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Prolific dwarven author and heroic companion of the Dragon Age games, Varric Tethras brings us the collected edition of his breakthrough crime-noir drama, Hard in Hightown (with help from his trusted human confidante, Mary Kirby)! This volume is beautifully illustrated by Stefano Martino, Alvaro Sarraseca, Andres Ponce, and Ricardo German Ponce Torres, with a painted cover Prolific dwarven author and heroic companion of the Dragon Age games, Varric Tethras brings us the collected edition of his breakthrough crime-noir drama, Hard in Hightown (with help from his trusted human confidante, Mary Kirby)! This volume is beautifully illustrated by Stefano Martino, Alvaro Sarraseca, Andres Ponce, and Ricardo German Ponce Torres, with a painted cover by E.M. Gist! Twenty years of patrols have chiseled each and every stone of the Kirkwall streets into city guardsmen Donnen Brennokovic. Weary and weathered, Donnen is paired with a recruit so green he might as well have leaves growing out of his armor. When the mismatched pair discover a dead magistrate bleeding out on the flagstones, they're caught up in a clash between a shadowy organization known only as the Executors and a secretive group of Chantry agents--all over some ancient artifact. This is a prose novel featuring 24 black and white full page images.


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Prolific dwarven author and heroic companion of the Dragon Age games, Varric Tethras brings us the collected edition of his breakthrough crime-noir drama, Hard in Hightown (with help from his trusted human confidante, Mary Kirby)! This volume is beautifully illustrated by Stefano Martino, Alvaro Sarraseca, Andres Ponce, and Ricardo German Ponce Torres, with a painted cover Prolific dwarven author and heroic companion of the Dragon Age games, Varric Tethras brings us the collected edition of his breakthrough crime-noir drama, Hard in Hightown (with help from his trusted human confidante, Mary Kirby)! This volume is beautifully illustrated by Stefano Martino, Alvaro Sarraseca, Andres Ponce, and Ricardo German Ponce Torres, with a painted cover by E.M. Gist! Twenty years of patrols have chiseled each and every stone of the Kirkwall streets into city guardsmen Donnen Brennokovic. Weary and weathered, Donnen is paired with a recruit so green he might as well have leaves growing out of his armor. When the mismatched pair discover a dead magistrate bleeding out on the flagstones, they're caught up in a clash between a shadowy organization known only as the Executors and a secretive group of Chantry agents--all over some ancient artifact. This is a prose novel featuring 24 black and white full page images.

30 review for Hard in Hightown

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Cassandra Pentaghast voice: Time to start talking, dwarf. They tell me you're good at it. Anyone who knows me at all knows that Dragon Age 2 is my fucking hill to die on. Is it flawed? Yes, of course. Save me from the recycled environments and the endless waves of enemies that drop from the sky! BUT! But. That main protagonist, who feels like a real person as opposed to a blank canvas for the player to move around. That seedy, bleak setting. That relentless Greek tragedy of a main plot, intimate Cassandra Pentaghast voice: Time to start talking, dwarf. They tell me you're good at it. Anyone who knows me at all knows that Dragon Age 2 is my fucking hill to die on. Is it flawed? Yes, of course. Save me from the recycled environments and the endless waves of enemies that drop from the sky! BUT! But. That main protagonist, who feels like a real person as opposed to a blank canvas for the player to move around. That seedy, bleak setting. That relentless Greek tragedy of a main plot, intimate and deeply personal and willing to dive into fascinating complexities and challenge the Hero's Journey. Those companions, who are dynamic and wonderful and stick together not because they're saving the world but because they love each other; who are Thedas's messiest, most dysfunctional and best family. I love them, and I love this game. BITE ME. At the center of Dragon Age 2, and one of the main things that makes it the shiny gem that it is, is Varric - best friend, liar, and storyteller extraordinaire. Varric is my precious son, and I have stated on many occasions to anyone who would listen that I would commit any number of dark, profane acts in order to read one of his world-famous novels. It turns out that all of my blood magic rituals were not in vain, because here we have Hard in Hightown. This book is, essentially, a little nugget of Dragon Age goodness, featuring a hard-boiled detective who's had enough of this shit, a twisty, pulpy story, all the grittiness and shine that Kirkwall has to offer, and cameos from every companion. I'm not going to lie and pretend that I didn't cackle like an idiot over what Varric has done to Sebastian, or want to hug Merrill all over again through her scene. I treasure these characters more than almost any others in RPGs, and it was like a homecoming to have even the tiniest bit more Content featuring them. Is the asking price a little ridiculous given the length? Yes. Do I wish that it had been longer? Of course (and to honor Isabela I am obligated to add a "that's what she said"). All I can say is that all of this is true, but I had a blast reading this book. It evoked that feeling that makes Dragon Age 2 so, so special to me, and that's exactly what I was hoping for. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go physically restrain myself from playing the game all over again. Fenris content included. Now I can rest.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Krista D.

