Review

Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

A tale of magic versus science, All the Birds in the Sky had me gripped from the very first page. It was a truly enchanting story, all the more wonderful for going in pretty much unaware of the plot, or anything about the book (apart from the pretty cover).

There was something really wonderful about Charlie Jane Anders’ writing. She added in all these unnecessary details, so small and yet they made the story all the more intriguing, the world all the more vivid. I have previously spoken about how I like magic systems that require some sort of sacrifice, rather than just saying some words or waving a wand and casting a spell, but here this system seemed to work quite well. Patricia’s magic required no sacrifice, but that felt natural. I felt that the book would not have benefited from an explanation of how the magic worked – it would have just distracted away from the story.

Although All the Birds in the Sky did lose its wind a bit in the last quarter or so, I was gripped throughout almost the entire story. It was a truly lovely story of two ‘weirdos’ who come together, united by their social awkwardness and alternative interests. As you can see by how short this review is, I just don’t feel I can truly tell you how wonderful this was – so go out and read it yourself!

Misc.

March into Middle-earth: The One Where Rinn and Claire Fangirl, Part Two

March Into Middle-earth

Time for Part Two of Rinn and Claire’s Mega Tolkien Fangirl Session! If you missed Part One, you can check it out here. This is part of a series of posts of the two of us discussing Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. Although we are asking each other the questions, we’d love to know your answers to them too – leave your responses in the comments! Claire ended the last post with the following question for me:

Claire: Do you see yourself in a character or especially fond of one? Also, do you have a fave. magical “creature” in that series?

Rinn: I actually get a little sad whenever I go past The Eagle and Child… it’s now owned by a chain and it’s not the same! 😦 It still looks awesome inside and out though, there’s loads of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis inspired art, but it doesn’t have that cosy pub feel to it that it would have had for them. Not that you could get away with smoking a Gandalf-style pipe in there anyway…

Okay, so I heartily agree here with #TeamSamwiseGamgee. He was the unsung hero of the whole thing, and I love how The Return of the King closed with him. Sam is just adorable, a typical Hobbit and not at all the kind of person you would expect for such a mission.

But at the same time, even though people go on about him whining, Frodo Baggins was damn brave. He didn’t have to do anything. He volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor, not even knowing where Mordor was or what it meant. Despite the Ring warping him and turning him against his friends, he still completed his quest – although of course, not without his Sam. You really can’t have one without the other. Frodo started it off, began the quest to get to Mount Doom, and Sam finished it by carrying Frodo up the mountain.

I pretty much have a soft spot for every member of the Fellowship, for various reasons. The dynamic between Gimli and Legolas is just something wonderful, the Hobbits add fantastic comic relief and ‘ground’ the story a little more, Aragorn is so noble without even trying and Boromir… oh, Boromir. My heart absolutely breaks when, after trying to take the Ring from Frodo, he realises what he has done. Sean Bean caught that moment so beautifully – the crack in his voice, the look on his face – and the fact that he dies less than a chapter later hurts so much.

THIS SCENE KILLS ME EVERYTIME. But not as much as Boromir. Hahaha- *sobs uncontrollably*
THIS SCENE KILLS ME EVERYTIME. But not as much as Boromir. Hahaha- *sobs uncontrollably*

As for a magical creature… the Eagles kind of felt a bit like a deus ex machina, plus they’re like super snobby in the book. Can I say my favourite creature is Bill the Pony? He may not be magical, but he was loyal and helped out the Fellowship – until he probably became a snack for the Watcher after being released just in front of the Mines of Moria. *sobs again*

What about locations – is there a place you’d love to visit? Or even live?

Claire:TEAM BILL THE PONY! TEAM BILL! YES! I totally agree with that! I actually like Smaug in all of his haughty dragon-ness. Trolls are funny because they are complete… well they’re absolute idiots.

I luff you, Bill.
I luff you, Bill.

I agree with you about Frodo actually, he won’t come to mind immediately me for a hero because it is so obvious that he is one. He did so much and wasn’t asked to do it, he had no obligation to take the ring and he did it out of pure love for his people and the Shire. I think that is amazing as well, and like you said Samwise and Frodo are the dynamic duo. They needed each other- Samwise needed to be prodded I think, he is a bit of a settler and Frodo needed someone to remind him of the light of the world. They worked well.

