David Gaider's Dragon Age: The Calling is a second prequel to the game. The timeline follows that of the end of The Stolen Throne, a decade or so after the rightful heir, Prince Maric, has become the heroic King Maric. A king who has lost much of his will to go on as his queen, Rowan, has left his side.
We are met by a Maric in a state of depression, a King who is letting his reborn kingdom run by inertia. A hero who feels he has nothing else to give, nothing to prove, nothing to put his mind to. Until a group of Grey Wardens lead by their leader Geneveve asks for a meeting and some very specific help either from the king or his most loyal friend and commander, Loghain.
Always suspicious and not willing to risk either himself or that of the King Loghain denies all help other than point the Grey Wardens in the direction of the Deep Roads they crossed years ago as they were trying to recover the kingdom of Fereden. But as he agrees nodding with his head it doesn't take long for Maric to show that he had something else in his mind all along.
The Calling becomes a story that tells the reader more about the Blights, the Grey Wardens, the darkspawn and the Deep Roads. As adventures go this one is rather standard although it does have quite a few twists closer to the end. Like The Stolen Throne it is easy to read and though it is aimed to the gamer looking for more it can be read by a fantasy aficionado without any problems. It is fun, enjoyable and has a slight mature tone.
In this second prequel the focus of the story are the Grey Wardens and Maric as their guide and companion. Gaider manages to give the reading gamer more than one grinning moment just like he did in the first prequel, a very nice narrative touch even if it will only be understood properly by the right crowd.
The adventure serves, once again, as a way for a few of the characters to mature. Geneveve's will to carry out her mission to the bitter end puts her face to face with her inner demons and fears. A thief and rogue shows that friends do come from all ways of life. Gaider let's us learn about each of the Gray Wardens in due time through an elegant narrative style and trick. All of a sudden we can understand them better, we almost start to see each as what they were and what they are underneath that gray cloak.
If there is anything that the adventure in The Calling tells us is that there is much more to each Gray Warden than meets the eye. Pasts they have to live with. Memories they have to put aside in order to be, to become what they are now. Heroes that aren't truly reborn when they start to wear the official cloak but who have to overcome what they were and did in order to carry out their new duties, uphold their new purpose: Save them all, fight the blights, eliminate the darkspawn.
Dragon Age: The Calling doesn't offer enough to qualify as required reading for any Dragon Age fan but it certainly is entertaining fantasy fiction based on the game's setting. Easy to read, very enjoyable, a great --gamer oriented-- style by David Gaider, and it aggregates on the lore of BioWare's most recent franchise. A good follow up to The Stolen Throne, a good prequel to Origins. In short, very good reading for any fan of the genre and the game.