Title: Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age #1)
Author: David Gaider
Publisher: Titan Books, 2010
Anyone who knows me well will know that I’ve an insatiable appetite for lore. They’ll also know that I’m an incorrigible addict when it comes to fantasy that involves dragons, elves and magic. So needless to say, now that I’ve fallen into the black hole that is BioWare’s Dragon Age franchise, there is no hope for this Middle-earth veteran.
Which is why The Stolen Throne was great. The story is simple. Prince Maric’s on the run after his mother, the queen, is murdered thanks to the treachery of her subjects. Ferelden is ruled by an usurper placed on the throne by the neighbouring empire of Orlesia, and Maric faces a bitter struggle before he can take his rightful place as ruler and gain vengeance. Helping him are his betrothed, Rowan, and his loyal and best friend Loghain, who stand by him through all his battles.
For those who played through Dragon Age: Origins, Maric is Alistair’s grandfather, so it’s a nice touch to see this little slice of history brought to life, and especially getting an idea of the socio-political setting for the magnificent world of Thedas.
Yes. You knew there was going to be a but, didn’t you…
The execution of this novel didn’t blow me away. While I appreciated the content, its delivery could have been better, and this is where I am not afraid to say that a savvy content editor would have been able to poke and prod the author to give a little more. The plot itself is fine – and suitably unpredictable. I certainly did not expect a diversion down into the [spoiler] where the inevitable [spoilers] were encountered. And oh, look, cool loot! I sometimes felt that character's’ motivations could have been given a bit more voema. The dialogue could have been a bit more complex. The environment could have been gifted with more sensual experience. Lots of could haves… If the characters are in a forest, I want to smell the leaf mould, feel the coolness of the air… That sort of thing. I wanted to be struck by the sheer magnificence of the setting the way I am when I play through Dragon Age: Inquisition.
So, yeah, it fell a little flat for me.
Overall, this one hovers a little between three and four stars for me. There were times when my heart quickened (because I had my favourite characters, like Rowan and Katriel, who are both strong women with agency in a hostile environment). But there were often times when I felt the prose didn’t live up to its potential. Will I go on to reading others in the series? Yes. Because I’m a sucker for canon and I’m a total geek hoping to be able to map out details for when I’m playing the game or writing fics. So, this is one for the die-hard fans.