And don’t start me with Boromir, he was absolutely brilliant. When I read his chapter in the book I cried and cried, of all the characters to do I wish it hadn’t been him! I guess that there is some purpose to it, that it means something deeper and metaphorical but Boromir was the epitome of human: terrified, pressured and remorseful. In the end he died brave and he died repenting for his “sins” but ugh, all the feels.

But to answer your question about living: Shire hands down. Always the Shire. It’s near a forest which would be nice to pop into every now and then, I’m totally obsessed with Tom Bombadil and his darn yellow creme, honey and fresh white bread. Dammit, every time I read that passage I get so hungry. I think maybe that instead of living in Hobbiton in the shire, I’d also like to live closer to the Brandywine, with the Tooks and Brandybucks. It sounded like fertile land but also beautiful and being near the water, there is always fish/swimming to be had. Yes.

I would never, ever, ever live in a mountain. I dislike stone and dark and not being able to see the sun quickly. It is for that same reason I’d want to avoid being in a forest as well, as so many of the Elves seem fond of. Trees can choke out light and I’d rather be by them and not in them. No Bree, no Gondor. Nope, nope! No city of men, Dwarf or Elf for me. I’d visit the cities of Elves but never stay long.

This is a bit of a philosophical question, but with The Lord of the Rings, it seems a bit of a mythic or origin style story for the UK, again it just seems it in my eyes, but say Middle Earth was real but that our current present and lifestyles were also real, how would magic survive in your opinion? Where would it show? Or would it fade completely? Would any Elves be left? Dwarves? Would there be the Wizards? Hobbits? Would anything of that magic and fantasy exist?

Rinn: #AlwaysTheShire too. I just read the first chapter of FotR last night and it makes me so happy. All those jolly Hobbits in their beautiful Shire, with their cosy lifestyles. Gimme! So you’d be one of those unusual Hobbits that swims, eh? 😉

Actually I’d pretty much give exactly the same answer as you. No no NO to a mountain or cave, no dark enclosed spaces, thank you. And I’d like to be by a forest, but not constantly inside it. Although Lothlorien’s flets are pretty awesome. HOWEVER my second choice of a place to live would be Rohan, because of that Viking-inspired architecture, and the whole society built around horsemanship. Edoras is gorgeous, rising up out of the flat plains with Meduseld at the very top. Love love love it.

As for your question – the thing is, the magic is Middle-earth is not always obvious. We don’t actually see that much of it. Sure, there’s the One Ring. But the only other obvious sources are Gandalf and Saruman, who we don’t actually see using it very much, and perhaps Galadriel. I guess it’s more about the magic within objects than people.

If it were in our world, I think we wouldn’t see it in built up areas and cities – just like the lack of obvious magic in somewhere like Bree or Rohan. Or maybe there’d be an underground following – a secret magical London or whatever. I could see it definitely surviving in the countryside. My home county is actually one of the ones that inspired Tolkien when creating the Shire, and to me it is a truly magical place. That’s why I could definitely see magic surviving in the countryside, where it could be hidden away, where all these beautiful places are just around the corner and you don’t even know.

As for all the different races, I love the idea of them all living in our world. I’m not sure all of them would cope but… imagine a business meeting with a variety of besuited Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves! Elves as park rangers, Dwarves as miners or caving instructors, Hobbits as chefs or pub owners… Or if the story took place in our world, something like this…

image01

Or, you know, this every day scenario…

lotr

Now my next question for you: the musical score for the films, composed by Howard Shore, was such an important part of creating the right atmosphere. To me, it is perfect and completely sets the mood. Are there any other songs or pieces of music that remind you of Middle-earth or The Lord of the Rings?

Claire will answer the next question and continue our chat in the next part of the post, same time next week! 🙂 Let us know your responses to any of the questions in the comments.

Review

Review: The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter #1) by Virginia Boecker

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited to read The Witch Hunter, the first book in a new series by Virginia Boecker. I just can’t resist tales of witches, wizards and magic, and alternate history really appeals to me. And whilst The Witch Hunter was a fun, fantasy romp, it was rather predictable and unfortunately included a rather insufferable main character.