    In the immortal words of Cassandra, I read the shit out of this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia Winegeart

    This is the Maltese Falcon but in Kirkwall and starring all the characters from Dragon Age 2 and it is flipping glorious. Varric is the best.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Flor

    We were blessed with this book so much that now I might even start praying harder to Andraste and the Maker for us to get more books from Ser Tethras. I hear the Seeker is fond of a certain series, might as well start publishing it. Seriously though, this book albeit short, was glorious. Epic. I could clearly hear Varric narrating it, and we better get that audiobook going. The subtle -hah!- mentions of DA2 characters were beautifully done and just... I wanna keep reading, and play the game. And We were blessed with this book so much that now I might even start praying harder to Andraste and the Maker for us to get more books from Ser Tethras. I hear the Seeker is fond of a certain series, might as well start publishing it. Seriously though, this book albeit short, was glorious. Epic. I could clearly hear Varric narrating it, and we better get that audiobook going. The subtle -hah!- mentions of DA2 characters were beautifully done and just... I wanna keep reading, and play the game. And maybe read more, please. Well done, Ser Tethras, Lady Kirby. Well done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    So back in Dragon Age II, as you wandered the city of Kirkwall listening to your companions banter with each other, you'd occasionally find stray pages from a manuscript that, eventually, you realized was a noir detective novel set in Kirkwall written by one of your bantering companions, the dwarf Varric Tethras, and starring tuckerized versions of most or all of your companions. Well now, seven years later, Bioware has assembled all of those pages (and, I'm pretty sure, expanded the story beyond So back in Dragon Age II, as you wandered the city of Kirkwall listening to your companions banter with each other, you'd occasionally find stray pages from a manuscript that, eventually, you realized was a noir detective novel set in Kirkwall written by one of your bantering companions, the dwarf Varric Tethras, and starring tuckerized versions of most or all of your companions. Well now, seven years later, Bioware has assembled all of those pages (and, I'm pretty sure, expanded the story beyond what you could originally find in the game) and published it as a standalone book. Fair warning -- it's pretty short. About 75 pages (including illustrations); I'd guess it's technically novelette length. Having said which, I did quite enjoy it -- the story was engaging, the voice was well-executed, and it was fun to once again see the lightly-disguised forms of my companions; and now I'm thinking I should probably replay the game one of these days ...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Haylen

