Rift by SteveGarbage over on Fanfiction.net is one of the Dragon Age fics that has grabbed me of late, primarily because the story is just so bloody subversive. While storylines that follow the main plot of Inquisition are a dime a dozen, what sets this one apart is that it's told pretty much from the point of view of the two OCs, Vell, an apostate mage and Taesas, a loyalist who supports Vivienne. Central to the plot is the conflict between the rebels and the loyalists within the mage circles, masterminded by Grand Enchanter Fiona and of course the marvellous Viv many love to hate.
OCs are not easy to pull off in fics, mainly because, well, readers tend to stick with the familiar (or at least that is the case in my experience), and the canon characters very much play second fiddle to Vell and Tae, which gives me wriggles of excitement because it's *awesome* to see the events playing out in Inquisition reframed from the perspective of what can be considered secondary characters. They are not essential to the main storyline and yet their actions *do* impact on the greater scheme of things.
Vell and Tae are both elves, but there their similarities end. Both are independent, free thinkers, though the former frames herself as a rebel while the latter is all about control and playing the Grand Game, and SteveGarbage cleverly subverts their goals and motivations within the expected try/fail cycles. While Vell initially appears to be the stronger of the two, her arrogance gets the better of her eventually, as we see. Tae's own arrogance in his superior discipline eventually shows its cracks too, and at the time of writing this review, he has become quite brittle and somewhat damaged.
What makes this story stand out for me is the skilful way that the author illustrates how well characters play the Grand Game. The intrigue is delicious, to put it mildly. Power play is a central theme, and while there are some sexual encounters that may upset sensitive readers, these were entirely plausible within the context.
SteveGarbage is a rare find for me in the fic circles, and it's clear he knows his stuff in the setting. His writing is crisp, precise and detailed, and for lovers of lore, his stories are a treat. And I'm dying to see how Rift will end.