Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne CoverDragon Age: The Stolen Throne
Author: David Gaider
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: March 2009
The Rebel Queen Moira is slain by Ferelden nobility seeking to curry favor with the Orlesian usurper Meghren. Her son Maric escapes the ambush and falls in with a band of outlaws. It’s a short respite as the traitorous forces track him to the camp. Recognizing the prince for who he is, outlaw leader Gareth Mac Tir directs his son Loghain to escort the prince to safety while the outlaws engage the assassins.

The Stolen Throne is a prequel to Dragon Age: Origins taking place thirty years before the events of the game. It follows the adventures of Maric and Loghain as they rebuild the rebel army and defy the Orlesian oppressors and their Ferelden lackeys. Joined by fearsome warrior Rowan Guerrein, daughter of the Arl of Redcliffe, an inevitable love triangle develops and is further complicated after the trio rescue Katriel, an elven bard.

There’s an aura of inevitability surrounding the story, but while the character arcs feel predetermined, I was emotionally invested in their struggles. Loghain remains one of the game’s most interesting characters and his characterization here only adds to his complexity. Fans of the game will appreciate spending yet more time in BioWare’s IP, especially since the novel explores areas unseen in the game.

Readers simply looking for a new high fantasy series may come away disappointed. It’s hard to describe the first half of the book as anything more than a series of battles. The narrative is driven by combat and its aftermath, while the novel’s main antagonist Severan, advisor to the usurper, stays largely off page. The Stolen Throne picks up in the second half and – if battle fatigue hasn’t set in – readers will find the novel comes to a satisfying conclusion.