After I don’t remember how long and don’t feel like checking to see, I return triumphant with a review of a book set in the world of one of my favorite video games. I did wind up having a few minor spoilers in the review, but it isn’t for anything big.
Valya is part of a group of mages on the run from their Circle, trying to save themselves from rogue templars by seeking refuge with the Grey Wardens. When they arrive the Warden Commander asks them to prove their worth through research, and find something anything of use to the Grey Wardens, so he has a reason to keep them there.
In Liane Merciel’s Dragon Age: Last Flight we have a book that feels like it should tell two separate stories, one of Valya the elven mage in the present and one of Isseya the elven mage, sister to the hero of the fourth blight. It feels that way, but then we get woefully little of Valya’s story in favor of letting Isseya’s story take over. Ideally both stories would have been entwined in such a way that each supported or even mirrored the other to some degree and lead to more development for all the characters involved . I actually kind of wish that the author had been able to split this into two books so we could get Isseya’s story in better detail, instead of with the big time jumps that I’m sure are from the diary format, and then the next book with Valya finding the diary, getting to know some of the other characters mentioned, and then going on her hero’s journey.
The story as it’s told is a nifty piece of lore, giving us the reason that griffins no longer exist in Thedas and giving the reader a story of the fourth blight. It gives the sense that the blight has been dragging on for years. Some of the battles are amazingly well done. Unfortunately it falls flat because of the switches between time periods and the time jumps in Isseya’s side of the story. The diary framing ties the story entirely to Isseya and the people directly around her at any given point in time, normally this isn’t a bad thing, but in this case it restricts the scale of the story making it feel less epic. It also has the tendency to make Isseya herself kind of flat, we aren’t reading diary pages with the book, but since it focuses so heavily on her trying to make the griffins more effective and the repercussions of that it leaves out a lot of who she is as a character. There are moments when character shines through but , again, they just serve to make me want more. Another facet of the focus being so heavily on Isseya’s story is Valya being there almost entirely to bring Isseya’s story full circle. She solves the puzzle, but we aren’t really shown her doing it. She befriends one of the former Templars, but we get one conversation when they first meet and the next time we see her they’ve been friends for months. It’s frustrating and it left me not caring about that set of characters.
All that said, the story is enjoyable and it is a nifty addition to the world of Dragon Age. It has moments where it gets bogged down in itself, which slows the plot, but brings focus to the hopelessness of the character’s situation. And when Merciel chose to focus on other characters for any length of time, she did a really good job quickly developing them and making them interesting, I’d like to read more of her if she does that in most of her books.
So, over all, I enjoyed Dragon Age: Last Flight and would probably read Liane Merciel again, but the book has some serious issues with over focusing. It’s a decent addition to the world’s lore that could have implications for Dragon Age: Inquisition or a later game, but that isn’t required reading for either one. I give it a three out of five.