    Let me be blunt: Varric Tethras is my all-time favourite character. I adore him in all other iterations and I was super pumped to read this book. My first impressions were... less than stellar. The book is about the size of a collection of comics/comic books. It's hardly the novel-length story I was expecting. On top of that, to any who have played Dragon Age: Inquisition, the codex pages one can get FOR FREE on the wiki of Dragon Age are not seriously dissimilar to the actual novel. Yes, there ar Let me be blunt: Varric Tethras is my all-time favourite character. I adore him in all other iterations and I was super pumped to read this book. My first impressions were... less than stellar. The book is about the size of a collection of comics/comic books. It's hardly the novel-length story I was expecting. On top of that, to any who have played Dragon Age: Inquisition, the codex pages one can get FOR FREE on the wiki of Dragon Age are not seriously dissimilar to the actual novel. Yes, there are additional paragraphs in the novel but you'd get the same rudimentary story just reading the codex pages online. Furthermore, I realize Varric is meant to be a comical character in some regards. However, the world of Dragon Age leads us to believe that he's a phenomenal writer and super sensational, especially as the Hard in Hightown series is his breakout novel. That said, why is there an entire paragraph that can only be explained as 'Varric gave up'? He's attempting to describe a ship and his own inexperience leads him to write "shit I don't know, it was the best boat to ever boat". I was super excited for Hard in Hightown, and I went in with high expectations. If you're expecting a proper novel with a multitude of nuance and in-depth story - you're looking in the wrong place. If you're looking for a book that's meant to be a sort of joke and ties into the Dragon Age universe - this is more for you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

    I already knew I was going to love this book, because I love Varric and his pulpy metaphors and the tidbits in the game are SO MUCH FUN, but I still surprised myself a little when I tore through it in about 3 hours. Granted, it's not very long, and I think the lack of chapters labelled as such made it hard to find a good stopping point, but then again it was so enjoyable I didn't really want to stop. It's not the most complicated or surprising plot, which I don't mean in a bad way: the plot does I already knew I was going to love this book, because I love Varric and his pulpy metaphors and the tidbits in the game are SO MUCH FUN, but I still surprised myself a little when I tore through it in about 3 hours. Granted, it's not very long, and I think the lack of chapters labelled as such made it hard to find a good stopping point, but then again it was so enjoyable I didn't really want to stop. It's not the most complicated or surprising plot, which I don't mean in a bad way: the plot does what it has to do and even when you can sort of tell what the outcome might be it's still such a delight to experience it page by page, with the cameos by canon characters adapted into Varric's story as variations of themselves and the fun, witty turns of phrase along the way. My only complaint is that (as far as I've found) this doesn't have an audiobook narrated by Brian Bloom yet. Reading the excerpt he narrated for the promotional video at the same time as I listened to said narration made it even better, if possible! Oh, and I need Ser Tethras to publish Swords and Shields in our universe so I hope Mary Kirby approaches him about that!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    The perfect accompaniment to my umpteenth replay of Dragon Age 2.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Filip

    More like 3.5 stars but bumped up for: a) lovely description of Belladonna's ship, b) characters "inspired" by the DA2 cast (especially Merrill, I mean Maysie) The man, the legend, Varric! Nice to see the defictionalization of his most famous work being put to paper. It is a nicely written, if simple, noir-ish fantasy whodunnit that checks (on purpose!) all the necessary boxes for tropes and clichees. Still, I can't help but wish to read once a defictionalization of Swords and Shields... More like 3.5 stars but bumped up for: a) lovely description of Belladonna's ship, b) characters "inspired" by the DA2 cast (especially Merrill, I mean Maysie) The man, the legend, Varric! Nice to see the defictionalization of his most famous work being put to paper. It is a nicely written, if simple, noir-ish fantasy whodunnit that checks (on purpose!) all the necessary boxes for tropes and clichees. Still, I can't help but wish to read once a defictionalization of Swords and Shields...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    If you’re not a fan of Dragon Age there is no reason to read this. Happily I am—so this was fun. I love that Varric uses thinly veiled people from his life in the story. I enjoyed recognizing pieces of Kirkwall. The story is a fine little noir/action set and when I managed to imagine Varric narrating it, I laughed—especially at some of the more amusing figures of speech. Good time!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ness

    This was everything I wanted it to be (despite some, uh, indifferent copy editing). 10/10 would caper again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brianne

