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City of the Dead by Rosemary Jones

Posted by travizzt on August 2, 2010

A family of gravediggers has a problem, the dead are rising! Is City of the Dead worth coming back from death for or is it something you rather bury six feet under?

City of the Dead
by Rosemary Jones- This is the fourth book released in the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series of stand-alone novels. The series is set in the Forgotten Realms setting of the pen and paper role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. The other novels in this series are Blackstaff Tower by Steven E. Schend, Mistshore by Jaleigh Johnson, Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie, The God Catcher by Erin M. Evans, and Circle of Skulls by James P. Davis. Since these books are stand-alone, you can read them out-of-order. This is Rosemary Jones’ second full-length novel set in the Forgotten Realms, her first was Crypt of the Moaning Diamond (part of The Dungeons). She has written a few short stories for various anthologies as well as co-authoring Encyclopedia of Collectible Children’s Books. City of the Dead was released in 2009 and published by Wizards of the Coast.

The Carvers have been taking care of Waterdeep’s cemetery, called the City of the Dead, since it was created. The family knows the graveyard inside and out. The families only daughter in a few generations, Sophraea, plans on leaving the family to pursue a career in dressmaking instead of caretakers. All she needs is a noble’s signature to be accepted in an esteemed program. Good thing she knows an older nobleman! The problem is, somehow the dead keep rising and she decides to investigate. With the help of a wizard named Gustin, Sophraea tracks down the problem. But is it too late?

1) Choppy. The main problem with novel is how choppy and cluttered actions and some sections are. The scenes felt like something was missing. Maybe a word, an action, or a sentence. The transitions between some paragraphs were poor and jumpy. For example, there was a scene with Sophraea and Gustin talking with something about these certain graves being opened. They are just talking, not much else is happening. Then suddenly, they appear next to the graves. No transitions, no sense or word of movement, nothing. It felt clunky and sudden. This just didn’t happen once. Once would have been okay, but it happens every other chapter. This problem just really threw me out of the story.
2) Danger. This isn’t a major problem, but it still is bothersome. No one really felt like they were in any actually harm. Even when you would think that a main character may be in harm’s way, something happens and all anyone gets is a bump in the head or a little cut. It was more bothersome than anything.

1) Characters. The two main characters, Sophraea and Gustin where wonderful. Sophraea did feel like a competent and different kind of heroine. She isn’t all that powerful or amazing, but her mundane nature and innocence really sold me on her. She felt like a real person and not some all-powerful, all-knowing heroine. Gustin is pretty much the same way, except that he seemed a little more like an adventurer. Plus he has a wonderful sense of humor and an interesting outlook on life. With the other minor characters, they all played their parts pretty well. The best minor character, Lord Adarbrent, had more of a lonely old man presence that was unique. His character really showed a lot of depth that I wouldn’t have thought he would have given the story. Another character, the antagonist, Rampage Stunk was a pretty good villain, albeit a little stock. The only problems with the characters are the silly names.
2) Premise. It was nice to see a story about the ‘regular folk’ in a fantasy setting. Just having the story revolve around the cemetery caretakers was interesting. It’s the type of thing you would hardly see in a full-length novel, and I have to say that it really worked using ‘normal’ people. Then having the consequences of what is happening not be world shattering was interesting. Sure having the dead rise may not be a good thing, but it never had this epic feel to it and it really worked out for the best. It just was nice to see a story that wasn’t overly serious and had characters that you would normally only see in passing as the main focus.

Side Notes:
1) Names. Oh dear god where these names just silly. Let’s look at Rampage Stunk. Really? Rampage? Why not just call him Evil McBaddie? Then you have some of the Carvers family members names. They were just as bad, but I could let them slide because they weren’t as silly as Rampage.
2) City of the Dead. I really liked how the cemetery was described. It never felt creepy or foreboding. It felt like a real life cemetery, only more magical.
3) Cover Art. It’s interesting. I do like the blue ‘ghosts’ because they do catch your eye with the back ground being this brown-gray color. The only major issue is the size. I really do not like how small the actual picture is, and that border is why to distracting. I would rather have a full-length picture.

Overall: 4/5
Final Thoughts:
City of the Dead was a pretty good read. When I first picked the book up I thought it would have been a horror story, but I was surprised that it’s more of a comedy than anything else. However, the story did have some problems. For one thing, there were parts that didn’t fit together well at all. They felt clunky and just a bit sudden. The other problem was that I never felt the characters were ever in mortal danger. Also, some of the characters names got under my skin after a while. However, the story does recover from these problems. The two main characters were great. Sophraea felt like someone you would meet anywhere. Gustin had this funny outlook on life that worked really well. Then you have the premise. Having a story about regular people and not some all-powerful adventurer was great. You got to see another side of Waterdeep. Would I recommend this? Yes. Anyone could pick this up and have a great time. City of the Dead was a good, fun, and lighthearted read.

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