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Hobblantern Yet, if only they knew what was truly awakening, deep within the medieval forests...
This article has been distinguished as part of the real world and thus should not be taken as part of the fictional universe of the Deptford Mice books.

I really enjoyed writing this one, especially as it started off with such a bang, I don't think there's been a higher death count in one of my opening chapters. Throughout The Deptford Mice there was mention of an old conflict between the squirrels and the bats - I wanted to finally tell that story properly.
Robin Jarvis

The Oaken Throne is the second book in The Deptford Histories trilogy by Robin Jarvis. It explains the conflict between the squirrels and the bats, and also delves into the history of the dynasty of Starwives. However, this is not the backstory of the Starwife who appears in The Deptford Mice trilogy, but rather one of her predecessors.[1]


In memory of Andrew James Moston, 1990-1992. Never forgotten and now in his grandfather's arms.

Official description[]

It is a time of magic, and a time of darkness. The fierce wars between the bats and the squirrels have been raging for many years, but tonight the battle for power takes an extraordinary new twist.

The Starwife, leader of the black squirrels, lies dying; before she can name her successor, she is betrayed and poisoned by her trusted handmaiden. As the vicious bat army launches a devastating attack on the Starwife's realm, the squirrel leader staggers to a window and calls for aid...

In different corners of the land, Vesper the young bat and Ysabelle the squirrel maiden are as yet unaware of the events that will sweep them into a nightmarish journey to save their kind from destruction.


In medieval England, a war has raged between the bats and the squirrels for many years. The bats believe that the Starwife, queen of the squirrels, has stolen their powers of prophecy and insight, given to them as a gift from the moon goddess. With the help of a treacherous squirrel named Morwenna, they launch a devastating attack on the Starwife's realm, Greenreach. The dying Starwife entrusts her magical silver acorn pendant to a peregrine falcon, who bears it away to safety.

The next day, in a distant squirrel realm known as Coll Regalis, festivities for the Aldertide holiday are underway. The merriment comes to an end when the bat army flies overhead in pursuit of the falcon. They slaughter the bird and the silver acorn drops into the paw of Ysabelle, crown princess of Coll Regalis. Confounded by the daylight, the bats leave but resolve to return at nightfall to retrieve the pendant. Ysabelle shows it to her parents, who know this means that the Starwife is dead and Greenreach has fallen. It is decided that Ysabelle will journey to Greenreach and become the new Starwife. She will be accompanied by all the guards of Coll Regalis, with those left behind to fight an unwinnable battle as a distraction when the bats come back that night.

On their way through the forest, Ysabelle's guards come across a juvenile bat named Vespertilio. Too young to be a knight, he has run away from home with his late father's armour in hopes of joining the battle at Greenreach. But the armour proved too heavy while he was flying and he tumbled to the ground and broke his wing. Though Ysabelle detests the bat, when her adviser Godfrey suggests that Vespertilio could be used as a guide, she agrees to take him along as a prisoner. In the night, the group is attacked by Hobbers, members of a bloodthirsty cult. Using the power of the silver acorn which he stole from Ysabelle, the high priest calls on their evil god Hobb to emerge from the Underworld. Godfrey hastily comes up with a plan to retrieve the acorn, which is successful but results in his death. Ysabelle unties Vesper as she still needs his help as a guide. The two escape, but not before the enraged high priest lays curses on them, proclaiming that when Hobb appears he will kill Ysabelle and that Vesper will die surrounded by the sound of bells.

Ysabelle and Vesper meet a leprous mole named Giraldus and a lame shrew named Tysle who are on a pilgrimage to Greenreach to be cured of their ailments. As they are bound for the same place, Ysabelle asks to accompany the two, telling Vesper he is free to go. But he chooses to stay with the group, having secretly developed a growing fondness for Ysabelle. After being chased by Hobbers on a nightmarish journey through the woods, Ysabelle is reunited with Wendel Maculatum, a stoat jester she befriended at the Aldertide celebrations in Coll Regalis. He says he has heard that a group of woodlanders have risen up in resistance to the Hobbers, and that their base is somewhere nearby. Upon reaching it, they meet the leader of the woodlanders, warrior mouse Fenlyn Purfote. Initially suspicious of the group, Purfote is convinced they are telling the truth when the Ancient, messenger of the moon goddess, has an audience with Ysabelle and Vesper. The Ancient says that the great war has been fought in vain, for it was not the Starwife who stole the bats' power away from them, but their own leader Hrethel. The only way for the Hobbers to be defeated is if the bats and squirrels team up and fight them together. Tysle turns up dead, and it is revealed that he was murdered by Wendel, who is in fact the high priest of Hobb. Mad with grief, Giraldus attacks Wendel and the two engage in a fight. Wendel easily gains the upper hand over the disabled mole but Giraldus causes the tunnel they're in to collapse completely, killing the high priest and sacrificing his life in the process.

