Book Review: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider
Genre: Fantasy, Gaming
Series: Dragon Age
Publisher: Tor Books (April 1, 2010)
Author Information: Twitter
Tiara’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Admittedly, I gave into Dragon Age mania as the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition neared after swearing that I wouldn’t buy another BioWare game before getting some solid opinions after playing Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. I lied. Everyone knew I was lying. However, I held out on Dragon Age: Inquisition until they started releasing all the details. Well, that and a thoughtful preorder from a husband who knew I’d never quit BioWare helped. BioWare and I are going to be in a rivalmance until the end of days. This is how it’s been since I played my first Bioware game (Baldur’s Gate), and this is how it will always be.
I’d purposely avoided reading the Dragon Age books and comics. If I went into the reasons why, I’d probably be here all day, so that’s a road we won’t travel. With the nearing of the latest game in the series, though, I decided to take the plunge because I wanted to know more about the world as seen by its creator(s). It has been a bit of an ambivalent journey for me at this point, but I can say that I appreciate what it has added in terms of lore and how I think of my own characters in this world.
The Stolen Throne chronicles Maric’s bid to overthrow the Orlesians who have occupied Ferelden and subjugated its people to their harsh rule. After the death of his mother, the much loved Rebel Queen, Maric finds himself the leader of a rebellion that he was part of but never fully grasped the full scope of due in part to trailing a mother who seemed larger than life. Maric is that ham-fisted son who has to find the greatness inside of him and lead his people into the promised land.
Early in his adventures, Maric befriends the young, taciturn Loghain Mac Tir who comes from humble origins and has felt the brutal sting of the Orlesian occupation firsthand. Loghain reluctantly helps Maric at first, feeling that survival is more important than any rebellion, but soon finds himself committed to the rebel cause. Despite his youth and origins, Loghain proves to be an adept leader and tactician. He’s doubly more capable than Maric, but his glories are Maric’s glories. Loghain is respected for his military prowess, though.
I didn’t care much for the “hero” of the story much. Maric was a bit too golden for my tastes, even when he still seemed uninspired. Too many scenes had him reducing people to patriotic tears and wanting to abandon hearth and home to follow him to doom. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here asking, “Why?” For me, there was nothing spectacular about him or these speeches he had to dredge from the bottom of his heart. At the very best he was mediocre, and at the worst comically inept. Yet, the minute he opened his mouth and said, “Get in, losers,” everyone was running to his side.
On the other hand, we have Loghain. Loghain has always been a character that I’ve had issues with in Dragon Age: Origins to the point that I really didn’t care what insight a book might give me on the character. I always felt like Loghain was wasted potential in the game for various reasons. With that being said, he’s really just about the only thing that makes this book worth picking up because it does give you more introspective on the character, adding many nuances to a character that I was tepid toward.
Overall, the story was just all right. While it was certainly very well written, it was a bit too formulaic and clichéd for my tastes. Not that there’s anything wrong with formulaic or clichéd when presented in just the right way, but this book felt a little too much like I could throw in any generic character in a generic rebel prince story. There wasn’t much that was truly special for me as a fan of the games aside from seeing small things such as where Alistair got his award winning sense of humor. I did enjoy the description of the settings. Reading about places such as the Hinterlands and having the beautiful visuals from Dragon Age: Inquisition in my head was a real treat. The fight scenes were engaging, easy to envision, and had me thoroughly engrossed.
While this wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, I can appreciate it for what it is and what it added to the lore of one of my favorite gaming series.
Side note: Be sure to check out Wendy’s review of The Stolen Throne!