The British empire was on the verge of revolution and at the centre of events are the Stuart sisters: Mary the Queen, and Anne the Queen-to-be, continually haunted by the memory of their father, James II, whom they have wronged.
After being horribly mistreated at a government animal research facility, Snitter and Rowf escape into the isolation and terror of the wilderness. Aided only by a fox the two dogs must struggle to survive in their new environment. When the starving dogs attack some sheep, they are labeled ferocious man-eating monsters, setting off a great dog hunt that is later intensified by the fear that the dogs could be carriers of the bubonic plague.
Two strangers arrive at Hundred Acre Field and the rumour is that a large housing estate is to be built there. While the protests and public enquiry take place, the villagers have other cause for shaking their heads when Miss Jackson falls in love and Joseph Coggs takes flight from Tyler's Row.
Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren; he felt sure of it. They had to leave immediately. So begins a long and perilous journey of survival for a small band of rabbits. Fiver's vision finally leads them to Watership Down, an upland meadow. But here they face their most difficult challenges of all.