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The Book of the Dun Cow

A book by Walter Wangerin

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A compelling story where animals are the gatekeepers to hell.

  • May 8, 2013
  • by
Rating:
+5
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, the animal citizens of the coop and of the fertile land which they occupy, there is something evil and unloosening hidden deep in the crust of the earth and yet slowly trying to break free and unleash an apocalyptic nightmare beyond the scope of their thinking prowess.

The dark force is Wyrm, and his leader minion is Cockatrice, along with his vile helpers, the serpent-like Basilisks. But for every evil creature, there is the good warrior against evil, starting with the lead rooster, keeper of the coop, Chauntecleer and his band of animal citizens: Pertelote, Chauntecleer's wife, Tick-tock, the black ant, Beryl, the nanny hen to Chauntecleer's three children, Mundo Cani Dog, a drifter animal whose sacrifice is the climax of the whole story, to a whole bombardment of other animal characters who play a vital role to the defeat of evil and livelihood of peace and tranquility.

With each passing chapter, the intensity of realization of what the animals must confront, in conjunction with the Lord of Heaven darkening the skys in order to open the animal's eyes conveys an unspoken terror that all living things have a purpose which thus leads to choices: good or evil. The Book of the Dun Cow states that message in no uncertain terms, and its affect is chilling, for evil must be pushed down and stopped, and the destiny of those chosen to do that is more-often-than-not less than desirable, at best.

Walter Wangerin, Jr., a Protestant minister and family man knows Scripture well, and he is able to convey it in a manner of not just simplicity but in the commonness of everyday living, paying bills, watching the kids, going to work...His message, in the framework of a science fiction novel, offers something accessible yet honest: Truth and all the baggage that goes along with it.
A compelling story where animals are the gatekeepers to hell.

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More The Book of the Dun Cow reviews
review by . February 16, 2002
THE BOOK OF THE DUN COW is a highly entertaining, yet serious thought provoking novel that uses animals instead of people to tell about the universal battle between good and evil that continues to this day. Though the characters of the book are animals, the story is more allegorical, like C.S. Lewis' CHRONICLES OF NARNIA rather than satirical like George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM. The characterization is deep and the actions believable. The book is full of Christian symbolism and dives deep into issues …
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Christian Engler ()
Ranked #526
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Winner of the American Book Award, Walter Wangerin's allegorial fantasy concerns a time when the sun turned around the earth and 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 Keeper of Wyrm, monster of Evil long imprisoned beneath the earth. And Wyrm, sub terra, was breaking free.

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Details

ISBN-10: 0062509373
ISBN-13: 978-0062509376
Author: Walter Wangerin
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
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