David Gaider is the lead writer for the fantasy game franchise, Dragon Age. Up until Asunder I had been unaware that there were any books published for the game series, but as I understand it, none of the other novels were as directly important to the main storyline as this one. Not only does it feature several characters from the first game, Dragon Age: Origins, it sets up the events of the latest installment in the franchise, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Since Asunder was written by Gaider, the novel maintains an authentic “Dragon Age” feel to its writing. The setting, the characters, the plot–all feel like something you might encounter if you were playing the actual video games. But the game series has been lauded for its writing, and this strength carries over well in prose-form. In this tale, we hop between characters as a mystery and mission are laid out in parallel: Wynne, one of the companions from the first game, has gone to the White Spire in in the Orlesian city of Val Royeaux to retrieve her son, Rhys, for a mission to rescue a mage friend who was researching something of great importance elsewhere. Rhys, meanwhile, is wrongfully accused of murder. The actual perpetrator is a lonely, misguided young man named Cole, whom no one seems able to see or remember aside from Rhys. Evangeline, a templar under the orders of the strict Lord Seeker Lambert, accompanies Wynne and Rhys on their mission. What they discover has the potential to throw the balance of the world upside down.
The beginning was slow for me, and I remember skimming pages as I ground my teeth in frustration. Much time was spent introducing the large cast of characters and the various circumstances that both cast them together and complicate their relationships. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that I started to feel more invested. It was quite an uphill battle to get to that point, taking nearly a year to hit over %50 completion. But once I made it over all the exposition and dramatic set up, Gaider started dropping bombs. They came one after the other, and while I found myself trying to wrap my head around the implications of one thing, he would sling another at my face at high speed. It was exhilarating, and just the kind of stuff I’d wished he’d opened with, but for a story of this complexity, I know Gaider was taking his time with things, and I’m glad I had the patience to let him work his magic. The thing about Asunder is that it’s as much about the politics as it is the action. None of the stakes make any sense until you understand why, for instance, the Rite of Tranquility is such a disturbing practice, or why the Lord Seeker might seek to act directly in opposition to the will of his religion’s leader (the Divine), or why a mage might still feel the need to support the Circle of Magi.
The stakes are high, the world an unforgiving place, and the plot twists delicious. I enjoyed this book, and I might even try and read the rest of the book series now.
If you’re a die-hard fan of the Dragon Age franchise, you may as well read this. It’s fairly interesting, and as I mentioned earlier, this book acts as the prequel to Dragon Age: Inquisition.
And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!