Vesper and Ysabelle escape and finally arrive in Greenreach, where Morwenna tricks Ysabelle into following her into a chamber deep beneath the Hallowed Oak. Revealing herself as a Hobber, she takes the silver acorn and leaves Ysabelle to be devoured by toads. Vesper rescues Ysabelle and the two emerge to see the bat and squirrel armies engaged in battle. Using special herbs given to him by the Ancient, Vesper creates a beacon fire which distracts them all. They are shocked when he kisses Ysabelle, and listen in amazement to what he has to tell them. As Hobbers surge up the hill, the bats and squirrels finally come together to fight their common enemy. Suddenly, the gigantic horned rat god Hobb emerges from the earth, much to everyone's horror. Morwenna is incinerated by Hobb, who mistakes her for Ysabelle because she is presently wearing the silver acorn. Upon reclaiming the discarded pendant, Ysabelle ritually accepts the Starwifeship, then confronts Hobb. She casts a spell that imprisons him in an ordinary acorn before collapsing from exhaustion.

Weeks later, Greenreach is being restored to its former glory for Ysabelle's coronation day. Vesper arrives and asks to speak with her. He professes his love and asks her to run away with him, but she declines, telling him that her duty is more important. Left alone, the despondent Vesper is offered a drink by a cloaked stranger. He takes it, only to find to his horror that the drink is poison and the stranger is the ghost of Wendel Maculatum, having returned from the dead to ensure his curse was fulfilled. Meanwhile, all through the coronation ceremony, thoughts of the young bat fill Ysabelle's mind. Ultimately she publicly refuses the Starwifeship and races to find Vesper. She is heartbroken to find him lying dead, surrounded by bluebell flowers.


Prologue: Vespertilio[]

A tiny, forlorn figure sits atop a ruined tower by the Eastern Gate of the medieval city of London. It is a young bat named Vespertilio. He laments that all hopes are lost to him and that this night everything will be ended. He leaps from the tower, letting himself fall toward the ground. At the last second, he changes his mind and swoops upward, proclaiming that he'll not be quenched so easily.

Entering the tower, which is home to his community of bats, he sees the preparations that are being made for the coming night. The bat army will be launching an attack on the land of the squirrel queen, the Starwife, which should decide the outcome of the wars waged between the two species for many years. It is believed by the bats that the Starwife used her magic to take away their powers of prophecy and insight, gifts to them from the moon goddess. The reason for Vesper's despondency is that he is too young to be a Knight of the Moon and fight the squirrels himself. With the wars coming to an end, he believes he will have no chance now to ever do so.

Another young bat named Breca appears and taunts Vesper. He brags that he has been chosen to rob bird nests for the pouch bombers, gathering the eggs which they use to create their bombs. Though Vesper knows that only cowards and weaklings are sent on these egg raids, he still envies Breca for being able to see the pouch bombers take off one last time.

Arriving at the home he shares with his mother, Indith, Vesper finds her impatiently waiting for the pigments of dye he was sent to collect. She scolds him for taking so long, reminding him that the Knights of the Moon must be decorated with symbols of protection before going to war.

Vesper stares longingly at his father's screechmask and gauntlets, displayed on a shelf nearby. He expresses his wish to go fight the squirrels, begging his mother to let him sneak along with the bat army. Indith forbids it, telling him that the battle is no game. It was while in combat with the squirrels that Vesper's father was killed. As Indith leaves to deliver her pigments to the Moonriders, Vesper is left alone to ponder whether there is still some way he can join them.

Chapter 1: Blood on the Oak[]


In Greenreach, the Starwife's handmaiden Morwenna descends into a secret chamber deep beneath the Hallowed Oak. She calls to her repulsively ugly pet toads, who come to meet her on the muddy shore of a vast, murky lake within the chamber. Morwenna feeds the toads some raw meat, and while they are distracted she leaps forward, pricking open a pustule on the back of one of them with her dagger. She gathers the liquid that spurts out into a small vial. Promising the toads that they will soon have plenty of fresh meat, Morwenna then returns to the Hallowed Oak above.

The Starwife's health has been rapidly declining, and unbeknownst to the ancient squirrel, Morwenna has been poisoning her with toad venom disguised as medicine. On this night, Morwenna administers what she hopes will be the final dose. As the Starwife discusses the next day's Aldertide celebrations and her plans to name her successor, Morwenna reveals her treachery. She tells her horrified mistress that she plans to cover the Starglass with her cloak that she has embroidered with spells of smothering. This will remove the Starwife's magic defences, leaving the land of Greenreach vulnerable to attack.

