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Baggy and unfocused sequel,
This review is from: Duncton Quest (The Duncton Chronicles) (Mass Market Paperback)
My dad bought me the Duncton books when I was in my early teens, and though I read and loved Duncton Wood straight away, even re-reading it last year, I never could get into this, the sequel. I tried a number of times but always put it down very quickly, even before Boswell and Tryffan reach Uffington. This time I managed to continue, and I really don't know why I found it so hard before: it's an easy book to read.
But that's not to say it's anywhere near as good as Duncton Wood. Duncton Wood was a well told, solid tale about the redemption of a community that has lost touch with its own past. Duncton Quest, on the other hand, is a sprawling, muddled tale that, like its central character, doesn't seem to know where it's going. The moles wander aimlessly from Duncton Wood, to Uffington, to Wales, to Primrose Hill in London (!!), to the Peak District. Lots of things let it down: firstly, its strong religious theme, dealt with quite delicately in the first book, here expanded to become nonsensical and pretentious. Next, its cast of mainly dislikeable and not very charismatic main characters, especially Tryffan. This cast pales in comparison to the first book's Bracken, Rebecca, Mandrake and Rune - and others. One or two from Quest do shine out: verbose Mayweed is one of them.
Another problem with the book is its bagginess. It could have been condensed a great deal and would benefit by being stripped of its waffle. Though there are more descriptions than ever, they are less evocative and beautiful - one of the strengths of the first book. Horwood could learn something by rereading (or reading) Williamson's Taka the otter - perhaps it would help him to get back to basics. These characters just don't seem like moles.