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on April 17, 2009
Some of the criticism leveled at David Gaider's initial venture into novelization is that he makes heavy use of clichés, or his writing is technically poor. This is unfair on both counts. Genre literature, by its very nature is a cliché. What Gothic novel could exist without a decaying mansion? What fanstasy novel can exist without elves and dwarves? Only an exceedingly dull or groundbreaking one.

Mr. Gaider wasn't hired to break new ground. We must keep in mind exactly what he was trying to accomplish with DA:Stolen Throne and then commend him for doing just that. Mr. Gaider is a hired hand, a mercenary in the business of fiction. He must constantly guard against writing above his audience, but then avoid slavishly pandering to its adolescent demands. He must balance the canon and ideas of an entire team with his own sensibilities and imagination. Speaking of imagination, he cannot allow his to roam unfettered, because this is primarily a marketing effort, a promotional piece for a game, and because his best material must be saved for later, we can marvel that a book of his cast-offs is still of quality.

Not only did the author have to work against the game's publication date, but he had to work on his own time, and within the restrictions placed on him by corporate interests, i.e. don't reveal too much but don't make it boring. It is a nearly impossible tight-rope walk and Mr. Gaider balances everything the way only a true professional can.

Too much has been made of the opening (free) chapter of this book. It might have been more effective to have released a chapter nearer the middle. No time was wasted crafting a perfect first sentence or opening; these considerations must be secondary to establishing the scene, characters and motivations quickly. Back story is cut mercilessly to that end.

To his credit, Mr. Gaider avoids most of the trappings of fantasy writing, and in fact, until the last quarter of the book it is more like historical fiction along the lines of a Margaret Campbell Barnes take on the War of the Roses, or a Jacobite uprising fantasy.
There is magic and magic-users but they don't play a significant role in the plot. There is nary a mythical beast until nearly the end. The story is at its core, a love triangle, and a tense friendship between three warriors - Maric, the boy-king, Loghain, the murderous and dour son of a bandit leader, and Rowan, the uncompromising daughter of an Arl (Earl).

There is not much that hasn't been hashed and rehashed in other forms, but it is a quick and entertaining read. There is blood and action aplenty, as the gamer audience will demand, and it is in the action scenes that Gaider's strengths as a writer emerge. Fast, taut, descriptive sentences whirl and blend to form a genuinely exciting and tense overview of combat. Despite an unfortunate predilection for Deus Ex Machinae, and a predictable pattern of increasing intensity of a dilemma, followed by the last-minute intervention of a saviour, the action in Stolen Throne never gets tiresome or intrusive.

Mr. Gaider isn't as deft while handling the romance between his protagonists, but neither does he have the time to adequately pace the exchanges. He is beholden to his greater task - tell an epic story with faction history and multiple characters. In fact he employs a few clever montages to advance the story while giving the impression of time passing in just a few pages.

Although the book is physically large, and somewhat overpriced, the margins are big and the book is not over-long. I wonder if a longer story was planned but scrapped due to time constraints? There are some much-publicized grammatical and logical glitches. For example during one of the initial rebel battles why does Loghain berate himself for being inadequate to a task that he completed just a few paragraphs before? These should have been picked up by a capable editor. Whether that would have been supplied by Tor or Bioware (or EA?) we won't know, as there is no editorial credit and none is deserved. The net effect is of a hastily-produced promo item, and most of the missing two stars is the fault of a publishing conglomerate that cares little for art.

Despite these few drawbacks it is a fun fast-paced story that will likely endure in the mind at least as long as your Dragon Age: Origins single-player campaign.
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on July 1, 2010
As a lover of the Dragon Age:Origins video game, this book was an excellent compliment to the already enveloping story unveiled within it. It provides background and history to King Maric and more notably, Loghain Mac Tir, who features in the video game.

I personally liked the book because of the insight it gave into Loghain's history and past, and how I felt that I could see Cailan in Maric.

Great battle scenes, as the book follows Maric and Loghain (and Rowen, Maric's betrothed) as they fight for survival as the rebel army under a usurper Orleisan's rule. It was a quick read, with a story that was compelling to follow.
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This summer I tried expanding the satisfying experience I have had with computer Role-Playing games with related fantasy novels. It worked greatly with The Witcher as two of the books that game was based upon (The Last Wish &Blood of Elves) were also excellent reads. With Dragon Age: Origins, however, I found the game to be must better than the spin-off books.

The STOLEN THRONE starts abruptly, placing you in the boots of the fleeing prince Maric, running away from a treasonous ambush that threatens to extinguish his bloodline's claims to the Ferelden throne. From one tense moment to the next, the urgency to avoid eminent defeat never seems to let go - and neither does Maric's luck. But it is not just rhythm problems this book has.

The writing is unpolished, mechanical and often juvenile, whereas the plot strains the limits of one's suspension of disbelief. And for a fantasy novel, complete with spell-casting magi and flying dragons, that is no small feat.

What is worse, the writer seems to have struggled to tame the story and fit it under the events set by the game. It almost worked with King Maric, mostly because his role in the game is so short. It totally failed with Loghain though. I do no wish to spoil it for anyone so let's just say, those who have completed the cRPG will find this novelized Loghain barely recognizable.

I am a huge fan of DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS and that is the only reason I rounded my rating up rather than down.
This is a book addressed mostly towards fans of the original game.
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on October 16, 2009
To anyone interested in the Dragon Age Universe, this book is a must read. It's a prequel to the game that will be released on November 3rd 2009.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Some scenes will really stick to my mind and the book also changed my idea of what I would do when I first play the game. It's not overly complicated and feature both violence, love and treason. It's enjoying and even a bit emotional at time. Combat is described just enough. The emphasis is put mostly on the main characters and do not diverge into long description of location or event. It's always pretty grounded.

Anyway, I suggest this book if you plan to play the game. Personally, I'll buy any book of the Dragon Age Universe from now on.
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on September 5, 2013
It's been a while since I've read a book that's given me so many feelings. I love the Dragon Age video games, and Gaider does an amazing job of making you care about the characters. It was easy to pick up and follow along, and an exciting read. A bunch of times I got goosebumps, or laughed out loud, or cheered, or clenched my teeth. I highly recommend this book. Even those unfamiliar with Dragon Age will enjoy and relate to it. But if you're already a fan, definitely pick this up!
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on April 14, 2010
If you liked Dragon Age, buy this book now.

No spoiler
This is tells the story of the biggest event that ever happened in Ferelden. These event shaped the way Ferelden is in the game.

This book and the game are tightly related and a must read to anyone who played the game!

Bonne lecture!
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on January 10, 2015
My son and I have played all of the Dragon Age games and now we are working on the books. This book tells the story well and if you are a fan of fantasy or the game it is recommended!
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on June 22, 2014
A solid tale of Ferelden that will be a bit of fascinating backstory for fans of the game. A very good fantasy story for anyone lokking for a traditional tale.
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on August 22, 2016
Great companion piece to a great game!
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on April 7, 2016
Exactly what was expected
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