Dragon Age Origins (DAO) is possibly my favourite video game when it comes to universe lore and story with its sequels not being far behind. Alongside the games there is a collection of books that further expand on ideas that are briefly mentioned in the games.
The Calling – David Gaider – The first book about King Maric who gets mentioned in DAO as Loghain’s deceased friend and the father of the current kings. Grey Wardens arrive in his castle and request to be guided through the Deep Roads, a pit of monsters connected to caves where Darkspawn forge their armies. A former Warden Commander has heard the call of an Archdemon and made his way down to die. The story really expands on how the Darkspawn taint effects the other creatures with a more intelligent Darkspawn called The Architect (the one from the DAO DLC Awakening) manipulating the Wardens as he talks to them. It’s an interesting story where we know the heroes must win. It has action, romance and likeable characters.
The Stolen Throne – David Gaider – A country dominated by a foreign power has conspirators plot to overthrow the unwanted leaders, but the true Queen is murdered leaving her inept son to forge an army to retake the country. The boy meets a group loyal to the Queen leading to an alliance and a friendship that last a lifetime between Maric and Loghain. We know they win because of the games but it’s great to see how they did it, struggling through. Both Shale (from DAO DLC) and Flemeth even show up to help the new rightful king. It is a really good read with a lot going on including action and romance that help make really likeable characters. Loghain even becomes a more interesting character as we see his heroic side rather than just the villain from DAO. I was sad that the book ended without the battle of River Dane but some things are best left as mystery.
Last Flight – Liane Merciel – This book jumps between two times, one rather boring story of a mage that’s living with Grey Wardens who discovers a story of the past, the other a more exciting story of how the Griffons that the Wardens rode were weaponised to the point of extinction. I struggled to get into this one as it’s fairly unimportant lore wise for the games and the decision to jump between stories took me out of it. Obviously it’s nice for fans to have the story which answered the question of Griffons but it’s set after Dragon Age 2 with mages fighting Templars and during an old Blight. It had moments that quickly fell flat and the characters weren’t that good in my opinion.
The Masked Empire – Patrick Weekes – The Wicked Eyes And Wicked Hearts mission in Dragon Age Inquisition (DAI) is arguably the worst in the game, this book is centred around the ideas of that mission. The politics of an empire where one man wishes to unite a country through strength while the empress wishes for knowledge and understanding. An elven servant has the ear of the empress as they are lovers whose goals align… for a while. It’s all about equality and rebellion, the divisions on how to control things and the impact that has. Add in a knight who isn’t a noble and a demon to get good setup for other content in the DAI game which all makes sense on its own. There’s a war on, it’s split lovers apart and sent allies against each other. The book was better than the related in game missions by far.
Asunder – David Gaider – A book about the mages of Thedas, the abuse from the Templars and a possible reversal of the right of annulment. Running alongside The Masked Empire book, the plot is set just before Dragon Age Inquisition and follows Wynne (a companion from DAO) as she takes her son, his friend and a high ranking Templar to find a man that might have reversed his annulment. The golem Shale from the DAO DLC also assists Wynne as she goes through a journey that explains her absence and how the plot works in DAI. This book also expands on the story of Cole from DAI who just seemed a bit weird in the game. Action, romance, improves characters from the games and rounds off stories, very good.
I would say that Asunder is the only one of these books where having played the game will make it significantly better for imagery. The rest of the books fill things in that are more side stories but Asunder feels like main plot.
The ones by David Gaider are definitely my favourite three with The Masked Empire being next and Last Flight being the worst.