The reader is told that Elizabeth is an amazing witch hunter, one of the youngest ever and a female witch hunter to boot. Yet throughout the book she never really proves herself. The story opens with Elizabeth messing up a hunt, when she is sent to capture necromancers. We are then told of how she recently made a lot of mistakes. The reason for this is soon revealed, but at no point did I feel she deserved her status as a talented witch hunter.

I also really was not impressed with how she practically took a disliking to every female character she came into contact with. She even imagined pulling the ex-girlfriend of her crush by the hair – I mean, really?! How old are you? So as well as being naive and clumsy, Elizabeth is also judgmental and a lot of the time I just wanted to push her off her high horse.

Also – love triangle. Well, sort of. Elizabeth pines after two guys – her childhood best friend who is quite frankly an utter arse, and a healer that she meets after being accused of being a witch. There was a lot of wondering about her feelings and trying to ignore them, and honestly I couldn’t care less about the love interests. I was much more interested in the magic, and why it was forbidden – which was never actually explained, now I come to think of it.

The first 15% or so of the book went by very quickly – but that was also where the majority of the story happened. It slowed down significantly after that, although it was still enjoyable and easy to read, if predictable in places. I really liked the pseudo-medieval alternate England setting – at least that’s what I assume it was, being set in ‘Anglia’ with ‘Gaul’ across the Channel. Or rather, I liked the idea of it, as the world-building did not feel very detailed. This is a ‘I had higher expectations’ three stars, but chances are I will end up reading the sequel – not for Elizabeth, but for the magic and alternate England.

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #24: Growing Up With Harry Potter

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: growing up with Harry Potter.

I am of the opinion that I am part of a very lucky generation, because I got to grow up alongside Harry Potter, watching him change from this young orphan, to a boy wizard, from a hormonal teenager to someone who saved the world. I was seven when the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released, but I don’t think I started reading the series until a year later.

Harry Potter

At that point, I was a little younger than Harry and his friends, my eight to their eleven. However, with the breaks in between books as they got longer and longer, I soon caught up – and the films were perfectly timed. When I went to see the film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I was just about to turn eleven, and was eagerly awaiting my own Hogwarts letter. Still waiting for that, by the way…

It was truly magical (pun totally intended) being the same age as these fantastic characters, at this amazing school and being TOTALLY jealous of them. I could identify with so much of what the Golden Trio were going through (you know, encountering three-headed dogs, fighting off a Basilisk, the usual) which made it even more appealing. That year that Harry was super moody and hormonal because, despite being a wizard, he was also a teenager? That was me. I liked that Harry’s first kiss was super awkward and not this amazing life-changing moment that so many books portray it as, because it was realistic. For a series that was about a magical school where teenagers could learn to be witches and wizards, there were so many moments like that, so many realistic moments.

Mmm, so romantic. Yeah.

Mmm, so romantic. Yeah.

Harry Potter is definitely a series that changed my life and had a HUGE effect on my childhood and teenage years – like so many others, I have to thank J.K. Rowling for so much. They are books and films I know I can re-read or re-watch again and again, and I’ll always have those warm fuzzy feelings that come with them. The first shot of Diagon Alley will always be breathtaking, the first sight of Hogwarts makes me feel at home, the loss of Sirius, Dumbledore, Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Snape (ESPECIALLY Snape, ‘The Prince’s Tale’ gets me EVERY time) and so many other characters makes me cry, even though I know it’s coming.

Seeing my beloved book characters on the big screen, at times going through what I felt I was going through, was so wonderful. Here was a series that understood what it was to grow up, and it was growing up right alongside me. As the wonderful J.K. Rowling once said:

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

Sirius

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #16: My Favourite Elements of Fantasy Fiction

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite elements of fantasy fiction.

1. Unexpected friendships

Two people thrown together by unexpected circumstances, whether it be a quest or for revenge, their previous distrust and even hatred developing into a close friendship – I LOVE THIS. My favourite (and possibly the most obvious) example is that of Legolas and Gimli in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s often a feature in fantasy fiction due to different races that do not get along, like dwarves and elves.

Would you like me to describe it to you? Or should I fetch you a box?
(image source)

You do however see something similar in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, where Celaena, an assassin, becomes friends with a prince and the captain of the guard.

