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Shardik is a fantasy novel written by Richard Adams in 1974.

Plot introduction

Adams's second novel Shardik concerns a lonely hunter, Kelderek, who pursues Shardik, a giant bear he believes to embody the Power of God; both of them become unwillingly drawn into the politics of an imaginary region called the Beklan Empire. Perhaps deliberately, Shardik stands in sharp contrast to Adams's first book Watership Down. Instead of rural England, the Beklan Empire where Shardik takes place is a tropical region of jungle and savannah. Instead of the rabbits of Watership Down, the central animal character (the Shardik of the novel's title) is as different as it is possible to get, namely an enormous and savage bear. Finally, instead of a central group of sympathetic characters with whom the reader can identify, most of the characters are flawed and difficult to like. The bear Shardik is never presented as anything other than extremely savage, and kills scores of people throughout the book, generally by using his enormous claws to rip them to pieces. In fairness, this usually happens because he has been provoked or mistreated in some way, but it is made clear that Shardik will also sometimes kill even on a whim.

Adams, famous for writing stories from animals' point of view (Watership Down, The Plague Dogs, and Traveller), here creates a story in which the animal, Shardik the Great Bear, is an antagonistic force that generates the entire plot and yet whose status remains ambiguous....
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