Book Review: Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

DragonAgeTheStolenThrone.jpg Dragon Age: Origins’ PC release may have been delayed to coincide with the launch of the console versions later this year, but Tor Books’ prequel novel is on bookstore shelves now to fill expecting gamers in on the lore of the Dragon Age universe while the long wait for the game to finally come out persists.

Penned by David Gaider, BioWare’s own Lead Writer for Dragon Age the game, Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne tells the story of Maric, a young, idealistic prince whose mother, the Rebel Queen, is betrayed and slain by some of her own people. Following his mother’s murder, Maric is forced to live a life on the run and forge alliances with the unlikeliest of companions in order to one day take up his mother’s cause and reclaim the stolen throne of Ferelden from the clutches of a ruthless Orlesian tyrant.

I’m not sure of the exact timeline of events, but from what I gather the game isn’t too far removed from this prequel storyline. Maric’s young son Cailan takes over as King in the game, and Loghain, Maric’s right hand man (and my favorite character) throughout the novel, is still around serving Cailan as he once served his father. So I can’t imagine there being more than 10-20 years separating the events of the book from those of the upcoming game.

In large part, the Dragon Age universe, as depicted in the novel, is built around familiar Tolkien-esque fantasy themes: a fellowship of heroes banding together to confront evil, the intrigue of racial and ideological tension between characters, an evildoer unjustly staking claim over the kingdom, et cetera et cetera.

However, there are some significant differences that do distinguish Dragon Age from the norm. The most glaring change from traditional fantasy lore is the way in which elves are treated in Dragon Age. Traditionally, elves are portrayed as a graceful, sometimes snooty race often revered as higher beings with powers far beyond those of humans, or any other race. But not so in the Dragon Age universe. Here, elves are the bottom feeders of the class structure, a poor enslaved race generally looked upon with a leery eye.

Something else I picked up on from The Stolen Throne was its darker, more mature tone. There really aren’t any characters that add comic relief, like say Merry and Pippin in Lord of the Rings or Tasslehoff in the Dragonlance novels. Violence is more prominent as well. Gaider doesn’t hold much back in describing the harrowing nature of battle. During swordfights you’ll be bombarded with slit throats, gashed abdomens and fountains of blood spraying forth from such wounds. It’s far from obscene, but the depiction of violence is much more intense than most fantasy novels, I thought. And from the screenshots and videos shown thus far, the game doesn’t appear too shy with the bloodshed either, so it’s nice to see that continuity between the two.

The Stolen Throne serves its purpose beautifully. Throughout its 400 pages you’ll learn about the different regions, races and creatures that make up the world of Ferelden, and as soon as you finish reading the last line and close up the book you’ll be itching to brave the dark depths of the Deep Roads, venture through the Korcari Wilds, stand in awe of the Frostback Mountains, and battle corrupted spiders, darkspawn and all other scum plaguing the land. Even as a standalone fantasy novel it’s a compelling read. The story is very well written, and the strong character relationships that develop will surely tug on your emotions.

If you plan on playing the game when it comes out later this year, or if you just so happen to be in the mood to embark on a new fantasy adventure, Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne is a must read.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!