Isn’t ‘The Green Ember’ Like ‘Watership Down’?

Watership Down

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.

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 (and mean sincerely) 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.



  1. This is wonderfully humble, and Watership Down is amazing. But I’d argue the comparison is altogether mistaken.

    The Green Ember could have been about otters, or squirrels, or beavers and still been fantastic. The story would have held true; the rabbit-ness is not intrinsic to its themes.

    (It’s more like Redwall in that way. But better.)

    Watership Down could not have been written about any other kind of animal. The rabbit-ness of it defines the story.

  2. I completely agree with James. The comparisons are made to Watership Down because the primary characters are rabbits in both novels (and another similarity: I like both quite a lot). And, like James, I also prefer The Green Ember to Redwall. It’s a story with so much more depth and richness. It’s one I want my kids to be familiar with because of what it points to.

  3. I thought that you were going to say that they don’t compare because the ONLY parallel is that both books are about rabbits.
    I like it when people start drawing small comparisons then one great book will recommend the reader to another great book with a very different feel.

  4. That is exactly what I would have expected Richard Adams to look like.

    Rabbit books for everyone! (I like both of ’em. James’s comment is 100% accurate. Except #SquirrelsWithSwords doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.)

  5. So, I’ve noticed that The Green Ember isn’t for sale via Google Play Books. Any chance this’ll change in the near future?

  6. I suspect so. I don’t use Kindle, and would welcome the opportunity to buy it there, as that’s the media ecosystem I’m tied in to. But I honestly can’t speak for the overall market.

    1. Eric, thanks for the question. Right now the publisher believes the benefits of Kindle exclusivity are outweighing the benefits of being available more widely. Though we’re not entirely comfortable with this, for obvious reasons. One reason being we wish we could more easily accommodate you.


  7. Now we have two books to read. I haven’t read The Green Ember yet, but based on two friends’ HIGH recommendations, I will.

    I have a question for you. Is this a Christian book? It came up on Amazon alongside some books published by Christian publishers, so I thought I would ask since I do order books for my church library. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Annette. I hope you enjoy it!

      It’s not a book with a sneaky message, or any allegory. It is written by a person with strong Christian convictions whose world view is likely clear in many ways. I just yesterday did a Skype chat with a church library in Colorado, and am speaking at a Christian conference in a couple of weeks, and have done that a lot. I think it would be good for a church library, but there’s no “conversion scene” or anything like that. It’s religious the way Tolkien’s books are.

      I hope that makes some sense. 🙂

  8. How funny! We are doing a “year of the rabbit” thi over here with Ember, Blackstar, Velveteen, Wonderland, Bugs Bunny and Peter. My mother-in-law encouraged us to read Watership Down. It’s up next for us!

  9. I love Watership Down so much! I just recently read it, told my friend about it, and found that she had already read it! Can’t wait to share Ember and Blackstar with her! (Redwall is awesome too.)
    And if you’re wondering about my name (Kalmar), just read another awesome book: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, by Andrew Peterson (wingfeathersaga.com)

  10. I’m not gonna lie, when I first saw the book, I read it purely because I had nothing better to do. I figured it would be boring because my experience with animal books has been such.

    I’m so glad I picked that book up off the library shelf. This series is AMAZING, and I want to thank you, S.D. Smith for writing such an incredible book series. I currently haven’t finished it (Ember’s End left), but it is astounding. I reccommended this to all my classmates (I’m 13 by the way).

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