WARNING: THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ ONLY IF YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS OR IF YOU’VE ALREADY READ THE BOOK.
This time, for a book review I read Dragon Age: Asunder by David Gaider, the same guy who wrote a book I reviewed in the past, Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne. Asunder takes place three years after the game Dragon Age II, and is supposed to detail how the Templar-Mage War really began. As the Templar-Mage War is mentioned in the game Dragon Age: Inquisition, I thought I would read Asunder to understand why this Templar-Mage War is going on.
I could really sense the animosity between the templar and mage characters in the book. Adrian, for example, is obviously pro-mage while you’ve got Lord Seeker Lambert who is more pro-templar, and then you have people in the middle like Wynne (heroine of the Blight) and Rhys (our main character) who kind of fluctuate somewhere on this mage-or-templar spectrum. I felt that it was good that they set off that animosity right away in the book, obviously showing us that something is more than definitely wrong.
When it came to the actual plotline, I quite liked it. It was not too fast, or too slow, and it gave enough information about certain concepts (like the Rite of Tranquility for example) so that I could understand it.
For characters, I hated Evangeline SO MUCH for the first half of the book. She didn’t really seem to develop a real personality through the book until later in the second half, because I felt that she was strictly portrayed as being so bound to her duties as Templar and following orders without really thinking about the consequences. Any conscientious struggles Evangeline has don’t seem to shine through until that second half of the book, whether she should truly follow the Templar Order or the Chantry. However, I actually liked one part of the book where she had a scene with Cole where they got to bond a little bit (albeit awkwardly as they were recalling a past event where Cole had snuck into her room out of worrying about Rhys, and ended up witnessing her changing). That moment gave both Cole and Evangeline a great time to interact with each other and get a bit deeper into their characters as of what they were thinking at the time, what they want to focus on.
Regarding the character Cole, I liked him the best out of all of the characters. Being some blend of both a spirit and human, he’s like a curious child when exploring the world around him (including the scene when he goes so far to make sure what exactly is going on with what others are planning to do with Rhys by sneaking into Evangeline’s room to figure out what she and the other Templars are up to and unfortunately for him having to watch her change in her room. That was actually a bit funny, and even more so when Evangeline brought it up later on.). It even got to the point where I shipped EvangelinexCole briefly (until Rhys and Evangeline got together by the end of the book). Whenever I read through a scene that took place in his point of view, he always had these nicknames for most of the characters (Big Nose, Knight-Captain, Purple-Cloak, etc) and they made sense to him in his point of view because, well, he only knew them by certain characteristics, titles. It wasn’t like he knew everything about them, and I like how Cole’s thoughts were expressed whenever he had parts of the book in his point of view.
For the main character, Rhys, I thought he developed nicely in the book. He’s stubborn at times, but he’s trying to do the right thing, and during the entire book he’s struggling to figure out what the right thing is, even when the right thing doesn’t seem like the right thing to do through anyone else’s eyes (especially Adrian’s later on in the book). He goes through a lot of internal struggle regarding this, and that struggle only keeps developing, and he is eventually forced to get out of indecision, go with a decision, and stick with it—in this case deciding that the Mages will fight against the Templars.
When it came to the character Adrian, I was actually scared of her angry outbursts in the book. I could easily tell that she was truly pro-mage and incredibly against templars (even Evangeline when she kind of turned a new leaf later on in the book). I was hoping while reading the book that Adrian would eventually take on a stand where she would come to understand that not all templars are bad people being prejudiced against mages, but it didn’t seem like it ever happened in the book to me, which felt a bit sad, but her hatred to the templars felt so…realistic. If one has been abused and hurt by those of a different class, I can definitely see the resentment for that class that abused them right there, and Adrian is a great example of a character gone bitter after all the hurt, unable to get herself to move on from what happened to her. She was a very strong character, and liked her fiery spirit in the book.
Overall, I have to give this a 4.5 out of 5 for the heavy lack of development of Evangeline for the first half of the book. Otherwise, this was actually a really good book and I would totally recommend it to someone who likes fantasy genre fiction!