In the introduction we are given some reasons for the rabbits to act like they had qualities similar to the soldiers due to them being based on a few in Richard Adams’ life. As to the beginning of the story, the first rabbits to be introduced are Hazel and Fiver who happen upon a coveted cowslip soon to be taken over by Toadflax because he’s one of the group of strong rabbits. They let him have it without a fight and head for a spot across the brook, but after getting there, Fiver senses danger, seeing blood. Once Hazel gets him back to the burrow we are taken to a sign on the property they live on which doesn’t bode well for them, but possibly helps us understand Fiver’s vision. Fiver has a bad dream, again making him forebode the future at the warren and their need to flee. Hazel decides they should try bringing the vision to the chief to see if he agrees danger will actually come. They get a meeting and the Chief listens politely, but only allows he’ll think over Fiver’s notions of danger. Bigwig, the guard rabbit gets a severe reprimand after Hazel and Fiver depart. Bigwig then decides to join with Hazel and Fiver after revealing to them he’s left the Owsla and they build on the idea of getting as many rabbits as they can to join them, if there is such a danger to escape, which they’ve all become convinced by Fiver there was. So they decide to let the others know before they leave, after nightfall.
It’s explained how animals instinctively decide together the departure time of the group, giving comparisons with birds migrating for the winter. Fiver and Hazel leave closer to midnight, and when we next see them they are with two more rabbits and a third joins them not long after our introductions to the first couple. Before they could leave with their small group, three rabbits appear to “arrest” Bigwig and Silver, another Owsla, for a wrongly believed mutiny and they begin to attack in protest, when the main rabbit reports they’ve attacked the head of the Owsla guard and Hazel threatens if he doesn’t leave, they’ll dispatch him. After repeating the threat, the rabbits go and their departure seems ripe as well, otherwise they wouldn’t have long until they would be caught. Bigwig wishes to consult with Hazel, but he decides it would be better to move before they found pursuit. Hazel leads them into the woods so as to dissuade any followers, the rabbits were easily startled to anything unknown, which definitely kept them on their guard, wanting to flee, but keeping together for having no safe place to run to. Hazel makes a run to check for safety further on and when he reaches his goal and does the agreed upon sign, Dandelion shows great speed at joining him and complementing Hazel’s bravery, cheering him. (I now notice the military tactics, as well.)
We get some rabbit folk-lore which joins some human ones, claiming they borrowed from the rabbit’s mythology. Before running the rabbits to shock, they rest where they are and Hazel asks Dandelion to tell them a story to keep spirits up. After we read the story, we learn it has done what it was intended to do, reminding the rabbits of their strengths and distracting them from their fear of their new and unknown surroundings. Unfortunately, they are discovered by a dog of some kind and flee only to be waylay-ed by a stream too wide and deep for them to cross; none of them wanting to do so, but since Fiver had suggested it in response to Hazel, he believed it must be safer than staying on the side they were on and needed to figure a way of convincing the others. It was fortunate they had made it to dawn by this time. After snacking near the river’s edge, Bigwig is itching to be across, but Pipkin and Fiver are still recovering and when Hazel gets Fiver alone they discuss the possibilities of crossing soon, Fiver believing their need to wait until the day almost gone. After appeasing Bigwig by having him cross first and report back, he comes with bad news. A pet dog has gotten loose and will be tracking their scent soon, since Bigwig saw him not far from them, so Hazel decides to stay behind with those who are unfit to cross whilst those who can, should go. Blackberry remembers an idea which saves them whilst Hazel is becoming too stressed to handle the situation, but Blackberry still tries to keep him in the loop to command and Hazel’s wits return enough to get everyone to swim across.
