Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Book of the Dun Cow” as Want to Read:
The Book of the Dun Cow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Book of the Dun Cow (Chauntecleer the Rooster #1)

by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,933 ratings  ·  274 reviews
The Book of the Dun Cow belongs on the shelf with Animal Farm, Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings - Los Angeles Times

The Book of the Dun Cow is far and away the most literate and intelligent story of the year... violence and despair, passion and compassion, laughter and tears and the ultimate triumph of goodness - New York Times

The Book of the Dun Cow is a bestseller...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published 1979 by Penguin Books Limited (first published 1978)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Book of the Dun Cow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Book of the Dun Cow

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sørina
Jul 21, 2007 Sørina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults with a streak of whimsy & a sense of gritty reality
Shelves: fiction
This unique book, written in 1978, is grisly, gritty, earthy, painful, and beautiful. I have never read anything like this book before. It is a creation of great courage. Wangerin has taken stark good and evil and played them out in an almost predictable manner, unafraid of arrangements that could be called clichéd, trite, childish, overused. He uses mythology freely. It might at first seem hopelessly dated; rather, it is hopefully dated, it is searingly modern, it is genuinely classic and there...more
Rosie
A beast-fable, about good vs. evil. A cock named Chauntecleer is the ruler of the animals. Cosmic evil is embodied as Wyrm, who lives "sub terra," and whose son Cockatrice (a half-cock half-serpent) and his "children" (the basilisks) wage war against Chauntecleer's kingdom. Mundo Cani Dog ends up giving his life (or so it seems) to save Chauntecleer and the others, and this act of grace makes Chauntecleer see his own sinfulness (he had despised Mundo Cani). Mundo Cani turns out to still be alive...more
Michael
I think about this book by asking this question first: did I enjoy it because it had talking animals? Definitely not. On the one hand (novel-wise) you have Watership Down, probably the unassailable apex of talking-animal books ... on the other, Redwall. The Redwall books, although also populated by talking animals, are only good for a little while before the "hur hur hur" nudge-and-wink to the reader gets irritating.

Dun Cow is an apocalyptic epic fable. It's righteous and layered. It was obvious...more
Art
Best. Cockfight. EVER!
Just by loving each other and hoping in their Creator God, a little community of farm and forest animals unknowingly holds at bay the great evil of Wyrm, imprisoned under the earth. When Wyrm sets to the task of freeing himself by destroying their love and hope: attacking them with an army of Basilisks serpents, it is up to the animals and their rooster leader, Chautecleer, to defend their community with their lives.
There's lots of little life lessons, especially for lead...more
Mary Crabtree
A retelling of the Aesop's Fable Chauntecleer and the Fox. It's both epic and personal and every page propels you forward. I just couldn't put it down. I recommend this for Watership Down fans, Tolkien.....
a great good vs. evil read... This book is for the faithful, for the believers in hope, in the possibility of good in us all. Yet there is something almost painfully sweet about the depth this story goes and how it will sound in your heart.....all contained in a barnyard, on the shoulders of a...more
Terence
Read this in my early college days. I remember liking it then; not so sure I'd like it as much now.
Christian Engler
Winner of the 1980 National Book Award in the category of Science Fiction (soft cover division), Walter Wangerin, Jr.'s The Book of the Dun Cow, is a work like no other.

In a fanciful plot set-up where the sun revolves around the earth, thereby enabling the animal inhabitants to have a humanness and clarity of voice, thought and feeling all their own, life is as it is for all human beings in present day times: work, family, eating, play time, et cetera. But with the casual facade of everydayness,...more
Nathan
Cock-a-doodle-dull? I picked this up at a local used book store because frankly, I liked the cover. The fact that it was about a fully sentient group of animals fighting evil also seemed fun.

Of the things this book was, fun was not one of them. The thing this book was most of all was dull. I read often, and I usually read quickly, but this slim 250ish page book took me almost a week. Most of the time I didn't care, but quite often the religious hammer that is so prevalent just upset me.

This bo...more
Sylvester
I'm asking for it on this one. Everyone but me loved this book.

Those 2 stars are for originality. I have never read a book like this, not even close. (All that talk about Watership Down? Forget it. WD is nothing like this - oh, except it has animals in it.)

I hated it until page 124, after that, I could see that the theme was excellent, the writing unique - it was as if I liked the person, but not the clothes.

Not for me. My brain is just not suited to it. Can't explain.
Chris
Crossposted at Booklikes

The use of animals as stand in for humans, as allegorical devices, has a long history. This book is another entry into that field. It is nothing like Watership Down, which is a hero quest for rabbits, but instead in more of the tradition of Aesop or the medieval tales featuring Reynard.

