Friday, May 4, 2018

Meet the Evanuris: The Mother, the Spirit and the War of the Gods

When you consider what life was like in the ancient days when spirits and
physical beings lived together in a magical world, it's easy to see why Solas
reacted in horror to his awakening after millennia in the Fade.
The pages of this book—memory?—describe an elf approaching a city of glass spires so deeply blue they ache. The city's outskirts are wrapped in lakes of mist, and figures stroll along the pearly, glowing strips as if they walked on solid ground. Groves of trees woven into enormous parks shelter elves in quiet hollows, while other elves walk below a river churning along an invisible shoal in the air.

The scene hums with quiet talk and contentment as the memory's maker reaches the city's gates, already thrown open wide.
—Dragon Age: Inquisition "Trespasser" DLC ("Vir Dirthara" Codex: Homecoming).

SPOILERS as always, for all of Dragon Age!

Welcome! We're on to my second post in my series on "Meet the Evanuris" (please do check out my first post here, for a general overview of Dalish myths and gods back when we were young and naive and oh, so trusting). 

Our knowledge is darker now, however, and far more complex, thanks to Dragon Age: Inquisition and especially "Trespasser." 

So here we go... as we try to separate fact from myth.

Let's set the scene: In the very farthest reaches of the past, it appears that there was a great war, between the immortal Elvhen people, led by the Evanuris, and a force of unnamed foes (the Forgotten Ones, to me, are the likeliest candidates here). They won, and the Evanuris prospered, and, I suspect, drew power from their defeated foes much like Solas would do to Mythal, countless ages later.  (Please note that I'm going to use the 'Elvhen' connotation for the ancients here, to differentiate from the modern elves).

Incredibly powerful in magic and accepted as leaders by a presumably grateful people, the Evanuris were the ruling body for millennia. According to most Dalish myths about the elven pantheon, they were led by Mythal and Elgar'nan, who had five children: the twins Falon'Din and Dirthamen, as well as Andruil, Sylaise and June. 

Yet as we travel through Thedas and into mysterious areas like the Temple of Mythal, the Tomb of the Emerald Knights, the Lost Temple of Dirthamen, and into the hidden Elven Ruins in Solas's ancient valley, we begin to find that Andruil, Sylaise and June are also depicted as being potentially completely unrelated. Further, there are even implications that Falon'Din and Dirthamen were not biological twins, but something more complex.

Me, I'm not so sure about the family issue. At least in this moment, I'm on the side of the fence that thinks they were all related.

Mythal and her brood of little nestlings,
before the world went wrong.
The Spirit and the Flesh

I think the five were Mythal's actual children because of, first off, the golden mosaic portrait of Mythal in her hidden Arbor Wilds temple. Look at it—she looks for all the world like she's adorably holding a basket of chicks... FIVE OF THEM!

And it also does appear to me from the stories and implications that Mythal, at the very least, loved these people and considered them offspring. Or, at least, family. Biological connections or no.

But even if they were all family, this doesn't have to mean that they were all physical beings

Think about it. We know from the revelations of "Trespasser" that they were all powerful mages, but it's also entirely possible that, in a universe in which spirits and physical bodies inhabited the world together, pre-Veil, not all of Mythal's children may have been of the flesh. (Or her companions, for that matter, but I'll get to that farther on...)

For instance, based on the original Dalish legend that Falon-Din could go beyond the Fade (or, let's say, into the spiritual realm pre-Veil) in ways Dirthamen could not, I wonder if Dirthamen was a physical being, an elf, while his 'twin' Falon'Din, who was able to walk both worlds, was in fact a spirit all along. I mean, it would make sense. No mortal could cross and recross into the purely spiritual world beyond the physical as Falon'Din does, so the discrepancy makes perfect sense. They may even have been able to share Dirthamen's physical body on occasion, in a more benign version of the way Justice piggybacked on poor Anders's soul.

And while I'm on the subject... I want to point out that it's this, as I mentioned briefly in my previous post, that may answer the mystery of why Falon'Din and Dirthamen are the only Evanuris depicted in the Temple of Mythal with black, black eyes. (Yes, I'm still wondering about this...)

(Please note that throughout this discussion, when I refer to "the Fade," I am referring to the spiritual side of the Elvhen world, pre-Veil, and more specifically, to the place from whence spirits are born, and to which the souls of the dead return.)