By the time the sun rose, the rabbits were resting and Hazel was deciding to explore and discover the source of a strong, sweet smell in the air to get Bigwig’s confidence in him back. He discovers a bean-field much better for resting in and decides to bring the others there to rest at nightfall. He shares his find with Bigwig and Silver upon his return since they were both awake, they both agreed to the idea and woke the others to go to the bean-field, but before getting there, they hear Fiver and Pipkin being attacked by a crow, being undersized and susceptible. The crow is soon being surrounded by Hazel, Bigwig, and Silver, who distract it from Fiver and Pipkin. When it leaves, Hazel notices Pipkin’s limp is more pronounced and decides to examine him more closely upon arriving at the bean-field. He discovers the problem and helps extricate the nettle and suggests Pipkin to comfort his hurt paw and try to sleep. Hazel wakes Buckthorn so he can take over watch and try to sleep himself. When Hazel has finally been able to drop off, he’s woken with a start and not long after his original worry is quelled, a shot rings out, making the rabbits scatter for cover, after they eventually regroup back at their first resting area in the field, Hazel begins to wonder about their real safety in this unknown area and how long they will all last before making it to Fiver’s desired “high place”.
This next bit isn’t going to be as descriptive due to the inability of having the copy save properly, but they do finally get a move on and make it to a spot where they decide will suit them temporarily. They begin some rudimentary scrapings to shelter temporarily against the bad weather and then see a lone rabbit off near some trees. Hazel and Blackberry go to see what the rabbit wants, to learn other than being a bit odd, seemed harmless and even had gone back with them to introduce himself to the others, his name being Cowslip and offering them a place in his group’s warren since their little scrapes wouldn’t help them much from the normal direction the winds came from. The rabbit leaves and the group debates going, eventually deciding to take him up on his offer, even though Fiver is the only one who seems to have serious reservations. When they do get there and integrate in the main part of the warren, Hazel is introduced to Strawberry and his partner. After, Dandelion provides a story to the group of the King’s lettuce, a story of Prince Rainbow and El-ahrairah which gets polite reviews and they hear a story by a young rabbit called Silverweed who under normal rabbit society wouldn’t usually be given the opportunity to speak, but realize he has a talent for poetry.
Fiver then leaves the warren again in preference of staying out in the open for the other rabbits’ odd behavior. Hazel convinces him to sleep in a hollow in the warren with them, but eventually decides to leave, which Hazel decides to go with him to see if he can make him reconsider. Bigwig is completely annoyed by his conduct and expresses this plainly, before leaving but then Hazel and Fiver hear a strange sound and see it’s Bigwig who got caught in a trap. They try to help him out of it and Fiver gets sent to notify the others of Bigwig’s predicament, but it seems Bigwig doesn’t make it in time. After some other rabbits do return and they finally get Bigwig loose and he still isn’t moving, they begin talking of how Fiver was treated by Cowslip when he had gone to report to the group of Bigwig’s trouble, which gets a response from Bigwig, showing he’s made it through. They now are ready to get away from there and Strawberry wishes to come along as well, being shunned by Hazel’s group, but gets the OK from Hazel, making the rest follow his lead. They start out and everyone is more willing to trust their strengths with each other, making the journey more tolerable, but no less perilous, one getting bitten by a rat, but most making it in one piece. They uncover temporary shelter and then move to a spot in the woods nearby, Hazel deciding they will make their own warren.
After having a nice shelter hollowed out, Bigwig, Dandelion and Hazel hear a strange sound, Bigwig thinking it’s a mythical rabbit they’ve heard of, but it turning out to be Captain Holly from the Owsla, who is hurt and with Bluebell. They bring them back to their shelter and they rest before Holly relates the story of how they got there, which every rabbit who hears them, empathizes greatly, because they suffered through a terrible massacre. Meanwhile Hazel goes to check on a mouse they had saved not long before and being told by the mouse, since he saved his life, which all Hazel would have to do is ask a mouse for help and he’d have it. Hazel goes back in time to hear the start of Holly’s recounting and after, Bluebell shares his story of Prince Rainbow and El-ahrairah, which is quite amusing and lightens the mood.
