Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

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by David Gaider
     
 

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The thrilling prequel to Dragon Age: Origins, the hit role-playing video game from award-winning developer BioWare!

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

After his mother, the beloved Rebel Queen, is betrayed and murdered by her own faithless lords, young Maric becomes the leader of a rebel army attempting to free his nation from the control of a

Overview

The thrilling prequel to Dragon Age: Origins, the hit role-playing video game from award-winning developer BioWare!

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

After his mother, the beloved Rebel Queen, is betrayed and murdered by her own faithless lords, young Maric becomes the leader of a rebel army attempting to free his nation from the control of a foreign tyrant.

His countrymen live in fear; his commanders consider him untested; and his only allies are Loghain, a brash young outlaw who saved his life, and Rowan, the beautiful warrior maiden promised to him since birth. Surrounded by spies and traitors, Maric must find a way to not only survive but achieve his ultimate destiny: Ferelden's freedom and the return of his line to the stolen throne.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hoye is a deliberate narrator who maintains a steady, forceful pace as he recounts the many challenges Maric encounters through battles and ordeals against strong odds." —AudioFile

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429992107
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
03/03/2009
Series:
Dragon Age
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
118,361
File size:
667 KB

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Read an Excerpt

Dragon Age

The Stolen Throne


By David Gaider

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2009 Electronic Arts, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9210-7


CHAPTER 1

"Run, Maric!"

And run he did.

His mother's dying words whipped him into action. The image of her grisly murder still burning in his mind, Maric reeled and plunged into the trees at the edge of the clearing. Ignoring the clawing branches that scraped at his face and clung to his cloak, he blindly forced his way into the foliage.

Strong hands grabbed him from behind. One of his mother's men, or one of the traitors who had just orchestrated her death? He assumed the latter. Grunting with effort, Maric shoved back, struggling to dislodge the hold on him. He succeeded only in getting a few more branches striking him in the face, the leaves blinding him further. The hands attempted to haul him back into the clearing, and he dug his boots into the ground, gaining a bit of purchase on gnarled tree roots. Maric violently shoved back again, his elbow connecting with something hard ... something that gave way with a wet crunching sound and a startled grunt of pain.

The hands loosened, and Maric leaped forward into the trees. His cloak resisted, jerked him back. Something had caught on his long leather coat. He twisted and fought frantically, like a wild beast caught in a trap, until he somehow wriggled himself out, leaving the cloak torn on a branch. Maric gasped, launching himself into the darkness beyond the clearing without risking even a glance behind. The forest was old and thick, allowing only the faintest beams of moonlight through the dense canopy. It was not enough to see by, only enough to turn the forest into a maze of frightening shadows and silhouettes. Tall twisted oaks stood like dark sentinels, surrounded by dense bushes and recesses so black, they could have held almost anything.

He had no idea where he was going; only his urge to flee guided his feet. He stumbled over roots that jutted out of the uneven ground and bounced off solid tree trunks that kept springing out of nowhere. Wet and slippery mud made his steps treacherous and his balance so precarious, it seemed the ground might give way beneath him at any moment. The woods were completely disorienting. He could have been running in circles, for all he knew. Maric heard men shouting as they entered the woods behind him, giving chase, and he could clearly make out the sounds of fighting as well. Steel blade ringing on steel blade, the cries of men dying — his mother's men, many he had known his entire life.

As he frantically ran on, images kept whirling through Maric's mind. Moments ago, he had been shivering in the cold forest clearing, convinced that his presence at the clandestine meeting was more a formality than anything else. He barely paid attention to the proceedings. His mother had informed him earlier that with the support of these new men, the rebellion would finally become a force. These men were willing to turn on their Orlesian masters, she said, and that made it an opportunity she wasn't willing to pass up after so many years spent running and hiding and only picking what battles they could win. Maric hadn't objected to the meeting, and the idea that it might be risky never even occurred to him. His mother was the infamous Rebel Queen; it was she who had first inspired the rebellion, and she who led the army. The battle had always been hers and never his. He, himself, had never even seen his grandfather's throne, never understood the power his family had possessed before the Orlesians invaded. He had spent his entire eighteen years in rebel camps and remote castles, endlessly marching and forever being dragged along in his mother's wake. He couldn't even imagine what it might be like to not live that way; it was a completely foreign concept to him.

And now his mother was dead. Maric's balance was ripped from him, and he tumbled in darkness down a short hill covered in wet leaves. He slid awkwardly and slammed his head against a rock, crying out in pain. His vision swam.

From far off came a muffled answering cry of his pursuers. They had heard him.

Maric lay there in the moonlit shadows, cradling his head. It felt like it was on fire, a raging inferno that blotted out reason. He cursed himself for being so stupid. By sheer luck if nothing else, he had managed to run some distance into the forest, and now he had given away his location. There was a thick wetness on his fingers. Blood was caking in his hair and running down around his ears and neck — warm in sharp contrast with the frosty air.

