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Shardik (Beklan Empire #1)

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,826 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews
This brilliantly inventive fantasy epic by the award-winning author of Watership Down immerses the reader in a medieval world complete with created languages, detailed maps and elaborate traditions and rituals. Centring on the long-awaited reincarnation of a giant bear among the half-barbaric Orelgan people, Shardik's appearance sets off a violent chain of events as faith ...more
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Oneworld Publications (first published May 15th 1974)
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Feb 25, 2008 Summer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Summer by: Stephen King
Shelves: fantasy
I knew the title from a Stephen King reference ( The Waste Lands) and picked it up because of my interest in predator worship myths. Shardik, a great bear revered as the power of the divine, is very much a Monster of God in the sense that David Quammen writes of in his book by that title. Unlike real bears, who nosh whoever happens to get in their way, Shardik never eats someone who doesn’t deserve it (though I daresay he may have snacked on some innocent cattle.) The religion Adams creates is ...more
Wayne Barrett


I'll be honest, the only reason I read this book was because of the reference to 'Shardik' in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. If you are a DT fan like me and plan to read this one, let me give you some advice; don't bother. The book is long and boring...end of review.
Sarah Anne
DNF @ 40% This was somewhere between boring and like. Okay maybe? Like it could have been good but it just wasn't grabbing me.
Tatyana Naumova
Давно у меня не было ощущения, что я не поняла в романе процентов 60, поэтому мне надо теперь прочесть работы по поводу "Шардика" (а роман классный).
Jan 16, 2008 Vanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read a Richard Adams book, it takes over my whole life. Every event in my life mirrors what the characters are going through. I stay up way too late reading so that I can see the characters through to the end of the scene. His books are way too real to me.
Jul 10, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like fantasy or philosophy/religion
I went into this book knowing very little about it, other than the reference to Shardik the Bear in one of Stephen King's books in the Dark Tower series. I did have some prior experience with Richard Adams, having read/enjoyed/been impressed with Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. In fact, while reading Plague Dogs, I noticed that Adams manages to keep me reading right on through something I cannot stand in most books: lengthy description of setting, particularly landscapes. So much of The Plag ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Animal-lovers, Tolkien fans
Shelves: fantasy
Ever since I've read Watership Down I've been a big Richard Adams fan. This book makes for pretty heavy reading, and I won't deny it took me a while to get through it. The pacing could be quite slow at times, but I think it is well worth sticking through. Shardik is epic fantasy, and nothing at all like what he created in Watership Down. You could argue that the book isn't even about the bear, but the events that surround it.

One thing I first noticed about the book was how original the storylin
Apr 30, 2016 Nathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
One star means I didn't like it overall, not that it was terrible.

I loved Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. I knew this one wasn't going to be a talking animal story. That's fine with me. Talking animals are not something I seek out in fiction anyway.

My biggest problem with Shardik was that I never connected with any of the characters. Kelderek was especially flat. He changes a lot over the course of the story, but he always felt more like a magicless marionette than a person to me. Add to t
Sep 27, 2011 Fiver rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a recurring pattern that we see over and over again in books and film: an artist makes a solid, but not particularly profound effort into a genre aimed towards children. They suddenly find themselves a stunning success, and immediately up their game by deciding to write, direct, or act for adults instead. It happened when Tolkien drastically changed styles from "The Hobbit" to "The Lord of the Rings". It happened when Daniel Radcliffe starred in "Equus" after achieving fame in "Harry Potter ...more
May 09, 2014 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If this book could be rewritten to about half the length, removing all of the superfluous imagery and metaphors, I would probably give it 5 stars. As a story, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. The plot was immensely intriguing, and despite the tiresome writing style I found myself constantly entertained by the twists and turns of this epic.

I took a very long time to finish this book, and not just because the book itself is long. As I have already mentioned, the writing style was very difficult t
Feb 23, 2015 Neale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his introduction to the new edition, Adams expresses a slightly wounded pride in this book, which was his follow-up to the phenomenally successful ‘Watership Down’.

