Review: Dragon Age: Asunder

  • Title:
    • Dragon Age: Asunder
  • Author:
    • David Gaider
  • Release:
    • April 19, 2016
  • Format:
    • Audiobook
  • Narrator:
    • Gildart Jackson
  • Series:
    • Dragon Age #3

I’ve both had and wanted to listen to this book for years. I’ve admittedly been a bit intimidated by the Dragon Age books, I was worried I’d not know enough about the series lore (despite being an occasional lore nerd). While I didn’t have the least bit of trouble following along, it’s 100% a book for the fans. If you’re not familiar with Dragon Age in any medium, you’ll likely only be confused when they mention Lyrium, the Blight, Tranquil, etc.

For those wondering, despite being the third book, it can be listened to and enjoyed out of the order. It’s set in 9:40 Dragon, prior to Inquisition, and after Dragon Age II. If you need more specific lore placement, consult the wiki.

The book follows (as the DA wiki calls it) “Bioware’s Own Canon”, so some player choices will not be taken into account, as to be expected. Such as Wynne still being alive (ugh!) and the Circle of Magi in Ferelenden being saved by the hero of Ferelden. I take issue with this though, the Dragon Age Wiki has a note that the writer selectively didn’t mention Hawke (Dragon Age II) to skirt around player choices. But that was done for the HoF (Dragon Age: Origins).

I find it spineless. What’s the point of having an official series canon, if you’re just going to pussyfoot around player choices, and not even consistently at that? Obviously, you can’t have books, comics, movies, a machinima, etc., and keep it consistent with every single player’s world for video games, so why try? Grow a spine and commit to a default lore, and just allow the players to live in their own version of it.

As for the story itself, it’s very good. There are lore revelations and events that push the series forward. I appreciate how characters from the book, such as Cole fit so well into the game, and characters such as Wynne and Shale kept their personalities from the books. I was surprised at just how well they actually jumped mediums. Props to the Bioware writers for that.

I found myself invested in the story from start to finish. I don’t envy anybody who has to translate videogame/other mediums of magic into text and have it feel weighty, dangerous, and compelling, but they did it. While there are other forms of combat as well, it all felt like standard fantasy combat scenes and wasn’t really special.

I think if you’re a Dragon Age fan like myself, this is a must-read/listen, and I’m sure you’ll get to it eventually. If you only play the videogames, check out some of the other media, it’ll only strengthen your enjoyment of the series.

As for the narration, I found it lacking. I only took note of one of his female voices, and it seemed like only one of them even sounded remotely feminine, the rest, not at all. I often found myself losing track of who was speaking. I listened at 2.55x speed, as I do with every book and it seemed like he never adds natural pauses to dialogue to emphasize words.

I spotted an Audible review, claiming he talked dreadfully slowly. I can see it, kinda, everybody sounds dreadfully slow to me. That’s why I listen at 2.55x speed. However, while listening to the audible sample, I found his constant (and audible) intakes of breath to me distracting, obnoxious, and unprofessional. Though lacking, lackluster, obnoxious, annoying, and unprofessional narrators are par for the course with Audible.

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