Dragon Age: Those Who Speak Comic Review
Script: Alexander Freed
Art: Chad Hardin
If you’re familiar with the Dragon Age Cannon, you know Isabela. She’s that pirate queen who taught you how to duel, or you may have had a three or even foursome with her, or at the very least she royally screwed over Kirkwall by stealing a sacred Qunari text, thus bringing holy war down on of the major cities of the Free Marches.
So… that was awesome.
However, the blood of Kirkwall is not the price the Qunari saw to be paid. Isabela not only stole their sacred tome but in doing so, initiated a battle which ended in the death of their Arishok (leader). These are not crimes ever to be forgotten… or forgiven.
Dragon Age: Those Who Speak #2 is the second issue of a three-part story, but you could plausibly pick it up without reading the one that came before and not have too much trouble following along as they catch you up to the action rather well.
Isabela, along with Varric Tethras (swoon), was helping King Alistair track down a blood mage he suspects is responsible for the disappearance of his father, King Maric. While the hunt for the blood mage was dangerous task enough, an unexpected threat presented itself when the Qunari finally catch up to the pirate queen.
We begin in a prison.
Quickly we are introduced to Tamassran, a female Qunari and as with all Qunari, we know this is her title rather than her name. She is a kind of priestess and her name translates to “Those who speak”.
Isabela is surprised she speaks ‘The King’s Tongue’ to which Tamassran replies that it is her function to do so. It is likely safe to assume that Tamassrans are versed in all known languages and act as a bridge between the Qunari and those who cannot speak their native tongue. I was particularly excited to read a story that involved a female in the Qun that coincided with the original cannon.
While I loved Mark of the Assassin or Dragon Age: Redemption, the fact that they altered or ignored one of the seemingly core principles of the Qun bothered me. If you played a female Warden in the first game, Sten was utterly baffled by how you could be both a woman and a warrior as in Qunari culture women were priestesses or artisans or farmers and shop keepers. The entire experience with the Blight and the warden (or Leliana and Morrigan if you played a male) was completely shattering for the Sten and I feel that culture shock was sort of key. I also appreciated how this was handled in that his confusion was not spawned from misogyny. Women did not fight in the same way he could not chose not to fight. It made his respect of the Warden that much more important in the end. Something unknown that went completely against what he believed to be the natural order and yet by the end, he held the Warden in the highest of respects.
That’s huge, Bioware. That’s dabbling in issues rarely seen in video games. Please don’t just drop that.
Tamassran begins the interrogation, starting with Isabela’s name–her real name. Dragon Age: Those Who Speak gives us a deeper look into the pirate’s past, from her mother to her first ship. While Freed definitely has a different flavor than Gaider’s typical quick-witted banter back and forth, I enjoyed the dialogue and felt the story definitely belonged in the world it was written for. Hardin’s art is gritty but beautiful and seems to lend very well to the flashback-like nature of the entire issue.
This particular issue centers mostly around Isabela and we see very little of Varric and Alistair but they certainly make it memorable as when we briefly rejoin our King and merchant prince, they encounter an old friend. I may have quietly cheered while reading it… Just a little. For like a second, at least.
If you enjoy the Dragon Age cannon, you will likely love this comic–but be forewarned as it is the 2nd of 3, there is of course a cliffhanger ending.
Is the 3rd issue out yet? Please?
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