As soon as the cloak is cast over the Starglass, the enchantments begin to fail and the bat army surges into Greenreach. Filled with despair, the Starwife senses her realm's impending downfall. The squirrels are powerless to stop the devastation wrought by the bats and many inhabitants of the realm suffer agonising deaths by their gauntlets and fire eggs. When the Starwife realises that Morwenna forgot to take her silver acorn amulet from her and without it cannot successfully usurp the Starwifeship, a glimmer of hope returns to the ancient squirrel. Using all her remaining strength, she telepathically summons a peregrine falcon to bear the pendant to a place of safety. Morwenna is furious and stabs the Starwife to death before ordering the bat general, Rohgar, to pursue the falcon. He balks at first, but when she informs him she will not be able to restore the bats' birthright without the silver acorn's power, he and his army take off in pursuit.

Chapter 2: Aldertide[]

The next morning, far away in the Hazel Realm, the inhabitants are preparing for the Aldertide celebrations. Princess Ysabelle, daughter of the queen regnant Lady Ninnia, is especially excited because this year she will be one of the Alder maids who perform the ceremony of awakening the trees for spring. The young black squirrel prances about on the branches of the central oak, watching traveling performers and merchants setting up on the lawn below, as her fretful fieldmouse nursemaid Griselda looks on with concern.

Chapter 3: Farewell to the Hazel[]

Chapter 4: Through Gorse and Bramble[]

Chapter 5: Elderfire[]

Chapter 6: Out of the Misty Hawthorn[]

Chapter 7: In the Orchard of Duir[]

Chapter 8: The Time of the Rowan[]

Chapter 9: By the Mournful Willows[]

Chapter 10: From the Shade of the Beeches[]

Chapter 11: The Furze Cat[]

Chapter 12: Within the Ruis Chest[]

Chapter 13: At the King of Trees[]

Chapter 14: The Fall of the Oak[]

Epilogue: Ysabelle[]

Character listing[]

  • Vespertilio: A young bat, eager to prove himself in the approaching war who believes that all squirrels are evil.
  • Rohgar: A Knight of the Moon, he is the bats' greatest warrior and hero, having fought in countless battles against the despised squirrels.
  • Lord Hrethel: As Warden of the Great Book, Hrethel inspires the bat host to wage war upon the squirrel houses.
  • Morwenna: The arch traitor of Greenreach, whose name is forever accursed.
  • Ysabelle: The young squirrel maiden, daughter of the Lady Ninnia and heiress of Coll Regalis. She has been taught to put duty before all else and her head rules her heart.
  • Lady Ninnia: Wise ruler of the Hazel realm who wears the bronze hazel about her neck.
  • Griselda: Ysabelle's mouse nursemaid. She is an anxious little body, much given to fretting.
  • Wendel Maculatum: A talented stoat jester who is embroiled in the dramatic events at the time of Aldertide.
  • Godfrey Gelenos: One of the wise, elderly counsellors of Coll Regalis who taught Ysabelle all the traditions of the Hazel Realm, he is never seen without a scholarly parchment tucked under his arm.
  • Pigwiggen: A frightful, greedy hedgehog and member of the dreaded Hobber cult.
  • Tysle Symkyn: The lame shrew companion of Giraldus. Tysle was discovered by the mole after the Hobbers massacred everyone in his settlement, he is steadfast and true but far too trusting.
  • Giraldus: A leprous mole who is on a pilgrimage to Greenreach in the hope of receiving a cure from the Green Mouse. His great friend is Tysle and depends on him for almost everything.
  • Fenlyn Purfote (Fenny): The fierce mouse captain of the woodlanders who has taken oaths to rid the forest of the Hobb cult.
  • The Ancient: The messenger of the Moon goddess, the oldest and wisest creature to have ever lived.


Illustration gallery[]



  • The Oaken Throne takes place chronologically before The Alchymist's Cat, the book which directly precedes it in publication order. On Robin Jarvis's official website, he describes the time of Hrethel as having been prior to the Great Fire of London.[2] It could be inferred that The Oaken Throne is set in the 12th century, as that is when Queen Elizabeth's Oak (supposed to be the one Hobb is imprisoned in) was seeded in real life.

Notes and references[]

Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice books
The Deptford Mice:
The Dark Portal | The Crystal Prison | The Final Reckoning
The Deptford Histories:
The Alchymist's Cat | The Oaken Throne | Thomas
The Deptford Mouselets:
Fleabee's Fortune | Whortle's Hope | Ogmund's Gift (unreleased) | Twit's Progress (unreleased)
The Deptford Mice Almanack