Reviews of 'The Measure and the Truth'
Reviews of 'The Measure and the Truth'
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The Measure and the Truth by Doug Niles is the third, and final book, in the Rise of Solamnia trilogy. The first book is Lord of the Rose and the second is The Crown and the Sword. When the first book of this trilogy was released, this trilogy was said to signify a reworking of the Solamnic Knights order, how they operate and how they conduct all their business. After finishing the trilogy however, I am not really certain all that much has changed beyond one thing.
The plot of this book, and the trilogy for that matter, held a great deal of promise. Yet, after finishing three books and about 1,000 pages I am left feeling like Mr. Niles made a trilogy out of one book. This book's plot, while there are a few subplots, is rather benign and at times boring. The main plot is about a large battle that is fought, moved to a different location, fought again, and moved and fought one more time. The main character Jaymes seems to run around all over the place even though he is the emperor in power now. As I said with my review of The Crown and Sword, Mr. Niles again repeats these large scale battles where thousands of people (and creatures) die. This begs the question, how many people are there in the world of Krynn, or more importantly Solamnia to fight these massive battles? It has to run out sooner or later right?
If you are a fan of character development, be prepared to be vastly disappointed. Unless you like characters doing this completely opposite of what you would expect them to do for no apparent reason. Case in point, throughout the course of this book, and most of the second book, the main character Jaymes is a dictator ruling with an iron fist and even calls the people 'cattle' at times. Yet, at the end of the book, for no real reason his attitude suddenly shifts and we are to look on him as a kind caring man who understands he did wrong at times. I'm sorry, but with the things he did (no spoilers) there is no way that image can take root. The characters in this book were mostly disappointing and quite honestly, I cared very little for them. The only characters I found myself wanting to read about were the dwarfs (and they were merely a subplot). For a book, and series, that will likely have a lasting impact on Krynn these characters were not good at all.
There are certainly events in this book, and series, that will have a lasting impact on the Knights of Solamnia and Krynn in general. Yet, I can't help but feel cheated after finishing this book because the expectations I had going into it were so much higher than what I got in the end. In my opinion the characters were very shallow and the overall plot arc was poorly done. I am surprised by saying that because there are several books by Mr. Niles that I have enjoyed a great deal. Unfortunately, this series is not one of them. This could merely be a case of the wrong author for this particular assignment.
Hardcore fans of the Dragonlance world should really read this series, for no better reason than the events that transpire will have a lasting impact for future Dragonlance books. Casual fans may be disappointed by this series due to the poor character development and shallow plot lines. Over the course of the past couple years it seems the Dragonlance novels have suffered from poor plotlines and substandard characters. There are some gems being written, but largely the quality is not up to what one would expect. I sincerely hope Wizards of the Coast is working to rectify this, as I enjoy Dragonlance books quite a bit.
Well I have just finished reading the book and I have to say I did enjoy it. It wasn't quite what I suspected after hearing some reviews but it did a very good job in setting up a very powerful government.
Now for those of you who haven't read it, you should return to it and read it with an unbiased point of view. The book really does finish the series off nicely and allows for a future series to be written following some of the events left in this book.
I had two major problems in the book. Problem one was that there needs to be some sort of calendar included at the beginning of chapters to know how long it is between events. It just seems to fly by without letting the reader really know how much time has passed. Things just seem to happen as if all of a sudden and that really affected a lot of my reading.
The second thing that bothered me was the finish of the book. It was just too neat of a finish for the series. I really don't like how Ankhar meets his end. I won't go into too many details but I just thought it was an easy end to the book. Peace will flourish in Solamnia and there will be a time of rebuilding, for those of us who are screaming for rest, well it appears one country is going to take some time off.
My overall opinion is that the book tries to appease a lot of the anger fans expressed against gunpowder. While it doesn't take back the invention, it does place it on the shelf for now. No more bombards for a while but the technology is there if anyone would desire to use it again.
Like I said at the beginning, I think the book was well done. The battle scenes use tactics that are more advanced then seen in Dragonlance stories before. There is almost a American Civil War feel in the tactics being used. Skirmishers, cavalry screen, pickets all of this seems strangely unfamiliar to Krynn but yet as the reader I can understand what the tactic is. I think that was a terrific idea of using familiar words and phrases so that the reader can easily relate to the topic.