The next chapter begins with Bigwig and Silver seeing an unknown creature and identifying its species. They realize what it is fairly easily and go back, informing Hazel who goes and has a look at the creature, which is a bird of unknown origin, perceiving he’s hurt and barely understandable in the shared language. Hazel decides to locate a snack for him and soon has the time to express his idea for the bird to the others, deciding to help him so he would be willing to report of the surrounding area. Bigwig learns the most for admiring the bird’s strength. We then are given the bird’s name, it sharing the title of the chapter. Getting back to Hazel’s idea, he wanted to see if the bird would scout the area for other warrens so as to invite does for the all-male group. Bigwig takes on the task of asking and the bird accepts and would go searching after his wing healed. When he comes back with news, they talk among themselves of the journey they’d have if they were to go where the bird spoke of, until going to sleep.
The next day it was agreed they wanted to determine if this warren would allow them to ask around for does who wished to return with them and now must figure who would be sent. Holly, being the first easy choice, was agreed upon quickly and the rest were decided upon not long after and the group set off, everyone hoping they made progress and safe return. Hazel soon began thinking of impressing those that had gone, by collecting some does himself, the back up being the ones in cages highlighting his memory. Hazel decides to get Pipkin to come along and soon they’re off to look for the farm. They reach it with some helpful directions from a passing rat and are soon speaking with the boxed rabbits. Hazel confides his reason for coming and whether or not they’d like to join his warren, they having a chance to escape when he returned, then Pipkin sees a cat and they leave with some excitement in the getaway, but make it out unscathed. They arrive at the warren late because of rain and when they do, Hazel is noticed by Fiver revealing to him of Holly and the group’s whereabouts and realizes how long Hazel must have been away if he hadn’t known of this information already. Fiver tries to show him he’s being careless by going off to the farm, so Hazel takes it to the rest of the group to see if they’re interested in going back with him. Bigwig of course is for the plan, the others soon following suit.
Unfortunately, rain puts their plan on hold and used the night instead to tell stories. Fiver tries to convince Hazel out of going back to the farm and Hazel would be more inclined to listen if Fiver’d had a vision of it, but since they only happen intermittently, Fiver tries to get Hazel to wait until Holly returns, but instead Hazel tries to compromise with him by agreeing to wait for their group outside the farm, hoping the agreement would be safe enough. They wait until dark to try their raid again, Pipkin and two others staying behind this time. Bigwig runs into a cat fairly quickly upon reaching the farm. They work well scaring the cat off from a long scuffle and make it to the shed where the rabbits are held. When they speak with the main rabbit, Boxwood and how they want to escape, they begin the plan, running into a snag when the door hinge won’t collapse all the way. They do succeed after a few minutes more and Bigwig tries to hurry them back to where Hazel is waiting, but at first the rabbits are nervous to continue, but Blackberry comes up with a way to convince them of following. Unfortunately, the naive rabbits reached a state of fear they couldn’t be talked down from, due to the newness of their surroundings as well as a second cat closing in and then the dog waking up and noticing them, starting to bark. They all retreat, but for two too scared to move. Hazel and Dandelion go back to see about the ones left behind. Hazel tries talking them into moving when a car drives up and sees the loose rabbits, making them freeze.
Soon Hazel realizes they’d have a chance to escape if they close their eyes and run, so they do and only leave one behind this time. They escape to the opposite side of the ditch they need to be on, so Hazel runs in front of the men so Dandelion and the doe can escape to meet at their hiding place once Hazel loses the men, which he does, but only after getting wounded. Dandelion and the doe spot Bigwig and the rest of the group, expressing to him what they heard and saw. Bigwig goes back to see if he can detect Hazel, only seeing the blood and boot prints left by the men. When they get everyone back to the warren, Fiver figures out what happened and not long after, Holly returns with no more rabbits than he left with. We observe Fiver resting in the warren during the day, thinking of Hazel every time he wakes and his thoughts soon wander to the limping rabbit he imagines and where it was headed. His mind then moves to a man putting up a board which he soon realizes is a sign, upon speaking to the man. Fiver realizes quite a bit before being woken by a bit of the roof falling on him, Blackberry informing him of what had occurred, then updating him to the status of the others which Fiver seemed to not be listening to, rather he asks for Blackberry to show him where Hazel was last seen, he not believing he was dead.
