A true fantasy full of horror and wonder

Long time, no book review. Sadly, no pictures today as my wife is upstairs sleeping and the book in question is in the bedroom. I’m afraid that if I don’t post this now, I’ll probably go another two months without posting it.

Within by Aaron Bunce

Within is horror + epic fantasy, but to say that it is a blending of genres doesn’t do it justice. This book is 100% horror, but it is also 100% fantasy. How is that possible? Denoril is a wholly realized and fantastic world with just enough familiarity to be recognized as a fantastical one, but is utterly alien is all the ways that matter. It is a dark world, not in the literal sense, but it seems like evil lurks around every corner and creatures of tooth and claw wait just outside of the thin veil of civilization to rend and tear humanity to shreds. That is the worlds that Aaron has crafted: a sinister one that allows no weakness.

This is also where Within shines. Denoril, while dangerous and vile, is also a place where people have to be heroic to survive. The guards of a city put their life on the line every day to keep the monsters away from the civilians. Ancient ruins hold archaic horrors that wait to steal your soul and bend your will. You have to be a hero to survive in Denoril, and all of Aaron’s characters are heroic.

Denoril is also a world of consequences. Remember when I said Within is a horror? Every action, no matter how selfless its intent, will weigh terribly upon the people of this world. No one survives Within unscarred, not even the reader, and that is an amazing accomplishment that Aaron should be applauded for. I cringe in fear at the thought of reading the sequel, Before the Crow, but read it I will.

As of the writing of this review (July 26, 2016), Aaron is hosting a book giveaway on his website http://www.aaronbunce.com/ and Within is also available through the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon. If you like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Icebooks, I suspect you will enjoy Within, as they both evoke a similar emotional response in the reader.

Find the entire review, here at Jason Keener's blog.

I always enjoy reading early works of authors

I enjoyed reading this book because it was a first for Mr. Bunce. I always enjoy reading early works of authors and following them, grow with them as their talent's and experience develop and grow. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to read this book in its rawest form, and yet again in its published form. Its was exciting to watch the evolution of knowledge, the consumption of critiques, the nerves the stress its all rather enjoyable to watch from the outside.

As most of these reviews read I was also very nervous in the beginning. It wasn't until I started to identify with Roman, the self sufficient, woodsman/hunter with a loyal dog that the book drew me in. As the book progressed I enjoyed the additional characters of Dennah, the strong yet fragile woman warrior and her relationships with Tadd and Roman. I also felt the almost childish fantasy connection with Julian the valiant knight that faces unbearable odds. Its these connections that make a book for me, as does everyone else in the fantasy fiction world.

I cant wait for the next book in the series to see how the story develops and continue to watch Aaron's work progress. And as I was reminded from one comment about GRRM lets not wait too long.

Anthony

Denoril is a masterpiece.

Let me start first by saying that I am not usually one to pick up a horror novel. As a writer, I tend to lean towards YA fantasy or strict fiction, with little room for guts and gore. Because of this, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the groove of Within, especially in the first good chunk of the book. But let me tell you, even if you’re not a horror fan like myself, there is still SO much this piece has to offer.

I am so incredibly impressed with Bunce’s ability to create such intricate worlds. Within the novel, he’s created a world as elaborate as that of R.R. Martin’s or even Tolkein. Denoril is made up of five provinces with scheming nobles each trying to get the largest chunk of the metaphorical pie. The novel has dwarves and trade cities and magicians and nearly everything you could want in a medieval style fantasy epic. Bunce does a really, really wonderful job with juggling the complexities of the world and the political systems and histories required with it while also taking the time to flesh out some really beautiful characters.

The novel follows a few different story lines, all of them having merit, but I found my favorite to be the troubled healer Tanea. She’s both compassionate and bad ass in her own way, and I found her struggle to define her relationship with her own deity enriching. (Of course, I am also a big cheesy romantic and I found myself excited whenever I flipped a chapter and realized the story was shifting back to Julian and her.)

I will warn you – there are some pretty graphic scenes in the novel and Bunce’s attention to detail will not be spared there. Animals (yes – even pets) are killed, children die in traumatic ways, and there is violence against women.

If you want a well written, intricately woven medieval dark fantasy with magic, love, and monsters, this is for you. It’s the start of something really, really big I think.

Anna

I couldn't put it down!

This is a spoiler-free review!

Before I finished the first chapter, Within had me enthralled, enchanted, and captivated. A must read -- I could not put it down! Nothing about this novel was predictable, or even fairly comparable to anything I've read before. It contains all of the elements one might expect from a fantasy novel, and you will find yourself enchanted with this new fantasy world.

To anyone who likes fantasy novels: Within is a must! Aaron Bunce has definitely delivered with his debut novel, and I am very much looking forward to his next book in this series.

Melissa

A Great Read

I picked up Within by Aaron Bunce at a SciFi Convention called ICON. It's a lengthy book, and it sat, sad and unappreciated, on my night stand for many months as I worked up the courage to begin it. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to take the plunge, and I jumped in. A few other reviewers have said it takes a bit to get going, but once it does it takes hold of you, and I couldn't agree more. It isn't necessarily the writing style, just that he's creating a world for us to enjoy and a whole lot of characters, and he needs some time to set the stage for all of his actors. His writing is more than engaging, and I found myself really connecting with most of the characters and caring what happens to them - which in my estimation is one of the most important, and difficult, thing to achieve in writing. I think if you like the works of George RR Martin, or JRR Tolkien, you will find a lot to enjoy here. My only real advice to the author is that if he's planning on creating a series like those giants of literature, as it appears he is well on his way to doing, that he add RR to the middle of his name. It would seem fitting.

Jed

Aaron Bunce is the next Robert Jordan

I normally don't do reviews, unless I'm warning others to stay away or save their money. This book is the exception. I wasn't really sure what to expect from a first time author, but I was pleasantly surprised at how the story flowed and drew me in. Now I've read other fantasy books that have been hit or miss for me, and this one is a hit. The level of detail that Aaron has put into this book made his world come to life. I found myself drawn in by his characters to the point that i feel invested in their welfare. If you liked the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan then you"ll like Within. I cant wait for the next book in this series to see where he takes us next.
Jeff

Find a comfortable chair

Aaron Bunce has the cure for George R.R. Martin's procrastination.
If you're tired of waiting for the next installment of GoT, pick up within, find a comfortable chair, and let yourself be taken away to a very believable, very compelling world.
I picked up Within at the Iowa Science Fiction Convention, primarily because the cover looked cool. It promised the possibility of a dark realm, yet rich in colorful characters, suspense, and a gripping plot. All promises kept. Like all truly well-written fantasy, the world is delightful to inhabit. It doesn't matter how dark the world is. The reader just wants to ride along with the characters, feel their fear, their rage, their lust. The reader just wants to get lost in eloquent prose.
Despite some typo's and grammar burps, Bunce delivers on the eloquent prose. It is rich without being flowery, formal without being stiff. It was a pleasure to read.
I await the sequel. My bags are already packed for another trip into this realm.

Ron