9780765324085[1]This year’s gaming scene has had three massive highlights. One of them was Dragon Age: Origins. I thought the videogame was fantastic. The storyline is as solid as it can be, the character as deep as they get, the environments amazing, the interaction was spot-on… I could go on, but you get the gist.

Then I got the Collector’s Edition official guide. Not because I was that interested in the walkthrough, but because when I saw the book I knew it was worth the money. I wasn’t wrong. That book complimented the game amazingly well and provided with even more data to enhance the experience.

When I saw there were novels published based on the videogame, I was hesitant.

I am very weary of spin-offs. It is rare they work and it is rare they offer anything new and you didn’t know you wanted to learn about. The few novels I have read based on TV series have been disappointing. Granted, maybe I am some 20 years over the age of the people those books are targeted at, but I am one for the belief that just because you’re writing for a younger audience, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve good writing.

Still, I decided to have a go and bought one of the novels. It has been written by David Gaider, lead writer for the video-game, so at least I knew the guy would have a thorough knowledge of the plot, characters and the setting.

He didn’t disappoint… at all!

The plot is based well before the events that take place during the video game. Maric, the young song of Queen Moira has escaped. The queen’s closest advisors have betrayed and murdered her, sending the rebel army into disarray and threatening Ferelden to a future under the boot of The Usurper, the Olesian king Meghren. Aided by a group of rebels and in particular by a young hunter under the name of Loghain, the book goes into the events that takes us closer to the setting we know in the videogame.

I am being vague for a good reason. I really don’t want to spoil things here. Let’s start with the good points.

Gaider is a master at Dragon Age. You can expect a greater depth of character in this book than you saw in the game (if you haven’t played the game, then do… you’re missing out big time!). The plot, although directly related to the game, doesn’t interfere at all with it. In fact, the interaction between characters, their personalities, motivations, actions and reactions will give you the perfect understanding to engage with the videogame even more. Plenty of times during the book you’ll raise your eyebrows and think “so that’s why he did it like that in the game!”

It is fantastic to read about settings that are so familiar, and yet interact with them in such a different way. Names like Ferelden, Brecilian Forest, Flemeth, Orlais, Orzammar are given new dimensions that enriches the video game experience even after you’ve finished playing it.

The bad point is….. err…….. there are no bad points!

The writing is no Nobel winner, but it is easy to read (and that comes from a dyslexic… high praise indeed!), well paced, intriguing, rich enough and does what is meant to.

The editing could have done with a second glance. A few typos and a few grammatical errors were present, but since that’s not really anything to do with the author, I will not complaint about it too much.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely

If you have played the game it will be like family. Images of the locations you visited will come to your mind constantly and the book will come alive in your head with great ease.

If you haven’t played the game, you’ll find very compelling characters and varied situations that will keep you entertained and intrigued for a few days. If then you play the game, it’ll be like getting reunited with old friends you’ve met in Facebook and then see them in real life. A great experience.

At around £5 from Amazon, it’ll make the perfect stocking filler for Christmas and you can guarantee to make someone’s imagination very, very happy!