Crypt of the Moaning Diamond by Rosemary Jones
Posted by travizzt on February 21, 2011
Crypt of the Moaning Diamond is the final book in The Dungeons series of stand-alone novels. The series contains three other entries, which are written by different authors. Since each novel is a stand-alone novel, you can read the series out-of-order and should be able to pick them up without any prior knowledge. The Dungeons series is set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons. The other novels in this series are Depths of Madness by Erik Scott de Bie, The Howling Delve by Jaleigh Johnson, and Stardeep by Bruce R. Cordell. This is Rosemary Jones’ first full-length novel set in the Forgotten Realms. Her second novel is part of the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series titled City of the Dead. She has written a few short stories for various anthologies as well as co-authoring Encyclopedia of Collectible Children’s Books. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond was released December 2007 and published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
A siege has befallen the city of Tsurlagol and the it’s up to the noble-minded knights of Procampur to take the city back. The ruler of Procampur has tasked a group of mercenaries conveniently named the Siegebreakers to break the siege. The Siegebreakers have a simple plan. After discovering that one of Tsurlagol’s walls are weakened, they will dig under the wall and flood the tunnels, causing the wall to collapse. At least it sounds simple. The digging is taking longer than the Thultyrl, the ruler of Procampur, would like and is constantly asking Ivy, the ‘commander’ of the Siegebreakers, for updates. After one such meeting, Ivy is accompanied by a Procampur officer named Sanval to check out how the progress of the dig is coming along. However, she finds her companions lounging about. After berating them, the group heads into the tunnel, only to have it collapse under their feet. Ivy finds herself in the river that they were planning to use to topple the wall, but easily swims to shore where she finds Sanval and her friends; an old dwarf named Mumchance, a half-genasi water elementalist named Gunderal, a half-orc warrior named Zuzzara, and an odd tiefling-esque thief named Kid. Trapped underground, the group discover ruins of a buried Tsurlagol. They must find their way out of the ruins before the water rises too high and drowns them all. However, there are more dangers lurking in the ancient ruins aside from the rising water level.
1) Slow. The biggest issue that Crypt of the Moaning Diamond has is the snail-like pace of the story. Quite frankly, this story is boring. The first half of the novel felt like it was dragged out for almost no reason. Nothing seemed to be happening. There were things going on, but they took forever to really develop into anything. By the time something developed, all interest was lost. Everything seemed to happen so slowly. Dialogue was needlessly drawn out as well. The pace does pick up around the halfway point, but it barely picks up. Every scene feels like it goes on and on, without ever having an ending. Dialogue felt like it was needlessly repeated, actions seemed to take forever, and descriptions felt long-winded. At least, that’s what it felt like while reading through the book. The worst part of this is that I felt myself falling asleep after a page. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond was slow to the point of being boring.
2) Characters. The other big issue that Crypt of the Moaning Diamond has is that the characters are extremely bland and uninteresting. No one really stood out and I barely remember anyone’s name five minutes after putting the book down. The best way to describe the characters would just be in a word or two. Let’s look at Ivy, the leader of the Siegebreakers, for example. Ivy had really one defining trait. She wore dirty and mismatched armor. That’s it. Everything else about her was generic to the point of annoyance. Sanval is the opposite of Ivy. He was clean and well-kept. Oh, and he had a horribly long list of last names. Kid seemed to be the most unusual of the bunch, but never really amounted to anything other than a tracker with a unique build. Mumchance was a generic dwarf with a soft spot for stray animals. That’s all. The only interesting thing about Gunderal and Zuzzara, the two half-humans, is that they are half-sisters. Also, Gunderal likes being pretty. Zuzzara is tall. Later in the story we are introduced to Archlis, a mage who is looking for something in the ruins of Tsurlagol. That’s pretty much his character right there. All in all, the characters weren’t complex, lacked any real depth, and were as generic as possible.
3) Simple. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond has a very straightforward and simple premise, a group of adventurer’s find themselves trapped underground and must find a way out or die. Simple, right? There are times that a premise like this can work really well. This is a time when it falls flat. It never really felt like the Siegebreakers were in any trouble from anything they encountered. The rising water seemed to be little more than a minor issue. In fact, it was only present at the beginning of the novel and at the end. The creatures that the group face seemed to go down with ease and never felt dangerous. In order to really make a premise like this work, there needed to be a feeling of danger.
1) Humor. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond was surprisingly funny. In fact, the book almost comes off as a parody of Dungeons and Dragons novels. There was also a lot humor that was actually funny. Some of the banter between the characters had me chuckling. There were quite a few humorous situations that put a smile on my face as well. Some of the humor didn’t work and came off as cheesy or weak. But I do have to say that it was funny a story and vastly different from the previous novels in The Dungeons series. Instead of taking a dark storyline, we have a humorous romp through a dungeon.
2) Dungeon. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond does do a great job at making you feel like you are in a dungeon. Having the majority of the story take place underground really made you feel like you were underground. There were some great moments that helped the feeling of being in a dungeon as well. Having branching tunnels, sound carrying around, and not being able to see you hand in front of your face. These things really added to that dungeon feeling. There were a few times when I felt a little claustrophobic as well. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond did a great job at making you feel like you were in a dungeon.
1) Wiggles. Am I the only one that could not stand the dog?
2) Bugbear Brothers. The Bugbear brothers were probably the most interesting characters because they were very unusual. I really wished that more time was spent on them.
3) Cover Art. Crypt of the Moaning Diamond has some good cover art. It’s not the best, but it still works. The muted color scheme doesn’t seem all that muted, with the yellows and greens. The green water, in particular, really does catch your eye. The scene itself is also interesting. You have Ivy looking like she’s about to drown and some sort of hand is about to grab her. It shows a lot of action going on. However, it seems like her body is really distorted, more so than it would be underwater like that. The sword on her waist seems to really be the focus of the scene, rather than Ivy. It looks bold and in your face, and it shouldn’t. Overall, the cover art is pretty good and will catch your eye.
Crypt of the Moaning Diamond can be summed up in one word; boring. The story meanders along at a snail’s pace and nothing seems to happen. It felt like it took five minutes to just read a page at some points. There were more than a few times that I found myself falling asleep. Also, the characters aren’t that interesting. They are just generic, bland, and not very unique. After reading this story, you’ll probably forget them. Also, the story had a simple premise done wrong. I never felt like the group was in trouble and you almost need that in a story like this. Thankfully, it’s a pretty funny story and that wasn’t something I was expecting. Having the previous three books be darker stories, I assumed that this one would be dark as well. It wasn’t and I’m happy it wasn’t. There were times when Crypt of the Moaning Diamond felt like it was a parody, and that was interesting. Also, this is the first book in the series that really felt like it took place in a dungeon, and I liked that. The atmosphere had that dungeonesque feel to it that the others didn’t have. Overall, I can’t recommend Crypt of the Moaning Diamond. It would be a good book for someone starting out reading Dungeons and Dragons novels, but it’s a little too boring to keep you interested.