    Varric Tethras is a bronto-licking backstabber who steals customers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    For Dragon Age 2 fans, Hard in Hightown is a treat and chance to revisit Kirkwall through Varric's often mentioned critically acclaimed novel. Having read the Dragon Age novels, I was expecting something more in line with those rather than a graphic novel thin volume the length of a novella and with illustrations (but it still looks cool, especially with Hawke and Merrill's quotes on the covers). The story follows city guardsman Donnen and a new recruit Jevlan who investigate the murder of a mag For Dragon Age 2 fans, Hard in Hightown is a treat and chance to revisit Kirkwall through Varric's often mentioned critically acclaimed novel. Having read the Dragon Age novels, I was expecting something more in line with those rather than a graphic novel thin volume the length of a novella and with illustrations (but it still looks cool, especially with Hawke and Merrill's quotes on the covers). The story follows city guardsman Donnen and a new recruit Jevlan who investigate the murder of a magistrate. It's pretty standard cop-drama/whodunit and leads to a fun ride. Going back to the writing itself, I liked the bits where I could hear Varric narrating, but for the rest of it, I was a bit disappointed with the quality, it didn't feel as polished as the Dragon Age novels (written by different authors). While the plot doesn't have anything mind-blowingly memorable, I enjoyed the references to the characters in Varric's fictionalized versions (e.g. Merrill, Isabela, Fenris) and it made for an enjoyable read. Overall, Hard in Hightown is fun and quick chance for fans of the game to dive back into Kirkwall and the world of Dragon Age 2.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Zimotti

    A crime story set in Thedas (a parody of hard-boiled, so to speak). It is actually a nice gift for all the fans who left their hearts into this saga. I admit I was fangirling like Cassandra does with “Swords and Shields”. As a hardcore Dragon Age fan since more than ten years now, I loved every single bit of this book. And it indeed works, especially when we consider Varric, the author, and the story itself: Kirkwall is his city and, like a good crime story writer, it is important that you know the A crime story set in Thedas (a parody of hard-boiled, so to speak). It is actually a nice gift for all the fans who left their hearts into this saga. I admit I was fangirling like Cassandra does with “Swords and Shields”. As a hardcore Dragon Age fan since more than ten years now, I loved every single bit of this book. And it indeed works, especially when we consider Varric, the author, and the story itself: Kirkwall is his city and, like a good crime story writer, it is important that you know the city you use as a location for your novel and his perspective is palpable. Even his biases (the way he portrayed Sebastian, for example) are definitely in-character. Also, reading this short story (alas, this is one of the things that make me sad, I wish it was longer and full of details), made me feel again connected to a saga I never left behind me. As a fanwriter, I would like to use this story to make my original characters speak again, another time, since they are all fans of Varric. If someone says that they don’t like Varric, in my opinion, they lie, knowing that they do lie.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    A short, enjoyable, well-paced and capably-written hard-boiled detective story set not only within the fantasy world of Thedas from the 'Dragon Age' video games, but more specifically as an in-universe artefact written by one of its characters; the bawdy dwarf bard Varric Tethras. You'll likely get a lot more of out of it if you're familiar with the source material, as it's peppered with references to events and characters from Dragon Age II, but it's a fun read in any case as a fantasy parody pu A short, enjoyable, well-paced and capably-written hard-boiled detective story set not only within the fantasy world of Thedas from the 'Dragon Age' video games, but more specifically as an in-universe artefact written by one of its characters; the bawdy dwarf bard Varric Tethras. You'll likely get a lot more of out of it if you're familiar with the source material, as it's peppered with references to events and characters from Dragon Age II, but it's a fun read in any case as a fantasy parody pulp detective novel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly Allen

    This is a very short book and while it isn’t technically a graphic novel nor a novella, it’s something in between. For a book based on a random video game story, I was surprised at how good it was! It really captures the feeling of film noir/ detective stories while also being (essentially) a medieval-style fantasy setting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    As an avid Dragon Age fan, this was fun quick read to blitz through to try and tide myself over until DA4 is finally release. This book is very short and as such, it's not that hard to determine who the killer is in this murder mystery, but it was still enjoyable enough. The obvious references made by 'Varric' to the the titular game characters by just changing one letter from their names is a nice titbit for fans. As an avid Dragon Age fan, this was fun quick read to blitz through to try and tide myself over until DA4 is finally release. This book is very short and as such, it's not that hard to determine who the killer is in this murder mystery, but it was still enjoyable enough. The obvious references made by 'Varric' to the the titular game characters by just changing one letter from their names is a nice titbit for fans.