The characters in this book make changes throughout the book as events force them to make difficult decisions. Also through the course of these events some characters find redemption while others meet an unpleasant end. The ending of the book may surprise a few folks at the twists some characters take.
As a conclusion to a trilogy, I don't think many have done it better. This book series has been a huge controversy throughout the Dragonlance community. It comes during a time of unrest throughout the entire continent of Ansalon and at least settles an area for the time being. While the book concludes the trilogy it does offer perhaps a future look. It sets up for another trilogy in perhaps a future time involving some of the characters introduced in this series.
The overall grade I give the book is 4 out of 5 stars. A worthy read for sure.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Spoilers below!
The journey is over. The wild ride that began in Lord of the Rose, continued in The Crown and the Sword, is finally at an end. Gone is the outlaw knight, wielding a pair of hand crossbows. In his place is an Emperor struggling to adjust to the many tasks and duties of running and ruling a nation.
The story picks up two years after the events in The Crown and the Sword. Markham is now Emperor of New Solamnia, taking the reigns of power away from the corrupt Lord Regent Du Chagne soon after marrying the Princess of the Plains, Selinda Du Chagne. Nothing is as it seems. Trouble is brewing in the Cityhome and out across the plains of Solamnia.
The people are not happy with their new "Emperor." As a war hero, many respect his martial abilities but openly scoff at his laws and declarations. Even the knighthood is not unanimous in their support of the new emperor. Vingaard, bucking at what it sees as unfair taxation and conscription, openly defies the edicts of the emperor but at a crave cost.
Markham has been busy these past two years. In that time, he has created a New Army of Solamnia, built using new tactics, weapons, and armor. Gone are the Heavy armored cavalry in favor of a lighter armed cavalry, Using weapons that are adapted for lightning strikes. The changes do not stop there as unit structures, attack formations, and other aspects of the old military are upgraded.
The military is not the only thing affected by the ascension of Markham. Across New Solamnia, dwarven engineers are hard at work expanding the roads of the nation, bringing prosperity and increased trade across the realm. Even the Minotaur Empire has a place at the docks of Palanthas, free to trade under high tariffs and taxation.
Sadly, Vingaard is selfish and does not wish to share its prosperity with the rest of the nation. Tired of Vingaard's continuing defiance, Markham musters the Legion of Palanthas and the Crown Army, to march on Vingaard Keep.
Events soon spiral out of control as the Lord of Vingaard dies under the truce of parley which forces Vingaard to retaliate by destroying two of the three remaining bombards. Enraged by this blatant attack, Markham, in anger, brings Vingaard Keep nearly crashing down. The pleading of the daughter of the dead Lord only stays his hand. Soon this news will spread across Solamnia, fanning the fans of revolt.
On the home front, not all is well in the Markham household. Selinda, scared by her pregnancy and cold with fury by her imprisonment-Jaymes, for the safety of her and the child, placed her on house arrest-summons Coryn the White. She begs Coryn to stall or end the pregnancy. Coryn wisely chooses another path and provides a means of freedom for the Empress.
Across the plains, deep in the woods of Lemish, an old enemy stirs. Moved by the Truth of Hiddukel, Ankhar once again summons a Horde and rages across the Plains of Solamnia. A bit wiser this time, he gathers new allies for his Truth.
The Prince of Lies has learned as well and has sent other minions out across Solamnia. Gray Hoarst, the Thorn Knight, has taken up residence in the Dargaard Mountains. From there he dreams of riches but has grown bored. To entice him from his dreary dwelling, the Nightmaster comes calling, sending Hoarst out to gather warriors, The Black Army of Captain Blackgaard. Together the former Dark Knights march on the High Clerist Tower fabled never to fall as long as men of faith hold it. Sadly there is not much faith in these troubled times.
All of these various forces come together in a final huge explosion, which is felt from Palanthas to the very surface of Krynn's moons. The crater left from this explosion will shape the future of Ansalon for generations, leaving a troubled Emperor to ponder the light of hope shining in the future.
Even though it is a much stronger book than the previous two books, I still only give it 3 out of 5 stars.
The error over the Legion of Steel/Clandestine Circle needs to be explained. For me it is simple to just switch out the names but I know many fans will be upset by this mistake.
