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Literature / The Stolen Throne

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Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne is a prequel novel to the BioWare RPG Dragon Age: Origins written by its lead writer, David Gaider. The chronologically earliest installment of the Dragon Age franchise, it follows the Fereldan king Maric Theirin, as he rises from awkward and foolish boy to the deserved and rightful king of Ferelden.

However, that throne is occupied by King Meghren, the usurper. He is the cousin of the Orlesian emperor, and rumored to have also been his lover, exiled from Orlais for his antics. His servant and advisor, the mage Severus, hires an elven Bard (assassin and spy) named Katriel to seduce and betray Maric, but she begins to develop feelings for the rebel leader.

Also prominent is Loghain Mac Tir, one of the main villains of Origins. As Maric's best friend and most trusted subordinate, he finds himself torn between that loyalty and the love for Rowan, Maric's betrothed since birth.

Tropes in this novel are:

  • Action Girl: Both Rowan and Katriel can really kick some ass. Also some of the minor characters in the Rebel Army, like Rowan's lieutenant Branwen.
  • Action Mom: Queen Moira, Maric's mother, is practically the poster woman for this trope. She's an unparalleled badass both on the field and in leading her troops. Maric's biggest struggle is living up to the image of his beloved mother as a proven warrior and leader.
  • Artifact Title: A Dragon Age novel that takes place in the previous era, the Blessed Age, although the Dragon Age begins just at the end of the book, before the Battle of the River Dane.
  • Arranged Marriage: Maric and Rowan.
  • A True Story in My Universe: The epilogue shows that the novel is actually Prince Cailan's history lesson.
  • Back for the Finale: Mother Ailis shows up in the epilogue, having been absent since chapter 4.
  • Badass Army: Nalthur and the Legion of the Dead. Half of the Orlesian army sent to retake Gwaren after the victory at West Hill are killed by the dwarves alone.
  • Batman Gambit: By Severan. It doesn't end so well for him.
    • Maric fully expected that his mother's killers would tell the rest of the Bannorn they had been invited to a meeting with him, so that when word of their deaths got out, the rest of the nobility would know not to cross him in the future.
  • Betty and Veronica: Rowan and Katriel.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Nalthur and the Legion of the Dead arrive just in time to save the four heroes before they're overwhelmed and killed by darkspawn.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Maric becomes king and the Orlesians are expelled, but Rowan and Katriel die. Loghain has to give up his love for the good of his nation, and Maric kills his own.
  • Call-Forward: One of the warnings that Flemeth tells Maric is that one day, a Blight will occur in Ferelden.
  • The Caligula: Meghren is absolutely out of his mind, concerned only with complaining, debauchery, and brutalizing the palace staff.
  • Cool Sword: Maric finds one in the Deep Roads. A runed dragonbone longsword.
  • The Corruption: The darkspawn taint everything.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Prince Maric puts the puppet king Meghren's head on a spike in front of Fort Drakon in retaliation for Meghren doing the same to Maric's mother Moira the Rebel Queen a few years before that.
  • Deuteragonist: Loghain and Rowan.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Against the warnings of his advisors, Meghren orders mass executions of anyone suspected of sympathising with the rebels to discourage people from siding with Maric after West Hill. This backfires spectacularly: instead of suppressing further revolts, such brutality only encourages further rebellion from the populace, and drives most of Meghren's grudging supporters amongst the nobility and the Chantry to side with Maric.
  • The Dreaded: The Dalish clan who capture Maric and Loghain and hand them over to Flemeth are clearly terrified of her.
  • Doomed by Canon: To fans who played the game first, many characters are this. Short long story: the only known characters that arrived to the game's events alive are Loghain, Cailan and Shale.
  • The Dragon: Severan, King Megren's court magician.
  • Femme Fatale: Katriel.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Flemeth gives Maric a cryptic warning about Loghain: "Keep him close and he will betray you, each time worse than the last". Flemeth could mean any number of things both in the novel and the continuity; potentially referring to Loghain's eventual affair with Rowan, the fact he will ultimately lie to Maric to induce him to kill Katriel, or ultimately betraying everything he and Maric fought for in the future by leaving Cailan to his death and becoming as great, if not even worse a tyrant than Meghren during the Blight.
    • Flemeth's brief line of "sometimes vengeance changes the world" will take on much deeper meaning come "Dragon Age: Inquisition".
  • Foregone Conclusion: Any characters who the game featured or mentioned as having survived past the events of the novel obviously live through anything that gets thrown at them, while anyone that does not is fair game for being killed or made conveniently unavailable for the events of the game.
    • Despite her warnings regarding the Fifth Blight and Loghain's eventual betrayal, Maric is unable to do anything meaningful about either, thereby ensuring that the task of handling both will one day fall to The Warden.
