I don't remember who started it all but for one or other reason a prequel novel based on a videogame sold very well, and since then everyone seems to want to do it, just because. Most of such novels range from slightly good to being a part of the digital product, an extension, complementary lore. Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne falls in the later category.
The novel follows one very interesting and wholly attractive narrative style that can only be appreciated in full after we finish it. It starts as a rather standard fantasy adventure as we are introduced into a world where a foreign king rules a conquered country. A Rebel Queen is ambushed and killed as her son, the rightful heir, is unable to do anything but runaway.
A random encounter puts two almost antagonistic characters face to face, as events rush forward and the adventure of days turns into one of weeks Maric and Loghain can't do anything but become friends. I can't say there is much new in the story but it is carried forward so well that it is hard to put the book down, to stop reading, to not keep on to know a little more.
The Stolen Throne can be appreciated by a reader looking for a good fantasy adventure as well as by a gamer or a fan of Dragon Age looking for a little more lore. But only the later will eventually grin, nod and smile at the situations in which the characters are put by an author that is most definitvely winking back to a reader who can understand the implicit but subtle associations hidden between the lines, among the dialogue, within the descriptions of the surroundings.
David Gaider tells us a tale of friendship and love in a fantasy world, and he does it very well. And just when, as readers, we are about to groan to what should be, to what ought to have been, an almost agreed upon ending we are presented with a twist that will probably leave many crying out a loud nooooooo! It is so unexpected that it is bound to catch most by surprise.
The Stolen Throne is the tale of a group of friends, the tale of a country under a tyrant's rule, an adventure where each character plays its role. Until a point in which everyone has to make a choice. A choice which will let it be known that though being a fantasy world it is not one of a prince in shiny armor, a princess of pure perfection. It has elves and dwarves, and magicians and witches, but it is no fairy tale. It has giant spiders, secret dungeons, hidden passages but no clear-cut ending. A choice of turning the page and knowing, or not and attempting to hide behind wishful hope.
We know from the start that at some point prince Maric has to grow up and The Stolen Throne is not just an adventure of how he becomes a warrior but how he comes to understand what it takes and what it means to be King. Dragon Age is an M/18+ rated game and this first prequel shows so in a very profound way, in a very mature way. The turn of events with which we are faced are among the best I have read in recent memory. One can do nothing but drop a tear as we nod in understanding, as we see how the young adult becomes King, as we truly grasp the price he pays to fulfil his destiny. The price they all pay.
There are quite a few events and moments in which I could almost imagine the author grinning as he wrote the words we read, because he knew we would understand; not everyone will truly grasp them since its a gamer thing, but for those who do it is an incredible rewarding feeling, one that makes us grin back at him. Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne is a very good fantasy novel, a great prequel, a cool story with incredible and very memorable turn of events.