Duncton Wood 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.
The series provides examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Shift: Not in shape, but in culture. The moles live underground and eat worms, but can also read and write, and get into some serious philosophy, particularly regarding religion.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Newborns are more of a Corrupt Church, though.
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.
- Big Bad: two, in fact. First Mandrake (through force) and then Rune (through cunning).
- 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 power 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.
- Dark Is Evil: Rune is described as having a black shiny coat, with just as dark eyes to match. Of course, they're moles ...
- 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.
- Fisher King: When Mandrake is head 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.
- From the point of view of Siabod, the foreign language could well be "English" as spoken by the foreign moles.
- Heroic BSoD: Rebbecca briefly falls into one in the first book after Mandrake kills her first newborn litter.
- Treacherous Advisor: Rune is this to Mandrake, in many spades. Also doubles as Manipulative Bastard.
- Rape as Drama: With Rebecca. To make it worse it also doubles as Parental Incest, since her rapist is her own father Mandrake, who's so obsessed with his daughter that prior to the rape, he killed her first husband/mate in one-on-one combat and massacred her children/his grandchildren by said husband/mate.
- Recycled IN Space: Watership Down.... WITH RELIGION AND MOLES!!
- Self-Destructive Charge: Mandrake at the final battle on the Longest Night. Not so self-destructive, though, considering his sheer size.
- Villainous Crush: Rune has a rather creepy obsession with young Rebecca. And it's implied that he still lusts after her when they both have reached old age.
- Would Hurt a Child: Rune has no hesitance to kill Bracken's pups to further his cause in which he blames it on Mandrake to get him deposed; worst of all, he kills them right in front of their sister, whom he spares, leaving her traumatized no doubt for life, knowing she was too frightened to convey the whole story, which only made his plan succeed all the more impressively.