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Comic Book / Until We Sleep

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Until We Sleep is a three-issue comic book mini-series set in the Dragon Age universe, written by David Gaider, the lead writer of the games, and published by the Dark Horse Comics. It provides the conclusion to the earlier mini-series The Silent Grove and Those Who Speak: Alistair, Isabela, and Varric finally corner the Tevinter Magister Aurelian Titus, the man behind King Maric's disappearance, in his fortress of Ath Velanis.

Once again, the events of UWS are not meant to override the player's personal canon from the games but instead to complement it.

The comic series contains following tropes:

  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. In issue #2, Varric wakes up, realizing the whole adventure with Alistair and Isabela was just a vivid dream and, being Varric, immediately makes a note to himself to write it all down. It turns out, however, that he was just thrown into the Fade by the Margallen pulse, so he not so much woke up as fell asleep.
  • An Arm and a Leg/Off with His Head!: How Maric kills Titus.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The heroes complete all they set out to do... but it doesn't bring any happiness to any of them.
  • Broken Pedestal: Alistair is somewhat disappointed to learn that Calenhad - the king who founded Ferelden - was really a Reaver.
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  • The Bus Came Back: Mae Tilani returns after three issues as Aurelian's prisoner.
  • But Now I Must Go: Double Subversion: King Maric decides he does not want to return from the Fade because Cailan, Loghain, and Alistair's mom are all dead.note  Then Alistair convinces him to return to him. Then they wake up and realize that Maric cannot be disconnected from the Magrallen, so Alistair has to Mercy Kill him.
  • Domain Holder: Aurelian Titus in his portion of the Fade. Or so it looks. Actually, since Titus' entire power is based on Maric's dragon blood, leeched off by the Magrallen, the actual Domain Holder is Maric himself, while Titus uses his power by proxy.
  • The Dragon: Parodied in the opening; Varric's narration casts some random mook as an evil Tevinter slaver named "Arthur" who works as Titus' right-hand man, who's righteously killed by his own folly and mourned by no one - all while the actual comic shows Varric shooting the random mook in the throat and then killing his (visibly) mournful companion. He admits it's just a better story than feeling bad for a nameless schmuck who joined the wrong cult.
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  • Eye Beams: Aurelian's Dragonfire.
  • In Defence of Storytelling: Varric proudly continues his tradition of discussing the very story he narrates.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine/"Leave Your Quest" Test: In the Fade Section:
    • Varric goes through a dream where he was never cast out of the merchant's guild and his lover and namesake of his favorite crossbow is alive, but quickly snaps out of it, realizing it's "not how it happened".
    • Mae, similarly, dreams of being with her late husband Thorold again, although, being a mage, she knows she is in the Fade and gets over it quickly after Varric reminds her of her grudge against Titus.
    • Isabela, strangely enough, goes through a sequence where she has joined the Qun as a warrior - which Mae accurately calls her nightmare. She, too, wakes up from it pretty quickly.
    • Alistair, in the meantime, dreams that he is a Prince Charming in the court of...
    • King Maric, who dreams of still being the just king of Ferelden.
  • Mercy Kill: Alistair has to end his father's suffering by destroying Magrallen.
  • Merging the Branches: In Inquisition, Alistair can mention the events of this comic, specifically seeing his father in the Fade. Interestingly, the only way to hear him say this is if he is still with the Grey Wardens, whereas in this story he is King of Ferelden. It can be inferred that, depending on your Dragon Age playthrough, the major events of these comics are broadly canonical, but the specific details can be different based on your world state (though who knows how things worked out if Alistair died in Origins).
  • Noodle Incident: We finally learn who Bianca was to Varric: she was his lover in Ostheim who invented his Automatic Crossbow (in the dream; according to Dragon Age: Inquisition, the weapon's prototype was created by Gerav, but he never managed to make it work until Bianca fix the design).
  • Ouroboros: A serpent (dragon?) biting its own tail is part of the Magrallen.
  • Party Scattering: After Varric shoots the Margallen, everyone in Ath Velanis is thrown into the Fade. Bad news is, Titus is the Domain Holder there.
  • Shirtless Scene: Varric wakes up in the Fade completely nude, and he spends several panels with his impressive physique on display.
  • Shout-Out: "How do you know all this, Varric?" is what Merrill used to ask in Party Banter.
  • Single Line of Descent: Apparently the only known descendants of Calenhad are Maric and Alistair.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Varric positively identifies a brainwashed Alistair by how pathetic the latter's attempts at flirting with Isabela are.
  • Special Snowflake Syndrome: Invoked.
    Varric: King of Ferelden, Templar, Grey Warden, and now dragon blooded? Your Majesty is quite the special snowflake.
  • Spirit World: In the grand tradition of the DA series, the comic features a Fade Section. It also marks the first definitely canon entry of a dwarf into the Fade (dwarves cannot dream and thus cannot enter the Fade). All previous instances of this were optional (Oghren in "Lost in Dreams", Sigrun and Oghren again in "Shadows of the Blackmarsh", and Varric himself in "Night Terrors").
  • Storming the Castle: Team Alistair storms Aurelian Titus's keep Ath Velanis with the Qunari flotilla on artillery support.
  • Superdickery/Let's You and Him Fight: Issue #2 cover depicts Isabela fighting Mae, her ally. It turns out to be a not-quite-accurate depiction of her attacking Mae and Varric while being Brainwashed and Crazy by the Fade.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The previous two mini-series were told mainly from Alistair and Isabela's points of view, respectively. This is Varric's Day in the Limelight.
  • Take Over the World: Basically, Titus' plan. Using Maric's dragon blood to power the Margallen, an artifact that has once allowed the Magisters to mind-control the masses by entering their dreams at will, Titus' plans to create a new cult of Dreamers and take control over the world population, starting from the Tevinter Empire.
  • That Man Is Dead: Downplayed with Isabela, who cannot bring herself to use that name anymore (after days of mental torture at Qunari hands) but doesn't want to go by her birth name, either, so she just calls herself "Captain" for now.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Varric, being Varric, narrates his own story in real time as it happens. And his narration is markedly different in tone to what we actually see.
  • Unwilling Suspension: King Maric spent Maker knows how much time dangling in the air, having his blood sucked out of him through tubes.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Most of the cast get idealized lives when trapped in the Fade. Isabela, unluckily, gets to live out her nightmare of being a Qunari convert.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Maric commends Alistair's leadership skills and states that he probably makes a better king than himself.
  • Written by the Winners: King Calenhad is painted by the Chantry as an all-round heroic guy who rose from humble origins to rule the kingdom. However, the Qunari (claim to) remember the truth: Calenhad was, indeed, of humble origins, but he actively desired power and to achieve it, struck a deal with a Witch of the Wilds (possibly even Flemeth herself). She instructed him to find one of the last great dragons and drink its blood, effectively gaining the Reaver specialization. Unlike other Reavers, however, Calenhad's dragon blood was so potent, he passed it (if not his abilities) on to all his descendants. Of course, as Isabela points out, the Qunari version of the story may well be just as biased and inaccurate as the Chantry's, and the real truth might have already been lost to history.