I think this is an important detail to note because of the time period we're addressing—the time of the Evanuris was an age in which the spiritual and the physical were not precisely interchangeable, maybe, but in which they coexisted in perfect harmony. Spirits and fleshly beings were both equally considered to be people and treated, it seems, without a specific prejudice for either. In fact, I wonder if spiritual beings weren't in fact more prized for their input because it had the potential to come from experiences across distances and years far beyond those of living beings, even immortal ones. 

I'll go into more of the potential for both physical and spiritual Evanuris members in Mythal's entry to follow... and farther on in this post, as well.

Meanwhile, our journeys through DAI and "Trespasser" certainly teach us many things about the elven pantheon that seem to be less rooted in legend and more based in fact (and please note that anything I refer to here as "facts" is simply my assumption of what we learn in "Trespasser"—everything we know may very well of course be flipped again in Dragon Age 4). 

I do think that in the glorious early days of the Evanuris, there was
real love and affection among them, even if it wasn't sustainable.
Myths, Lies and Truths

What's most interesting to me is that, fairly quickly into Dragon Age: Inquisition, our own accepted assumptions upon visiting the story of the elven pantheon are up-ended, and radically so. It is, after all, Mythal and Fen'Harel we eventually come to associate with vengeance, not Elgar'nan, even though it becomes apparent that Elgar'nan's temper was his defining quality (he certainly doesn't sound like a very pleasant guy, and much like Zeus it's implied that he may have been a pretty terrible husband, father and ruler). Take this pleasant little excerpt from the "Song to Elgar'nan" found in the Temple of Mythal:
Elgar’nan, Wrath and Thunder,
Give us glory.
Give us victory, over the Earth that shakes our cities.
Strike the usurpers with your lightning.
Burn the ground under your gaze.
Bring Winged Death against those who throw down our work.
Elgar’nan, help us tame the land.
In the above, don't miss what may be veiled references to a threatening Titan (in the shaking of the Earth), and to the divine dragon shape-shifting form that was apparently the ability common to all of the Evanuris (not just Mythal)—I'll address this in more detail farther on. In the references to lightning, are they referring, meanwhile, to Elgar'nan's mage abilities? Or did he, like Zeus and Thor, profess to use both lightning and thunder against his foes?

With these and many other tantalizing little revelations, in other words, we quickly come to realize through the Codices and scraps of knowledge we accumulate in DAI that the Evanuris weren't all-knowing, powerful deities. They were, in fact, an arrogant, quarrelsome, corrupt and conflicted lot who frequently warred and fought within themselves, enslaved their own people, and who just as frequently abused their powers simply for amusement's sake.

I frequently play for Dalish Inquisitor protagonists in my DAI playthroughs, and if I headcanon for my heroine during the story's events and discoveries, I always find the revelations about the Evanuris to be incredibly powerful on an emotional level. Imagine Cassandra finding out that the Maker was not only never real, he was just some arrogant mage guy abusing his power. I mean, the implications are huge for the elven participants in DAI. Imagine the loss of belief in a profoundly Dalish believer... it might be enough to cause you to doubt everything you thought you knew. And it just might be enough to send you dashing off into the world to follow the silent call of an ancient almost-god...

But things were different long ago, after all. And maybe it wasn't always bad. In fact, I'm sure it wasn't.

A Paradise of Magic and Knowledge

In the beginning, despite the high passions and prideful immortals, it truly seems that there was harmony among the Evanuris, and I do believe, at first, that these beings did love one another, and glory in the beautiful world they inhabited. Andruil hunted and killed, yes, but at first I think she did so out of a real desire to celebrate and protect the beasts of the world and to pit herself only against their very greatest strengths (and to then, I would assume, feed her people). She who hunted the beasts also protected them, something we see in the fragments of stories of Ghilan'nain as well. 

I also think that Falon'Din, the 'shadow' of Dirthamen who may have been a terrifying spirit, at first really did probably treat his work as a shepherd of sleepers in uthenera, and later, of souls, with honor and respect. I would imagine that in the beginning, Falon'Din  would have experienced real wonder at each new soul and its passage to the Beyond, whether in dreams and uthenera, with the potential to return, or whether as a final journey into the Fade upon death, in a return from physical form to spiritual.

In other words, for a time I think it all really was wonderful, magical, beautiful and peaceful—perhaps for millennia the mortals of Thedas would be unable to count or even imagine. 

