Brace, I'm about to get scathing. Oh boy, I'm about to give my lowest rating of the entire year. And what book deserves this dubious honour? Duncton Found, by William Horwood, the third book in the Duncton Chronicles trilogy. In this book the Stone Mole has come, to lead moledom back to grace and the Silence of the Stone.
My biggest impression of this book is: dull, dull, dull. Gosh, this is a long book. My edition has close on 1000 pages (and this following two other books of approximately 700 pages each - honestly, how can someone write so damn much about moles?!) And the storyline of this book can be summed up thus: Stone Mole grows up in Duncton; Stone Mole wanders briefly around moledom, chatting to other moles; Stone Mole dies and is martyred (in a scene suspiciously reminiscent of the crucifiction of Christ), thereby saving the mole kingdom. How on earth is this all that happens?
Within the story I found myself skipping whole passages or even pages when one of the moles (usually Tryfan or the Stone Mole, Beechen) started talking about the nature of faith in the Stone. The particular passage where Tryfan introduces his rule for mole systems to abide by is a massive low point amongst low points. It literally went on for pages and said nothing much at all.
The characters on the side of the Stone introduced in this story were, in the most part, insipid and immensely boring to read about. Unfortunately this includes Beechen, the mole you are supposed to care the most about in this story. His mate Mistle was just as bad.
On the side of the Word we had irredeemable and hateful characters who committed atrocities for the fun of it (and Horwood's lavish descriptions of these were sickening to the point where I was hard put to read them - at least in this book we didn't have graphic and inappropriate mole sex!)
Horwood spent much of the end of Duncton Quest concentrating the story on Wharfe and Harebell, the two youngsters born of Henbane and Tryfan - in this book, their stories seemed unnecessary filler to the rest of the story.
There were a couple of interesting moments, and Mayweed remained a highlight (although he is off-screen for much of the story), but altogether a reader might as well skip Duncton Wood, enjoy - to an extent - Duncton Quest, and forget that Duncton Found even exists. The worst book I have read this year by a long long way. Avoid at all costs.