As one who, with the Elysian benefits of a classical education, takes to epic simile in the full knowledge that aplunge down the rabbit hole of myth-locked fantasy can be a hop-away best seller--one that so handsomely indicates that the public can ingest more--so Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, spreads his scope, not only from rabbit to the magnitude of giant bear, but also from a Tolkien/Grahame adventure to a C. S. Lewis Narnian/Wagnerian brush with religious evolutions. This time, the animal is the huge bear Shardik, thudding through the forests of a nowhere land named Ortelga. He is not anthropomorphized but becomes in turn a totemic manifestation, a living instrument of the ""power of God,"" a vehicle of ethnic destiny, a tortured prisoner of man's ignorance and cruelty, and at last the Redeemer, whose sacrificial death brings about a community of love and peace. Again there is a problem with human speech which gravitates from suitable neutral intonations to YMCA modern. But there are also stretches of arcane yet truly lyric narration and heroic action. Considering too, the success of Watership Down, one can be bullish on this bear.