For a moment he shook, a single sob escaping his lips. Maybe it was best just to lie here, he thought. Let them come and kill him, too. They had already killed his mother and earned whatever lavish reward the usurper had surely promised them. What was he, besides an extra body to be slaughtered along with the too-few men Mother had brought? And then he froze as a terrible realization settled at the edge of his consciousness.

He was the King.

It was ridiculous, of course. Him? The one who elicited so many impatient sighs and worried looks? The one for whom Mother always had to make excuses? She had always assured him that once he got older, he would grow into the same easy authority that she evinced. But that had never happened. It was no great offense, either, as he had never taken seriously the idea that his mother might actually die. She was invulnerable and larger than life itself. Her death was a hypothetical thing, something that had no actual bearing on reality.

And now she was gone and he was supposed to be King? He was to carry on the rebellion on his own?

He could just imagine the usurper upon his throne in the capital, laughing uproariously when he received the news of Maric's succession. Better to die here, he thought. Better that they put a sword through his gut, just as they had done to his mother, than to become the laughingstock of Ferelden. Maybe they would find some distant relative to take up the banner of rebellion. And if not, then it was best to let the bloodline of King Calenhad the Great die here. Let it end with the Rebel Queen falling just short of her goal — rather than petering out under the leadership of her inept son.

There was a certain amount of peace in that thought. Maric lay there on his back, the damp coldness of the leaves and mud almost comforting against his skin. The irregular shouts of the men drew nearer, but it was almost possible for Maric to blot them out. He tried to focus solely on the rustling of the leaves in the wind overhead. The tall trees stood all around him, like giant shadows peering down at the tiny figure who had tumbled at their feet. He could smell the pine, the tartness of nearby tree sap. These forest sentinels would be the only witnesses to his death.

And as he lay there, the pain in his head dulling to an insistent throb, the thought rankled. The men who had lured his mother here with promises of aid were nobles of Ferelden, the sort who had bent knee to the Orlesians so they could keep their lands. Rather than finally live up to their ancestral oaths, they had betrayed their rightful Queen. If no one escaped to inform those who had remained with the rebel army about what had actually happened, they might never know the truth. They would guess, but what could they do without proof? The traitors might never pay for their crime.

Maric sat up, his throbbing head protesting fiercely. Aching and shivering, he was wet and chilled right to the bone. Getting his bearings was difficult, but he guessed he was not far from the edge of the forest. He had stumbled only a short ways in, and the men chasing him were not far away, searching and calling out to each other. Their voices were getting fainter, however. Maybe he should just remain still? He was in some kind of a depression, and if he stayed there long enough, these men could pass him by, giving him enough time to catch his breath. Perhaps he could find his way back to the clearing and see if any of his mother's men had survived.

A sudden crunch of twigs nearby made him stop again. Maric listened carefully in the darkness for an agonizing moment, but heard nothing. The noise had been a footstep; he was sure of it. He waited longer, not daring to move a muscle ... and heard it again. Quieter, this time. Someone was definitely trying to sneak up on him. Maybe they could see him, even if he couldn't see them?

Maric cast about desperately. The far side of the hollow he was in opened up into a downward slope. It was difficult to tell the general terrain with so little moonlight coming through the canopy. There were also trees in that direction, roots and thick bushes that would prevent him from crawling out of sight. He either had to stay where he was ... or climb out.

A squelch of wet leaves nearby forced Maric as low to the ground as he could go. Listening closely was difficult given the muted shouting in the distance and the sound of the wind blowing high in the trees, but he could ever so faintly detect the soft steps of someone passing nearby. He suspected they couldn't see him at all. In fact, it was dark enough that his pursuer would likely end up doing exactly what Maric had done and fall right into the hollow.

Maric didn't exactly relish the idea of his enemy falling on top of him, so he cautiously tried to get up onto his feet. Sharp pain lanced through his knees and arms. There were cuts on his face and hands from the branches, and he was sure there was a gash on his head ... but it all felt distant, as if someone else were experiencing the pain. He tried to control his movements, making them slow and quiet. Smooth. And he continued to listen for more footsteps, anxiously biting his lower lip. It was difficult to hear anything over the desperate thumping of his heart. Surely it was obvious to whoever was out there. Perhaps they were closing in for the kill even now, laughing at his terror.

Breathing deliberately, sweating despite the chill, Maric slowly pulled himself upright enough to get both his feet underneath him. His right knee spasmed, shooting lightning-sharp agony up his leg. This injury he felt very clearly, unlike the others. In shock, he hissed through gritted teeth, nearly gasping out loud.

