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Reviews of 'Lord of the Rose'

Lord of the Rose

by Douglas Niles
Rise of Solamnia, Volume 1


Reviews of 'Lord of the Rose'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of Lord of the Rose. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.


Reviewer: Trampas Whiteman

Rating: Stars

I'm going to preface this review with a note about my own viewpoints and biases. I'm a huge fan of the Knights of Solamnia. I've played them in the RPG and I've enjoyed some of the books about them, especially The Legend of Huma.

When I first heard of this series, I was excited. As I said, I'm a huge fan of the Knights of Solamnia. After reading Wizards' Conclave, I was even more excited. I enjoyed that book immensely and I had faith that Doug Niles would do just as well, if not better, with Lord of the Rose.

I can't say, though, that the book lived up to my expectations. It has some good parts and some not-so-good parts in it – some of which cause a dark shadow over my reading enjoyment. I'll explain as I get further on.

SPOILERS BELOW!

My expectations for the book would be the idea of the Knights of Solamnia pushing the Knights of Neraka out of their territories, under the leadership of a Rose Knight who rose through the ranks.

Yet all of this was covered in the initial chapter, which was pure background and setup. The first chapter tells us about the changes in the knighthood since the War of Souls. The knighthood is splintered, divided between orders (more on this below). The individual city-states of Solamnia have pushed back the disorganized forces of the Knights of Neraka all on their own.

The gods that the knighthood worships have changed as well. One can expect that some since Paladine now walks Krynn as a mortal elf. Kiri-Jolith is obviously mentioned, as is Mishakal. Mishakal doesn't really come into play in the book, but she makes sense as she's the consort of Paladine, mother of Kiri-Jolith and Habbakuk, and generally revered by those who follow the ways of the good gods anyway. What was surprising was that Shinare, goddess of merchants, is now revered by the knighthood. Just as surprising is that Habbakuk is nowhere to be seen. There's no explanation of him falling back and letting his brother, Kiri-Jolith, be patron to the knights, or whether something else was up.

The story centers around Jaymes Markham, a man falsely accused of being the Assassin – a figure responsible for the death of Lord Lorimar and his daughter, Dara. Jaymes is a fairly likable figure, though at one point he murders a cleric of Shinare for no reason and steals the cleric's money. At another point, when confronting the Duke of Solanthus, he leaves the man to die and takes his jewels. While the duke probably deserved it, that doesn't seem like the actions of a man who supposedly was a knight.

Jaymes wields two crossbows that he uses like a cowboy would use his six-shooter, and he is armed with Giantsmiter, a great sword that can erupt with a blue flame upon its wielder's command. Giantsmiter is the "proof" that Jaymes is the Assassin.

Lorimar was said to be a noble and just man, who was working on bringing the knighthood together and had created a document called the Compact of Freedom. Lorimar and Dara were assassinated shortly after the War of Souls, their manor burned to the ground. The Compact had disappeared as did the Stones of Garnet, jewels which would have been used for a crown for the new ruler of Solamnia.

Jaymes is joined by a dwarf friend, Dram Feldspar, in the search for a mysterious compound – gunpowder. This compound is said to originate with Ulin Majere, and had somehow found its way in the hands of a gnome. The gnome had split up the secret of how to create the compound through his three children, each one knowing how to refine a certain part of the compound. There was Carbo (who knew of charcoal), Sulfie (who knew of sulfur), and Salty Pete (who knew of Saltpeter).

What really is not stated in this book is why Jaymes was looking for the compound. While it came in handy, it doesn't seem to have been designed for any particular enemy. Perhaps he was seeking to make money off of it, but I couldn't tell for certain.

I was pleased to see Coryn the White make another appearance in this book. At this point, she's gained in power considerably. What I really liked about her in this book is how she was actively working in the world, yet doing so behind the scenes. This, to me, is how a White Robe should act and I'm glad to see her proactive approach. Coryn and Jaymes had been lovers at one point, it seemed.

Coryn is investigating the death of Lord Lorimar and Dara in this book, though why she waited three years to do so is beyond me. I would have thought that she would have looked closer into the matter earlier on.

