Review: Dragon Age: The Calling

  • Title:
    • Dragon Age: The Calling
  • Author:
    • David Gaider
  • Release:
    • April 24, 2010
  • Format:
    • Audiobook
  • Narrator:
    • Stephen Hoye
  • Series:
    • Dragon Age

I’m reviewing this from the perspective of a Dragon Age fan. And as always, I use it in the original sense of the word, not the overused “I kinda like this a little.” way people tend to use it.

For the story itself, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. It covers several characters that players of the videogames only get to meet on the surface level. Maric is “dead” in Dragon Age: Origins, Fiona doesn’t appear until Dragon Age III, Utha only makes minor appearances in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, and Duncan dies in the intro of DA: O.

For years, people have said, “If you identify with The Architect, read the books. Then you’ll realize how evil he is. And again, I find I was proven right. The Architect in the book is as he is in DA: O – Awakening. Well-intentioned, but misguided. Duncan actually feels like an actual person to me now, not just a minor character who exists to propel the plot of the first game and then die.

The romance between Maric and Fiona felt rushed to me, but it was necessary, to set up the secret reveal of Alistair’s bloodline / real mother. These were plot points I went into the book knowing about, but I found there was plenty more, and much more interesting aspects that people never talked about.

In some respects, it almost follows the games to a degree. Call to adventure, the characters enter the deep roads, spend way too much time there, end up in the Fade, etc.

Unlike the other Dragon Age novels, I didn’t finish this (more or less) in one sitting. I took a long break in between listens, and that was because of the narration. It was incredibly flat. The emotion sounds lifeless and fake. The best way I could describe it is if somebody were trying to mock somebody else’s emotions while explaining a situation to you. They’re not re-creating the emotion, only the idea of what was being conveyed.

I took issue with the pronunciations as well. Years ago, I watched a video (I wish I remembered which for reference), where one of the devs talked about how a bunch of names in DA: O were mispronounced by voice actors because the person providing the examples had an accent.I bring this up, because it tells me there was some pronunciation guide for the videogames. Was there no such thing for the book? Or were they ignored?

Common words, such as (Dwarven) Thaig’s pronounced like “Thigh-ge” were pronounced as “Thay-ge”. Duncan had a different accent from the one in the videogame, which was distracting as shit. And it made me a little annoyed…. really annoyed. If the narration was at least passable, I could ignore it. But the constant mispronunciation of established names only decreased my enjoyment of it.

There were other minor details that I found annoying as well. But it was more an issue with the videogame. As the Architect sped up the spread of the taint in Utha, her hair fell out. But in the Awakening expansion, she had a full head of hair. It’s annoying that the DLC released 6 months later and the devs couldn’t be bothered to make her bald. That’s just lazy.

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