2. Assassins

Speaking of assassins… anything to do with them. Although I suppose it’s more of admiration of extremely skilled fighters. And the costumes. Yeah. There’s a reason I’ve been obsessively playing Assassin’s Creed lately (not that it really comes under the fantasy category unless you make an argument for the Animus?), and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the Unity trailer…

3. Archers & bowmen

This is for the same reason as assassins really, I’m in awe of anyone skilled with a bow. There’s been a big surge of interest in archery lately, due to films and books like Brave, The Hunger Games and Hawkeye in The Avengers. I always wanted to join the archery club at uni, but you spent most of your time waiting around for a turn at shooting, so I never bothered. Maybe this year?

Isolde (Neverwinter)
There’s a reason I always make archer characters in games…

4. Magic systems that demand sacrifice

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the magic in Harry Potter. But I also love it when a magic system demands that the user sacrifices something, so that magic doesn’t seem too easy or simple. It requires work and dedication. Examples of this are The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss and The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson. In both of these series, the magic user must sacrifice energy and health in order to use magic. Prolonged usage without a break is not an option, which feels more ‘realistic’ to me – despite the fact that it’s magic!

5. Guilds

Maybe I’m thinking back to my MMO days, but I love guilds in fantasy. Groups of people with similar interests or skills, often those who have lost all their family and friends, so the guild becomes their new family. Whether it’s a thieves guild, an assassin’s guild or a simple merchants guild, there’s a real sense of camaraderie. It’s probably more to do with how guilds made me feel on MMOs (well, Dream of Mirror Online more than any other), but they sort of give me the warm fuzzies. Yes, even those guilds full of heartless assassins.

6. Non-human MCs

It’s fantasy fiction! Why write about humans if you don’t have to?? If you’re going to be exposed to all these different fictional races and cultures in fantasy, why not see it through the eyes of one of them? It’s a much more immersive way to learn about them – for example, seeing The Hobbit through Bilbo’s eyes.

How about you – what are your favourite elements of fantasy fiction?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #9: Rinn & Paola Discuss Dragon Age!

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: the Dragon Age series of video games, and I’m joined by the lovely Paola!

Yes! For this fortnight’s Fantasy Friday, I’m joined by my lovely friend Paola from A Novel Idea. This also marks the first time I’ve co-written a post with another blogger on my own blog. You may have seen the two of us flailing together on Twitter about Dragon Age. I bought the game when it first came out, but it sat unplayed on my PC for years. Then I finally decided I needed to play some of the games that were just sitting around (my ‘to play’ list is much like my ‘to read’ list…) – and Dragon Age was first on that list. I tweeted about it, Paola spotted the tweet and well… the fangirling began. Today we want to talk about why we love the series, and also why you should play it (COS IT’S AMAZING OKAY).

Rinn: Helloooooo Paola! I’m so glad you could join me for this post, it’s actually the first time I’ve hosted another blogger too! And we get to fangirl and flail about one of our favourite things. So… tell me – why do you like Dragon Age?

Paola: Hi Rinn!! I’m so thrilled to be chatting about DA with you! (Now is when I pretend like I haven’t played both games about 7,000 times each. Errrr.) Let the fangirling and flailing begin!

s
Wait, what were we doing again? Oh, right. Leading this army to probable slaughter in the jaws of the Archdemon. Okay, carry on then!

And as for why I love the series so much… BECAUSE ALISTAIR. I mean! Because of the immersive world and the ability to change it with the decisions I make! Definitely! That was my more sophisticated answer. Additional reasons:

  • Grey Wardens. Because they’re this crazy mix of tragedy and badassery and they get to say awesome things like, “JOIN US AS WE CARRY THE DUTY THAT CANNOT BE FORSWORN,” et al etc. But also because the lore behind their history and purpose in the world of Dragon Age is really fascinating. And did I mention the part where they used to ride griffons into battle?? SIGN ME UP PLEASE. I TOO WISH TO DO THESE THINGS.
  • Magic as controversy. I’m always really intrigued by the question of whether magic is a blessing or a bane. This is true of books I read, but also of games that I play — I love when magic itself is a source of conflict. In Dragon Age, magic is powerful, dangerous, and volatile. Those who are able to use it are considered all of these things, and more. Depending on where you are in the wide world of Thedas, they might be crowned as kings or kept captive in towers. I think it makes for such an interesting plot element.
  • The humor. I laugh a lot while playing Dragon Age. I especially love the banter between characters traveling with me. The games are written with sarcasm and wit, which helps to add a bit of levity to the darker themes of the series.
  • ALISTAIR. Wait, did I already mention him? Oh. Sorry, can’t help it. This man is adorable. (And awkward. But so adorable. *squishes him to death*)


“Oh, I wish. Don’t even tempt me like that, you minx. Eamon will have a heart attack.” You’re right Alistair. I am kind of a minx. Sry not sry~

Paola: What about you? Tell us what you love about Dragon Age! (Because everyone probs wants me to shut up now. Um.)

