Book Review: Dragon Age: The Last Flight
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Gaming
Series: Dragon Age #5
Publisher: BioWare (August 2014)
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
In 9:41 Dragon, the continent of Thedas is in turmoil, with the templars waging war against the mages who have rebelled against their oppressive guardians. A small group of mages has sought refuge at Wiesshaupt, hoping the Grey Warden’s neutrality will protect them from the templars, even though becoming a Grey Warden is a deadly risk in itself.
This is as close as Dragon Age fans will get elements of the game they are most familiar with. Unlike its predecessors, Last Flight steps away from the immediate lore of the game by having Valya, a young elf mage, research historical records. That seems like a pretty dull concept, but at the crypt of Garahel, the elven hero of the Fourth Blight, Valya finds clues that lead her to the diary of his sister, Isseya, which goes into great detail about the struggles of the Fourth Blight.
Wiesshaupt has been mentioned constantly throughout Dragon Age games, but players have yet to see the fabled Grey Warden headquarters. This book provides that opportunity, and more importantly, lets readers see the griffons that Wynne so cruelly denied us in her storytelling.
Isseya’s journal tells of the many years of hardship that the continent of Thedas suffered as the Darkspawn ravaged the land with their poisonous existence. The Fifth Blight, as experienced by players during Dragon Age: Origins, was nothing compared to this, having lasted only a year. Last Flight shows us the true hardships of war, and the horrible decisions that its leaders and heroes have to make. While players — unless they wanted to be jerks — could mostly play their game with minimal losses, making more friends than enemies, Field Commander Garahel and his sister had to make choices that often meant sacrificing the few to save the many. And some of those choices involved the dreaded blood magic.
As enjoyable as it is to see all of our friends and experience the events of Thedas as players currently know it, the step into the past was a welcome change. With all the different choices available to players, current stories might not reflect our expectations and experiences. Last Flight is freed from these trappings, and is able to present us with all new and interesting characters upon whom we have no expectations, much less background information.
I really liked the fact that, while her brother is the famed hero that has gone down in history, the story is told entirely through Isseya’s eyes. That’s not unusual in itself, but Garahel actually isn’t involved much in her storytelling, save where necessary. His charm and bravery are evident through her words, and we already know that he is the one to defeat the Archdemon that controls the Darkspawn, thus making him the Hero of the Fourth Blight, but seeing the Blight through Isseya’s eyes was very interesting, and at times, heartbreaking, especially when it comes to the now extinct griffons.
The action and emotion ranges all over the place, as is to be expected in such a long, seemingly hopeless war. Merciel is merciless in her battle scenes, wasting few words on the fallen. This is a harrowing book, and perhaps a difficult read for those who enjoy happy endings. While it does offer a significant amount of hope at the end, a victory during a Blight can only ever be Phyrric, at best.