And Chaucer. It owes much to Chaucer, and not just the name of the protagonist, Chanticleer.

The basic plot of the story is the threat to Chanticleer’s realm, his barnyard and surrounding...more
deLille
Nov 01, 2008 deLille rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to deLille by: Good Reads author
I stumbled across this book on Good Reads when an author mentioned this book as THE book that got him hooked on reading. I wish I could find the quote again, but he said the book made him walk around in a daze for days afterwards, thinking about the book all the time. I love books like that, the kind that sweep you off into another reality that can seem more real that your own real world.

I've never been one to get into beast fables, or any of the Tolkien books, so I wasn't sure if this book wou...more
Josh
“I’m always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality.” – Flannery O’Connor, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”

I was inundated with recommendations to read this book. It’s “brilliantly written,” and a “joy to read out loud,” and a “forgotten modern classic.” I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype, so I ordered a used copy online for a few bucks. It’s all of the above, and then some. This is a truly remarkable book.

It details...more
Lori
This book is amazing. It is everything and nothing that you want it to be. The author says it is no allegory. And I agree because an allegory places a meaning on a text based on a point of view (as the author says it that POV is usually the author's). This text can literally wear anything. It is the Marilyn Monroe of books. Put her in glasses and muss her hair; she is the nearsighted average tale of love and loss. Dress her up a bit and watch the struggle; she is a metaphor for the drowned human...more
Ryan Adair
The first two-thirds of the book was good, but the last third was gripping—I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed this and some of the symbolism of the book. Wangerin, however, didn't write it as an allegory.

He writes, "What the Book of the Dun Cow is not—nor was ever intended to be—is an allegory. Allegories ask an intellectual analysis...The Book of the Dun Cow invites experience...Allegories are reductive in meanings; they bear a riddling quality...But a good novel is first of all an event...more
Bart
A strange tale about a rooster, his coop, and his demesne of fellow beasts as they war against the evil Wyrm under the earth. The author employs several memorable medieval devices that will keep literature lovers fascinated. Unlike many fantasy novels, the outline of cultures, history, and geography remain sparse, though the characterization is more in-depth (and thus somewhat more modern). Wangerin--perhaps from his own pastoral experience--provides some of the best descriptions about the felt...more
Libbie
This book ranks very highly among my all-time favorite novels. It's an allegorical story told in a kind of romping, hand-clapping narrative that is at artistic odds with the very dark, desperate theme. It's worth reading as a study of literary juxtaposition alone -- but the story itself is riveting, the characters totally absorbing.

It's been months since I finished The Book of the Dun Cow, and I'm still ruminating on it. It will have a permanent place on my book shelf -- this little novella abou...more
Hock Tjoa
It's a fable, a parable, a Christian barn yard fantasy--whatever you call it, it is tale well told.

Once Upon a Distant Time / When Ultimate Evil Still Lay Imprisoned /in the Earth, and in Their /Innocence and Might the Beasts /Were Keepers of the Gate, the /World's Greatest Battle Began....

The Beasts were led by a rooster named Chauntecleer who did not realize the Evil had arisen. He thought he had only to contend with Mundo Cani, a dog with an over-sized nose who interrupted his sleep, or with...more
Trey Jackson
Excellent fantasy with talking animals. Similar in tone to a Watership Down or Animal Farm, but better I think. The way the author describes battles, and the emotional toll victory takes, the way the lead character (a rooster) exhibits bravery, dignity, self-pity, and vanity within the space of a few minutes, the buildup of a series of battles he and the other animals fight against evil, it's compelling and involving. Good stuff.
Lora
What seems to be a very docile book, just like the farm animals in it, has turned out to be incredibly deep, moving, and thought provoking. The chapters are short, making it a quick read, but the very real struggle between good and evil sticks with you throughout the day. I'd highly recommend this book, as I continue to mull over the ideas and reminders presented here.
Dale
A simple fable, but so much more

The Book of the Dun Cow
is a simple fable of Chauntecleer, a rooster. He is in charge of a small animal kingdom and is confronted by the evil Coctrice, a half snake/half rooster who is the son of the devil, an evil serpent that is trapped beneath the surface of the earth but is trying to get out to destroy God's creation. The book revolves around the efforts of the animals to come together to confront the evil threat and the costs that such action entails. It also...more
Karen Foley-schipper
A good fairy tale pitting age old evil against good. I didn't like it about half way through but perservered until the final conclusion. It was worth the read. The dog is a miserable character but is the hero in the end. Chanticleer is an excellent character and becomes very like a human character in his fiht against Wyrrm. MAAROOOOOOOOOOONED!
Laurele
I enjoyed this! Wangerin draws from Chaucer, the old beast fables, medieval cosmology, epic, the Bible, and his own fertile and eloquent mind to create a sort of Paradise Lost for the animals.
Mike  Owens
An intriguing, imaginative tale in which all is well in Chauntecleer's Coop where he presides over 30 hens. Indeed, things are going swimmingly throughout all his kingdom, animals included. For the time being his problems are small and few. Then a dog appears, Mundo Cani Dog, a mournful being that Chauntecleer abuses to no avail. A few small issues arise, but they pale in comparison to Chauntecleer's joy when he meets the beautiful Pertelope, marries her, and she bears him 3 male chicks. Chaunte...more
Tim Hatfield
About as good as it gets with regards to fiction. I enjoyed this on all fronts, its also theologically and liturgically instructive. Thanks Chanticleer!

