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

(Chauntecleer the Rooster #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,314 ratings  ·  436 reviews
Walter Wangerin's profound fantasy concerns a time when the sun turned around the earth and the animals could speak, when Chauntecleer the Rooster ruled over a more or less peaceful kingdom. What the animals did not know was that they were the Keepers of Wyrm, monster of evil long imprisoned beneath the earth ... and Wyrm, sub terra, was breaking free.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 14th 2003 by HarperOne (first published 1978)
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Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Canterbury Tales meets John Bunyan, with a dash of Animal Farm. Although this is a sort of parable, the tale rises above and beyond that. I found this hard to put down.
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autumn, fable, fantasy, fiction
Chauntecleer The Rooster!!

This is a fav book, one which took me by surprise. Animal Farm, sure. Watership Down, sure. But this was an accident to my collection and such a happy accident it has been. A fantasy allegory of good and evil, I loved all the characters. Everything fits together and the comic interplay between the "office" of animals (that's what it reminded me of) kept it all rolling along.

The earth had a face, then: smiling blue and green and gold and gentle, or frowning in furious g
Katie Long
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Book Club this month decided that we would all choose a former National Book Award winner. I decided to pick the weirdest thing on the list, and a story inspired by Chaucer where farm animals unite to defeat evil, seemed like the right choice. It was a fun departure from my comfort zone. It did feel a bit too clever at times, which took me out of the story a bit, but overall, I’m glad that I gave it a chance. It even left me with enough of a cliffhanger that I’ll read the next book in the series ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was not prepared for what this book ( featuring a talking rooster) would do to my poor heart. The best battle scene I have ever read, sorrow to match King David's, the putrid nature of sin, the glories of our little efforts in the war against the flesh and the devil, the comfort of the Holy Spirit..... No, I'm not overdoing it. Truly, it's all here in this incredible book.
Helena Sorensen
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'd love to have overheard the conversation between Walt Wangerin Jr. and his editor after the editor first read the manuscript for Dun Cow. Were there comments about market research, about finding an audience or connecting with readers? Did the editor declare that no one would understand the book, that they'd never sell more than a few copies? Was he frustrated over his inability to compare the book with other popular books? (The snippet of an LA Times review that says Dun Cow should be on the ...more
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm only about two thirds or so of the way through this story, but I have to note that I am thoroughly enjoying this allegorical animal tale. I'm not usually a big fan of allegories, but this one is not annoyingly obvious or moralizing in my opinion. The struggle to be brave in the face of evil and danger, the temptation to give up and think there is no hope, the tendency to minimize the talents and strengths of others, I could relate to it all.

I'm interested to see how it all turns out!

Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Crabtree
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Read this in my early college days. I remember liking it then; not so sure I'd like it as much now.
Jessica Evans
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So completely different from anything I've ever read, and yet so many familiar themes, that at once I was intrigued and engrossed and felt at home. Wangerin says he derived inspiration from Chaucer's "The Nun's Priest's Tale" along with the bestiaries of the Middle Ages, Mallory's Morte D'Arthur, and Face of Battle, by John Keegan. Chauntecleer's character reveals what is good (and evil) about leadership and humanity in general. The rest of the cast is filled out by a menagerie of characters wit ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is NOT a children's book.
Kim Elder
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I had never heard of this book or its author before it showed up on my church book club list for this month. This book is a "beast fable" about a kingdom ruled over by the rooster Chauntecleer and was intended as an investigation of "evils external to human systems" (author comment in Afterword). The writer is a Christian and a medievalist. This novel is quite complex and draws from various literary works. Wangerin's characters are vividly drawn and it is an excellent portrayal of good versus ev ...more
Jana Light
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Odd and exhilarating with a moving ending, but left me a little cold.
Christian Engler
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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,
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Haven't read a book like it in a while. Mundo Cani Dog is love!
Dan Glover
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'd give this 5.5 stars if I could. This book has been compared to Watership Down and Animal Farm, both of which are fair comparisons. In all three stories, you have anthropomorphic animals in a contest of good and evil. In Watership Down and Animal Farm, the battle is primarily political/social, with spiritual elements certainly, but a soulless tyrannical political ideology must be fought by imperfect individuals who recognize the necessity of individuality and liberty for a truly "animal" (hum ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
“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
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A true departure in the types of books I've been reading lately. This fanciful allegory quickly becomes a struggle of good verses evil. The kicker is that the participants seem so caught up in their individuals lives, they don't even recognize evil until it is already in the door. Heart wrenching battles, miscommunications, faith, unexpected loyalties, courage, selflessness, greed, disappointments. An interesting commentary on human nature.
lucky little cat
In 1978, my hippie older brother graduated high school, movie versions of both LOTR and

Run, Hazel. Something mediocre this way comes.
Watership Down premiered, and this sucky, self-important series hit the paperback stands in a cynical attempt to cash in. It is the most joyless talking-animal series imaginable, and unforgivably pretentious to boot. Sure, you could read this, but why don't you go read something good instead?
Scott Breiding
Great prose, ends too easily

Catchy, well-written prose. Some language. Would like to see more depth on the supporting characters like the dog and the cow. Ends a little too easily in my opinion.
Hannah Vanderpool
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book can't really be described. It has simply to be experienced. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I can't say I really understood the book but I enjoyed it anyways. Part of the reason I couldn't follow too much of the story may be my unfamiliarity with medieval literature. I especially liked the rooster character and how honestly he was written. His compassionate heart despite his irritable demeanor was interesting. Also I found it interesting how stupidly the turkeys were portrayed to be. After enough encounters with the birds, I would only ever imagine describing them as terrifying blue-fa ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Review coming soon!
Mike Moses
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. Don’t judge it by its cover. Absolutely worth a read.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr. San Francisco, Harper Collins, 2003 (25th Anniversary Edition).

Summary: This modern animal fable portrays a conflict between the beasts of the Earth with Wyrm of the underworld and his evil surrogates, and the heroism of a rooster, a dog, and the other beasts.

"Marooooned". This modern-day animal fable (first published in 1978) begins with this mournful and persisting cry from Mundo Cani Dog who, against the will of Lord of the Coop Chauntecleer, fi
John Gardner
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted at Honey and Locusts.

If you're wondering what in the heck a "dun cow" is, you're not alone. As it turns out, dun is a color ("gray-gold or tan", in fact), which in this case describes a cow. Don't you love learning new things?

Here's something else you may not know: This is a TERRIFIC book!

The Book of the Dun Cow is a novel which in many ways defies classification. Though the New York Times endorsement quoted on the back cover refers to the book as an "allegorical fantasy", that
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Read by Theme: The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. 2 22 Feb 03, 2013 08:59AM  
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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

Other books in the series

Chauntecleer the Rooster (3 books)
  • The Book of Sorrows (Chauntecleer the Rooster, #2)
  • The Third Book of the Dun Cow: Peace at the Last
“Sorrow spoken lends a little courage to the speaker.” 5 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.” 5 likes
More quotes…