COMIC REVIEW: Dragon Age:The Silent Grove
Posted by wedgedoc on July 31, 2012
Available in print for the first time, Dragon Age: The Silent Grove is the perfect introduction to
BioWare’s dark fantasy universe! In this essential, canonical story from David Gaider, lead writer of the games, King Alistair, accompanied only by rogues Isabela and Varric, embarks on a quest deep inside the borders of Antiva—a nation of assassins! Together, they will encounter a prison break, dragons, the mysterious Witch of the Wilds, and one of the greatest secrets in the history of the world!
Ah, the Dragon Age. I remember it well. Of course, that’s because I was there in the beginning playing as the Hero of Ferelden in Dragon Age: Origins and it’s expansions. I was the Champion of Kirkwall during the events of Dragon Age 2 and it’s expansions. Therein lies one of the biggest strengths and the biggest weaknesses of Dark Horse‘s offering: To those who have played the games, the characters will be familiar and hold dear memories. To those who haven’t, there is little to no introduction to the protagonists here.
The collection is set after the events of both games, though how long after is unclear. Without delving into the plot too much or spoiling the games themselves, here’s a quick overview. The King of Ferelden has ventured to Antiva, a country renowned for its Assassins: The Antivian Crows. With him are two of the champion of Kirkwall’s companions – the busty Pirate Captain, Isabela and the Dwarven story-teller come thief, Varric. This trio makes an interesting lot and Alexander Freed’s script certainly captures the personalities and banter that exists between the characters in the games.
So how does the plot of this six-chapter hardcover stand up? As a standalone story, I think readers who have not played the games will be somewhat at a loss – there are references to events and characters from, in particular, Dragon Age: Origins which may hold little meaning without the correct frame of reference.
Having said that, the six chapters succeed in creating a jumping off point for this trio of companions and one that I look forward to seeing develop as they continue their adventures. The story is almost standard fare – each chapter forming part of an ongoing quest and ending with a pointer to the next step. This is no bad thing, as it’s certainly well put together with no co-incidences. The climax of chapter six, while slightly shocking felt fitting and was a good payoff. In my opinion anyway.
I’ve come to expect a lot from the art team at Dark Horse in the last ten years. The consistent high-quality renderings of backgrounds and characters is a joy to behold and this collection is no exception to this. While not always completely accurate to their game-model counterparts, the King, Varric and Isabela are easily recognisable as themselves and Chad Hardin has done a great job at bringing action scenes to life as well. One criticism I do have is that when characters are shown in shadows, they seem to be coloured purely in a grey-scale, indicating far more shadow than seems should be present given the lighting conditions in the scene. Personally, I found this slightly jarring, but it’s a minor point.
A great introduction to a team of characters that should make a great combination for future stories. Fans of the Dragon Age world should definitely get hold of this collection. Those of you who haven’t won’t get as much from it … but go and play the games and THEN get hold of this!
Dragon Age: The Silent Grove was published in Hardcover on 25 July 2012. A preview is available on the Dark Horse website.
Rating: 4 / 5