Rinn: Excellent answers! There’s something pretty damn cool about elite groups in video games, like the Grey Wardens – but only if you get to join them, of course. A mysterious force, sworn to protect – who are completely non-judgemental when it comes to picking recruits. PLUS GRIFFONS. And like you I really love certain things about the game that completely drew me into the immersive fantasy world of Thedas, like ALISTAIR AND ANDERS AND SER POUNCE-A-LOT- wait, what? I mean… the story is really good. Yeah.


It’s behiiiiiind you…

But in all seriousness, I absolutely love video games where the player makes all the big decisions – where your every action has some sort of consequence, where you can get to know these characters because their personalities and back stories are so well-built, and you actually get pretty emotional when something happens to them. Many times have I screamed at my computer whilst playing, because some enemy has gone after my beloved Alistair. Even though he was always the tank and supposed to take the hits – HOW DARE THEY TOUCH HIM??! There are not many games that make me gasp, or cry, or really laugh out loud (okay Saints Row: the Third might actually beat Dragon Age on the laughter front), but Dragon Age is definitely one of them.

As well as feeling completely in control and very invested in the story and fate of the characters, the actual plot and world built up around the player is just absolutely brilliant. So much detail and history, so many little facts that the developers have added in – and half the players probably don’t even read – that contribute towards this massive world. Plus, you know, it doesn’t help that some of the characters are pretty hot. [P: Pfffttt are they ever!]

Rinn: But, uhh… anyway… let’s talk about those characters. Who is in your dream team (or teams, rather), and why? Feel free to illustrate your answer with fanart or screenshots! ;D (you will be awarded bonus points!)

Paola: Okay, so I have a dream team for Origins and one for Dragon Age II.


Just (slow-motion) stabbing this ogre in the face. Don’t mind me.

For Origins, it’s me, Alistair (obviously [R: duh.]), Morrigan, and… THE DOG. Ahahaha. I have a pretty in depth set of commands used to control this particular setup. Basically, Alistair is programmed to shield bash the crap out of anyone who is even thinking about targeting me. If I’m surrounded by more than 2 enemies, the dog comes over with an AOE knockdown. As for Morrigan, her job is to inflict the enemy with the lowest HP with Virulent Walking Bomb (hands down one of my favorite spells ever. I can’t resist utility. And maybe also I am slightly bloodthirsty, who knows. Errrr) before subsequently killing it and thereby infecting all its friends. There are more commands, but these are the main ones for my favorite team, and it works whether I play rogue or mage.

Oh, also it’s important that I get all the cool slow-mo kills. I will do ANYTHING to get the killing blow for this exact reason. #Priorities [R: SUCH A SENSE OF SATISFACTION WHEN THAT HAPPENS!]


Okay, so maybe I only bothered to craft this potion because it makes your eyes glow. Don’t judge.

In DAII, my favorite group to play with is Hawke, Anders, Fenris, and Varric. This may be motivated in no small part by how funny the banter gets between the three guys. Last time I played DAII, I tried out Force Mage with Hawke and had way too much fun destroying people with gravity. Anders mostly does lots of healing and annoying debuffs. Fenris is for tanking and Varric is there just to be witty. LOL.


Carver doesn’t think very highly of Anders and his pro-mage propaganda.

There IS an exception to this team — if Carver is around, Fenris gets kicked out. Hahahaha. Because I LOVE CARVER FOREVER. HE IS THE BEST. I have an entire collection of Carver one-liners. Because lame. (Me, not Carver. Never Carver. The man has a secret tattoo of a mabari, for crying out loud.)

…Hahaha here is where Rinn popped into the Google doc randomly and saw that I was here:

R: HIIIIIIIII
R: THIS IS WEIRD
P: LOL
P: YES IT IS

Just so you can see how awesome we are. Ahahaha.

