The Rebel Queen of Ferelden has fought the occupying Orlesians for the entirety of her lifetime in exile, raising her son Prince Maric to know the uneasy life of regularly moving camps or relying on sympathetic Fereldens to help shelter what army they could gather together. With a mad Orlesian placed on her Throne, the unstable Usurper King Meghren, is obsessed with bringing Ferelden to her knees under his Iron Fist and destroying the rebel forces.
When betrayal strikes from within, Maric is lost, alone and reeling from anger and grief. Trying to survive and find his way back to the remnants of his mother’s army, he finds the most unexpected of things. A friend in the form of an outlaw, Loghain Mac Tir. With Loghain’s help, Maric is reunited with his betrothed, the Lady Rowan and together the three of them set about achieving the impossible. Freeing their beloved Ferelden.
I often read movie or TV Series tie-ins after watching them, I like to see more in depth what is going on in the character’s heads along with what we see on screen. Sometimes I will also read original stories that are based in the universe of the series or film and while some are spot on, others can be a bit ‘off’, as well known and loved characters do something that is completely out of character. Thankfully those are few and far between.
I think this is the first time I’ve ever read original stories based on a game. Let me touch on the game as it has had such a big impact on me and my imagination. The game is Bioware’s Dragon Age and is a single player RPG (on PC/PS3/Xbox). It comes from the same people that made Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic amongst others. Something Bioware is very, very good at, is creating a game that immerses you not only in the story but the characters as well. Dragon Age is quite simply one of the best games I have ever played (and still playing repeatedly because of the many different outcomes you can get through different choices!).
The Stolen Throne is an original story written by one the lead story writers of the game, set earlier than Dragon Age: Origins but featuring people you know about through the historical snippets you learn in game. A very nice touch.
As a fantasy book in its own it is probably okay, but it is very hard for me to be impartial, because I love it so much due to its connection with the game.
There were a few things that niggled me and would in any book I read, the main one being the overuse of certain phrases. Yes they have dramatic impact the first couple of times, but the fourth or fifth time, not so much.
Having got that out of the way, I can quite simply say, I loved it. So many things I love in a book were present – heart, love, heroism, sacrifice and most importantly, solid believable characters who you can not only empathise with but grow to love. Another nice touch was how alike some of the characters are to their relations that appear later in the game. It made me giggle a few times.
Technically the plot is one you already have an idea about (if you have played Dragon Age) but I was surprised at how many things got there in unexpected ways. Reading as the events unfold are very different than reading it as part of history. The not so nice things tend to get left unmentioned.
Something I did think was clever were events that looked like they would create an imbalance between book and game, maybe not such a big deal to some but to me it felt that if the telling of the story would make something that happened in the game impossible, then that was not a good thing. I felt the clever part came in how the writer got from a to the correct b and the time-line preserved. It surprised me a couple of times I admit.
I think all I can say is, if you are a fan of Dragon Age, I can’t recommend The Stolen Throne enough. If you have never heard of it before, it could be a bit confusing but I still think it would be a good read. And then play the game!