Netflix’s “Dragon Age: Absolution” is a quirky and fun adaptation of the video game series of the same name. It pays homage to the LGBTQ+ community by introducing queer characters without the cliche tag. A little different but similar to the various series of the same genre, Dragon Age: Absolution does disappoint a little with its rushed and overstuffed storytelling. A six-episode series establishes the plot of the world set in an era where dragons, elves, goblins, humans, etc., co-exist, although the only races enslaved by humans are the elves and the dragons. The Tevinter Imperium in this world is a kingdom that glorifies powerful mages and never questions their rule. The House of Ammosine ruled the Tevinter Imperium before their leader, Magister Rezaren Ammosine, met his demise. These mages use blood magic for various nefarious purposes; they are, however, met with a blind eye due to their extraordinary power. The Kingdom of Tevinter, in the city of Nessum, harbors a secret omnipotent artifact, which, if it finds itself in evil hands, could be used to destroy the entire Kingdom and its subjects. This artifact looks like an entwined snake bracelet that, if powered by blood magic, can also resurrect the dead. It is called the Circulum Infinitus. It was created by a powerful mage, Magister Amelia Vapus, and had been in safekeeping in the Summer Palace in Nessum before Rezaren tried to find a way to use it. Before Magister Rezaren, according to the Spirit of Wisdom, named Memory, all other mages had failed to power up the Circulum and put it to use, thus keeping the artifact in a safe place, out of reach of evil hands. Various evil forces like the Inquisition wish to grab this circle as a means to bring down the Kingdom of Tevinter as well as the Templar Knights who protect the Magisters. The current Templar Knights hate the self-proclaimed protectors of Tevinter, Venatoris. These Venatoris have been the cause of wreckage and animosity between Tevinter and its subjects. Although the Knights hate the Venatoris, they simply ignore them and take no action against them, which is why they find themselves at war with citizens wronged by the Tevinters.
A Kingdom to co-exist, as introduced in “Dragon Age: Absolution” Season 1 alongside Tevinter, is the Nevarra Kingdom. Its capital, Nevarra City, is home to many mercenary groups like the one Miriam and Roland are a part of. Nevarra City also houses other misfits and outcasts who are either on the run or have been exiled from Tevinter. Orlais is another kingdom introduced in the series; this is where Fairbanks hails from, and it also houses Cassandra Pentaghast and a background character named Leliana. The Crimson Knight is shown in a crystallized form, and “Dragon Age: Absolution” Season 1 leaves room for thoughts on who exactly this Knight could be.
Character Of Miriam
She is a trained elven assassin who used to work for the royal family of Tevinter. She was a part of their enslaved Personal Knights to the Magister and was the only one among the troop to know the defenses and the directions around the palace inside out. She was the only one who could get the troop inside the palace for the heist without so much as a hint of their presence being revealed to the Templar Knights. Her twin brother, Neb, and she were brought up by the royal family to protect and guard Magister Rezaren, the heir of the House of Ammosine. They were enslaved by the royal Matriarch until Miriam killed both the Matriarch and her brother after a failed ritual called “Harrowing” affected Rezaren. To save her son, the Matriarch used Neb’s life to guard her son, which turned Miriam’s brother into a devil. To save her brother, Miriam killed him and escaped the city of Tevinter on Rezaren’s orders. This incident served as the breaking point for Miriam, who had had enough of the royals. After escaping, a jaded Miriam joined a team of mercenaries and lived her life as a mercenary. She fell in love with a human mage named Sapphira, who eventually left Miriam for a mission of her own. She detested the city of Tevinter with passion, as it was the place of her bad memories. Sapphira, aka Hira came back with a friend, Fairbanks, to hire Miriam and Roland to steal the Circulum for the Inquisition. She had no interest in the Circulum, however, and was seduced by the idea of a trouble-free life with Hira on a farm that they would create together with the money from the mission. Eventually, Miriam is betrayed by Hira, and she steals herself to retaliate against her love.
Miriam, throughout the series, proves herself to be ruled by logic and rationality rather than giving in to her emotions. She keeps everybody at arm’s length unless they show enough compassion and help her unconditionally. Although she hates to owe anything to others, she is always grateful for their help. Miriam’s character is a little less compassionate toward others due to the mistreatment she got from the royal family whenever she made a minute mistake. She regrets her cold actions right after she executes them and later corrects them when given a second chance. Although she loves Hira, she understands Hira’s hunt for revenge, yet she does not hesitate to lead her team against Hira after her betrayal. She takes level-headed decisions, which makes her character a little different from the usual main protagonists of the adventure tropes that harbor a savior complex. Her tragic backstory fuels her decision to enjoy freedom away from the Kingdom. She returns, however, not to take revenge but to finish her mercenary quest and to save the person she loves. She has character development as she learns to accept and care for people outside of her immediate circle. Her character design sets her apart from a lot of other main adventurers.
