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is a novel by William Horwood about moles that live in the English countryside - specifically, the fictional Duncton Wood in Oxfordshire. The moles revere and worship monoliths and standing stones, and, as such, many mole communities are founded around them.
Of course, that's not all.
The story focuses less on epic tales of the mole lands and more on the love story of two moles, Bracken and Rebecca, daughter of the tyrannical Mandrake. The first book follows them from life to death, as well as the highs and lows that the Duncton System go through in the meantime.
Almost a decade later, the author wrote two sequels to the original novel, focusing on the son of the original protagonists. These books, Duncton Quest
and Duncton Found
, round out the first trilogy, called the Duncton Chronicles
Two years after the publication of Duncton Found
, Horwood wrote another sequel, entitled Duncton Tales
, set around a century after the original books. This, in turn, led to another trilogy, called the Book of Silence
Basically, think Watership Down
, but with moles and even more Nightmare Fuel
The series provides examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Shift: Not in shape, but in culture.
- Complete Monster: Every Big Bad, with the exception of Mandrake.
- And Henbane.
- Rune is amazing, as he escalates in evil from book to book. In Duncton Wood he's merely a Treacherous Advisor who manages to put a brutish dictator in power and then becomes the dictator himself. In Duncton Quest, he turns out to be the leader of the evil system of the Whern, also father and mate to the Big Bad Henbane. What a crook!
- Doorstopper: Hoo, yeah.
- In fact, the second book is longer than the entire first four Dune books put together.
- Messianic Archetype: Beechen, although his teachings lend themselves more towards Buddhism than Christianity.
- No Export for You: With the exception of the first book, none of these were officially brought across the Pond.
- Religion of Evil: The Word in the first trilogy, and the Newborns in the second. Basically, any religion other than the Stone is one of these.
This book provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Rebecca, who right from start is described as being "too big for a female", and is as capable of bringing bad guys down as she is of having emotional dilemmas. Also, she ultimately survived the fate of Mandrake's mother.
- Badass: in spades.
- Mandrake is the most obvious, his coming into the Duncton system being punctuated by a good load of corpses, and taking over the council with sheer force and a speech in Siabod.
- Bracken, though he takes time to grow into one. All he goes through the book is pretty much build-up.
- Rebecca gets her share as well.
- Stonecrop, and he's in for revenge!
- Big Bad: two, in fact. First Mandrake (through force) and then Rune(through cunning).
- The Big Guy: Stonecrop and Mullion.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Boswell has no qualms about using the Dark Sound to snap Bracken out of a fit of angst and remind him to respect the secrets of the stone. Bear in mind that as the Dark sound combined with knowledge of the Old Speech can be fatal, this is like snapping someone out of their angst by aiming a loaded gun at them.
- Black Speech: when used by Mandrake, the language of Siabod comes of like this. It is however latter revealed to be just another language. Interestingly, the sheer powered of the Old Speech when combined with walls of Dark Sound brings it close to being a black speech, despite being the language of the good guys.
- Brown Note: the Dark Sound.
- Complete Monster: Rune. He starts the book mildly evil with a cryptic statement that any mole who opposed him has the odd habit of disappearing mysteriously, often caught by owls. From there, he escalates.
- Dirty Old Man: Rune, to young Rebecca.
- Disney Death: at least three characters simply "disappear" and come back later: Bracken, though it's fairly obvious he'll be alright since it's very early in the book; Mandrake, who seals himself inside the Ancient System without a way out; and Rune, who suffers the same fate of Bracken, only to come back in the sequel.
- Disney Villain Death: Rune, and the "Disney" part serves two purposes, actually...
- The Dragon: Mandrake, as he starts losing his mind and Rune starts taking over. Then briefly Nightshade, some sort of mole witch from the East. She's damn creepy, that's fore sure.
- Darker and Edgier: While Duncton Wood had its share of of horror, Duncton Quest brings it Up to Eleven with the Disciples of The Word's massacre of the Uffington scribemoles.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: And how!
- Fisher King: When Mandrake is ahead of the council, things turn bad. When Rune takes over, things turn even worse. Then Bracken is put on the head of the system, but with his mental state, the system is still in shambles. It's only after Rebecca takes front that things start to heal for real.
- Fun with Foreign Languages: Siabod is practically Welsh. You can actually translate some parts of the book in Siabod, actually.
- Heroic BSOD: Rebbecca briefly falls into one in the first book after Mandrake kills her first newborn litter.
- The Mentor: Hulver.
- Also Rose and Mekkins, to Rebbecca.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Guess who.
- Moral Event Horizon: Mandrake's aforementioned killing of Rebbecca's newborns.
- But lest us remember this was an act planned by his advisor, Rune. Later on, Rune will kill Bracken's children, with the exception of Violet, and blame it all on Mandrake.
- Never Found the Body: Bracken, after the first Longest Night.
- Overprotective Dad: Mandrake, in spades.
- Self Destructive Charge: Mandrake at the final battle on the Longest Night. Not so self-destructive, though, considering his sheer size.
- Sequel Hook: and shamelessly so.
- The Smart Guy: Boswell.
- The Obi-Wan: Boswell.
- The Woobie: Many examples throughout the series, including Rebecca, Tryfan, Spindle, and even arguably, Mandrake