Duncton Wood (Duncton Chronicles, #1)
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Duncton Wood (Duncton Chronicles #1)

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  2,162 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Enter the magical, colourful, poignant world of Bracken and Rebecca, Mandrake the tyrant, Boswell the scribe, Hulver, Comfrey... and all the other moles of Duncton Wood. Set deep in the English countryside, this enchanting story tells of an ancient community losing its soul - but saved by courage and love.
Hardcover, 541 pages
Published 1980 by Country Life
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Kathleen Dixon
This is a very short review because I should be working, but I need to return a few books to the library today....

If I owned this book I wouldn't give it away (unlike a few that I'm trying to pass on, so that next time I move house there aren't quite as many boxes for the poor removal men to carry (there were over 100 boxes of books!)).

What else can I say? There are some excellent reviews done already. For me, Horwood has got the combination of animals and fantasy and faith and countryside just...more
Liam Mulkeen
It seems the world has almost forgot about Duncton wood. The books are hard to find in second hand shops. I would rate the books up there with Lord of the rings, Dune, the dark materials trilogy and watership down. If you like that sort of stuff you will simply be amazed by the moles of Duncton Wood. Amazed it took you so long to read it, for starters. The characters are lovable, you will really care what happens to them and the world they inhabit underground is well developed to the point of fa...more
Fence
Don’t be put off by the fact that this is a book about moles, because it a great story of love, hate, violence, forgiveness and courage.
A re-read for me, this has always been my favourite of the Duncton books. There are six in all, three in the Duncton Chronicles and three in the other series. But this is the best of them, I felt that the others got a little too bogged down in philosophy and Horwood turned slightly preachy with his pacifist moles.

Despite that, I will be on the lookout for the ot...more
Amanda
As the tagline on the book suggests, this is "A clash of good and evil in the savage kingdom of moles." It bears comparison to Watership Down, but the moles are more anthropomorphic. As well as speaking, they worship the Stone, they scribe books and they have the capacity to love.

It is this capacity to love that brings us the story of Bracken and Rebecca, two moles who grow up in the Duncton Wood system. At the time of their birth, the system is being overthrown and then led by two evil moles -...more
Nigel Hill
Just finished reading this for the second time. Very well written tale. Loved the descriptions of the English countryside, peopled (or should i say moled!) by some wonderful characters. Mandrake is a character never to be forgotten. Bracken and Rebecca and their trials and hardships and two moles you really care about - a poignant story of love and commitment. Having said this the book is certainly not for children as there is quite a lot of violence and adult themes. As an adult fairy tale thou...more
Stephen Hayes
On reading this for the first time, it seemed to have been inspired by the popularity of Watership Down by Richard Adams. What Adams did for rabbits, Horwood does for moles.

The system of mole tunnels under Duncton Wood is large, and moles in one part hardly know those from other parts of the system. There also some parts of the system that are almost forgotten, and there are also some customs that have been forgotten as well, so that the moles are using their centre, the silence of the Stone at...more
Stuart Douglas
'Duncton Wood' is a book I well remember coming out and about which I was a little scathing at the time. Just another Watership Down rip-off, I believe I said - and there's some truth in that accusation, but only in the sense that any novel with anthropomorphic animals set in the English countryside and in which humanity plays only a tangential role is published in the long shadow of Richard Adam's masterpiece. But Duncton Wood is more than just a re-tread of old ground, and its influences are w...more
Ruth
Before starting to read, I noticed this book was first published in the eighties. Being born in the late nineties, in my eyes it seemed rather old. I suspected the pace might be quite slow and the plot might be aged. A prejudgement proven wrong, as so often prejudgements are.
Not one page of this book failed to hold my attention. One adventure after the other takes place, while the plot unravels. I was spellbound.
One thing I loved in particular, was being able to follow the evolution of the char...more
Azalea
Yes, finally. A book with talking animals that I prefer over the legendary Watership Down. YES. THERE. I SAID IT. OH MAN OH GOD OH MAN.

A book about talking animals that seem rather unremarkable and harmless in reality, but that are given a wonderful own world of their own, an own history and mythology, and a great adventure to explore this world as a human reader in intricate detail. A book that occasionally makes you forget its characters are animals and which still convincingly transitions sai...more
Austen to Zafón
Not many people in the US know of this book (or even it's fairly prolific author), but it's well known and loved in Britain. Horwood writes beautifully. As with Watership Down, this story is on the surface about animals (moles in this case) but is really about a complex society, complete with moral, political, emotional, and religious aspects. I remember how moved I was by this story when I read it. There's a sacredness about it and you really care about the main characters. It's not for young k...more
Ron
Duncton Wood is a Adventure-Love story like no other. It's the story of two Moles, Bracken and Rebecca, and the adventures they have as they try to protect Duncton Wood from Mandrake an outsider and oddly enough, Rebecca's father. They must face the problems of mole life head on, while maintaining faith in the stone. It's unfortunate that this novel is being compared with Watership Down, due to the fact that Watership Down, a great novel on it's own, falls short when compared against Duncton Woo...more
Allen Garvin
A friend of mine loaned this to me in college in the 80s, having picked it up in England (it wasn't published or available in the US until several years later). It's a top-rate anthropomorphic fantasy about moles--it's quite a bit like Watership Down, though the mole community is perhaps a bit more complex philosophically, but ultimately they're really moles, unlike some animal fantasies where the characters are essentially people in animal form. A strong story of love.

