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Literature / Duncton Quest

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The second book of the Duncton Wood series, Duncton Quest tells the story of Bracken and Rebecca's son, Tryfan, as he leaves Duncton toward the Uffington system to become a scribemole himself. He arrives in Uffington with Boswell to find the place thrashed and devastated by the followers of the new religion of the Word, a rival of the Stone that rose from ancient times from the same source as the Dark Sound. He's then sent with Spindle to visit every one of the seven sacred systems to try and renew the faith in the Stone, accompanied by different Ragtag Bunches of Misfits to Buckland, back to Duncton, into the mysterious and oft never visited "twofoot" system of Wen and into the depths of the evil system of the Whern.


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  • Big Bad: Henbane, daughter of Rune.
  • Break the Cutie: Henbane to Bailey.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Mayweed tends to lean in this area sometimes.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: A good number of them. Notably Alder and Marram, who almost converted to the Stone and fled Buckland with the two prisoners they were hold together with Tryfan and Spindle; and Holm, the very dirty mole who helped the moles escape from Duncton Wood, turns out to be some sort of La Résistance leader in Rollright.
    • And, from Duncton Wood, we have the very surprising appearance of Tryfan's half-brothers, the ones that were born from Rebecca when she traveled to Siabod.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Let's see...an intolerant group that murders those who oppose it. One of its high-ranking officers is a Depraved Homosexual...nope, drawing a blank.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Thankfully subverted. Mayweed attempts to throw himself into a raging river when his disease begins taking a greater toll on him. Fortunately, Tryfan saves him and after being healed, he gets better.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Bailey is corrupted by Henbane after he is presumed dead following their escape out of Duncton, but is brought to his senses courtesy of Mayweed after he rescues him from Whern.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sleekit gradually turns her ideals around, ultimately becoming a reformed mole of the Stone.
  • Humans Are Bastards: "Wen" is a mole word for "tumor". Very subtle there, Horwood...
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: As opposed to Duncton Wood, where they rarely appear or are mentioned, "twofeet" are commonly referred to as a menace, and the moles visit the "twofoot system" (i.e., city) of the Wen, where the earth just doesn't fill right, worms are seldom good to eat and there are all sorts of weird materials like "metaille", "glas" and "thinbark" (i.e. plastic).
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  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The moles of the Word inflict Snouting upon innocent believers in the Stone in their brutal conquests through Moledom. It involves having their snout run through the sharp points of barbed wire fences, and is as painful as it is horrible.
  • The Lancer: Spindle acts as this to Tryfan.
  • Mind Screw: The scene where Mayweed shows Tryfan the tunnels of Dunbar in the Wen. They're filled with scribings that produce sound when stroke by mole's claws, and they start as the sounds of an old mole, then to the sounds of adults, youngsters and finally pups. Then there are the sounds of a mother and her pup interacting, with mews and suckling and even scolding and crying. Then there's Dark Sound and the last chamber is filled with scribings that give out the (horrible) sound of birth and, behind a stone sealed entrance, there hides... something. If any sound is made inside the last chamber, anymole can hear the entire life of a mole in seconds, as the sound travels backwards to the tunnel's entrance. The place is so horrifying that even Mayweed gets lost when trying to get back.
  • Not Quite Dead: It is revealed that Rune indeed survived the events of Duncton Wood and has become the leader of the evil Word cult, and had a daughter that now commands his armies.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Rune's fate. Henbane tears into him like he is nothing, stabbing him in the snout before throwing him and slamming and beating him upon the encrusted remains of the old Masters of the Word, again and again, ultimately stabbing him to death against the encrusted corpse of their cults' founder. And this is literally after she just gave birth to three pups!
  • Religion of Evil: The Word. And how!
  • Salt the Earth: After conquering Duncton Wood (i.e., arriving in a system that was almost wholly evacuated by the native moles), Henbane orders every crazy, demented and/or sick mole to be sent to Duncton Wood to create their own twisted system, to reduce Duncton Wood to a shameful memory of what it once was.
  • Sequel Escalation: while Duncton Wood was about the decay of the belief in the Stone, in Duncton Quest we have an actual opponent in the Word, as well as expansion on many points that were merely glossed over in the first book. Rune's origins are revealed, as well as the history of Dark Sound, scribing is given a more central role in the story, and, oddly enough, "twofeet" are more commonly referenced through the story.
    • Rune also gets eviler and eviler from Wood to Quest: now he's the ruler of a whole system of evil.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mayweed is apparently unable to say anything in simple words. Or without using extravagant vocatives, including when referring to himself.
  • Third-Person Person: Mayweed.
  • Villainous Incest / Parental Incest: Rune to Henbane. Made worse because he planned it. With her mother.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Henbane tries to pull this on Tryfan. Fortunately, he's smarter than that.


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