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(Beklan Empire #1)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  3,498 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Shardik is a fantasy of tragic character, centered on the long-awaited reincarnation of the gigantic bear Shardik and his appearance among the half-barbaric Ortelgan people. Mighty, ferocious, and unpredictable, Shardik changes the life of every person in the story. His advent commences a momentous chain of events. Kelderek the hunter, who loves and trusts the great bear, ...more
Paperback, 604 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Overlook Duckworth (first published May 15th 1974)
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Gavin This is an AMAZING book. The writing is gorgeous, thought-provoking, rich — like a banquet for the mind. I haven't finished yet—I'm about …moreThis is an AMAZING book. The writing is gorgeous, thought-provoking, rich — like a banquet for the mind. I haven't finished yet—I'm about ⅓ finished—and I am enjoying every bit, and highly recommend it! I'm listening to the Audible version, read by John Lee, which adds another wonderful depth to it.

Every bit as good as Watership Down, if not better.(less)

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3.49  · 
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 ·  3,498 ratings  ·  254 reviews

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Petros Triantafyllou

Shardik is one of those books that don't age well...
Kelderek, a young hunter with a soft heart and a simple nature, witnesses an enormous bear fleeing a devastating fire that ravaged a forest near his home. Convinced that this bear is nothing more than the incarnation of the bear-god Shardik, Kelderek tries to convince the local Priests and Barons, who in turn sedate and cage the bear. But that doesn't last for long....

“And at once he went on with his burden, as though afraid that he might
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.
Dec 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Rebecca McNutt
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Those front cover graphics are absolutely stunning, but beyond that, this book is a beautiful, brutal and courageous fantasy novel with so many intriguing surprises.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
DNF @ 40% This was somewhere between boring and like. Okay maybe? Like it could have been good but it just wasn't grabbing me.
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 12, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Joshua Buhs
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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--
Nov 18, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Dec 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up, fantasy, fiction
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.
Ken Hammond
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
Shardik (Beklan Empire #1)by Richard Adams

The story is about the trials and events of the central character “Kelderek “who went from lowly born and humble village hunter who was also regarded by his people as a simple-minded fellow who liked playing with children, and this is the theme of a lot of the characters they all are little bit quirky and this is what sucked me into this fantasy world.

But all that changed as he suddenly found himself as ruler and King “Priest” of the known world he live
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Mar 14, 2011 marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended book. King named one of the Guardians of the Beam, Shardik. The Bear-God was encountered in King's Dark Tower novel The Waste Lands.
Aug 06, 2017 added it
Shelves: fantasy, relegions

I was warned this was dense, but clearly I was not warned enough. No pun intended, but Christ this was dense!

At the end of the day, Adams took hundreds and hundreds of pages to say everyone should be nicer to each other and don't get so wrapped in up in distracting symbols.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many who have read this book, I initially picked it up due to Stephen King's reference to it in the book The Waste Lands. It helped that I also loved Watership Down and The Plague Dogs, and that the mythic nature of Richard Adams writing in general speaks to me. Shardik was a much, much more mythic book than the other two, which would mark The Plague Dogs as the most... well, down to earth book out of this particular bunch.

Shardik is the story of a young man (Kelderek) who comes across a gr
Preston Stell
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Watership Down. This book was much different and lovely for separate reasons. I'll give the example that kept coming up in my of the things I felt that Joseph's tale in Genesis is missing is his unbecoming. Joseph goes from honored son (in a very localized one of his nation's families) to a slave in Egypt (a global identity) and on to a lord in the nation he lives which helps his people to rise to prominence. Joseph received his humbling at a very young age, and by al ...more
Anand Subramanian
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Marty Miracky
Apr 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NOBODY
I could not finish this book, didn't even get half way thru. It has to be the second most boring book I've ever read. The first one being "Plague Dogs" by the same author. Oh, this was horrible!!
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I tried this one after Watership Down, which I loved. Too slow and not what I expected. Maybe some day...
Chris Hawks
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, favorites
My all-time favorite book.
Chris Hunter
Nov 26, 2014 added it
Shelves: abandoned
I got about 50 pages in but the narrative was too disjointed to keep my interest.
May 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After the enchantment of Watership Down I found this book unpleasant and a huge disappointment.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book made me doubt my love of Watership Down. How could it be the same author? Plodding plot, wooden characters, sermons left and right.
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
I'd probabably rate it just below a four. Not nearly as good as Watership Down but still a pretty fine achievement. Definitely held my interest.
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't even really like Watership Down, so I have no idea what I was thinking with this.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not as appealing as Watership Down. Overall a rather dull and plodding novel.
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Goodreads Librari...: Define series 13 90 Mar 17, 2013 10:45AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book combining 2 26 Apr 23, 2012 03:05PM  

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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

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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” 24 likes
“Nevertheless, the number of hoots I give for them is restricted to less than two.” 9 likes
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