Fiver convinces him to accompany him and not long after taking a look around the spot, perceives Hazel’s hiding place. Pipkin was acclimatizing himself to the idea Hazel wouldn’t be coming back, like the others in their group. Holly meanwhile, was trying to put the does at ease and sensing his efforts fruitless on one of the two. He then begins explaining what happened on their journey to the other warren.They met a rabbit on the way and ask directions, getting troubling advice before being met by three large rabbits asking to see their “marks” Holly conveys his lack of understanding and they escort his group to the warren. Holly explains how strictly these rabbits “live”. They are dealing with an over-crowding issue, but won’t allow any to leave, including them now. Holly figures out a way to escape though, but almost gets caught upon its carrying out. They are mysteriously saved from being captured by the other warrens Owsla and make the long journey back the next morning, completely worn out due to being unable to truly rest on the way back. Holly had been asked to become the Chief Rabbit of their group, but couldn’t accept at the moment for exhaustion, also mentioning Hazel’s loss being the worst thing which could happen to them.
The next chapter begins with Bigwig feeding with Clover, one of the farm rabbits, before seeing Blackberry who relates the whereabouts and condition of Hazel and Fiver, surprising everyone. Bigwig decides to visit them at their current shelter and stays overnight with them, being met the next morning by Kehaar who reveals they should look to make sure Hazel didn’t contain the bullets in his wounds still, looking to be certain and removing them, informing the trio he’ll let the others know what’s happening, since Hazel shouldn’t try moving for a day or two. He ends up staying an extra day then and Holly and Blackberry come to see them. Hazel starts the conversation of raiding the huge warren again, but through trickery, since the other warren is too well organized for anything else. Holly still isn’t convinced and Blackberry is asked to come up with the plan, deciding to talk it over with Fiver.
The next day they do return to a welcome only rabbits can give, then continued the discussion of going back to Efrafa. Hazel makes valid points which differ from Holly’s polar and firm opposition to the idea, but Hazel still has takers to join him on their return journey, also getting confirmation from Blackberry of the good qualities to the plan from Kehaar waiting outside, to whom Hazel goes out to speak with after ending the meeting. He ascertains when Kehaar plans to leave them, but would come back in another season. The chapter after begins with the start to Efrafa and Hazel starts off with the same group which had been with him from Sandleford. Before being on their way though, Holly did give some words of advice to Hazel out of earshot of the rest of his group going with him, which were to be careful and not to underestimate the danger. They had two days of above ground journeying before getting close to the warren, and the going was slow due to the size of their party. They reach the woodland which had given Holly the creeps and Fiver offered to take a look around. Bigwig had started acting strangely, as if nervous by the dangerous situation they were walking into. Hazel begins contemplating a “safe” place for the group to stand-by as near as possible to Efrafa. When they detect a spot and Kehaar locates them, he reports what’s going on back at their warren, which is the leftover boys are fighting over Clover and Holly is convinced none of them will return. Letting go, Hazel asks Kehaar the closest place to the warren he knows they could all hide, which is across the river nearby. When they rest for the night, in order to quell their leftover misgivings and nervousness of their plan, a story is asked to be told by Dandelion, and after only a small argument to what story would be told, Bigwig gets his request which begins the next chapter.
