If you know me at all, you know what an enormous geek I am. And just the slightest bit addicted to the Dragon Age games and the world of Thedas. So you can imagine the euphoric and awed state I entered when my husband gave me this book for my birthday.
“A book about a game,” you might say. “So what?”
Friend, this isn’t just a book about a game. This is a book that makes another world come to life. As a storyteller myself – someone who loves creating fantasy worlds for novels – the skill with which this world becomes a reality excites me beyond my ability to explain. The only thing to which I can compare the richness of Thedas would be Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
So, the Dragon Age games are set in Thedas (The Dragon Age Setting – TheDAS, get it?) and the two volumes of The World of Thedas are basically encyclopedias about that world and its people. We couldn’t find the first volume locally, but I did some reading online and learned that it’s possible to read the one without the other. Apparently, Volume 1 deals more with the world, while Volume 2 focusses more on the people. I’ll give you a more detailed report when I’ve finished reading and will also keep looking for Volume 1. These grubby little hands MUST HAVE THE PRECIOUS 🙂
Volume 2 includes details of our favourite characters we haven’t been privy to before now, as well as some excerpts from lore found in the games, beautiful artwork, history and other random information: recipes, songs and rhymes, fragments from letters, basically anything you can think of. All information is delivered as if written by a scholar, religious leader or random citizen of Thedas, so everything is a little tainted with the opinion of the author. It’s fantastic. It also leaves loads of wiggle room for the writers and developers, so if something in the next game doesn’t align with what we’ve learned so far, it can be written off as a mistake by the fictional source who gave us the information in the first place.
But the fact that we’re not given this wealth of information by the developers and writers as the developers and writers amplifies the entire experience. I mean, because the citizens of Thedas are personally telling us about their world, their world gains validity and realism. It becomes less like playing a game with a set outcome and more like becoming a part of an unfolding story.
Even if you haven’t played the games (stop reading this now, play the games, come back 😛 ) but enjoy intricate fantasy worlds, you might just love reading these. I’m only a few chapters in now, but I can guarantee it’ll be worth reading to the end. The things I’ve learned about world building from the fraction I’ve read will doubtlessly enrich my own writing.
But okay, as far as first impressions go, you can probably already tell I’m smitten. I’ll gush some more when I’m done reading. Until then, feast your eyes on this.
Now please excuse me, I have some reading to do. 🙂