Dragon Age: Absolution

This was a very pleasant surprise. Dragon Age: Absolution is an animated series. It was recommended on Mastodon by Aliette de Bodard, who in turn got it from Liz Bourke. I know nothing about Dragon Age, the game, so I went into this with no preconceptions.

A key issue is whether you can follow the plot without knowing anything about the game, and my answer is an emphatic “yes”. It is clear that there is a lot of backstory. There is something called the Inquisition, which some characters appear to have been involved with, but this has little impact on the plot. Most of the action takes place in the city of Tevinter and the key points about it are that it is home to powerful mages, and that elves are enslaved there.

The story begins is fairly classic RPG style in that a character called Fairbanks recruits a rag-tag bunch of adventurers to steal a magical artefact from Tevinter. Said group includes Roland, a human fighter, Hira, a human mage, Lacklon, a dwarf fighter, Qwydion, a mage from a people called Qunari, whom I guess are unique to the game, and most importantly Miriam, an elf of many talents.

It is clear from the start that Miriam has a long history with Tevinter, and very much does not want to go back there, but her knowledge of the city is essential to the heist. Also Miriam and Hira used to be a couple, and they are still very much attracted to each other, but politics has come between them.

Meanwhile, in Tevinter, we meet Rezaren, a powerful and arrogant young Tevinter mage seeking to unlock the power of the artefact that is the target of the heist. He has a relationship with Tassia, the commander of the city’s military, who is much more adult and very focused on her duty to keep the city safe.

As the plot unfolds over six half-hour episodes we learn a lot more about the backstories of Miriam, Hira and Rezaren. There’s a lot of good material about the evils of slavery. I wasn’t much fond of the dwarf character who, very stereotypically, was endlessly grumpy and deeply suspicious of elves, but he was mainly there because they needed another blade. Qwydion is the Qunari equivalent of a ditzy blonde and is in the story to provide comedy moments, which she does well.

Rezaren, by the way, is a fine portrayal of a privileged and somewhat talented rich kid who is convinced that the world revolves around him, and that he is destined for greatness. Tassia does her best to try to talk him down, but he is completely oblivious to her sensible advice.

There’s not a lot more to say except that you should give it a watch if you have Netflix. It is very well plotted, which is more then you can say for many TV series with bigger budgets these days.