The story of King Darzin begins with how he came to realize he’d been had by El-ahrairah and he would get revenge upon him at some point. El-ahrairah expected this and warned his people from then on, to be careful. Then Rabscuttle and some rabbits leave to forage near a garden some distance away from their warren and got lost on the way back, Rabscuttle getting separated from the others and being caught by some of the King’s guards, taking him to the King. King Darzin saw his chance for revenge and put Rabscuttle to work, but El-ahrairah got wise to the situation and dug a tunnel with some of his does to help Rabscuttle escape, which was a success, only enraging King Darzin to the point of making war upon them, but his guards weren’t used to the tight quarters El-ahrairah’s group were used to fighting in and got their rabbit hind-quarters kicked, instead waiting outside the warren for them to come out. Unfortunately El-ahrairah’s people couldn’t hold out for as long as the King’s soldiers could and began to pray to Frith for support, getting an idea and giving it a long cogitation, eventually talking it over with Rabscuttle and sharing with his Owsla what he planned. It ended up doing exactly what El-ahrairah intended, and not long after, for the first time, the story is stopped for Pipkin who becomes scared by it and is led out by Fiver to watch spiders, soon resuming with El-ahrairah meeting the Black Rabbit and trying to sacrifice himself for his people, which wasn’t accepted, but being offered to stay and eat if he so wished.
El-ahrairah declines, knowing his thoughts will be known if he consumes anything in the Black Rabbit’s warren, so instead the Black Rabbit offers a bit of entertainment in the way of a game, which El-ahrairah bets if he wins, the Black Rabbit must help his people, which he agrees to, but makes the bet if he loses he will give his tail and whiskers. They began to play and El-ahrairah sensed he wouldn’t win. After his supposition is confirmed, they are allowed to stay in a burrow close by, given the option to leave whenever they want, but El-ahrairah stays, going back to the Black Rabbit later, again offering his life for his people, which the Black Rabbit accepts with the wager they each share a story and if his is better, El-ahrairah must sacrifice his ears. After the Black Rabbit’s story though, it scares El-ahrairah to the point of failure and upon waking from the sleep he is put under, his ears are gone, with Rabscuttle pleading for him to be allowed to take them both home. El-ahrairah declines, still thinking of a different way to get what he wanted. He tries to go into a hole which contains different diseases and thinks he has infected himself with one, only to be told by the Black Rabbit later, the one he tried to infect himself with would be impossible without his ears and due to his inability to give up, the Black Rabbit grants his request for his people to be saved and is told to return home. It takes them three months, having more adventures on the way which also became stories and upon reaching their warren, the group they asked to identify one of the Owsla captain’s was met with ignorance, also not knowing of the war they had fought. When El-ahrairah declines for the young buck to go searching for his captain and retreats to think over the situation, he is met by Frith and is about to receive new ears and whiskers, also being told Rabscuttle is about to be gifted with something as well, when Pipkin interrupts again with news of a fox coming their way.
The next chapter begins with the knowledge Hazel nor any of the other rabbits had seen a fox before, but knew they were safe if they saw it in time and fled the area. Fiver spots the fox first and Hazel realized the fox was still some distance away from them. It was trotting off seemingly uninterested in their scent and to a point where Hazel and Fiver could no longer see it, they then head back to the others. Bigwig goes off anyways, despite Hazel’s acknowledgement to the opposite. They all watch as Bigwig approaches the fox. He leads the fox off in another direction and when they hear him squeal and believe he’s been hurt, they see him bolt back into their group, Hazel ordering everyone to stay put whilst Bigwig is trying to get them to move. Soon Fiver motivates him to action and after some time they rest and Hazel gets Bigwig alone to discuss his reasons for running after the fox like he did, learning it had to do with the inevitability of going back to Efrafa and feeling desperate, but after the fox debacle, he felt much better. Hazel also realizes Bigwig wasn’t the one to squeal and what had happened when he’d led the fox into the bushes. Silver brings to their attention they’ve stopped much too close to Efrafa and so they move to another area and ponder how they’ll get to the iron road. After crossing they rest and feed, but Kehaar warns a patrol from Efrafa is tracking them, so Hazel commands the group to hide in a field, but fortunately they aren’t found and they sleep the rest of the day.