  18. 5 out of 5

    k

    well this was delightful

  19. 4 out of 5

    Frida Andreasson

    This was fun :) Oh Varric, you didn’t even try to hide that you were basing your characters on your friends.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I neeed this

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rakel

    It would have been 3 stars but it excited me way too much to read about the Dragon Age universe. DA fans only.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I enjoyed this book but I do have a few critiques. Firstly, the price is a bit steep for a 72-page story. I was expecting a full-length novel for the cost of this book, but it is actually a short story. It's not broken up into chapters or anything. At least it's a good story. There are some typing errors (quotation marks where none should be, and missing quotation marks where they should exist in the dialogue) but nothing major. The book is fully illustrated and the art is beautiful. There's a pict I enjoyed this book but I do have a few critiques. Firstly, the price is a bit steep for a 72-page story. I was expecting a full-length novel for the cost of this book, but it is actually a short story. It's not broken up into chapters or anything. At least it's a good story. There are some typing errors (quotation marks where none should be, and missing quotation marks where they should exist in the dialogue) but nothing major. The book is fully illustrated and the art is beautiful. There's a picture almost on every other page. (Of course, that means the book is more like 30-some pages and not 72.) But the characters don't look the same every time so I don't understand what that's about. There's a noblewoman who is central to the story, and in two pictures she is seen with short-cropped black hair, one at the beginning of the book and one at the end. But there's another page in the middle of the story where she has long, flowing hair and it's not shaded in. It doesn't make sense... So there are some editing errors in both the text and the artwork. But I was also expecting the book to feature the cast of Dragon Age II. A few of the characters are there, with changed names. For example, Fenris has become "Ferris" and is a bartender at the Hanged Man. Isabela is pretty much unchanged, and is called "Belladonna." Merill is in the alienage and Aveline is the captain of the guard, each also using an alias. If any of the other characters are there, however, I can't tell it. I'm not sure who the main character is even supposed to be, but the plot is about a man about to retire from the guard but first he wants to solve one final murder. So the story is a whodunit murder mystery. I liked the story but it was a bit predictable. A nobleman with an impressive collection of weapons tries to buy the very sword that slayed Andraste. But before he either pays for the acquisition or has it in his hands, he is found murdered. The retiree becomes a detective, trying to figure out who killed the nobleman and why. His trail leads him to Isabela's ship, where she tells him she procured the sword but never got paid before the man was murdered. And he isn't the last to die. I love a good murder mystery, but like I said, it's made pretty obvious early on who the culprit is. And the book concludes rather abruptly with little climax. What I really enjoyed about the story was the setting. I thought I knew Kirkwall, but the book talks about corners you don't actually get to explore in the game. For example, although we visit the elven alienage in Dragon Age II, the book also discusses a dwarven enclave and a foreign quarter where Orlesians and Antivans live. I found those sorts of details fascinating. And the book was well-written and descriptive, just as you might imagine Varric would write. There's even one point where he's struggling to find a way to elegantly describe Belladonna's ship and just gives up: The Dragon's Jewels was a big boat. The largest boat in the harbor. A carved figurehead of a woman painted in vivid colors and making a remarkably lewd gesture drew the eye past the more sedate merchant vessels. The pointy bits towered majestically over the water. The roundish wooden part seemed like it could crush armadas beneath its...s**t, I don't know, wood. It was the greatest boat in the history of boats. If you loved Dragon Age II, I think you'll enjoy this book a lot. If you haven't played the game, it will make you want to. There are a few nitpicky things but as a whole I thought the story was fun and I would read this again, even knowing whodunit in the end.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Atsu

