It is difficult to summarize the exceedingly full plot of William Horwood’s six books, involving many named moles (there are no nonmole characters) and extending over about ten generations and some four thousand pages. Although the Duncton Wood system of tunnels and burrows remains central, a dozen or more other systems are featured, together with extreme ups and downs in mole life.
Duncton Wood, the first novel of the Duncton Chronicles, introduces the world of moles through Bracken, first met as a young mole and followed throughout his life. It tells of his love for Rebecca, a healer, and how he becomes the leader at Duncton and tries to maintain the mole religion. For this last, he is persecuted by Mandrake, Rune, and their followers. Bracken goes on long journeys to other systems, accompanied by Boswell, a scribemole. They visit Uffington, the religious center of moledom, where the Holy Mole (analogous to the pope) resides and where there is a great library of mole books. They also visit Siabod, a system in a Welsh mountain. Despite a fire and a plague, the worshipers of the Stone at Duncton keep their faith alive.
Duncton Quest is the story of Tryfan, Bracken and Rebecca’s son, who accompanies Boswell (now elderly and revered) to Uffington, which is almost deserted. There, Boswell appoints Tryfan as a scribemole, instructing him to write down the history and philosophy of moledom during the coming period of religious persecution. This Tryfan does, despite terrible hardships.
As leader at Duncton, he evacuates the system (though with terrible losses when a tunnel under the river floods) in response to an attack...
(The entire section is 684 words.)