If you have not heard elsewhere, the illustrated Victory at Ostagar is now edited, posted, and available for viewing at JOdel's Redhen site. Not only did JOdel do terrific work on her own, she also contacted Bioware and patiently waited for them to approve the use of some of their art. Thank you, Bioware. You can find a link to the site in my profile page. All praise to the mighty JOdel. Search the left hand menu for "The World of Dragon Age." The work is in five volumes: The Girl Warden, Warden-Commander, Dragonslayer, Andraste's Champion, and The Red Queen. It's very graphics-heavy, and quite brilliant. I went through my original text and fixed oodles of typos and other, more substantive, mistakes. Eventually, I'll find time to make the corrections to the ffdotnet version. Since this site disapproves of chapters that are mere notifications, I have included here a short glimpse into the future of my DA universe, when the story of the war is written. You can't please everyone...
An Announcement and a Postscript:
Written by the Winners
"I think there are too many elves in the books," declared Lady Ethelswyth, Bann Ceorlic's younger sister, waving her hand at the newly-released volumes on the inlaid table. "And I'm not the only one who says that."
"I don't," her friend Ser Bevin disagreed. "Most think Sister Susanna and Sister Joyce have done a brilliant job putting together the whole story. And they've got pictures. Everybody likes pictures."
"Too many elves," insisted Ethelswyth, with a delicate shudder. "The bits about the mages are a little exaggerated, but basically all right. Nobody questions that they were useful. But the elves get too much credit. And the scholars at the Queen's University agreed, and wouldn't agree to publish the series without making 'extensive corrections,' so I must be right."
Ser Bevin was not convinced. "Sister Joyce is a rebel. She published the books herself so nobody could interfere with her concept. Not the University. And certainly not the Chantry."
"She's going to be in all sorts of trouble, and Sister Susanna, too. Red Hen Publications," sneered Ethelswyth. "What kind of name is that?"
Arl Corbus and Bann Lothar were announced, and pushed past the servant, arms full of books. Corbus waved a red-bound volume. "Have you read it? Isn't it wonderful?"
Bevin grinned. "Ethelswyth thinks there are too many elves in it."
"Rubbish!" Corbus laughed, and helped himself to refreshments. Ethelswyth bristled, but only a little, since she had great hopes of a forthcoming proposal.
Lothar turned the book over in his hands. "Queen Bronwyn did have a lot of elves about her. They were always very civil to me. Very superior to the common run of them, obviously. Are Faline and Jancey coming today?" He waggled his brows at Bevin, who turned very red.
"Later," Ethelsywth shrugged. "They had an appointment with that dressmaker I told them about. Maybe she can persuade Faline to wear blue instead of those awful, sick-making shades of green."
"Look! We're in here!" shouted Lothar, thumbing through the index. "Corbus is in here a lot!"
"Well," Ethelswyth pointed out, blue eyes glowing with flattering, albeit sincere admiration. "He actually fought in the Blight, after all."
Corbus blushed. "Just a little bit, really. I was only a boy, you know, but I'll never forget it..."
"The Paragon Astrid figures largely in the books," said King Bhelen, over dinner. "The deeds of the dwarves have received due honor."
"Indeed," agreed the Shaper of Memories, "Three copies of the volumes are now housed at the Shaperate. One is in special storage for use by posterity. Paragon Astrid will never be forgotten."
King Bhelen speared another slice of tender surface veal, and grunted in satisfaction. His sister was a pleasant subject to contemplate in retrospect. In life, not so much.
"Nor was Warden Freydis Brosca neglected," murmured Queen Rica, squeezing the hand of her daughter — technically the adopted daughter of Gytha Aeducan, known to all in Orzammar as Paragon Astrid. Freydis Gytha rolled her eyes, and smiled at her mother a little condescendingly. It was an intoxicating thing, to have been head of one's own noble house from the day of one's birth. If only Mother would keep quiet about her humble origins. It was so embarrassing.
"Perhaps there are too many elves in the books," said Prince Endrin, in casual criticism. "Their numbers were certainly insignificant, compared to our army and the notable contributions of the Legion of the Dead."
"Perhaps so," said his father, with a shrug. "It was composed by surfacers, after all. No doubt one of our own will do better. Fewer elves would make the narrative more straightforward."
The books were not so well-received in the elven homeland.
"It is a disgrace!" protested Hahren Sarel. "The elves are hardly mentioned at all!"
"Oh, I don't think that's true," Keeper Merril disagreed mildly. "There's heaps about Tara and Zevran, and Danith and Adaia, too. And all the Warden elves are described in detail. I'm in there, too." She smiled. She had marked all the pages where her name appeared with delicate whitewood leaves. "And I saw your name on page—"
"It's a disgrace," Sarel repeated, vehement in his anger. "The shemlen illustrator clearly does not know what a real elf looks like!"
"I love the pictures," said Merrill. "They're very pretty."
"Humph!" snorted Sarel. "And the shemlen author does not give the clan names of the Dalish who fought in the war against the Blight. A typical piece of shemlen arrogance."
"The authors probably do not know the clan names," said Merrill, a little sadly. "How could they? They might never have seen or spoken to an elf in their lives."
"A fortunate thing," said Sarel. "The less we have to do with such creatures, the better."
"It's simpler, to be sure," murmured Merrill to herself. "Is it better? I hope so. Time will tell..."
"And the way Velanna is depicted!" fumed Sarel. "An insult! A disgrace! An outrage!"
The Arishok set down the fifth volume, his reading complete, and sat musing over his memories for some time. A plate of spice cookies was on the table at his side. He took one and munched it slowly.
One had to be careful when reading history. History was much an art as a science. Life, it must be admitted, was all confusion and inclusion, and art all selection and discrimination. In making a coherent narrative of the Fifth Blight, the author had sometimes simplified some events and omitted others. The illustrator had depicted the characters in the history in the most flattering, interesting way possible. Time was neatly compressed—sometimes contorted out of its true shape— in tidy, colorful print and handsome Antivan leather. To that extent, the books were, like all narratives, untrue. As the Qun said, there was no chaos in the world, only complexity. Still, there was truth of a kind to be found.
He could not complain of his own depiction in the books: he was the Other; the one by which the human heroes defined themselves. Still, his courage and steadfastness were recognized and respected. The Qunari had been a small presence in the great struggle of their time, but his own deeds had been recompense in some degree for the regrettable, impetuous Qunari attack on the Rivainni Wardens.
The events of the Fifth Blight had been the forge upon which his own life was shaped: the great opportunities that led to his elevation to Arishok. Only by the hardships and challenges he had experienced in the war against the darkspawn could he have achieved the unique honor of returning the Tome of Koslun to his homeland. Sten, then Acting-Karasten, then... Well, he had gone from honor to honor, from promotion to promotion; and now he was at the pinnacle of power among his people. His days were replete with work and duty; and yet... at night, he still dreamed of chill southern nights by smoky campfires, of strange foreign voices telling tales, of laughter and comradeship beyond expectation, of brave hearts and high adventure. Truly, as the poet said:
"I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move..."
He took another cookie, and consoled himself with the Qun.
"The tide rises, the tide falls, but the sea is changeless..."