The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure what to expect from the first Dragon Age book not written by David Gaider. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The book is still firmly rooted in the world of Thedas, but feels distinct from the other Dragon Age books both in setting and tone.
Like Asunder, the book is set in the Orliesian Empire, though rather than bound to the realms of the Chantry and Circle, this novel explores the politics and power struggles of the noble caste. The setting is different enough that the book, certainly for the first two-thirds, feels very different to the world of the earlier novels in the series, and it feels refreshing for that.
It also feels more like the world of the Dragon Age games to me, even though much of the books is spent with the skull-duggery and back-stabbing nobles, rather than being a grand fantasy adventure. When the book does eventually turn into a more traditional adventure, past the half-way mark, it actually loses some of it's character and pace.
The books is much more interested in the characters and their relationships than the earlier ones, and could even be read as a romance novel as there is a strong romantic tale that threads throughout. The ending is satisfying, paying off all the characters, but resolving little, and leaving things open for the next game in the series.
I'm looking forwards to playing Dragon Age Inquisition even more after reading The Masked Empire.
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