Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

The Book of the Dun Cow

Image of The Book of the Dun Cow
Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
February 2016
Fred's Rating: 
Total Pages: 
Harper San Francisco

Walter Wangerin, Jr., a Lutheran minister and a professor at Valparaiso University, IN, teaches literature, theology, creative writing, and is writer-in-residence. This fantasy novel is loosely based upon the beast fable of Chanticleer and the Fox adapted from the story of "The Nun's Priest's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It was the 1978 winner of the National Book Award for Sci Fi.

The Amazon website for this paperback book is

This website’s home page has a brief (4 lines) summary. In the Kindle edition, in between some reviews of praise, lies the following summary:

“In a time when the sun revolved around the Earth, and the animals could speak, Chauntecleer the Rooster rules justly over his kingdom. But while peace reigns for Chauntecleer, evil is brewing across the river, as the monstrous Cockatrice pillages his own lands and people, preparing for the return of Wyrm. Imprisoned within the Earth to contain this ancient evil, Wyrm is determined to return, with the help of Cockatrice. Keeping Wyrm in his prison is a task too great for any individual animal, so it is up to Chantecleer to rally all of the animals, great and small, to work together to keep the Earth safe once again.” There is no mention of the Dun Cow here, for in the book the Dun Cow makes only a brief appearance.

These two reviews should suffice. However, if you want a detailed review of the plot, just google the book’s title and select the Wikipedia site that has an eight-paragraph Plot. The critical praise over this book led to the author’s writing of a trilogy: The Second Book of the Dun Cow – Lamentations and The Third Book of the Dun Cow – Peace at Last. Also, if you scroll down the Amazon home page past the Product, there are some interesting details about the author.

I recommend you use Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ option and scroll down to the 3-pp Table of Contents. Each of the 28 Chapters (in 3 Parts and a Final Word and a 2003 Afterword) has a brief description of each chapter. (Note how late in the story the Dun Cow appears.)

The Book of the Dun Cow was adapted as a musical by Mark St. Germain and Randy Courts as an Off Broadway show in 2006 by the Prospect Theater Company. There is so much violence between the animals of the good Chauntecleer and the animals od the evil Cockatrice that I really can’t imagine making a musical of this story of the great battle between the Good and the Evil. A fantasy movie makes sense to me, but not a musical, whether a stage play or a musical movie.

Part I, the realm of Chauntecleer – the good dictator of his hen yard and its interesting visitors – was an enjoyable and quite humorous read for me. As I read further on, however, I asked myself why, for I could easily deduce the building up to a great confrontation with many deaths (more than I had imagined). The reason I continued was that among other books, I gave this book to my son last Christmas. He had heard about it from a good friend. After I had finished reading it I asked him how he rated it – he said between a C+ and a B-. I told him I was going to give it only 2 or 3 stars. I finally decided on 3 stars, but I don’t think this book should be read by children. Yet it had been considered for a possible award for fantasy fiction for children. I think it fit reading for teens, but not for children under 12. So I almost gave it just two stars. I suggest one go to Chaucer (see book 531) instead, no matter what your age.

Get this Book