Paola: Your turn! Who’s on your dream team? And which character in the series so far do you think has been the most intriguing, polarizing, or misunderstood? (Or all of the above??)

Rinn: Okay, first of all can I just say your plan is incredibly tactical, which is basically the total opposite of mine. I probably don’t make quite enough use of being able to control my other party members – the only thing I make sure to always have set is that Morrigan and Anders (in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II) automatically heal anyone with less than 25% health. I’m sure that I’ve commanded Alistair to do a few things (harharhar ;D) – time to open up my game and see what I have! Oh, and here’s my dream team from Dragon Age: Origins:

Sten, Morrigan and Alistair! My babies. Yes, even grumpy Sten.
Warning: many nerdy gaming terms ahead. Apparently I had Alistair frequently using Shield Wall and Taunt, to keep the enemies away from everyone else. Sten basically went all out crazy, using AOEs whenever he was surrounded by more than two enemies, keeping himself buffed up with Berserk, and also targeting heavily armoured enemies with Sunder Armour. Morrigan is basically a pure healer – Heal or Group Heal anyone under 25% (because of the cooldowns and also quite handy to keep rotating them), Drain Life for her own health, and keep Cleansing Aura up for regeneration.

As for my Dragon Age II dream team, well let me share with you this boyband-esque shot… [P: THIS SHOT IS INCREDIBLE HAHAHA]


The usual combination of Rinn & the Babes: Anders, Varric and either Merrill or Aveline.
I actually used Merrill more than Aveline, but the two were interchangeable depending on whether I needed more magic or brute power. It actually worked quite well without a tank most of the time. And yeah, I basically didn’t command ANY of them except Anders who had to heal heal heal! I went down the sneaky Assassin/Duelist route, Anders was Vengeance/Elemental, Merrill Primal/Dalish Pariah and Varric a Specialist/Marksman. I have also used Fenris a few times but… sorry Fenris. I prefer these guys.

And as my Hawke was a Rogue, I got stuck with Bethany – booooo, Bethany! I don’t like her. Next playthrough I’ll have to go Mage for Carver. I need to see that tattoo…

I think Sten is one of the most misunderstood. He seems really hard and cold, but he locked himself in that cage as punishment for his crimes. He was going to let himself die for his previous acts so he obviously has a sense of guilt, even if it doesn’t seem that way. As my Warden got to know him, he opened up a lot more and revealed more of his past. He also started showing great respect towards her, and even started making jokes! I think that, despite appearances, he is actually very thoughtful and loyal. I mean, look at his interactions with the War Dog! His early game insults turn to playful jokes and remarks as the game progresses, not just with the Warden but other characters too (like his dialogue with Morrigan about the two of them sleeping together AHHHH).

[P: AND ALSO HE LOVES COOKIES.]

Rinn: As you already mentioned the playful chat between the party members, let’s talk about the humour in the game. What are some of your favourite funny moments?


Guys. I am Hawke and Hawke is me.

Oh geez, this is difficult because there are SO MANY funny moments in the game… here are some off the top of my head!

Wynne lecturing Alistair on the birds and the bees. SO MUCH AWKS. I think all of their interactions are hysterical, though. Alistair is about 10 trillion times more awkward than usual. And that is really saying something… hahaha.

Meeting Anders in DA2. The fact that Ser Pounce-A-Lot gets mentioned almost immediately is just… perfect. His rage at having his cat taken away from him never fails to crack me up.

ALL of the trash loot. ALL OF IT. (Why is there so much???) I actually made a list once of the most ridiculous things I’ve looted from mobs in the game. Here are some of those things, for your edification:

