which kept me fully engaged. However, since I was following along with the book in hand, I realized that he had skipped a couple of sections or paraphrased some lines.. which was ok for the most part but bothered me a little. Overall, I believe that his voice acting made this book 100% more enjoyable.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Steph G.
  • 2019-06-12

Excellent all around! High Recommendation

As a note: I have a hard time with audiobooks because of my ADHD but this book captured my attention like no other.

First time reading the book and it’s a captivating story. Realistically written with small elements of wonder. It felt like you were actually getting into the minds of real rabbits. I think it helps that it’s based off a real place.

The audio was stunning. Peter Capaldi is a wonderful narrator and I was pleasantly surprised at the different voices of each character. The emotion in his voice really brought out the tone of the book. I highly recommend this book and audiobook to anyone in need of an adventure.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2019-08-28

Better than what I expected

I always thought this book would be a depressing narrative of evil rabbits. I also thought they would be on some sort of a ship lol. I was wrong on both accounts, and the adventures given had just the right balance of problem and solution.

Excellently read!

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  • David van Loon
  • 2019-07-30

Worth the wait

It starts a little slow but gains momentum in the second half and is very much worth the wait. By the end, I was so in love with this world and these characters that it was heart-wrenching to see them go. Moreover, the narration was all a listener could hope for, such that it is strange to think that all those distinct personalities were each of them Capaldi doing a voice. In general, the book has given me quite a few warm new memories and I am sure to reread it sometime. As for recommendations, anyone who likes a good realistic adventure story with elements of myth and fantasy will probably enjoy this book.

2 people found this helpful