Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Digger Unearthed: The Complete Tenth Anniversary Collection, by Ursula Vernon (Author), Patrick Rothfuss (Foreword)

Underthing Press, ISBN 9781956000245, November 2022 (original publication 2012)

Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Complicated-Tunnels is a sensible, pragmatic wombat engineer, who is hard at work when she discovers she has broken through into an unfamiliar cave system.

A cave system where magic is at work. Digger, and wombats generally, have no use for magic. It only makes trouble.

She finds an interesting stone (she, like apparently all wombats, is heavily into geology, and not just for practical reasons), puts it in a pocket, and starts looking for a way out. No, the way in isn't available anymore.

She hears and sometimes sees strange things, some of which may be ghosts, or may be hallucinations from the physical stress of a quite long journey through caves and tunnels. Eventually, Digger comes to a place where she can break through to the surface, again, and finds she is in a temple of the god Ganesha.

Wombats, and Digger in particular, have no use for any gods. But she's in a temple, and the statue of Ganesha is talking to her. The news isn't good.

There's something very dark associated with the tunnel she just came out of. Trying to go back home through the tunnel would be disastrous. Also, no one here has ever heard of wombats, or anything like a wombat warren. The Temple librarian, Vo, is very knowledgeable, kindly, and helpful, but in the end he can find nothing useful, and suggests that she might want to talk to a traveling merchant who passes through the village periodically. So she starts walking...

Along the way, Digger meets veiled priests who are quite well-trained in the martial arts, including one who is mentally unstable but otherwise quite nice; hyenas, including one who is outcast from the tribe; slugs who can prophesy but not in enough detail to be helpful; the Shadowchild, who might be a demon, and the servants of a dead god. Oh, and the ghost of one of her ancestors.

Her wanderings and adventures are not safe, but they are entertaining. On the whole, Digger would rather be in her home warren, near her family, and digging good and useful tunnels.

For the reader, though, both the story and the art are a lot of fun.

In addition, there's an excellent introduction by Patrick Rothfuss, a charming epilogue, and an original short story, about the building of the temple of Ganesha, about a thousand years earlier than Digger's story.

I backed the Kickstarter for this 10th Anniversary collection.

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