Book Review: Dragon Age: The Calling by David Gaider

The Calling (Dragon Age, #2)

The Calling by David Gaider

Story-wise, this wasn’t as good as its predecessor, The Stolen Throne, with a somewhat shaky plot pushed a long by the questionable motivations of the characters. Fortunately, it was the characters that made me want to read these books in the first place in order to learn more about them, and Gaider again delivered, with the focus, this time, on Maric and Duncan. He adds a load of depth to both characters, making me love them all the more and feel for them and those that come after.

Maric was already a charming character by the end of The Stolen Throne but events from the end of that book and since served to break him. He is a man depressed and ready to die, with nothing to save him from his darkness. Meanwhile, the stoic Duncan we know from the game used to be a swarthy, cocky and sneaky young thief with a reasonably noble heart and a healthy fear of his Warden Commander, Genevieve, who is leading the mission into the deadly Deep Roads to hunt for her brother. The Calling also relates to Dragon Age: Awakenings, introducing the sentient darkspawn known as The Architect, as well as a few of his companions.

As I said, the plot and motivations of the characters are rather weak. It was frustrating watching characters make decisions that really made no sense, serving no purpose other than to push them to the ultimate goal of finding Genevieve’s brother. That done, we end up with the plot twist which, while unsurprising, was also questionable. I concluded that the actual plot really was not the important thing to Gaider. He was more interesting in adding character backstory to alter canon created within the games, most notably with the parentage of Maric’s bastard son, Alistair.

Otherwise, I really like Gaider’s grasp of battle writing. It probably helps that I’ve played the game these books spawn from, but I think anyone else would appreciate and be able to visualize the battles and how each character moves and flows within them. Playing the game means you can actually visualize the commands used by the PCs and NPCs in game. And, in spite of the weak story surrounding them, I adore the characters. Gaider writes them all well, making them all very interesting – redeeming the apparently irredeemable, questioning the noble and letting us see their darkness. I love the relationships he develops between them and love the bittersweet and the heartbreaks that he seems to enjoy writing.


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