Character Of Roland
Miriam’s best friend, Roland, is a rather humorous character. He is a human mercenary, and his combat style is close combat. He is Miriam’s best friend, and thus, he trusts Miriam in every situation and respects her decisions. He supports her in every way possible and defends her whenever she is insulted or belittled. Roland partners up with Miriam during their missions and waits for her orders instead of their leader, Dolph. Roland assists Miriam when they are hired by Fairbanks to steal the Circulum. He harbors a crush on the dwarf Lacklon and teases him here and there. Roland stays true to their friendship when Lacklon and Miriam come across a dying Fairbanks, who had given the Circulum to Miriam while taking his last breaths. The situation looked very bad for Miriam, and if Roland did not trust her, then he would have gone with Lacklon’s accusation that Miriam had killed Fairbanks to obtain the Circulum. He is loyal to his friend and has a fairly laid-back character. There is a chance of a romantic development between Lacklon and Roland, as they share a kiss in the last episode of “Dragon Age: Absolution” Season 1 before following Miriam to retrieve the Circulum from the Inquisition. There is not much development shown in his character; however, his personality may just favor a good fan base.
Character Of Qwidion
Qwidion is a Qunari rebel mage who is the definition of a quirky character. She stands a foot taller than almost all elves and is taller than Roland by a few inches as well. She likes explosions, and her innocent, as well as quirky personality, makes her more likable. She has a bubbly, indecisive, and chaotic personality that does not let her leave those in need of help in trouble. Not much is known of her origin, although she has been hired by Fairbanks to carry out the mission of stealing the Circulum from the Summer Palace of the Tevinter Kingdom alongside Miriam, Sapphira, Lacklon, Roland, and Fairbanks. She is a very talented healer and has a good grasp of elemental magic. Her powers as a healer were proven to be formidable when she healed an injured adult dragon in “Dragon Age: Absolution” Episode 8, however, was no match for Rezaren while Qwidion was unable to heal Miriam when she was held inside her dream after being injured by Rezaren, who was using blood magic to keep her there. The weight of her power is still unknown, but she does pass off as a talented and powerful mage with quick reflexes. However indecisive she might be, Qwidion does not engage in a losing battle; instead, she will flee and take cover if she cannot take on the demon-like troops sent by the forces protecting the Summer Palace.
Character Of Lacklon
Lacklon is a dwarf who also engages in close combat like Roland and is known as the God of Fortune. He shares similar personality traits with Miriam and is cynical and unwelcoming to new people. He is very suspicious of Miriam, and it takes time for him to accept her. He is quick to accuse her of killing Fairbanks due to his general distrust; however, after begrudgingly saving Miriam, Lacklon decides to follow her out of respect for her. He also starts trusting her more after Miriam decides to free Hira from the clutches of Rezaren. He then follows Miriam on another heist, this time, to retrieve the Circulum from Hira before she could hand it over to the Crimson Knight after her betrayal. Lacklon also harbors a crush on Roland and, at first, cannot express it. After putting his life at risk one too many times, he decides that life is short and, therefore, he should not waste another moment debating over his decisions. So, he kisses Roland in the final episode of “Dragon Age: Absolution” Season 1.
Character Of Fairbanks
Tasked by Cassandra Pentaghost and Leliana to steal the Circulum Infinitus and get it away from the evil hands of the Tevinter Mages, Fairbanks hailed from Orlais. He hired a group of talented misfits to execute the mission. He had to deliver the Circulum back to Orlais with the help of the misfits. He trusted Hira and hired Miriam on her recommendation, as she knew the Summer Palace of Nessum City inside and out. In this summer palace, unfortunately, Fairbanks tried to steal the Circulum before Hira did and instead got gravely injured in their fight. He escapes with the Circulum and hands it over to Miriam, as she was the only person who had no interest in the Circulum from the beginning before succumbing to his injuries. His characteristics include intelligence because he figured out Hira and her plan before she could execute it. However, he overlooked his mortality before fighting against a strong mage and thus lost his life.
Character Of Sapphira
Noble by birth and a strong human mage, Sapphira, aka Hira, is the love interest of Miriam. She was born and raised in a just and noble family of Tevinter, who did not favor the tradition of enslaving elves and their mistreatment. They helped numerous families in secret; however, this ticked off the self-proclaimed protectors of Tevinter, the Venatoris. The Venatoris are national extremists who protect every single tradition of Tevinter; thus, they set Hira’s father up to make an example out of him for the other nobles who might think about revolution. Hira, on witnessing her father’s death, burned with a vengeance and promised herself that she would bring down the Kingdom of Tevinter. She ran away and befriended Rezaren’s personal Knight, Miriam, who was on the run as well; later, they developed feelings for each other and became lovers. Hira wanted revenge and thus left Miriam to set out on a quest to find a way to bring down the Kingdom.