After everyone was awake, Hazel began noticing his leg was bothering him and whether he’d have trouble continuing, once Pipkin asked after him, he plays it off as nothing and asks whether he’s seen Kehaar, to discover if there are any more patrols about. Hazel waits for Kehaar to return and then shows them the bridge they must cross. After everyone settles for the night, Kehaar inadvertently wakes up Hazel with his pacing wanting to start his plan to get the does. Hazel figures they should try and come up with a good finish to the plan, becoming stumped at how they’d escape unnoticed. He, Bluebell, and Blackberry investigate what’s upstream which they could use to hide if necessary. They discover a more hidden bridge and cross to see if anything is there, which there is, helping Blackberry finish figuring out what the end of their plan will be, with Bluebell’s helpful imagining of becoming a “water rabbit”. Bigwig then starts his part in their plan to get the does out of Efrafa. After that we learn about Efrafa and General Woundwort’s history and how Efrafa came to be and also how the Wide Patrols got started. Then we are given their side of what happened when Holly and his group were captured and what had happened to the captains since their escape, as well as the group of rabbits that Bigwig had run into when the fox was chasing him. By the end of the chapter, General Woundwort is told of a rabbit being held and wanting to join the warren, calling himself Thlayli, it’s obviously one of Hazel’s crew. Woundwort has been wanting someone like Thlayli to replace all the officers he’s been losing the last few months, so his timing is perfect and after seeing the Council and being marked, he becomes an officer under direction from one of the Captains. Then we see Thlayli being led around to familiarize himself with the warren. He started to notice the lack of hope the rabbits seemed to have and after meeting the same doe whom spoke with Holly during his incarceration at their warren, he had a confidant to help get as many does as she could manage before their escape the next evening. Bigwig has a close call with talking in his sleep and having a buck overhear his words before he had to go out to silflay, also good timing is the bad weather they’re expecting.
Bigwig is confronted, as anticipated by Hyzenthlay, the excuse given working as she’d planned. When he goes out to silflay he meets Kehaar as planned and they discreetly discuss their next move. One of the other Efrafan officers notices Kehaar though, and approaches, bringing their conversation to an end. Chervil, the officer, warns Bigwig of the birds and now they must report the strange detail or they’d get an earful for it later. When he informs Hyzenthlay the amended plan she gets the other does ready and they wait. When it’s the hour to start, Bigwig is unexpectedly waylayed by Woundwort. He soon senses Woundwort is giving him the third-degree over the officer killed by the fox he’d goaded into chasing him and how one of the officers back at Efrafa had recognized him as the one being chased. Woundwort continued to try and probe him for details on the group of rabbits in the area and Bigwig told him he hadn’t any idea who they were and where they’d gone. Bigwig’s answers, whilst appropriate also didn’t divulge anything vital and Woundwort told him of how they would be crossing the iron road and he should start trying to impress him. Woundwort’s questioning ruined the timing of the escape and Bigwig retreated underground again. We then are taken to where Hazel and Fiver are waiting when Kehaar shows up. They wonder what could’ve happened to make Bigwig not appear and whether he’d been found out. They also had to figure whether they should start moving for the bad weather or wait. They go back across the iron road to await until the same time the next day to try again. Then we get back to Bigwig and Hyzenthlay conversing about the same subject and how she’d made ready the does, all of them now knowing the plan and having to stay quiet until the next evening which made them all nervous to being found out too soon. Bigwig tries to ease her mind and they go to sleep for awhile. When he wakes he goes up and takes over for the sentry waiting there and when the does come up, the young one makes a puzzling comment which makes one of the other officers suspicious which Bigwig tries in diverting his attention from, not seeming to succeed. Then Kehaar shows up and Bigwig is ordered to stay away from him, to which he replies he knew of a way to make him retreat. The officer agrees to try the rhyme Bigwig comes up with and it seems to work. Bigwig also gets the chance to speak with Blackavar alone and gets him ready for their escape.