  • Black Bile/Clear Bile/Any Kind of Bile – Um, what? Why would I want to have bile in my backpack? For what possible reason would I want this AT ALL? And why would you be able to sell bile to a vendor for any amount, low or high??
  • Fancy Poison Ring – As opposed to a plain poison ring? I mean, seriously, I want to know if it’s possible to acquire a plainer version. While playing Sebastian’s Act 2 personal quest at the Harimann mansion, I found no less than SIX of these Fancy Poison Rings secreted in abandoned bedrooms and cellars. Just how many poison rings does one family need?? [R: Sounds perfect for the Borgia family ;D]
  • Chant of Light – Now this is just funny. Lulz.
  • Empty Stained Bottle – Another repeat offender. I find these EVERYWHERE. What are they stained with? What could I possibly use them for? I’m beginning to think Hawke participates in some sort of Kirkwall recycling program. [R: Why can I imagine Alistair instituting some sort of recycling program as one of his first decrees as king??]
  • Lucky Rabbit’s Foot – I’m noting this one not because it’s an odd piece of loot per se, but because I found it on the body of a hurlock in the Deep Roads. It amused me to no end that darkspawn would be in possession of lucky charms, although it wouldn’t be surprising for darkspawn to requisition a rabbit’s foot by force for such purposes… (poor rabbit…) But I like to think that this charm was found on some unfortunate adventurer that the hurlock killed. Maybe he never had a trinket of his own before. Maybe it was his treasure~ (There’s a story in this somewhere, guys.) [R: His precious…]
  • Tainted Dwarven Jewelry – The perfect anniversary gift: jewelry made by dwarves and slobbered on by darkspawn! Corruption 100% Guaranteed! On second thought, this might be more effective than the Fancy Poison Ring for dealing with people you don’t like…
  • Rotted Wooden Peg Leg – It would be far more entertaining if you could actually equip this. Otherwise, finding these in such high volume just makes you question life. Why have all these crude prosthetic limbs been abandoned in Kirkwall’s back alleys? How many one-legged pirates are being forced to hop from place to place because their peg legs are missing?????
  • Small Wet Pouch of Incense – One question: why is it wet???
  • Tattered Pantaloons – I just like that they’re called ‘pantaloons’.

[R: PAHAHAH I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH WONDERFUL TRASH! And I love your little stories behind them ;D]

Paola: We’ve discussed how awesome it is that your decisions have such an impact on the story in both Dragon Age games. Were there any decisions that proved to be especially difficult for you to make? Are there any choices you’ve never wavered from? (i.e. “WELL OF COURSE I AM MARRYING ALISTAIR”)

Rinn: Good question! Obviously the matrimonial decision was a very difficult one. Marry the (virtual) man of my dreams and become Queen (okay, Princess-Consort), or don’t marry him and watch him get hitched to some skank and then live out the rest of my days as a doomed Grey Warden, never able to love again *plays sad music* So yes, choosing to marry Alistair was sehr, sehr difficult. NOT. [P: LOLOLOLOLOL THIS WAS MY THOUGHT PROCESS EXACTLY OKAY]

As for the ACTUAL difficult decisions… hmm. Sometimes there were some choices I had to make that I faltered over because I sort of guessed how the party would react, and I didn’t want to lose their favour. But you never can please them all… There was one where you had to either try and save a possessed child (Connor, son of the Arl of Redcliffe), or kill him – and I chose to kill him because… er, well I don’t really know. I don’t think all of the possibilities were open to me at the time (I just took a look at all possible outcomes). It’s not a decision I wanted to make, of course. And naturally the whole party got pretty angry at it… apart from Morrigan, I think. Oh, Morrigan.

I spared the mages in the Circle of course, and sided with the elves in the forest, although I convinced them to free the werewolves – those weren’t exactly difficult decisions. Choosing which dwarf to support for the throne was quite tricky, as one seemed like a ruthless but capable ruler, and the other fairer but a bit hopeless. I went for Harrowmount in the end, who was the fair but hopeless one – and I’m still not sure if that was the right decision.

And as for the big, BIG end game decisions (there be spoilers ahead) – OFF WITH LOGHAIN’S HEAD! And Anora imprisoned, whilst I sit on my new throne, mwhahaha!

Rinn: For fear of making this post super long, and also because we’ve been writing it for about three months now (yup, seriously), I think it’s time to wrap up! Do you have any last words about the super amazing series that is Dragon Age?

Paola: Yes: PLAY IT!!!! But Alistair belongs to us. Paws off.

Rinn: If you haven’t played the series yet, then take Paola’s wise advice. You won’t regret it. And now, my dear readers, I shall leave you with this beautiful image.


There is a quest where all your stuff gets stolen and your party has to run around like this. If this doesn’t encourage you to play Dragon Age, then I don’t know what will.

Are you a fan of Dragon Age? Do you understand our fangirlish ramblings? Do you too want to get into Alistair’s pantaloons? Or are you completely and utterly mystified? Share your thoughts on the series (or our thoughts…) in the comments!