    *clears throat & leans into the mic*: Dragon Age 2. The crowd boos as I fend off haters-- err I mean darkspawns* to protect the Kirkwall Krew takes a deep breath and screams into the Void (view spoiler)[Out of all the Dragon Age games, the companions in Dragon Age 2 are my favorites. In Dragon Age: Origins you're Ferelden's last hope; in Inquisition you're a religious figure; in Dragon Age 2? You're that lunatic who slams their fists on the table in the middle of a Wicked Grace game and asks who's up *clears throat & leans into the mic*: Dragon Age 2. The crowd boos as I fend off haters-- err I mean darkspawns* to protect the Kirkwall Krew takes a deep breath and screams into the Void (view spoiler)[Out of all the Dragon Age games, the companions in Dragon Age 2 are my favorites. In Dragon Age: Origins you're Ferelden's last hope; in Inquisition you're a religious figure; in Dragon Age 2? You're that lunatic who slams their fists on the table in the middle of a Wicked Grace game and asks who's up to help Aveline seduce Donnic by setting up a romantic stroll on the Wounded Coast – bandits (always) included. And everyone shrugs and says: “Sounds stupid, we're in.” In DA2 your companions are your friends, your dysfunctional family. Most of them are alone, broken and have a lot of baggages, and you barge into their lives and adopt them, flaws and all. They trust you, they love you, they hate you, they betray you, they use you; and as much as they love you, if you hurt them, they will turn against you. How freaking amazing is that? You're no Chosen One, you're just a refugee trying to get by, protect your family, and life is absolute shite. But, every night, you hang out at the Hanged (ah!) Man with your favorite band of misfits. So it's okay. And Varric? Varric is your best friend. Varric is the best of the best, Varric keeps an eye on Merrill and Anders because he's that Good™ , Varric will always be on your side, Varric would rather get his ass kicked by Cassandra freaking Pentaghast than betray you. He will also become rich by writing your biography, but oh well, you owe him that much. (hide spoiler)] stops screaming because the Outsider kicked me out of the Void So, that's how much I love DA2 and the Kirkwall Krew and I've barely scratched the surface of my feels. And this novella? It's 100% Dragon Age 2 fanservice. Raymond Chandler meets Kirkwall, and the greatest game of all is trying to figure out who-is-who and laughing way too hard at all the private jokes. Honestly, it's more about what Varric does to our favorite characters than about the murder mystery itself. I loved it so much, I was starving for some Dragon Age 2 contents and BioWare heard me, thank the Maker. TL;DR;OhmyGodItalktoomuchaboutDragonAgewhy: -You love DA2: Buy it, read it, love it, (view spoiler)[be disappointed that we didn't get any illustration for Anders and Fenris I'm feeling ROBBED (hide spoiler)] . -You've never played DA2 or you hate it: I honestly don't know. It's 72 pages of fun and "Varric" is a delight, but will he be enough to keep you hooked? It's up to you.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Saarebas

