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.
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.
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.