I never finished the enti...more
Caroline
I picked this up with the intention of reading all six Duncton books, since it's been so long since I've read them, but once I was nearing the end of this I found I wasn't really in the mood for the rest. Maybe they're not as good as I remember or perhaps I just wasn't quite ready to settle down for an six-book epic series about moles and religion! I used to love this book, and it is still good, don't get me wrong, but I guess it takes a level of commitment I wasn't quite up for. But if you're t...more
Ben Frey
Quite possibly one of the best fictional books ever written. More powerful than it has any right to be. If you read it from the wrong mindset or point of view, I can see how it might not work as well, but for anyone who still holds out hope for a whimsical, powerful, unquenchable love, this book connects to your inner-most longings and brings them powerfully to life. Also, everybody in the book is a mole. Yeah.
Denise Kruse
This is an epic about generations of moles told with a Celtic voice. It is a lovely story for one who enjoys traditional tales of good versus evil and lush, poetic narrative. It fell short for me because the ancient religious story line seems forced, as if the author is thrusting our human thinking on the moles. At one point, Rebecca, the main "fe-mole" character asks Bracken, one of the main mole characters, "Do you believe in the stone?" Unfortunately, I never did. This was recommended to me b...more
James
Similar to Watership Down, but with moles, this book demonstrates an excellently-crafted world populated by moles (not cutesy anthropomorphic ones but real ones that live and die among nature's often brutal indifference. The author has crafted a believable and interesting mythology to go with the characters, and it is definitely worth reading.
Ruby
This was so beautiful to me at the time, and I know when I reread it all the little Orwellian references to religion will come to the surface so easily in comparison. There is something beautiful and sacred I will keep about Bracken and Boswell that I might not let myself completely come to terms with in the later generation.
Roz Bennetts
Next to Gone with the Wind this is my second favourite book of all time.

Even though the characters are moles they are every bit as well drawn as human characters and I could get quite carried away by adjectives and superlatives in describing this book. And for the record I didn't get on with Watership Down.
Lindsey
I must admit I am facing quite a struggle in trying to write this review. Where to begin? My response to Duncton Wood seems to have almost as many layers as the novel has pages, which is a bold claim. I'll try to tackle it accordingly.

To briefly sum up a 582 page novel, it is an allegory of the cycle of decay, destruction, and rebuilding of a civilization, tied up in grand adventure and a spiritual journey into the soul. Oh, and it's about moles. If Richard Adams (Watership Down) and Tolkien wro...more
Wouter
Before I bought this book (second hand, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered) I read one or two pages, which seemed entertaining enough. In those pages a mole was asking for advice from a big rock, which he (the mole) considered some kind of deity. The rock not deigning to answer such petty requests the mole got rather irritated and accused the rock (quite accurately) of being heartless.

This monologue (the rock didn't even deign to answer those accusations) gave me the impression that the story o...more
discordia_eris
In re-reading Duncton Wood, I am rediscovering an intricate subterranean world. Of moles... anthropomorphic moles, who live in a society that is losing it's magic and traditions - in part through the evil tyrany of the leader Mandrake, but in part through it's own apathy. But the system still has a chance. It has possibilities. It has somemoles who can regain the lost soul of community through courage, and faith in magic and love.

Closer perhaps to Watership Down than to Wind In the Willows, for...more
L.M. Ironside
This book was just so-so for me. I love a good animal yarn, and I eagerly read any book with talking animals in it (a habit dating to my childhood.) But Duncton Wood dragged too much for my liking. The action was spaced out too widely by moles being too introspective in too boring a manner. Plus, what was with all the moles who had Biblical names? Why would moles have any access to the Bible, and why would they care about the religious mythology of human beings? I was so confused by that.

A weir...more
Matthew Hodge
I read this as a teenager and loved it. As an adult, it was a bit longer and more difficult to get through. But it's still a beautifully written piece of work about a community of moles facing a crisis of faith. The moles who live in Duncton have been invaded by a darker influence of moles from the north and this slow multi-generational epic tells of how the community was turned around.

Now long out of print but you often find one or more of these series floating around in second-hand bookstores.
Elaine Armstrong
I loved this book! I read it years ago and can't find it anymore. I want to add it to my collection of favourites. It's poignant, always relevant, and the moles become real people in your mind, not just moles. The story reveals character traits in the moles that we have as humans - it's impossible to separate them from us! It's about politics, religion, and human frailty; wish I could get my hands on the series again!
ruzmarì
I would probably read this novel differently now than when I first read it, but my rating reflects my memory of Horwood's book as a life-changing experience. It was one of my first introductions to the magic of real faith, faith that surpasses words and doubts and restrictions, faith that transcends and makes transcendent. There are five sequels, but this novel remains (to my reading) the centerpiece of the series.
Issy1958
Duncton Wood, Duncton Quest and Duncton Found. I found these books many years ago, loved them, and still have them. The story revolves around moles, and follows the life of one mole from when he is born, the world he lives in, his friends, his loves and the changes and difficulties faced by him and the world he lives in.

Undoubtedly my favorite series. It's time for a re-read I think.

Abigail
I enjoyed this book, it's quite obvious the author put quite a bit of effort into detailing and making a culture for the moles, making them seem more humane and appealing, not to mention the book spanned hundreds and hundreds of pages. The description was well done and the story was interested. However, I was a little disturbed during some of the mating and attempted rape scenes... ._.
Philip
I'm always surprised when there are amazing books out there that are not more well known (at least to me). Too much to really say about this story. Only that if you can set aside the time for this long read it is well worth it, and that it is intensely emotional (the whole gamut of emotions) - you know, what you'd expect in a book about cute little moles...
Noel G
Completely enchanting.
Sadly, the following five books in the set get progressively poorer, with laboured philosophy, repetition of previous stories. I got the impression, he had one good story, but then felt compelled to continue it without anything really new to add.
Gary
I read this after Watership Down and it's a great read but 2 rabbit books on the trot are enough for anyone and I was 'rabbited out' for a long time. I could maybe handle a book about rabbits again now but preferably a recipe book.... sorry Veggies.
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