Book of sorrows next!
Joshua Anderson
I read this for the first time about 15 years ago. Just finished reading it out loud to the kids. Definitely one of my favorite books I've ever read to them, and probably my #1 favorite book I've read to my kids that my father never read to me (my love of reading Tolkein, Lewis, etc. to my kids is undoubtedly colored by my own nostalgia and memories of hearing it read for the first time). Enjoyable, suspenseful, spiritually profound. This is a truly beautiful book.

Mundo Cani Dog has to be one o...more
Rose
I'm not entirely sure how to describe this story. It is about good versus evil but you could guess that from the synopsis. It is like Animal Farm only in that all the characters are all animals. I think it is more about concepts than anything. Friendship, love, guilt, self-doubt, hatred, leadership...these are all topics of great importance to the story. It was the first in a series and it was quite good so undoubtedly I will read the next.
Claire
REVIEW WIP

My head is still buzzing after finishing this book only minutes ago, and any of my fangirly ramblings of joy and adoration simply could not do this fantastic book justice.

There are a lot of books I've read that I enjoy, but would not recommend to anyone that I know, or would recommend only to certain people. I've been telling EVERYONE I know about this book. About how funny it is. About how clever it is. About how heart-breaking it is. About how beautiful it is. About how epic it is. A...more
Dave
Another classic I have just now got around to reading. Book of the Dun Cow is a really unique work. I can't compare it to "anthropomorphics" books (IE Brian Jacques), because it doesn't at all feel the same. These are not anthropomorphic animals. They are true animals with human sentience. I think the conceit is that the setting is pre-humanity, but the animals have buildings that they clearly have not constructed themselves. Perhaps they were provided by God? The animals accept that there is a...more
Michael
Having had this book on my shelf for 30 years, I decided that I should finally read it, so took it on holiday. Why did I wait so long?! This is instantly one of my favourite books. By turns funny, frightening, sorrowful and uplifting, the book tells the story of Chauntecleer the rooster and his battle to uphold good against evil.

The Christian symbolism is laid on fairly thick, but not so much that it gets in the way of the story and its message, which obviously is a Christian one. However, as G...more
Becca
Well, I'm almost a week late reviewing this book because my family keeps stealing it. Even worse, DD has now stolen the sequel. Argh.

I've heard The Book of the Dun Cow compared to Narnia or Tolkien. I agree to an extent, though I don't think the story reaches quite the same epic status. The writing style isn't my favorite; but there is such power in the story, I overlooked that for most of the piece.

The entire plot revolves around animal communities. These animals are ruled by a lord, who is a r...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Read by Theme: The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. 2 17 Feb 03, 2013 08:59AM  
  • Godric
  • The Charlatan's Boy
  • The Fiddler's Gun (Fin's Revolution, #1)
  • Ten North Frederick
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga, #1)
  • Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth and Evil in the Movies
  • A Crown of Feathers
  • The Singer
  • Stained Glass
  • The Children of Llyr
  • The Place of the Lion
  • The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
  • The Hair of Harold Roux
  • Doctor Rat
  • Paco's Story
  • A Tolkien Miscellany
2978119
Walter Wangerin Jr. is widely recognized as one of the most gifted writers writing today on the issues of faith and spirituality. Starting with the renowned Book of the Dun Cow, Wangerin's writing career has encompassed most every genre: fiction, essay, short story, children's story, meditation, and biblical exposition. His writing voice is immediately recognizable, and his fans number in the mill...more
More about Walter Wangerin Jr....
The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel The Book of Sorrows (Chauntecleer the Rooster, #2) Paul Ragman: And Other Cries of Faith As For Me And My House: Crafting Your Marriage To Last

Share This Book

“He went wordless, and wordless he sat beside her. He knew the size of her sorrow.” 2 likes
“Her ballad did nothing to make the serpants lovely. Her ballad hid nothing of their dread. But the music itself spoke of faith and certainty; the melody announced the presence of God.” 2 likes
More quotes…