We see how the plan is shaping up on Hazel’s side after, everyone finally getting him to reluctantly agree to be on the boat when the others would be ready to go and back up Bigwig and the others escape. We then go back and observe Hyzenthlay urgently is waking Bigwig up for the news the young doe had been arrested and so he advises her to get the others and wait in his burrow. He’s met by Officer Chervil and told to get sentries and stay posted at the openings of the burrows until further ordered since the young doe’s arrest would upset the others. After, the plan begins and it’s exciting as could be expected, everyone including Blackavar making it at the start of the escape. Then we see what’s happening with the young doe whom was arrested and what Woundwort can get her to confess and soon after they’re following Bigwig’s trail. Then we skip back to where Bigwig is leading the does and Blackavar toward Hazel and the others when he runs into another officer of Efrafa he respected. Soon Woundwort and the others are overtaking them as well and Blackavar is resigning to their defeat to escape and Woundwort finally catches up ordering his underlings to take the does back and he will deal with Bigwig and Blackavar, when the rain starts down and proceeds to immobilize them all, giving Bigwig the chance he needs to overtake Woundwort when his buddies finally come to help him. They have a dramatic face-off at the boat and make their escape with no casualties.
Hazel, Fiver, and Blackberry were the only ones to realize the possible danger they could be in for not knowing where the small boat would take them, but everyone else was essentially comfortable despite the rain. Then a small trouble of the bridge they’d crossed was coming up and Hazel ordered all the rabbits to get to the middle of the boat, where it was wettest, but so no one would get knocked out if they floated under the bridge. Unfortunately one of the does gets injured, but Hazel couldn’t figure how much so, also Speedwell got hit, but he seemed alright. Once they drifted for awhile more they finally hit the bank near a second bridge, but had the trouble of trying to figure a way out of the boat now. Kehaar tried to show them how easy it was to get to shore if they swam a little, but Hazel thought the bank would be too steep even if they’d made it and as Fiver volunteers to try, they hear men approach. After they walk off, their getting so close makes Hazel’s resolve to swim across solid and decides to take the first leap, which Pipkin joins him on and they make it to the bank relatively easily. It took more time to get the rest to follow, but finally they all did get out and make it to shore finally discerning a spot near a tree trunk to sleep.
The doe whom was injured died the next morning and Hazel contemplated the need to leave the area, but not being able to due to his own injury and of Biwig’s, also keeping in mind the does who weren’t used to being out of a warren and how close they were to a road which was less deserted than they’d have preferred. Blackavar becomes a valued asset to the group as well, helping plan out their movements, which Hazel gladly listened to and worked well with Bigwig whom he respected. After moving for a few days, the rabbits are ready to stop and rest for a bit, which Fiver doesn’t believe is a good idea, but the does might need the time, so they make a few scrapes to stay in for some time, which Blackavar thought better of due to believing the area they were staying in was fox country, but Bigwig was tired and hurting and wanted to stop as well, acting crisply to Blackavar’s supposition. Hazel makes the final decision, staying being the popular vote, but it comes with a cost to one of the rabbits, after which they do move on. Blackavar forgets his warning to the rabbits about the fox, an Efrafan tradition which seems to be on the level of brainwashing and Bigwig feels guilty for having ignored his advice, but Blackavar explains why he acted so indifferently after the doe had been taken and it had also reminded me of how a high school student had told me all he’d remembered from this book was how the rabbits would ignore when one of their own was killed, which seemed to have disturbed him, but now I understand what he meant in a clearer way. Moving on, the rabbits leave the area, running into a group of Efrafans who thought they could take the small group had shown themselves, not knowing how big their group actually was and being duped into believing they could call Kehaar whenever they wished, they retreated even though Blackavar thought they would need to be killed. Hazel and the group continue on and make it back to the warren, with Blackavar being paranoid of the Efrafans making more trouble, which was shown to be accurate by the end of the chapter
We jump to how well everyone’s getting on and not much fighting amongst them for Hazel to break up as Chief, Blackavar, and Holly became chummy by their shared interests of patrolling and scouting, etc. Soon Dandelion is sharing a story he hadn’t told before about El-Ahrairah and Rabscuttle growing tired of eating hay and wanting to raid a vegetable garden nearby in relation to Hazel being told they would soon need to prepare for winter. The garden was guarded by a man’s dog, Rowsby Woof, a brute of a hound who becomes a hero in his own mind by the end of the story. The chapter after has another visit from the mouse Hazel saved and how he’d seen other rabbits making a warren, which worried Hazel and told Bigwig he’d forget about it after they made sure it wasn’t true, since Bigwig thought it was nonsense. After sending Holly and Blackavar to check and their hysteric return, which Blackavar insisted they should leave for his mother’s experience in her warren with Efrafan rabbits, Hazel still insisted on staying. They would close off most of the entrance/exits and then Hazel decided he’d go to speak with Woundwort to see if he’d change his mind and see sense, knowing the method of fending off their attack would be futile, otherwise.