When I review a series of novels, I tend to not only review the final book, but the entire series as a whole with the conclusion of a series. Also, as I did with the other novels in this series, I will mention up front that I'm a huge fan of the Knights of Solamnia. This may or may not lead to some bias within this review.
The Measure and the Truth picks up a couple of years after The Crown and the Sword. At this point in history, Jaymes Markham has become emperor over the new Solamnic Empire. Yet not all are happy with his rule. We find those who are displeased with him, though most are too afraid to make mention of it.
Meanwhile, old enemies have begun to move once again. Ankhar summons a new horde, now with a few draconians and more ogres. Ankhar's command of the ogres is a nice treat in this book. Captain Blackgaard and Hoarst have formed their own force, the Black Army. What is confusing about the Black Army is whether they are a faction of Dark Knights or mercenaries, as they've been referred to as both.
I found that Ankhar and Laka didn't hold my attention as they did in the prior book. In a sense, Ankhar's war seemed less impressive than the prior campaign. As I read this section, Chubby Checker came to mind – "Let's twist again, like we did last summer." Blackgaard wasn't too developed, though I will give credit that Hoarst received some proper love. Again, it was confusing on whether Hoarst was a sorcerer, as other Thorn Knights of the time, or if he was a wizard. I lean towards wizard, from his description, making him the only Thorn Knight to become a wizard after the War of Souls. I would have liked to see this touched upon. Hoarst's albino concubine was also a great addition to his retinue, and she served her purpose well. What seemed odd to me, though, was that it sounded as if Hoarst's castle was Dargaard Keep, which was destroyed in Dragons of a Vanished Moon. I would think that Hoarst would have created a new castle instead.
The first half of the book deals mainly with Markham's rule as emperor, and how he rules with an iron fist. When Vingaard Keep doesn't give in to his demands, he marches on them. Under a flag of truce, Lord Kerrigan dies, demonstrating Markham's total lack of honor. A siege commences, and Lord Kerrigan's son, Blayne Kerrigan, mounts a valiant effort against Jaymes, destroying all but one of his bombards. Eventually, Jaymes nearly destroys Vingaard Keep, and Kerrigan becomes an outlaw.
Blayne Kerrigan proves to be an utter idiot in this book, as he comes to be allied with the Black Army. Granted, charm spells were in place and he was bent on vengeance, but surely he would have figured out that Black Army = evil. He apparently failed his Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check to recognize their heraldry. In the battle of Palanthas towards the end of the book, Kerrigan helps to defend the city (after nearly bringing it to ruin) and Markham pardons him. What is weird here is that Kerrigan's quest for vengeance just seems to dissipate.
This is also where we see Markham's wife, Selinda, as a prisoner in her own palace. Selinda's escapades in this novel generally center around being drugged and captured. She comes to realize that the Emperor has done some bad things to her, and finally gets her head straight enough to do something about it. Yet why would she have waited so long after the last book to do so? That's when the realization sank in.
The latter half of the book dealt with the new campaign against Ankhar. I will give the author props for once again painting some wonderful battle scenes. I was disappointed that the various units we saw in book two didn't make as much of an appearance in this novel, but that didn't distract from the story. The final battle with Ankhar felt dragged out, as he should have died earlier in the novel. However, the final battle between Coryn and Hoarst was excellent. This is perhaps one of the better wizard battles I've read in recent years, and I liked how the moons actually came into play. Plus, the door is left open for Hoarst's return, though as unlikely as that seems.
I should probably mention several other characters as well, though there are perhaps too many to cover in detail. The Nightmaster was a good addition to the cast, though I would have liked for him to have had a mysterious death so he could return at a later date. Coryn the White makes another appearance, and has redeemed herself from prior books in this series. Red Wallace was a good addition, though I would have liked to see more of him. Melissa du Juliette, cleric of Kiri-Jolith, was a nice addition as well, though having green robes doesn't mesh with Kiri-Jolith's primary colors of brown and white. Captain Franz had promise as someone who despised Markham, but his story is never fleshed out. And let us not forget Pond-Lily, the ogress concubine of Ankhar. Pond-Lily acts little like an ogre and more like a fawning little girl. I should also mention Bakkard du Chagne, who had a minor role in this book at best. I felt he wasn't the power player he was meant to be, though his fate was well-deserved.
