This book is one of the biggest piles of crap I've ever read in my life.
Given that the main character is one of the most irritating self-righteous bastards ever put to print, I can't believe I made it through (well, I *paid* for it, and it's been listed on 1001 book lists).
It's religious clap-trap... badly done. If you want to ignore the religious bits of the book, and you're in for some over the top gory suffering, it's in there, too. Oh, and for a character who is (theoretically) a zoologist, he needs to go back to school. And for one who claims to dislike anthropomorphizing animals, he does it more than (and worse than) any other character I can think of.
In the end - do you prefer the story with or without animals? Well, sir, I prefer the truth, whether or not there are animal present.