DISCLAIMER: THIS BOOK REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS OR YOU’VE ALREADY READ THE BOOK.
I have a feeling most of you know the Dragon Age franchise already. The book I’m reviewing for this time, Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider is supposed to be the prequel to the game Dragon Age: Origins! I decided to pick up the book, as I only just started getting interested in Dragon Age a few months ago, and thought it would be interesting to read. I’ve heard of novelizations of movies and video games and stuff. Sometimes they don’t go too well. Sometimes they’re pretty good. So I thought I’d give it a try.
When I first read the book, I immediately had my attention towards what was going on with Maric, the main character. Having just lost his mother, who was known as the Rebel Queen, he’s forced to become the leader of his mother’s rebel army to free Ferelden from someone from Orlais. The plot moved quickly, but thankfully didn’t go too fast—it occasionally slowed down at times, but other than that it was well-paced. The battle scenes were well-written, though—I was impressed by the detail shown in those scenes.
In terms of characters, though, I’m definitely more than a bit lost when it came to them. Maric was fine and all. He had some development, learning to adapt to his role as the new rebel leader and slowly hardening his heart from all his experiences in the book, and when he ocasionally backed down from things being unsure of what to do, I felt those times made sense with him. He’s learning to adapt to a new role, he has all this pressure on him to win against that evil enemy from Orlais and he’s coping with the loss of his mother all at once. That’s tough for him to manage, so kudos to having good character development of him there as he goes through all these transitions.
The other characters, though…I was not so impressed. Loghain just kind of stayed the same the entire time, being the “manly man” character between him and Maric, and I felt there should have been less animosity between them towards the end of the book. They had many opportunities in the book where a good friendship between Maric and Loghain could have developed, but most of those opportunities seemed missed out in my opinion. Rowan, meanwhile, went from “tomboy/girl-power person of awesome” to “jealous stereotypically mean romance rival” once Katriel came into the picture. And Katriel? Well, she kind of went from “damsel in distress” to “helpful nice person” to “OH MY GOSH YOU’RE A FREAKING TRAITOR” to “doomed damsel in distress,” and what little development Katriel had was incredibly predictable and a bit boring.
Also, there was this one character that Loghain encounters early on in the book named “Hyram.” I legitimately thought he’d become a huge plot twist-inducing character, but he was never mentioned again after the second chapter. What happened to him!? It’s unfortunate that the the poor guy was neglected for the rest of the book, because I felt that he could have been vital for something in the plot. That was also a letdown for me.
The romance contained within this book, was a bit awkward to me. not just because of the strange love trangle (rectangle?) between Loghain, Katriel, Rowan and Maric, but simply because there was all this “Love at first sight” stuff going on between Katriel and Maric, which felt incredibly cheesy. And then Maric went and killed Katriel because of her being a traitor despite the fact that she defected from the enemy army FOR HIM and SHE ACTUALLY TRULY LOVED HIM. Ouch. Really awkward, even if it was going to end up happening because of what a witch told Maric earlier in the book. And then meanwhile we had Loghain and Rowan just hooking up for the sake of getting past all the MaricxKatriel going on, which I felt was a bit more awkward than the KatrielxMaric romance and ultimately unnecessary. I thought Rowan felt a bit out of character to be so hung up over Maric if she was portrayed as a strong character initially in the book, also.
Overall, I have to give this book 3 out of 5 stars because of the awkwardly-written romances and the big lack of development on most of the characters in this book. Otherwise, it’s pretty good for its well-paced plot and character development for the protagonist Maric, and Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne also serves as a good model for writing some excellent fantasy battle scenes.