In the last paragraph of his introduction, Adams becomes somewhat tongue-tied in an attempt to express why he thinks of ‘Shardik’ as his best book. But I can understand his fondness for it, and his disappointment at its reception – it sold well, of course, but was received by many with a sense of bafflement and distaste: where is
Apr 30, 2015 Canavan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
May 15, 2011 dara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I (like anyone else with a pulse) loved Watership Down so it was only a matter of time before I gave Shardik a chance to win my heart. It didn't quite. There are aspects I enjoyed, moments when I was truly invested in the characters, but those moments (the conversations between Elleroth and Mollo, for example) were fleeting. I wasn't fond of the main character Kelderek, and he, not Shardik, is the focus of the book. People... how boring! ;)

"As a man led to judgment might halt to listen to the so
Anand Subramanian
I'll keep this review short, as I need to read this one again. Too many plot details have escaped my mind in the intervening few years since I finished it. I will say that this is a novel of rare power and poignancy, and not one that will be immediately appealing to all fans of Adams' much more famous work, Watership Down. For one thing, it is clearly an adult novel; its content is not inappropriate for children, but its sophistication in ideas and language make it a far more challenging read th ...more
Jan 25, 2012 Corytregoart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Like so many readers, I absolutely adored Watership Down, and afterwards I was eager to get into some more of what Richard Adams had to offer. However, I have to confess that Shardik left me disappointed. I also have to confess that I got less than half way through the book, so this review may not hold as much weight as one from someone who completed it.

The main reason I didn't like like this story very much is the main character. He seemed incredibly passive and weak, easily manipulated by the
Watership Down by Richard Adams is probably my all-time favorite novel. But for whatever reason I have long avoided Shardik, his second novel. Something about the blurbs always rubbed me the wrong way. I have finally given it a chance, and it is just about what I expected: not bad, but a little boring.

The novel is set in a fictional land, perhaps at a dark ages level of technology. (I would hesitate to class it as “fantasy” as there is little in the way of magic). The Ortelgans live on an island
Nev Percy
Had this from the school library in my teens along w Watership Down and The Plague Dogs... and somehow managed to like it without really having 'got it': "It's just about people wandering around in the wake of this bear."
Obtained and read it again recently as a sophisticated and erudite adult looking to make up for this past failing (and rather fancying Osric my lore-master alterego naming a bear friend 'Shardic'). But I still didn't really get it -- if there was anything much to get.
It offer
Robert Beech
May 03, 2015 Robert Beech rated it really liked it
Not as transparently allegorical as C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and certainly a much darker novel in its depictions of human cruelty, but has in common the theme of God manifest as a powerful beast, and the belief in the ultimate salvability of the human race. Not a children's book by any means, but some good thoughts on the responsibilities of adults towards the children in our lives and in the world.
Aug 12, 2009 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I'd give this one about 3.5 stars. I absolutely love Watership Down and I've tried to read Shardik in the past but I don't think I had the maturity to appreciate it at the time. It was still difficult for me to get into it now (15 years later), and I wouldn't say I enjoyed it until about 3/5 of the way in. What bothered me the most was not having any idea where he was leading us, and not being sure that he really knew for awhile. I didn't feel like my time was being well spent. However, ...more
Dec 02, 2013 SBL rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very thorough novel, though I had trouble keeping pace with it because of some of the absurdly long descriptive paragraphs. Adams is an amazing storyteller and his exploration of the human mind and religious reaction to a prophecied return are commendable. I simply found it difficult to follow along after a while because the paragraphs got so absurdly long sometimes (there was one paragraph that spanned three pages) and often the bigger paragraphs were largely descriptive of the milie ...more
Jessica Malice
Okay well I love Watership Down. Plague Dogs was alright but not great, and since I got it with Shardik I thought I might as well give it a try. I didn't realise at the time that it was 600+ pages since it was an ebook and oh, man. It only needed to be half that many pages. I skipped over quite large chunks of waffle.