    This is a book I can only refer to as a novelty. This is the book equivalent of an action figure or a piece of jewelry you paid too much for, only because a character you love wears it in a show or comic book. What I mean by it, is that only fans of a certain thing [this case Dragon Age games] can appreciate. Pros: -the prose is wonderful. Haven't read this much flavor/voice in ages. -highly quotable. -quick pace. -Has all the best Film noir tropes. -loaded with references. Cons: -the book is short, l This is a book I can only refer to as a novelty. This is the book equivalent of an action figure or a piece of jewelry you paid too much for, only because a character you love wears it in a show or comic book. What I mean by it, is that only fans of a certain thing [this case Dragon Age games] can appreciate. Pros: -the prose is wonderful. Haven't read this much flavor/voice in ages. -highly quotable. -quick pace. -Has all the best Film noir tropes. -loaded with references. Cons: -the book is short, like 72 pages short. -the price is pretty high, especially for something of which at least a half is available for free in the form of in-game codex entries. -unlike, say the "Stolen Throne" which is also set in the DA universe, you can't really read/enjoy "Hard in Hightown" without background knowledge. All in all, you'll enjoy this if you love Varric's voice, it really comes through this text. Reading it kinda felt like somewhere in Act1, the characters decided to act out a dramatic play to raise funds for the deep road expedition and this happened when Varric was asked to write the script.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    First of all, this book is really only for fans of the Dragon Age game franchise. It's very specific to that game and written specifically by one of the favourite characters in it. And if you love Dragon Age and Varric, you will probably enjoy this book. HOWEVER, if you love Dragon Age and Varric you quite likely already tracked down all the codex pages of "Hard in Hightown" that could be collected in Dragon Age: Inquisition. In which case, be aware you're not going to get anything new in this b First of all, this book is really only for fans of the Dragon Age game franchise. It's very specific to that game and written specifically by one of the favourite characters in it. And if you love Dragon Age and Varric, you will probably enjoy this book. HOWEVER, if you love Dragon Age and Varric you quite likely already tracked down all the codex pages of "Hard in Hightown" that could be collected in Dragon Age: Inquisition. In which case, be aware you're not going to get anything new in this book; you've read it already. That said, it's a nice edition, it's fun to have it all in one volume, and there are new illustrations accompanying it. For collectors and fans, it's a great addition to your library. My main disappointment was that there's nothing new, and it's super short. I want more Varric stories! Swords & Shields book next, perhaps?

  26. 4 out of 5

    ellis

    this was fun!! mary kirby did a superb job of capturing varric's voice, and the illustrations (while inconsistent - "marielle" has long hair in one, and short in the others) are pretty. wish "ferris" had been in one, but o well. this was fun!! mary kirby did a superb job of capturing varric's voice, and the illustrations (while inconsistent - "marielle" has long hair in one, and short in the others) are pretty. wish "ferris" had been in one, but o well.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Caldwell

    This was a fun little read. I had to check it out after Varric and Vivienne had their dialogue about the Imperial court having read Hard In Hightown. "Just how much gold is my publisher stealing from me?" made me laugh pretty hard when Varric said that in the game. This was a fun little read. I had to check it out after Varric and Vivienne had their dialogue about the Imperial court having read Hard In Hightown. "Just how much gold is my publisher stealing from me?" made me laugh pretty hard when Varric said that in the game.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tearshiani Glass

    It took me a moment to get into the flow, but once I did 💙 it was a great story that took me right back to the seedy streets of Kirkwall

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality This book seems like it’s kind of a joke. Admittedly an in-joke for people who love the Dragon Age games, of which I am certainly one. But it also sorta/kinda isn’t a joke. Like many stories that are part of long-running series, it’s also a visit with old friends. Both of the slightly disguised and not-so-slightly disguised variety. After having a book epically fail this week, I needed something that was sort of a joke and definitely a visit with some old an Originally published at Reading Reality This book seems like it’s kind of a joke. Admittedly an in-joke for people who love the Dragon Age games, of which I am certainly one. But it also sorta/kinda isn’t a joke. Like many stories that are part of long-running series, it’s also a visit with old friends. Both of the slightly disguised and not-so-slightly disguised variety. After having a book epically fail this week, I needed something that was sort of a joke and definitely a visit with some old and dear friends. That this was the first thing I ordered sent to the new house that has arrived so far was kind of icing on the cake. It was meant to be. On the one hand, this story is pretty much steeped in the Dragon Age universe. Varric Tethras, the “author” of the book, has quite the reputation as an author within the series. When asked about his writing, his response rings true for the real world as well as his fictional world, “There’s power in stories, though. That’s all history is: the best tales. The ones that last. Might as well be mine.” Hard in Hightown is one of his most popular. It’s also a lot of fun, mixing fairly standard genre tropes into what feels like a fully realized fantasy setting. It’s the story of a guardsman nearing retirement who falls headfirst into one last big case. A man with a reputation for breaking the rules in order to get things done, Donnen doggedly follows the sparse clues from person to person, place to place and ambush to ambush. The path takes him through punishment, betrayal and ultimately a reward that is better than money. Or at least he hopes it will be. And it’s the kind of tale that would easily fit into one of the old shared world series like Thieves’ World or Liavek. It also sounds like the kind of case, and in the kind of place, that Sam Vimes used to tackle in Ankh-Morpork before he married into the nobility. In other words, Hard in Hightown is a mystery set in a fantasy universe. Reading it brought back a lot of fond memories, both of the game and of the fantasy mysteries it strongly resembles. And it was a load of fun from beginning to end, at least for this fan. I’m not sure it would work for anyone who did not have at least a passing familiarity with Dragon Age, particularly Dragon Age II. Admittedly, I’m not sure why anyone who wasn’t already a fan would pick this up in the first place, except as a joke. But Varric was every bit as much fun a storyteller as he is as a character. Reading this made me nostalgic. I think another playthrough of the series is on my horizon – at least as soon as we dig out from the worst of the moving debris. Escape Rating B: I was looking for a palate-cleanser of a book, something to wash the taste of a complete failure out of my mouth. So I switched from a book that managed to make what should have been an exciting story into a dull recitation, and turned to a writer I knew could make falling down the stairs into an epic tale. And I’m glad I did. If you’re a fan, you’ll love it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lexine Higgins