I have two major problems with this novel. First, the High Clerist's Tower is left with only 300 men to defend it, and is taken by the Black Army. Markham is too good of a strategist to leave that few of men there. More importantly, the High Clerist's Tower was too easily overtaken. It has withstood attacks from the Blue Dragonarmy, yet a band of a few thousand mercenaries and Dark Knights overtakes it? Only Ariakan's full force of Dark Knights was able to do so before.
The second problem with this book is one that has persisted throughout the series, and seen quite heavily in Lord of the Rose: lack of research. In this novel, we find out that the Legion of Steel is an ancient sect of Knights of Solamnia who are more underground and are designed to make certain no one becomes too powerful in Solamnia. Plus they swear the Oath and Measure. I'm sorry, but this should be Dragonlance 101. It totally contradicts every other source on the Legion of Steel, which wasn't created until the Age of Mortals. On the forums, the solution was offered up that this is probably, in fact, a clandestine circle. That's all well and good, but this mistake should have never been made to begin with, let alone allowed to slip by the editor.
The end of M&T, while not bad, felt anti-climatic. The status quo from the beginning of the book is maintained. While the story wasn't bad, it didn't feel like the characters, or Solamnia in general, had grown. In fact, Markham went from being a tyrant to just tired. The change in his personality should have been developed further. Fears over the future of gunpowder in Dragonlance can now be laid to rest, though the possibility always remains. Really, though, I felt this book could have been summarized into a few chapters and added onto Crown and Sword, thereby not drawing out Ankhar's fate to such a degree.
So how does the trilogy as a whole stack up?
Rise of Solamnia is something of a misnomer. I went into this series with the idea that it would revolve heavily around the Knights of Solamnia, but the truth is that it's a series about the nation of Solamnia. This is great in that it is the first time we get to see the inner political structure of Solamnia beyond the Knighthood.
The shining moments in this series are the action scenes, which the author does an excellent job of. I especially liked book two in these regards, especially with the various units and the surprises each side had.
Where the series falls flat for me is in the research. While I can forgive some things, such as the colors of Kiri-Jolith, the basics such as the structure of the Knights of Solamnia and the origins of the Legion of Steel are just unforgivable. They distract from the story, not enhance it.
This is a trilogy that I advise fans to tread carefully with. One's emotional attachment to certain elements of the setting will undoubtedly affect the way you perceive the series. The series has much to offer, but with the distractions inherent to the series, it almost becomes a bit of an annoyance.
I read the measure and the truth and can barely get over the implications of the book. for any dragonlance fan it holds a lot of implications that are never expressed or even brought into play. Solamnia has a new emperor similar in power but not in temperment to vinas solamnus. the knights have sworn allegiance to this emperor... what did the grandmaster of the knighthood say about that I wonder? this all took place over two years of transition from book two you think they would have gotten the news in that time. no one knows it isn't stated anywhere, but I'm sure he's not happy having his force taken away from his command and given over to a rapist. yes I said rapist because he took his wife by forceful and magical means not by charm. When did a white robe gain his or her gods favor by making people do things against their wills? The mistress of the white robes might have to change the color of robes after this adventure I think for that mistake... even raistlin majere would have wondered about that use of power by a white robe. I wonder what would happen if that becomes public knowledge what the conclave would do to her for her part in that fiasco??? the emperor fanned the flames of war on his own people to assuage his anger at being inconvenianced like a petty lord of the old ergothian empire. I hated seeing such a once proud people reduced to represent that which they broke away from. the ending of ankhar was too quick and clean. the death of the grey knight was anti-climatic at best and the ending was so dull, compared to such a great beginning in the first book...perhaps it was time to have the old empire of solamnia brought back together but it could have been done in a much more heroic and honorable fashion. now I have a bitter taste in my mouth when I think of solamnia and the once great knighthood and it's ancient bastions of power. overall I give this book a 4 out of ten or 2 out of five because it was clearly not thought through very much and because of the connotations for which the nation of solamnia absolutely did not stand were suddenly turned on their head. but the thorn that gets me the worst...was the over abuse of everyone's power on the side of good...
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