We then get Woundwort’s perspective of the escape and how they found their trail again. We then catch up to where Hazel has gone to speak with Woundwort, from Woundwort’s perspective. Hazel had come up with a fair compromise which Woundwort was too proud to accept, relaying the message he’s to send back being he having the expection of all the rabbits escaping from Efrafa, including Thlayli and waiting to go back when he arrived or he would kill them all. After, they soon begin to try and dig out Hazel’s warren, the rabbits getting a good beating for their trouble. Soon Woundwort comes up with a plan which set some of Hazel’s group to thinking they could be in for a mess if they didn’t think up a counter-plan very soon, with them digging a couple entrances above them. Fiver goes into a trance which spurs Hazel to remember something which gives him inspiration for a plan, getting a couple more rabbits to join him. The plan starts off well enough, with the surprise of one farmyard animal they’d run into before catching Hazel in a bad way.
The next chapter has Woundwort starting his attack on the warren, bringing a few rabbits with him to begin and seeing a dead rabbit in the place they’d fallen into, not revealing to us whom it could be. From Bigwig’s perspective, the dead rabbit could well have been Fiver and he had come up with a plan to counter the entrance of Woundwort. We skip back to Woundwort’s perspective to learn Bigwig’s plan had worked to his advantage. They both get the better of each other with Bigwig seeming to come out on top. Then we see how Blackberry and Dandelion were doing with their part of Hazel’s plan, quickly and then slower going until joining up together to get the dog back to their warren. We then see Bigwig is still dealing with Woundwort, both giving more deadly blows to each other. Soon Woundwort retreats and sends one of his officers to try and kill Bigwig, who also fails and so Woundwort goes back to where Bigwig was left, now realizing he didn’t have the strength to take him out. When Woundwort notices one of his rabbits had left with a couple others, he detects the “dead rabbit” has woken, scaring the captain Woundwort had ordered to kill the newly revived rabbit and leaving the warren where Woundwort then had the task to try and rally his group after Dandelion and Blackberry had shown up with the dog, the only one staying, being crazy ole Woundwort.
We then get Hazel’s whereabouts and fate through the eyes of the young girl who lived in the farmhouse. Then we are told what had become of Woundwort with the dog’s arrival at the warren. It seems many of Woundwort’s group had gone missing after the dog arrived and Campion was only able to bring back around seven of those who had gone. The rabbits who had gone back down into the Honeycomb surrendered to Fiver who didn’t even realize what they were doing, for still reviving from his trance. Pipkin insists on going after Hazel which Fiver agrees to join him and when they all return together, Bigwig wants to know Hazel’s story which he couldn’t believe the small part he was told.
The “captured” Efrafans were welcomed into Hazel’s warren and life for them was at first isolating and then acceptance set in for the other rabbits, since Hazel was determined to make them feel welcomed. We also have the sense their lives are starting to calm down and perceive a stride they are comfortable with. Bigwig is starting a new Owsla with the eldest firstborn bucks and Hazel still has the plan of starting another warren once the warren starts becoming overcrowded and determined to work with Campion, who is now leading Efrafa, to join up any overflow they may be having. We are shown one of Fiver’s offspring is more like him than the others and how Hazel stayed alive much longer than a normal rabbit also learning they were able to start the third warren, bridging the two. The epilogue ending was a bit corny, but what would one expect with mythological tales about rabbits throughout? I enjoyed it, had plenty of adventure and drama, action and suspense. I’m glad I finally had the chance to read it.