|Farthing Wood: The Adventure Begins|
Cover of the original 1994 publication
|Publication date||16 June 1994|
|Preceded by||Battle for the Park|
Farthing Wood: The Adventure Begins is the eighth and final book of The Animals of Farthing Wood book series by Colin Dann. The book was illustrated by Trevor Newton and first published on 16 June 1994.
The book is a prequel, set five years before the original novel, showing how Farthing Wood came to be destroyed and introducing characters that had died before the original journey to White Deer Park took place.
The Otters of Farthing Wood are coming onto land to hunt. The otters include Sleek Otter, Slow Otter, Lame Otter and Long-Whiskers. The predators of the Wood are envious of the otters hunting talents and the otters began to taunt them. Lean Vixen, a bossy Farthing Wood vixen, is especially envious. She teams up with Sly Stoat and they sneakily drive sickly voles toward the home of the otters. The otters, unaccustomed to eating land food, eat the voles and catch the sickness. They realise that they are ill due to not eating enough cressy water plants and so cure their disease.
Lean Vixen, her mate Lean Fox, Sly Stoat and Stout Fox are enraged by the otters behaviour and so chase them out of the wood, killing a great number of them in a bloody encounter. The otters, of which only about seven remain, flee. Sage Hedgehog predicts doom with the departure of the otters and the badgers, Kindly Badger, his mate and Young Badger, pity the otters.
Stout Fox meanwhile has met a mate, Stout Vixen. She is carrying his cubs during the following spring. Stout Fox remembers the sick voles incident and so deliberately avoids eating voles but his mate is less careful and catches the illness. In fear for his mate and his cubs, Stout Fox remembers the otters have a cure for the illness and sets out to find the otters. But Quick Weasel and Wily Stoat die from the parasite after suffering terribly for some time, and Sly Stoat blames himself for both of their deaths.
Outside the wood, the otters are doing badly. They find a trout farm but two sister otters are killed there, party due to the sefish actions of Slow Otter and his jealousy of Lame Otter, the other male. Slow Otter fears to return to the other three otters and so lags behind and is killed on the railway. Sleek Otter, Long Whiskers and Lame Otter are the remaining otters. They cannot find food and Long Whiskers decided to return to the Wood despite the danger of the foxes. She and Lame Otter become mates and begin to travel back to Farthing Wood. Sleek Otter continues alone and is hit by a car.
In Farthing Wood, humans have began developing on the grasslands. Rabbit burrows and destroyed by diggers and a swamp is caused. When Lean Fox and Lean Vixen are hunting, they are drowned in this swamp.
Humans in Farthing Wood have noticed the disappearance of otters and have gone to help the creatures. They encounter Long Whiskers, now pregnant, and Lame Otter. However, the humans unintentionally startle the otters who run into a nursing badger sett. Lame Otter is killed defending his mate. The humans presume Long-Whiskers to be dead also and leave. However, Long-Whiskers is hurt but alive.
She heads back to Farthing Wood and sees Stout Fox. Assuming he has come to finish her off, she runs into the road in a panic and is hit. Stout Fox runs to her and apologizes, then asks for the cure to the sickness. Long-Whiskers does not know the cure but tells the fox that it was something to do with water plants. The last otter of Farthing wood makes her peace with Stout Fox and the other animals there at the time (Sly Stoat, Kindly Badger, Young Badger, Lightning Weasel and his new mate) and dies, wiping out the last of the Farthing Wood Otters and the protection of the Wood.
Stout Fox returns home and in desperation makes his dying mate go to the steam to drink for the sake of the cubs. She does, and accidentally swallows some water plants while doing so. Stout Vixen gets better. Four cubs are born to the Stout Fox and Stout Vixen, but three are stillborn, one male and two females, and one lives, but is not too well at first.
The first tree is felled in Farthing Wood. Some see this as a cause for panic. But the wise old Sage Hedgehog has a final prediction following dreams of a place with a white stag. He predicts that 'a new leader will come.'
The fox cub at the end of the novel is assumed to be Fox, but this is not made clear as the novel ends somewhat abruptly before the events at the close of the novel can be explained.
- Stout Fox
- Stout Vixen
- Lean Fox
- Lean Vixen
- Sly Stoat
- Sleek Otter
- Lightning Weasel
- Quick Weasel
- Wily Stoat
- Young Badger
- Kindly Badger
- Slow Otter
- Smooth Otter
- Sleek Otter's cubs
- Two otter sisters
- Unnamed female otter
- Male fox cub (possibly Fox)
- Sage Hedgehog
- The Great Stag (cameo in Sage Hedgehog's dream)