(British, 1944– )
William Horwood was brought up in the chalk downlands of Wessex, and his intimate knowledge of that ancient and dramatic landscape is what raises Duncton Wood (1980) far above most such animal sagas. The story follows the epic quest of Bracken, a rather solitary mole, to free all the moles of Duncton Wood from the terrifying tyranny of Mandrake, a kind of Stalin of the mole world. Such anthropomorphism can easily go wrong, but Horwood's control of his material is perfect and his imagination always triumphant. He has the same, precisely detailed knowledge of the English countryside, its flora and fauna, its seasons and weather, as Richard Adams, whose Watership Down is Duncton Wood's obvious precursor.
Richard Adams, Henry Williamson CH