Book of the Dun Cow

Book of the Dun Cow

by Walter Wangerin Jr.
Publisher: Pocket Books
Mass market paperback, 255 pages
Not in stock

A favorite. Walter Wangerin's fantasy (best, we think, for adults) is the story of Chaunticleer, the rooster-king of the barnyard, and his epic war with Wyrm and the Cockatrice. The cover boldy states that this belongs on the shelf with Lord of the Rings; this is one of few books we've read that live up to the claim. Wangerin manages to incorporate nearly every human emotion into the story—humor, sorrow, joy, fear, excitement—as well as amazing literary and biblical allusions.

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.


I don't have any sort of animal theme around my house, but if I did, it would be roosters, and this book—Book of the Dun Cow—is the reason why.

I read this about ten years ago for the first time. I was floored, and to this day it remains my all-time favorite fantasy novel. Simple story: Chauntecleer the rooster, king of the barnyard, along with his wife Pertelote, Mundo Cani dog, John Wesley Weasel and their band of farm animals fight an epic war against Wyrm, the Cockatrice and a host of basilisks.

This basic summary doesn't begin to capture the depth of the book. Wangerin's amazing writing brings these animals fully to life, completely animal yet exploring the entire range of human emotions—love, rage, fear, joy, despair, peace. He incorporates fantastic allusions to Chaucer, the book of Job, and Saul's Damascus road conversion, among others. You'll see a beautiful expression of liturgical worship, and—if you're watching—an incredible expression of Christ's and the Holy Spirit's work. I can't really express my admiration enough.

It's not for everyone, though: others disagree, telling me they've gotten frustrated enough to throw this book against a wall! But no one has said it didn't affect them at all.

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