varric tethras and the economy of tales

It’s a terrible thing, to live as a part of someone else’s story.

Okay, so yesterday, refreshing myself on Dragon Age lore, I hit up the wiki. As you do. And the wiki was organized under spoiler tags–which I appreciate. But one of those tags read “contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Until We Sleep.”

Whoa whoa whoa. Contains spoilers for what now?

A frantic quest ensued. I had no idea that a third three-part comic series had come out–in March of this year. Sure, it made sense, since one had focused on Alistair, and one on Isabella, which left Varric the only one without a narrative…but I hadn’t known. I had to find it.

Eventually, I did. I picked it up on my lunch break.

Oh, Varric.

I love how he is allowed to play with narrative. I’m sure some people consider it a cheap ruse and I don’t care. It’s not breaking the fourth wall exactly, but a stolid competent fighter is given the brains and the reason to question the power of story, of narrative, of truth and its malleability, in non-hokey ways, and I love it. The introduction to Until We Sleep is wonderful. He tells us one thing and then asks, if we are not happy with it, if we would prefer something else. And the something else, a truth, is lesser, and he knows it, and he wants to teach that. And he’s not a bastard, is the thing–he’s not some besotted bard or a hopelessly narcissistic rogue. He is allowed to consciously shape the story and be seen shaping it, and that’s a powerful thing to watch.

(Also: Alistair! Alistaiiiiiir!)

It’s hard for me to read these comics because I know the voices well enough to try and read them in the voices I associate with the characters–so, not my own shapeless internal reading voice. Reading with the accent, the cadence, the timing of others, is hard. But it’s worth it. Some of the lines–very simple, nothing elaborate–are so worth it, read in the voices of the people we’ve come to know and love. I raved and raved about the writing and voice acting of DAO. As did so many others, I know. Well, we weren’t lying. It’s good. If you want me to care about your world, you better damn well make me care about your characters. And the caring here! So much caring. It hurts.

But you can’t live in a dream, no matter how happy you are–you come back and you try again.

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