Immediately he clamped his mouth shut and closed his eyes in silent reprimand at his idiocy. Crouching there in the darkness, he listened carefully. The footsteps had stopped. Someone else, farther out among the trees, shouted in Maric's direction. He couldn't quite hear what the man had said, but there was definitely a question to it: calling out, asking if they had found anything. But there was no response. The source of the footsteps nearby had probably heard Maric and was not willing to give his own position away by answering.

With the utmost care, Maric crawled up the side of the depression. He squinted into the shadows, trying to pick out anything that might resemble a human form. He imagined his pursuer doing the same thing, playing a cat-and-mouse game in the dark. The first one of them to spot the other would win the prize. Belatedly, Maric realized that even if he did see this man, there might not be much he could do about it. He wasn't armed. An empty sheath dangled at his waist, his belt knife lent to Hyram not two hours earlier to cut some rope. Hyram, one of his mother's most trusted generals and a fine man he had known since childhood, most likely lying dead at his Queen's side, their blood cooling in the midnight air. Maric cursed himself for a fool and tried to put the image out of his mind.

Just then, Maric noticed a glint in the shadows. Narrowing his eyes helped him just barely discern a sword, its polished blade reflecting the faint moonlight. In the mass of dark shadows and bushes, he still couldn't see the form of the man holding the weapon, but it calmed him to finally know where his opponent was.

Gaze locked in that direction, Maric raised his hands to grasp the edge of the depression and quietly heaved himself up. The pain that shot through his arms was considerable, but he ignored it and never for one second took his eyes off that sword. As he got over the edge, the sword moved. A dark shape began lumbering toward him, raising the sword up high and growling with menace.

Without thinking, Maric launched himself forward and charged. The sword slashed down by his ear, narrowly missing his arm. He rammed headfirst into the man's midsection, knocking the wind out of him. Unfortunately, the pursuer was wearing a heavy chain hauberk, and Maric's head exploded with pain. He may as well have head-butted a tree trunk. The world spun around him wildly. He would have careened out of control had his momentum not carried the two of them backwards, knocking the man off his feet. They fell on hard uneven ground, with the swordsman taking the brunt of the impact. His weapon arm swung out to one side, causing the sword to fly out into the shadows.

Almost delirious and barely able to see, Maric pulled himself back up and grabbed the man's head in both hands. He felt a strong whiskered jaw, and the man flailed wildly with his free hand, trying to push Maric off. He tried to shout, possibly call on his fellows for help, but all that came out was a muted bellow. Maric used the benefit of leverage to pull up the man's head and then slam it down hard. The man grunted when his head hit an exposed root.

"You bastard!" Maric snarled. The man's desperation intensified, the hand reaching for Maric's face, slapping and clawing. Finding purchase, it pushed hard against Maric's nose, one finger digging into his eye. Maric pulled his face away as he shoved down hard on the man's head, grinding it back into a root. The man grunted and tried to buck Maric off, but the heavy hauberk worked against him. He writhed and pushed with that one hand against Maric's face, but none of his efforts were enough to get him free.

Maric's throbbing head was torture, and his neck was stretched to its limit, trying to pull away. When Maric let go of the man's head to battle the pushing hand, the bearded man made an attempt to kick Maric off. Maric lost his balance for a moment and the enemy's hand turned into a fist, thumping him solidly across the face. Light-headedness came over Maric, and he saw stars. He fought against swooning, reached down, and grabbed as much of the man's long hair as he could, pulling him upward. This time the man bellowed loudly, his head yanked up at an awkward and painful angle. Letting out his own cry of effort, Maric crashed the man's head down on the tree root a third time. Even harder.

"You killed her!" Maric shouted. He picked up the man's head by the hair yet again to slam it down. "You bastard, you killed her!" He smashed the head down again.

And again.

Tears welled up in his eyes, and he choked on his words: "She was your Queen, and you killed her!" He slammed the head again, still harder. This time the man stopped fighting back. A cloying, meaty smell assaulted Maric's nostrils. His hands were covered with thick, fresh blood that wasn't his own. Almost involuntarily, he fell off the body and scrambled back, his bloody hands slipping on the cold leaves, and pain shooting anew through his legs. He half expected the man to rise up and charge at him again. But he didn't. The body lay there in the shadows, a vague shape resting awkward and still upon a clump of tree roots. Maric could barely make out the great oak behind him, thrusting up into the overhead canopy like a gravestone.

He felt physically ill, his stomach twisting in knots and his body shaking. Almost involuntarily, he brought a hand up to his mouth to keep his bile down, smearing fresh blood onto his face. There was gore on his hand, clumps of skin and hair. He convulsed, vomiting onto the muddy ground what little lunch he had eaten earlier in the day. Despair threatened to overwhelm him.

You're the King, he reminded himself.

