by Michael Matson
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
Reading level: MG
Source: Untreed Reads
Prince Dall is the youngest of four brothers. On his eighteenth birthday, he rides out into the world to seek his own adventure, only to find that his brothers have already had them all. There are no more dragons to slay, no more wizards to outwit, and no more princesses to rescue.
But then Prince Dall meets a mysterious old woman who tells him of a mysterious tree that weeps diamonds. Spotting an opportunity for an adventure of his own, the prince embarks upon a long quest to discover the secrets of the diamond tree.
I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the length of some of the books in my TBR pile at the moment. So The Diamond Tree fit the bill nicely as a quick (but entertaining) read. The publisher's site states that the story is for ages 6-12... but with the vocabulary involved, I think this book falls more squarely in the ages 9-12 (middle grade) category.
It's a fairly standard fairy tale, relying on repetition and the usual tropes found in the genre. I did like the short, heavily bearded man, and the Prince of Rage was rather amusing (and a character that would translate really well into a cartoon). Prince Dall, on the other hand, was somewhat weaker; but I'm not really sure what else you can do with a generic fairy tale prince that would make him much more interesting.
The writing was somewhat uneven. There were some lovely descriptive passages like this one:
The daylight folded itself in half and then divided again to become a faint mystical glow that hung about them like a gray and gloomy net.
But the narrative was also plagued by "said bookisms" and some non-speech actions that were used as speech attributions (this drives me nuts). On the one hand, it's somewhat forgivable because the story is so short. On the other hand, because the story is so short, there's really no excuse for not editing it more carefully.
I also wasn't too impressed with the ending. Too much was glossed over and explained after the fact. A few more pages wouldn't have hurt (and I wouldn't have minded reading more about the wizard's strange caverns).
All in all, though, this was a fairly good story and I can't say that I didn't enjoy it. It's something that I can easily imagine a parent reading aloud to a child.
Overall: 3 out of 5