Title: Dragon Age: The Silent Grove
Authors: David Gaider and Alexander Freed
Illustrator: Chad Hardin
Format: Graphic Novel ARC from NetGalley
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Expected Release: July 25th 2012
Taken from Goodreads
Dragon Age #1–#6, previously available only on the Dark Horse digital store!
It's unusual for a king to embark on a dangerous quest himself rather than send emissaries, but King Alistair Theirin has caught wind of a rumour big enough, and personal enough, that he is compelled to investigate. With the deadly pirate Isabela and underworld merchant Varric Tethras by his side, Alistair travels to Antiva - the nation of assassins - to learn the fate of his long-lost father, King Maric. There, they will engineer a prison break, battle an assassin prince, encounter the mysterious Witch of the Wilds, and uncover the secret history of dragons!
In reviewing this graphic novel, I am fully aware that I will be revealing myself as a world-class geek! I am also aware that I'll be alienating a few readers here. However, I feel it's worth coming out of the nerdy closet just so I can be a bit of a video-game fangirl in my excitement over this!
I love the Dragon Age games. I like video games in general, and I have ever since I was a kid. I used to love watching my brother play games like Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid. I loved the stories and could forgive even the corniest dialogue!
Things have moved on a bit since Lara Croft's boobs were hexagonal and the voice actors of games like Resident Evil were so bad that your ears would bleed. These days, there are some games which are like stepping inside a good book and becoming the main character! The Dragon Age games are like that, and because I love their stories, I'm guilty of having spent far too many hours playing them!
Unfortunately, DA3's release date is still being posted as “To Be Announced”. This means that fans like myself figured we were whole way away from being able to immerse ourselves in the world of Thedas again.
But, bless David Gaider's soul, Dragon Age has come to the printed page! I have the prequel novels on My Goodreads Wishlist, but could hardly believe my luck (or my eyes) when, while browsing NetGalley for the first time in a year, I saw this! A graphic novel following Alistair, Varric and Isabela on a whole new journey.
Alistair is the king of a land called Fereldan, and he is a character in Dragon Age: Origins. Isabela is a pirate hussy and Varic is a lovable dwarf and both appear as companions in Dragon Age 2. This GN takes place “almost a decade” after the Fifth Blight (the catastrophe that the first game is based around). In this book, Alistair is looking for his father, in search of answers to questions which have haunted him all his life.
Now, I'm a fan so while reading this I was able to sink quickly into the world depicted. I knew the voices and mannerisms of the characters like they were old friends! And yes, I know that's uber-geeky! However, while I read, I tried to imagine what it would be like for someone unfamiliar with this world to read about it. While I think the story had plenty going for it, I think the mentions of other in-game characters and events might leave a lot of readers floundering. But, that being said, I feel like these books are probably designed to appeal to the existing fan base.
The illustration was good, though I would have preferred Isabela and Alistair to be more in-keeping with their game-selves as I feel Freed “uglied them up” somewhat. Varric was a little different, but cool.
Overall, I loved the opportunity to see some of my favourite characters kicking butt and buckling some swash again! I'm not sure how much scope there is for a series as there are so many different possible endings to both of the games (the first more than the second...) that it seems like there might be a few elephants in the room after a while. In my games, for example, Alistair married my character. In other people's games, he ran away and never became King of Fereldan at all. I guess reading this GN is like playing a sequel to a game and loading a default save. The decisions and outcomes of the prequel are just the most typical outcomes.
And yes, I know just how geeky that last paragraph made me sound. I may as well go ahead and give this a well-deserved four and a half stars! Then maybe I should go and watch reruns of Star Trek while trying to to learn how to write in Tolkien's elvish.