Not that it was awful.. just really, really long winded. I do like made up societies and made up religions even better, so it wasn't so bad.. but monotonously forever-droning descri
Bill Meehan
Apr 22, 2015 Bill Meehan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Plague Dogs, then Watership Down previously , I was caught off guard by how different this was to those other Richard Adams books. The main character is human and there is never the thoughts or perspective of the giant bear, Shardik.
I enjoyed the story, which was very well written, although rather disturbing violence at times.
May 04, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
На краю Бекланской империи есть островок, на котором ютится племя ортельга. Существует легенда, что когда-то ортельги правили всей Беклой, когда у них был медведь-талисман. Вот они живут и поджидают второго пришествия медведя, чтобы опять стать властителями империи. И вот наконец эдакий Иванушка-Дурачок, Кельдерек-Играй-С-Детьми, охотник, встречает в лесу медведя и понимает, что это Он - обещанный воплощённый бог Шардик. Ну тут понеслась. Ортельги на радостях и на голом кураже вышли на войну с б ...more
Jan 23, 2016 HourglassOrca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Richard Adams has said that he considers "Shardik" to be his personal favorite work, and it's easy to see why. Reading it you can just see how much effort was put into creating such an epic spiritual fantasy, but it's also pretty clear that it's not a book that's going to universally please like "Watership Down".

I think the strongest part of this book is the culture and societies that Adams has created. There's something really intriguing about an indigenous people worshiping an ordinary bear a
Sep 05, 2015 Lana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a book about belief and a cult of worship which came about so unexpectedly but caught on like wild fire, the simple guy who found the bear in turn was acclaimed as being the chosen one to be the voice of god!! he was made into the priest who tended to shardik, the bear god and in turn the poor bear was used and abused by the same people who worshipped him whilst in turn fearing him. Grave injustices where put into force in his name the main one being the enslavement of children and a war was fou ...more
Jun 15, 2012 Kit★ marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy, classics
Recently did a re-read of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and was sorta interested in reading this, and then on my most recent Goodwill trip I found it in hardback... vintage copy, dust-jacket slightly torn and worn but mostly intact, and the pages and binding still great, so I thought about getting it... but didn't... then I went back and got it the next day, decided not to pass it up. Will read it one o' these days.
Jan 23, 2016 Almielag rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on this about 300 pages in, I found the main conflict frustrating and all the protagonists insipid. A big disappointment since I loved Watership Down.
Joshua Buhs
Not sure how I missed this one.

In my much younger years, I read Watership Down and loved it; I loved even more Adams's "The Plague Dogs," which was even darker. Somehow, I missed the book that came in between those, Shardik. It seems to have slipped down the memory hole in general: perhaps because, while there is an animal at the center of the book, the reader is only privy to its internal thoughts for a brief moment at the beginning, the rest of the book being an epic fantasy that takes place--
Mar 12, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shardik will allways be among my favorite books. In this Novel Adams creates a rich world as complete in every way as Tolkiens Middle earth, in which a mythical bear returns in flesh to a barbaric people, and is used by The Barons of this culture to start a revolution. Universal concepts such as fate, honour, futility and divinity are central to the story.
Scott Lichtor
Shardik tells an interesting story, but it is dragged down by some bloated writing. That made it… difficult for me to enjoy.

The story centers around a more or less honest and straightforward man named Kelderek. He's a hunter in a fictional land called Ortelga. One day while hunting he stumbles upon a gigantic bear. Apparently, in the religion of Ortelga, this bear is the embodiment of their god, Shardik, and Kelderek reports this to his fellows. What follows is the rise of Kelderek as an Ortelga
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Adams was born in Newbury, Berkshire. From 1933 until 1938 he was educated at Bradfield College. In 1938 he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read Modern History. On 3 September 1939 Neville Chamberlain announced that the United Kingdom was at war with Germany. In 1940 Adams joined the British Army, in which he served until 1946. He received a class B discharge enabling him to return to Worc ...more
More about Richard Adams...

Other Books in the Series

Beklan Empire (2 books)
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“No, no- the sky will grow dark, cold rain will fall and all trace of the right way will be blotted out. You will be all alone. And still you will have to go on. There will be ghosts in the dark and voices in the air, disgusting prophecies coming true I wouldn’t wonder and absent faces present on every side, as the man said. And still you will have to go on. The last bridge will fall behind you and the last lights will go out, followed by the sun, the moon and the stars; and still you will have to go on. You will come to regions more desolate and wretched than you ever dreamed could exist, places of sorrow created entirely by that mean superstition which you yourself have put about for so long. But still you will have to go on” 17 likes
“Nevertheless, the number of hoots I give for them is restricted to less than two.” 9 likes
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