  • From Bad to Worse: While trying to get back to Gwaren via the Deep Road, Maric, Rowan, Katriel and Loghain manage to fight off a nest of corrupted spiders. Shortly afterwards, the spiders fall which point the group hear a shriek in the distance and realise they're being hunted by darkspawn instead.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Maric says to Rowan after Katriel's death that Flemeth implied this trope regarding him.
    Maric: (quoting Flemeth) You will hurt the ones you love the most, and become what you hate to save what you love.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Subverted.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: As the narration reminds us multiple times, Loghain has them.
  • Inspector Javert: Throughout the story, Loghain is convinced that Katriel is trying to kill Maric, even after she helps them, leading to him and Maric having a falling out with each-other. Rowan calls him out on it after Katriel's death.
  • Kick the Dog: Meghren triggers a riot in the Denerim alienage for nearly beating one of his elven servants to death. The reason why? The servant failed to notice the cream he'd served the king had gone sour.
  • La Résistance: The Rebel Army.
  • Love Triangle: Loghain is attracted to Rowan, and while she reciprocates, she's also in love with (and betrothed to) Maric. Maric, however, is (at least consciously) unaware of Rowan's affection and falls in love with Katriel.
  • Love Redeems: Katriel's love for Maric eventually causes her to cancel her contract on his life and do her utmost to protect him.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Arl of Amaranthine comes over to the rebels after Meghren takes near-violent offense at his birthday present, an heirloom sword that ends up "donated" to the Chantry.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Maric has this reaction after he kills Katriel.
    • Rowan has one not long after as she realises her own actions indirectly lead to [[Katriel's death]].
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: While a number of battles are described in the novel, the historic Battle of River Dane that sealed Ferelden's independence isn't. All we get is the preparation and the aftermath.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: This is how Meghren became the regent of Ferelden, after he angered the Emperor of Orlais.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Katriel.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: As the rebellion begins to pick up momentum, Maric has the traitor nobles who lured his mother to her death brought to him and killed, though not before telling the men in question their families must either denounce them for their sins or share their fate.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: An in-universe one as Loghain knows Maric's relationship with the elf girl will go nowhere. And it ruins his life as well.
  • Said Bookism: It's difficult to overstate Gaider's love of adverbs. In fairness, he is a video game writer and this was his very first published prose work, though, damn, if this example below doesn't make it obvious.
    "Maric dug into his stew ravenously. Katriel picked at hers gingerly, sipping on some of the broth. The dwarf all but gulped his down greedily, finishing it long before the others were even half done, and then belching loudly."
  • Saved by Canon: Maric and Loghain, among others, live through just about every brush with death they have, on account of the fact that Dragon Age: Origins establishes them as being major players in Ferelden history well after the events of the novel.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: During another fit of pique after the rebels defeat his army at Gwaren, Meghren orders Mother Bronach, Grand Cleric of Ferelden, to denounce the rumours of Maric's return from the dead as a demon imposter, even threatening her with violence to do so. In response, Bronach flees Denerim after branding Meghren a dangerous tyrant and Maric the rightful king of Ferelden. It is left open to speculation whether her actions were the result of a genuine crisis of faith or a politically motivated move to distance herself from a tyrannical regime about to be overthrown.
  • Tranquil Fury: Maric displays this when confronting Bann Ceorlic and the other traitor nobles who lured his mother to her death. When one of their number, Bann Keir, tries to extort Maric for more concessions in exchange for their support against Meghren, Maric kills him on the spot. When Ceorlic protests that their families will fight him to the end if he kills them, Maric calmly and coldly replies that the children of his mother's killers will have one day to denounce the treachery of their fathers and swear allegiance to him. If they agree, he will spare them. If they refuse, he will kill them all and give their lands to subjects who understand the consequences of betraying him. When Ceorlic, the only survivor of the ensuing bloodbath, falls to his knees and begs for his life, offering Maric anything he wants, Maric in the same cold tone tells Ceorlic "What I want back, you can't give me" and runs him through.
  • Title Drop: For both the name of the franchise and the title of the book during Loghain's Rousing Speech before the Battle of the River Dane:
    "'Your prince is not here! But when he returns to us, we shall hand to him his stolen throne! Here at the River Dane is where the Dragon Age begins, my friends! Today they will here us roar!'"
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Maric and Loghain.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The novel implies that Loghain and Maric's friendship becomes much colder in the wake of Katriel's death and Maric's marriage to Rowan. It does recover somewhat when Loghain helps Maric through his grief after Rowan's death from illness.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Loghain and Rowan.