She joined the forces of the Inquisition to find the Circulum; however, when she realized that the Inquisition would not help her with her plans, she joined the Crimson Knight. She had made a deal with Rezaren to give him Miriam in return for the Circulum, to which Rezaren had agreed. Hira’s character is very clever; she tries to pin the blame for her betrayal on Fairbanks. And she tried to manipulate Miriam into delivering the Circulum to her contact in Kirkwall. When she realized that her plan would fail as Miriam would favor her over the Circulum, she decided to imprison herself to get a chance to smooth things over with Rezaren, albeit in vain. Later, she betrayed the entire troop for her revenge and went on to deliver the Circulum to the Crimson Knight instead. Miriam later came to know that Hira had betrayed her and sold her to the very person whose family had enslaved her and mistreated her from the very beginning. Hira’s feelings, however, did not let her injure Miriam, and she left the troop unharmed with the Circulum in her hands. Hira portrays herself as a genuine person, and she tries to follow through with that; however, the revenge has poisoned her enough to make her turn against her group. She is not above gravely injuring Fairbanks or betraying her girlfriend for the Circulum to bring down the Kingdom of Tevinter. She does have a soft spot for Miriam; however, she can separate her emotions quite well to achieve her plan.
Character Of Rezaren
The heir of the House of Ammosine and one of the strongest mages, Magister Rezaren, was born and brought up in the Summer Palace at Nessum, Tevinter City. He grew up with Neb and Miriam as siblings; however, there was always an inequality between how each of them was treated. Rezaren was being raised to become the strongest mage. He was desensitized to the enslavement of elves and thought of it as natural, as it gave the elves a purpose. This led to him having a twisted personality, as he became possessive about his siblings turned bodyguards to the point that he would resurrect them using the Circulum anytime. He chose to save Miriam after his “harrowing” turned into a disaster. Rezaren had just come of age during this event and could not control his powers. Thus, the event backfires, and to save him, the Matriarch forsakes Neb’s life, which eventually kills him, and an evil soul takes his place. Miriam killed Neb as well as Rezaren’s mother. In his twisted mind, as he grew up with the twins, he did not like his mother that much, yet he lost control over his emotions when Neb was killed. To save Miriam, he ordered her to run, covering all her tracks to make sure she escaped the death penalty. He then promised himself that he would bring Neb back, and with that, he started polishing his skills in blood magic. He became the world’s strongest blood mage, although it was frowned upon that his powers let him get away with it.
At a glance, Rezaren could pass off as an ordinary, classically good-looking man with gentle manners, given the way he treated his love interest, Tassia. But under that unassuming personality lay a twisted mind poisoned by the traditions and rules he was kept under. He considered Miriam and Neb to be his family and loved them as siblings; he, however, felt an obsessive possession toward them. He wouldn’t let death or even themselves take them away and even resorted to using blood magic on Miriam to threaten her into coming back after his politeness failed to make her listen. He mastered the Circulum, injured a dragon, and used Miriam to resurrect Neb so that they could become a family and live together again. His powers knew no bounds, as he could stand against the demons set off by the palace’s security and could control an adult dragon with ease. He wanted his family back, and he thought he owned Neb and Miriam, thus stopping at nothing to get them back, going as far as threatening Miriam’s friends’ lives. He had even agreed to give up the Circulum if he could get Miriam. After a certain point, it seemed as though he stopped thinking of the twins as individuals and instead thought of them as his possessions, his properties, really. The familial love he had for them twisted after their repeated disobedience. He still did not like them getting hurt. However, this twisted obsession ends up becoming his downfall as he gets killed while trying to resurrect Neb.
Character Of Tassia
Tassia holds the position of Knight Commander among the Imperial Templar Knight Order of Tevinter. She is also the love interest of Rezaren. She takes care of him and protects him. Tassia, being the righteous and just Knight that she aspires to be, shows her support for Rezaren but also stands for her own morals. She questions Hira’s intentions, and Hira’s responses about Venatoris shock her because she thinks they have been dealt with. She loves Rezaren; however, his rampant use of blood magic does not sit right with her. Although she warns Rezaran that she will complain about the use of blood magic, Rezaren’s death changes that dynamic and gives birth to a fire of revenge in her gaze. She is not someone to be messed with, and she holds her rules tightly to herself.
Character Of Neb
Neb was Miriam’s twin brother, who was killed by Miriam as he turned into a devil due to the Matriarch of the House of Ammosine trying to save her own son, Rezaren, during the ceremony of harrowing. Neb was the only one who cared for Miriam and always looked out for and after her. Killing him took a toll on Miriam and Rezaren, who were hellbent on trying to resurrect Neb. After he died, Rezaren used his mage powers to summon an evil spirit to keep his corpse alive and ready as a puppet, waiting for Neb’s soul to take its place. As he had already died, the corpse acted as “the perfect soldier.”
Although “Dragon Age: Absolution” Season 1 loosely follows the plot of the video games. It tries to establish its own continuity in very little time, thus botching the pacing and also not explaining anything clearly. Those who have not played the video game will have to deal with an overload of information that is not enough for the run time of just six episodes, and it will leave you scratching your heads trying to figure out what exactly is happening. It is easier to follow the narrative with prior experience in the games, as the series simply name-drops certain characters, places, and incidents that are important in the game. “Dragon Age: Absolution” provides the viewers with a quick montage explaining the background of the Tevinter Kingdom without mentioning it again. The fast-paced plot ends as soon as it starts, which makes it difficult to gather information and study the characters to pinpoint their characteristics. A lot happens in the series, and not enough time is allotted for the storyline to develop before the plot twist occurs.