This is one of the last lines uttered by the Inquisitor at the end of Bioware’s newest DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, “The Descent”. Where last time’s DLC took us to the high cliffs of the Frostback Mountains, this time the Inquisitor and crew head deep, deep underground to Orzammar’s Deep Roads—the place where all the darkspawn hang out and where Grey Wardens go to die, if you remember from the first game. After playing through the I-don’t-know-how-long DLC (probably around four hours if you’re sticking to story missions) I, too, have more questions than answers, least of all being “why doesn’t Bioware know how to make good DLC anymore?”
There really are just too many things to talk about in these books, and hey, it’s been over a month since I’ve visited the series, so it’s time to talk about it again.
Throughout literature and mythology, dragons have been interpreted and portrayed many different ways. The word “dragon” can be quite broad in its definition, and depending on where you go in the world, people will always have different images and ideas that they associate with dragons. The dragons that we’re most concerned about today are European Dragons, who are typically portrayed as evil and greedy, with a few exceptions, especially in modern literature. Here in America, European Dragons are what we tend to be most used to. They are big scaly lizards with large wings. They breathe fire, kidnap virgins, steal gold, and live in caves. With the exception of being innately evil and kidnapping virgins, this is the kind of dragon that The Inheritance Cycle uses.
Although I obviously knew about dragons before The Inheritance Cycle, Paolini’s books were my first real foray into their mythology, and so I’m more familiar with his interpretation than I am with others. Additionally, despite my love for dragons, they tend to bore me, because they’re often portrayed exactly the same over and over again. Paolini’s dragons were new and unique to me at the time, so naturally I fell in love with them (though I do hear that they are ripoffs from The Dragonriders of Pern). But because I’m so under-read in this matter, it is hard to compare them to other dragons and actually say what Paolini did that makes his dragons unique and worth your time. Like all things in his books, he occasionally hints at creativity with his dragons, but ultimately their magic tends to only happen for plot purposes.
In Brisingr, during Orik’s coronation to become the new Dwarf king, Eragon sees a vision of the Dwarven god Gûntera. The vision—or rather, the manifestation—of the holy being is brought about by a Dwarven priest saying a prayer in the Ancient Language, the language of magic. This has led me to believe that this wasn’t a vision or something otherworldly. This particular scene undermined the Dwarven faith, instead of enhancing it, since it potentially provides proof to something I thought they believed simply through faith. Additionally, it could also go to show that their faith isn’t real and only the result of magic. I really disliked this scene, because I actually thought the Dwarven faith was really well done.
If you’ve read The Hobbit or any other Tolkien books or pretty much any fantasy story where dwarves exist as a separate race, you might have noticed that dwarf ladies are sadly lacking representation. Although there aren’t, in fact, any female characters at all in The Hobbit, in The Lord of the Rings at least we have examples of powerful women (or at least existing women) from every race but the dwarves. As someone (I think Gimli?) in Lord of the Rings notes, Middle Earthling dwarf women are seen so rarely, and so resemble dwarf men (sporting plenty of facial hair and… pants and axes, I guess?), that most other races assume dwarves are a single-gendered species who spring from the rock fully formed rather than one that engages in sexual reproduction.
Peter Jackson, in the scene in The Hobbit movie showing the fall of Erebor and the devastation of Dale, does show us a number of dwarf women living under the mountain with their male cohorts. I was surprised, however, that he had given them far more feminine clothing and features than I expected.
These are certainly not characters who might be misgendered as men, and furthermore, the clear difference in presented gender gives the lie to any suggestion that dwarf women are so rare/often misgendered that they are considered mythical creatures by other Middle Earthlings. Continue reading →