Ah, finally, I had the chance to indulge in the second Dragon Age book, a closer prequel to Origins game, “The Calling” by David Gaider (ISBN 0765324091; 444p.; Goodreads). While simple these stories are a great source of background to those who play, and just a light fantasy read to those who don’t. Yes, reading them does seem perfectly enough to get to know Dragon Age world, in case you’re not a gamer, or those games are not your style.
The Chant of Light speaks of Tevinter mages, Magistres by their mighty ranks, who entered The Fade, world of dreams and spirits, in flesh. They walked the halls of Golden City, arrogance of man corrupting all it touched, and when they reached the Maker’s throne – they found it empty. Once Golden City, heavenly dream to reach upon, became tainted Black City, a place where we fear entering even in our worst nightmares. Magistres were struck down, far down, deep below any Deeproads, where their taint, their corruption spread, creating darkness, and creatures just as they are. Their will gone with their minds, at the sight of empty throne, and at the horror they created, they are now led by one instinct alone: find the light, find the source of the timeless Song. A song sung by the Old Gods, sleeping deep underground. Maybe it’s their only hope. Or maybe it’s the final punishment Maker has put upon the world. For when Darkspawn find the old gods they cannot resist the instinct to touch it, and corrupt it, turn it the way they are. And then, when such tainted god awakens: Blight happens.
When there are no Blights – Grey Wardens, via rituals put in between humans and darkspawn, end up living long enough for the taint to start taking them over. From merely sensing the darkspawn, they start hearing the song too, and that song compels them to come. Yet, instead of giving in, and ending up like darkspawn, Grey Wardens walk out into the Deep Roads, and fight till death, trying their best to take as many of those cursed creatures with them, as they possibly can. This is The Calling.
Genevieve’s brother has been underground too long, and yet she can still sense him. Visions enter her mind, corruption spreads all wrong. Something’s happening underground, and she, if nothing else, is afraid. For her brother had a rare gift some Grey Wardens possessed: he knew where the Old Gods rested. And while darkspawn aren’t known to take prisoners – things might change if there was such a mighty reward at the end of the line. The only problem is not even how to convince other Grey Wardens to come with her, and help her find her brother, for she is their commander, and worst case scenario – they will do as she will command them. The problem is getting them into the right tunnels without getting lost and dying beforehand. For there are only two people who know the way. Loghain Mac Tir, not a pleasant fella, General to Ferelden Armies and very lacking in trust to Orlesians, Wardens or no. And King of Ferelden himself, Maric Theirin…
The book is slow, I won’t deny it. There’s a lot of walking in the dark, and getting to know each other. Action too often reminded me of a mush from Origins, Deep Roads quest and Circle of Magi combined. But hey, there was a fight with a dragon, and we got to know Alistair’s mother better, not to mention a closer look to Architect. I give this book 4 out of 5, can’t give it more, but refuse to give it any less either.