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Book Review

Book Cover

Dragon Age
The Calling


Author: David Gaider
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99, US $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 8485 6754 2
Available 01 March 2010

King Maric has finally regained his kingdom of Ferelden, but it has cost both the King and his friends dearly. Having lost his queen to a wasting disease Maric sits on a lonely throne, isolating himself even from his own son. When the Grey Wardens seek an audience Maric learns that there may yet be a threat from the Deep Roads in the form of another Blight, the horrific spewing forth of the darkspawn, which will mean the end of life for most of his kingdom...

Dragon Age: The Calling is the second novel by David Gaider which is based on Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins console game.

I enjoyed the first book in this series The Stolen Throne and so was looking forward to following his adventure in a further novel. This time Gaider introduces the reader to the legendary Grey Wardens, characters which appear in the game. The Wardens are a group of warriors who battle the Darkspawn, creatures of limited intelligence, but unlimited hatred who are compelled to dig the earth looking for their lost gods, dragons who have been entombed. When found, the Darkspawn and the dragons invades the surface world.

At the beginning of the novel such an invasion has not happened for hundreds of years and the Grey Wardens numbers are in decline. Although they are long lived the Wardens eventually succumb to The Calling, a siren song which instigates their last mission to travel the Deep Roads, the long ago abandoned under earth realms of the dwarves to die killing Darkspawn.

A small party approach Maric, as he had travelled through the Deep Roads when he was still a rebel prince, and they seek his assistance as a guide. With little to lose, or so he thinks, Maric follows the Grey Wardens into the danger of the Deep Roads.

This is another book in a very enjoyable series; hopefully there will be more than just these two books. Gaider has taken the format of the console game and written a prequel book which has its own characters and its own life. As such the books are fully stand alone works of fiction and represent some of the best fantasy writing I have read in a long time. Fans of the first book may be disappointed that only Loghain makes an appearance and only at the start and finish of the book.

Here we have a whole new set of characters to play with and like the first book Gaider is able to write strong individual characters. It is Genevieve who approaches the king with her small band. She is a strong warrior Grey Warden and in character has much in common with Rowan. It is her quest to find her brother who had gone on his calling but not died. Gaider’s best new character is Duncan the one time thief who is now a novice Grey Warden. A number of the interactions between Duncan and Maric are some of the best writing in the book.

Where the first book was a fairly straight forward tale of redemption, friendship and adventure The Calling is an altogether darker affair. Gaider does well to conjure up the claustrophobia of the Deep Roads as well as the horror which lurks there. Structurally it is also a more ambitious plot with a neat twist at the end, which you won’t see coming.

I enjoyed the second novel as much as the first; let’s hope that the books gain enough success to spark a series.


Charles Packer

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