Working in Solamnia are a group of corrupt dukes, all of whom serve the Lord Regent of Palanthas – Bakkard du Chagne. Bakkard du Chagne appears to be interested solely in wealth, which he amasses in his tower over Palanthas. What's odd is that he has amassed gold, and not steel. Gold is worthless after the Cataclysm, yet now it's suddenly in demand? Another knight, an agent of du Chagne's, was offered payment by du Chagne and when he couldn't provide it in gold, the knight wrinkled his nose. There is no mention of the monetary system shifting in any way in this book.

Serving the Lord Regent are three dukes. Lord Crawford is lord of the Rose Knights, who claim Caergoth as their city. Lord Rathskell is lord of the Sword Knights, who claim Solanthus as their city. Lord Jarrod is lord of the Crown Knights, who claim Thelgaard as their city. Which order goes with which city is confused at one point in the book, switching Crown and Sword.

Jarrod is a bumbling, fat oaf. Rathskell is a rather nasty sort, and is a master fencer. Crawford, though, is the one to watch. He's in league with a cleric of Hiddukel (posing as a cleric of Shinare). A few moments in the book are confusing, as Crawford is sometimes called Duke Walker. I'm assuming that the name had changed somehow, or that Walker is the duke's first name.

What readers might find confusing is that each of these dukes are referred to by their city of control. One should note, though, that this happened historically and is not out of the ordinary.

By previous accounts, the knighthood was structured so that one advanced from the order of the Crown to Sword and finally to Rose. That's not to say that every knight will become a Rose Knight, just that this is the progression between the orders.

In Niles' view, all three orders are equals with nothing to distinguish them save geographical location. Sword Knights don't cast spells, either. I found this presentation of the knighthood to be distracting. Quite simply, it put a dark shadow over the book, causing something I was greatly anticipating to become a great disappointment.

Among the other characters I should mention are Selinda du Chagne, the Princess of Palanthas and daughter to the Lord Regent, as well as her protector, Captain Powell. Selinda, more than any character in the book, understands the heart of the Oath and the Measure. I liked Powell as a good leader of his men and as a protector and sort of surrogate father figure to Selinda.

Solamnia, at this time, faces a new threat. A half-giant (and half-ogre) named Ankhar and his adoptive mother, a hobgoblin priestess named Laka, have amassed a horde of goblins, hobgoblins, ogres, worgs, and ex-Knights of Neraka (mostly Lily, though also with three Thorn Knights). I have to say that I enjoyed Ankhar quite a bit. As you can see, Lord of the Rose is homage to the Tarzan book, Lord of the Apes. Ankhar comes across as sort of an evil and twisted Tarzan. While you would think him stupid by his speech, he is in fact a military genius (read: Legendary Tactician for you RPG'ers).

The best parts of the books were the action scenes. Niles has a great scene towards the beginning of the book where Jaymes and Dram enter a mountain stronghold and confront the local gangster. The last 100 pages really perk the story up. The confrontation with the dukes is good as is the battle with Ankhar's forces.

What is bad about this book are the continuity and editing errors. There are several grammatical mistakes throughout the book. For example, "sulfur" is misspelled as "sulfir". We have mention of how aurak draconians are the only ones capable of true flight. Auraks don't have wings. I'm assuming that Niles confused them with sivaks. Likewise, kapak draconians are mentioned as being black, rather than copper. Later in the book, when one of the gnomes mentions a dragon-man, he mentions how it is black and Jaymes says how that would mean that it would be a dragonspawn and not a draconian. I can forgive Jaymes for not thinking it could have been a venom draconian since noble dracs are ultra-rare. Dragonspawn are supposed to have death throes as well, which was not in this book.

Also, the timeline has been stated as three years after the War of Souls in some places, ten years after in others. My understanding is that the date was changed in production. This may lead to some confusion with readers. Just go with 3 years after, and you're good.

Overall, I thought this book had some good ideas, but it needed some polish. The way the orders of the Knights of Solamnia was presented was distracting, and there were some continuity issues. If you're a big fan of the Knights of Solamnia like I am, tread carefully. If the orders don't matter to you, this book can be a fun read. Your mileage may vary.


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