Ah, it’s time for another book review and in the Dragon Age universe no less. I feel like this one is a vast improvement from its predecessor. We’re still in the land of Ferelden now, but this one is definitely closer to the start of the events during the fifth Blight.
After Maric has successfully taken the Ferelden throne, he allows the Grey Wardens to return. But they come to him in dire need of his help. The commander explains her brother was supposed to leave for his Calling but is now believed to be captured by the darkspawn.
Among those Wardens is what felt like a truckload of characters I was introduced all at once that only had single paragraphs or sentences doing so.
The name Fiona rang a bell almost immediately and I’ll get to her later without spoiling too much. Duncan is considered one of our main characters who grew up as a thief in Val Royeaux and became a Grey Warden not by choice thanks to Genevieve. Now I remember that in Origins, he’s the one who recruits you no matter where you start out. Kell and Utha were somewhat interesting; an Avvar hunter with a mabari and a dwarven warrior who is also one of the Silent Sisters. I recently read about the Silent Sisters lore, empowering and now I see why they cut their own tongues out upon joining.
The other two characters I feel like I didn’t care about and they both went out pretty fast.
When I first started reading this novel, I really enjoyed the chapters with Bregan during his imprisonment, it just allows me to picture the story in a different light aside from the adventure through the Deep Roads part. When the Architect appeared, the way it was described made it seem like its appearance was different at that time compared to Awakening. In that DLC, the Architect wanted to obtain Grey Warden blood in order to create a similar ritual to the Joining that frees the darkspawn from the call of the Old Gods. In this book, the Architect wants to turn everyone into darkspawn hybrids, or ghouls as I would call them and kill the Old Gods so they don’t become archedemons.
That would create peace between Thedas and the darkspawn, freeing both the Wardens and the darkspawn from their calling.
You might ask, that sounds like a good plan so why do the Wardens oppose it? What could possibly be wrong with a choice that brings peace? Perhaps that not everyone could cooperate, some could die in the process?
Reading about the journey through the Deep Roads had its ups and downs but the travel through every tunnel was full of details. When the group encountered a dragon, I was trying to picture the background just before the fight. Was it in some cave that had an opening above and water nearby? That’s what it felt like to me.
Eventually romance blossomed between Maric and Fiona and here I am trying to figure out where the hell it came from. I saw little development in it which has always bothered me. All these action books and films always have a romance subplot that just springs up and there’s no growth in the relationship that leads to the first kiss/sex and I just don’t like that. But hey, on the bright side, at least I know where Alistair comes from now!
One of the best parts of this book was when the group gets trapped in the Fade and they all have to escape their dreams and defeat a demon that has been using Fiona as the one to send them there and her dream was the worst revealing her abusive past. It was also sad how one of the guys chose to stay in the dream because the other guy who was killed by the dragon is his lover.
The most disturbing part was watching Utha undergo a brutal transformation when she chose to help the Architect, and picturing it just made me uneasy as I read. But, after that, a string of betrayals followed to a point where we realize the antagonist was not the Architect after all. Bregan definitely went out with an unexpected bang in the end.
I will say that I definitely enjoyed this book better than the last one. It had its moments and its flaws and it brings us closer to the events of the first game with characters and events that lead up to it and even remind me of my first time playing it.
This book gets a solid B+
Time to read Masked Empire next.