The Delving Overthrown – The Chronicles of Denoril
by Aaron Bunce
It has been said that a dream is simply our visitation into another time and place, another life, another reality. That is what Aaron Bunce has delivered in The Delving: a dream bound in a book cover. From Word One, the reader is taken away from wherever they are to the world wherein we find Denoril. Only after reading this book did I find that this is a supplemental series. I am, however, very much interested in reading more tales from this world.
Appropriation. Sweeping aside the potential negative connotations of the word, appropriation is an occupational hazard and, in the throes of world-building, often a necessity. After looking up the word ‘delve’, I was delighted to see how the author had taken ownership of the language, establishing his own denotation (and, as it happens, a connotation as well). It made his world even more accessible and while still a voyeur of the tales and trials of the characters, I was no longer in an elevated position looking down on the characters. I was made to feel as if I had donned the blouse and britches of a common man who had been given a roadside view of the events of one man in particular.
Thorben Paulson… evidence that not all protagonists are heroes. He is presented to the reader as an Every Man character, only he is not. Yes, he is happily married to a wife that adores him and the father of seven children, but that is about where the good news train comes off the rails. Thorben has a tragic past, as all men of his kind do, and it is one that he cannot shake. He is literally a marked man, and because of such he is one step away from untouchable. This makes it rather difficult for him to provide for his family. But his past is not done with him, as a friend from thaws gone past comes calling, bringing to Thorben a chance to get back in the game, and perhaps come away with enough coin to take care of his family.
And what is the game, you ask?! Delving is the practice of invading crypts or sacred burial grounds with the intent to pillage or perform a number of unsavory exercises. Thorben is a delver, a thief, and one who’s been caught, prosecuted, and punished. At his wit’s end, his friend, a broker of relics, offers him a job. Seeing no other options, Thorben of course does the wrong thing and says yes!
What follows is the adventure that is Book One of the Chronicles of Denoril and it is by no means a simple romp through the woods. There are turns and bumps all along the path and they only seem to grow in intensity as the story progresses. Again, I was taken into a different time and place and I very much enjoyed the transit from my living room to Denoril. So much so that I am enthused to read more from this author and plan on doing so in the near future.
And then there are the things I did not like.
The supporting cast (on the protagonist side of things) were people who engaged in behavior I found to be distracting and off-putting. Just as I hate it when characters on television and in movies speak in cryptic phrases that do nothing other than raise questions, I found that happening too often in this book. People who are in life-death situations do not (or IMO should not) talk like that. In the endless cycle of art imitating life imitating art, we can often see where some things were initially introduced. To this day we are grateful for Gene Roddenberry and the splitting elevator door.
Getting back to the story, there are simply too many places where either the wrong thing was said or nothing was said, keeping the audience and the main character in the dark. There are other means to achieve this without making the participating characters look shortsighted if not altogether obtuse. Their intelligence cannot be matters of convenience, babbling about until the last moment when they have a spark of innovation and/or discovery.
In the final analysis, while there are some points about the book that were sub-par, the overall experience was enjoyable and enough to have me anxious to delve into the author’s world a little more deeply!