Book Review: Dragon Age: The Last Flight

dragon age last flightLast Flight by Liane Merciel

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.
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12 Comments on “Book Review: Dragon Age: The Last Flight

  1. Four stars to a game tie-in novel. That’s promising! I have to say I was a bit discouraged by Tiara’s review of The Masked Empire especially given how much I had been looking forward to Patrick Weekes’ writing, but good to know I have this to look forward to after.

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    • The Masked Empire was an anomaly, I think, based on the DA books I’ve read so far. The key to a good tie-in is that it doesn’t alienate someone who doesn’t read them, and the game itself should hint at what’s in the book without giving too much away. In this case, the game did not back up a significant element of the story, though I think the relationships were covered well enough during the Wicked Hearts mission.

      This particular book takes a very interesting turn by moving away from what and who we know in the game. It gives it the freedom to do a lot more and as a result, I liked it in its entirety, whereas I enjoyed David Gaider’s books mainly because I love the way he writes the characters I already love.

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    • Don’t be discouraged. I think many people will actually like The Masked Empire. It was well-written. It just translated into a perfect storm of being burdened with too much knowledge and not seeing this stuff portrayed in the game or poorly portrayed. It’s like opening Pandora’s Box.

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  2. Oh action? emotion and dragons? Well ok mainly dragons? lol that’s always si intriguing to have them in books… well it’s difficult for me if it’s too fantasy but maybe one day! thanks for the revuew!

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    • It’s a dragon age, because dragons happen to be around, but they aren’t always prominent in the story. There are several in the game from time to time though.

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  3. I rarely expect a HEA in Fantasy books, so that aspect doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not familiar with game based stories, although I have seen a lot of them around. I like dark, and dragons, but I think some of the Dragon Age: Origins elements would be lost on me.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

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  4. I know Dragon Age books and I are having a torrid rivalmance, but while I’ve wanted to throw the books a few times, they have been (mostly) great for what they add to the lore. So, I’ll go into this one optimistically when I get around to reading it. I should probably follow Maric’s continuous downfall into trash first. LOL.

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    • I really liked how high the stakes really were in this book. Sure characters have died in the others, but this one really got down and dirty with the concept of war. It perhaps lacked death in some areas, but I think it covered a lot still as it moved through the many years of a Blight, something we took for granted with our piddly year long Blight.

      There were many, many SUDDENLY OGRES.

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