Isn’t The Green Ember Like Watership Down?

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They’re both rabbit books, after all…

I get asked this fairly often, so I want to go on record with my response. Here I stand, on the record. I can do no other.Short answer: No.

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Longer answer:

I am in no way embarrassed about having written The Green Ember. It’s my first book, and I hope I will improve as a writer. But I love the story, the characters, and I’m grateful for the tremendous response it’s received from readers. I’m proud to have my name on it.

I had heard of Watership Down for years, but never read it. My friend, Eric Peters, gave me a copy when I was in the process of writing The Green Ember. (Or it may have been just before I began, but after I had decided to turn the stories I had been telling my kids for years into a novel.)

So I waited. And waited. I had heard it was great and I didn’t want to read anything that would influence (or discourage) me. I avoided Redwall for a similar reason (and I still haven’t read any of those.)  I wrote my book.

Sometime after I was done writing Ember, I read Watership Down.

Goodness. My goodness! Incredible. Amazing. Brilliant. Beautiful.

It is the prince of rabbit tales. In fact, there are very few novels containing characters of any kind that can compare with this book. It is magnificent and I love it immensely.

I’m glad I didn’t read it until after I was done writing Ember. Very glad. Had I read it before starting, I wonder if I would have been able to write a rabbit story at all. Because here’s what I tell people when they ask if The Green Ember is like Watership Down.

When I finally read Watership Down, I discovered I had built a lego hut in the shadow of the Taj Mahal.

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Now, I like my hut. It’s a good hut, and I like legos. But for Frith’s sake, the Taj Mahal is another thing altogether.

I love Watership Down. No one will ever write a better rabbit story than Richard Adams has. Do your family a favor and read this marvelous novel together. We Smiths did and cannot recommend it highly enough.

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10 Comments

  1. Esther O'Reilly

    I love the warm, light-hearted spirit of self-deprecation in this post! Yes, indeed, everyone should go read Watership Down yesterday. But if you didn’t read it yesterday, today is as good a day to start as any.

  2. Esther O'Reilly

    By the way, fun fact: Watership Down began as a series of stories Adams told to his girls in the car. They eventually told him “Daddy, this is too good NOT to write down,” so he did.

  3. Lisa

    Oh, Watership Down. The King of rabbit stories, agreed. And if anyone is interested in the King of mole stories (okay, maybe the Prince, as surely The Wind in the Willows is the King….but I digress) I would highly recommend The Duncton Wood books, by William Horwood.
    Haven’t read The Green Ember yet, but it is on the List….

  4. Michael

    Yes and yes. We are in the middle of reading aloud The Green Ember (and are really enjoying it), and we have friends who have encouraged us to read Blackstar when we finish. But I’ve read Watership Down to my girls three times and have taught it to junior high students twice. A marvelous story.

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