Maric's mother, Queen Moira, was a tower of strength who could lead armies of battle-hardened men to victory. She was every inch her grandfather's daughter; that's what everyone said. She had inspired some of the most powerful noblemen in Ferelden to rise up in her name and fight to put her on the throne simply because they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she belonged there.

And now she's gone, and you're the King, he repeated to himself. It felt no more real now than it had before.

In the distance, the sounds of the pursuit were getting louder again. The traitors might have heard Maric's struggle with the bearded man. He needed to leave. He needed to run, to keep going. Yet he could not will his legs to move. He sat in the dark forest, his bloody hands held out in front of him as if he had no idea where else to put them.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dragon Age by David Gaider. Copyright © 2009 Electronic Arts, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Hoye is a deliberate narrator who maintains a steady, forceful pace as he recounts the many challenges Maric encounters through battles and ordeals against strong odds." —-AudioFile

Meet the Author

David Gaider lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and has worked for video game developer BioWare since 1999. He is the lead writer on the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins role-playing game and has previously worked on such titles as Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of AmnTM, Star Wars ®: Knights of the Old Republic TM, and Neverwinter Nights TM.


David Gaider lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and works for video game developer BioWare. He is the lead writer on the Dragon Age: Origins role-playing game and has also worked on such titles as Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn™, Star Wars ®: Knights of the Old Republic ™, and Neverwinter Nights ™.

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Dragon Age 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 167 reviews.
Phantom00700 More than 1 year ago
As a fan of Dragon Age: Origins I loved this book too. I thought it was a great piece of lore from the Dragon Age universe, but the thing I liked best about it was the fact that a reader wouldn't have to know much, if anything, about Dragon Age in order to enjoy the book. Pros: - Good Writing. - Mostly Original Plot (a rarity in fantasy novels). - Interesting Characters. Cons: - Poor Copy Editing on the Nook Version.
old_biker More than 1 year ago
The "Most helpful" reviews appear to be for the other two books in this series. They were both written years before Asunder was released. I have not read Asunder as yet, just wanted to give a heads up about the "Most Helpful" reviews. I would hate to see someone buy or not buy based on erroneous information. Myself, I intend to buy and read this as soon as I finish the Game of Thrones series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was on the fence about buying Dragon Age: Origins so I figured I would read this book to get a feel for the world and writing style. It took me a couple of chapters to get into the book and world but after that I was hooked on it. The characters are amazing with amazing development and growth. This book has made me want to play Dragon Age and if your are on the fence about the game or already pre-ordered, this is a must have...but even if your not looking into the game, this is still a great fantasy read for anyone who likes the fantasy world or medieval themed novels. PS, loved the choices that the characters made which is really what makes me excited for the game just to make similar complex and far reaching choices.
Neight More than 1 year ago
While I have read books that are better written, this has still become one of my favorites. Something about the characters, world and story just pulled me in and kept me from wanting to put it down. I am very much looking forward to the sequel and the game after having read this.
Oolio More than 1 year ago
I think the novel could stand up reasonably well on its own even without the context of the game, but a fan of Dragon Age: Origins will certainly appreciate this very much. There's a very good energy to Orlesian-occupied Ferelden and you can't help but find yourself falling in love with the characters (yes, even Loghain!). Admittedly not classic literature material, but definitely worth getting if you enjoy the Dragon Age lore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1st off .....Love the whole dragon age world. Book Seems to take place after the events in dragon age 2 video game. With refer and hints to events in dragon age origins video game. Which i have played many times through. Great Book!!
elf_fu More than 1 year ago
I am sure this book is fantastic. In fact, what I can glean from it so far--it is. However, the glaring missing apostrophes, quotation marks and SPELLING MISTAKES through out the entire e-book make me not want to read it. I am 100% certain the author of this book did not release it chalked full of missing quotations--so readers have to guess what is speech and what is not--or spelling mistakes that are so glaringly bad they jar the reader out of the story. As someone who doesn't have a lot of income to be throwing even $10.00 around lightly, I am not impressed. Perhaps it is an error in the Barnes & Noble reader which really should be addressed soon?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Ending was lame
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well paced, well written characters and a fun, in depth look into more of the Dragon Age universe.
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If you're a Dragon Age fan, or fantasy in general, read this.
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Wyenth More than 1 year ago
Dragon Age: The Calling is a good book for people who want to know more about the mythos of the Dragon Age games. The Calling takes place before DA: Origins so if you've played DA:Origins (and read all the codex entries) this will continue filling in the gaps about Thedas characters referenced in the game. It's most useful, however, as an explanation of the events in DA: Awakening. Having finished the book, I now will go back and play Awakening with a new understanding of the role of some of the NPCs. It's a compelling read but if you haven't played the game you'll need to read Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne first to understand who the characters are and what their actions mean to the storyline.
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