    On first glance, this is a really cool-looking book. The edges of the pages are rough like you would find in medieval books, and the black and white illustrations are beautiful to look at. It's not a very large book at only 72 pages—in reality it's probably about 50 pages, as every few pages there's a full-page illustration. It's compiled of 18 codex entries found in Dragon Age: Inquisition that have been fleshed out into a short novel. It was a very fun and quirky read. I am not the biggest fan On first glance, this is a really cool-looking book. The edges of the pages are rough like you would find in medieval books, and the black and white illustrations are beautiful to look at. It's not a very large book at only 72 pages—in reality it's probably about 50 pages, as every few pages there's a full-page illustration. It's compiled of 18 codex entries found in Dragon Age: Inquisition that have been fleshed out into a short novel. It was a very fun and quirky read. I am not the biggest fan of noir detective novels, but since this was written by one of my favourite characters in the Dragon Age franchise, I could not give this a miss. I enjoyed it more than I thought. I never actually stopped to read many of the codex entries in Inquisition, and clearly I missed out on a good story! It was enthralling, without a dull moment. A short and sweet story that kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happened next. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me entertained. You can understand why everyone bought Varric's books in Thedas. What makes this so hilarious at times is that you can see where Varric took inspiration from the people around him in Kirkwall, specifically those he spent time with in Dragon Age 2. Jevlan is Carver Hawke, Captain Hendallen is Aveline Vallen, Garren is Gamlen Amell, Belladonna is Isabela, Maysie is Merrill, Ferris is Fenris, Wael is Sebastian Vael, Donnen is Guardsman Donnic, Seamus Dunwald is the Viscount's son, Seamus Dumar, and Lady Marielle is Marian Hawke. Most of the characters are very similar to their real-life counterparts, either by appearance or their characteristics. The only exception to this is Sebastian's counterpart, Wael. Wael is a schemer, a dark character. It is as though Varric tried to make Sebastian's character more interesting than he is in real life, especially when you travel with the two of them together in your party in Dragon Age 2 and he complains that Sebastian is so boring and saint-like.  It really takes you back to Dragon Age 2 when you read this. It's set within Kirkwall and visits various areas that you explore in game. It truly felt like this was a piece of fiction from within the game brought to life, especially in the way it's written. Varric's personality shines through within his writing. For example, when he struggles to describe Belladonna's boat: "The pointy bits towered majestically over the water. That roundish wooden part seemed like it could crush armadas beneath its...shit, I don't know, wood." This is a really fun novel to own, especially if you're a huge Dragon Age fan who's in need of a fix until Dragon Age 4 comes out. There's backstabbing, plots, action, humour, and mystery in this novel, a little something for everyone. I recommend giving it a read. If you didn't want to purchase the book, you can always read the codex entries for free online. I believe they're mostly the same.

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