The Grey Wardens are an Order of peerless warriors from all nations and walks of life, who sacrifice themselves to protect the continent of Thedas from the all consuming Darkspawn Blights. 200 years ago, the order was expelled from Ferelden after a rebellion and now are seeking to return. This is their chance to restore their lost honour and to once again do their duty and prevent Ferelden from becoming a tainted wasteland.
King Maric knows more than most, how vital the the Grey Wardens are, and when they appeal to him for entry to Ferelden and explain their mission, he unexpectedly agrees to accompany them. Something once told to him by the Witch of the Korcari Wilds means he must go, but in truth since the death of his wife two years earlier, he hasn’t really been alive. Neither his love for his young son, Prince Cailan, nor the bond that remains between himself and Teyrn Loghain can hold him back. The Grey Wardens live on borrowed time, because of the taint they take into their bodies. When their Calling comes, they go to the dwarven Deep Roads, seeking death amongst the darkspawn. Even the most senior Grey Warden can’t avoid it and there is a strong suspicion that the former Commander might have been captured or turned traitor when his time came. He was one of the few privy to knowledge that could have devastating consequences and the Wardens must find him before the threat of a new Blight could rise.
Just a small recap about what I said about tie-ins from the review of Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne.
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 among others and 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 writer 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 I mentioned when I reviewed Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, I feel I can’t really view the book impartially and separate it from what I would say was a good fantasy novel, because of its connection to a game I happen to love. However, since I was extremely engaged and entertained by it, I felt it deserved a review just as the first one did.
The Calling is technically a sequel to The Stolen Throne, as it takes place a number of years after the liberation of Ferelden and Maric is still King. That it focuses on the Grey Wardens is the exciting part as in Dragon Age: Origins, you play a Grey Warden and are faced with direct consequences from this book as well as meet some of the same characters.
I actually felt this book was the more emotional of the two, knowing the hard choices that Grey Wardens must make to keep people safe yet never be thanked for it. It did have all of the heart, action, sacrifice and heroism that both the first book and the game do and it was extremely gripping on top of that.
My complaint from the first book about overuse of certain phrases was much less prevalent in this one, although it did still crop up occasionally.
The characters again were wonderful, it was good to be back with Maric once more, although bittersweet as he had lost his zest for life. You felt for him as he went through the motions but it was great seeing him come back to life again. You meet Duncan as a young man of about 18, which intrigued me no end. If you’ve played the game, you will know who Duncan is and why it made me very excited. If you haven’t, then he is still a wonderful and integral character you will come to love. This book made me laugh quite a lot from the comments and banter between the characters and also want to cry as certain events came to pass. I felt it was well written and had enough twists and turns to keep you gripped yet simple enough to follow even without prior knowledge from the game itself.
I do have to touch on the ending. Okaaaay, didn’t see that coming! Although there are no names attached, you know who it has to be and well… woah!
Just like Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, if you are a fan of the game, you really have to read this. If you aren’t, read it and hopefully it will get you into the game. It really is that good!