The story is certainly sadder if these beings all began as good, and I believe it's plausible that for many thousands of years, even, the Evanuris were truly wise in their rule over the Elvhen people. I think they created and nurtured a paradise of wisdom, magic and thought, in which gravity was optional, conversations lasted for decades, relationships evolved over centuries, and the magic was as simple as a word or a breath. A world that Solas later mourns to us in Haven:
“Imagine ..... spires of crystal twining through the branches, palaces floating among the clouds. Imagine beings who lived forever, for whom magic was as natural as breathing. That is what was lost.”
Passions Before the Veil

Speaking of Solas, I think it's important to bring up the fact here that, based on his dialogues and interactions with a romanced Inquisitor, these were intensely, deeply feeling people—beings who were both wise with millennia of learning, conversation and exploration, but who were also shown time and again to be quick to feeling, emotion and passion. 

Solas, seen here just before he utterly stomps all over my poor Inquisitor's heart,
is a sensual, passionate, and intensely emotional person. Were these qualities
common to all Evanuris in a world without a Veil? I think they were. 
Look at Solas in Dragon Age: Inquisition—even under the 'blanketing' presence of the Veil, he reveals himself to be a passionate and emotional person—not at all the cold-seeming mage apostate we first talked to at Haven. Solas's emotions run high and his fires are undimmed once he becomes freer to talk to our Inquisitors (if high in approval), and especially with a romanced Inquisitor, it's easy to see why he initially felt depressed and confined by the world under the Veil. This is also subtly emphasized by the fact that Solas is at his most romantic and passionate either in the Fade, or where the Veil is thin (as it is in his excursion to Crestwood with a romanced Inquisitor). He even admits this openly after the first kiss: "Such things have always been easier for me in the Fade."

With this in mind, it's all too easy to see why Solas awakened after long millennia and looked around himself in horror, seeing all those around him as beings who, to him, seemed muted and fragile, transitory and barely alive—he'd awakened, as he eloquently describes it in "Trespasser," to "a world of Tranquil." (I love this description, thanks to the always-superb Patrick Weekes, and have frequently felt since hearing it that this is also what it is often like to be an artist, as well...)

Anyway. When this consideration enters the picture, that this entire people were intense, emotional, deeply feeling and passionate, it's easier to see that the Evanuris were, in all likelihood, doomed by the very passions that sustained them. 

And let's not discount the very real potential for the most insidious enemy of all... boredom.

After all, a few millennia go by, and hey, you've seen it all, done it all. Perhaps the Evanuris, in the end, were no different from the many RPG players who, having done their share of 'paragon' playthroughs, decide to go renegade just to see what would happen next. (I'm only partly kidding, here...)

The Inevitable Corruption of Power

Because, let's face it: People change. Or, as Anne Rice's ancient vampires discovered, perhaps it's a more subtle thing—that people who can exist for centuries do not so much change as become more and more who they always were at their core. 

In other words, immortality may actually kind of suck.

Either way, after however many ages or millennia, every one of the Evanuris seems to eventually gone slightly mad (and then some) at a certain point, corrupting in each case the very talent, ability or love that had originally moved and shaped them. So Dirthamen became obsessed with secrets. Andruil went bonkers and hunted earth, skies and the Void itself to such an extent that even her fellow "gods" expressed fear that they might be next. Falon'Din no longer just ferried souls, he harvested them, glorying in death and lakes of blood, and amassing armies of spirits to do his bidding (that is, when he wasn't clashing with Elgar'nan for dominance). Elgar'nan, meanwhile, was evidently the same lovely guy he'd always been, just intensified, enslaving countless numbers of his people to serve and honor him, and to erect massive tributes and statues to his might—and very possibly doing so by carving those tributes into the bodies of his slain enemies, which in one memorable case he seems to have done on the mountainous corpse of a Titan itself (or, well, he had his slaves do it). Here's a quote from that moment:

The pages of this book—memory?—describe a monument made in a single afternoon by a thousand-thousand toiling servants swarming over a lump of fallen stone as large as a collapsed mountain. By the end of the day, the stern figure of Elgar'nan stares down into a valley, carved out from the foothills of the rock. The slaves have disappeared. Light radiates from the eidolon's narrowed eyes and its open, snarling mouth.

(Side Note: As they were in DAI, the Codices in "Trespasser" aren't just incredibly informative, they're also gorgeously written, so kudos to the writing team on those, which included the intrepid and talented Brianne BattyeMary Kirby, and @Sylvf.)

The Evanuris were likely always doomed. Even in a world of magic,
I suspect that gravity will eventually always win out.
In short, immortality was no longer enough. Power was no longer enough. Magic was no longer enough. Only an unquestioned dominion over all, with tributes of death and enslavement, could satisfy the Evanuris. Vanity, jealousy and a refusal to abnegate power seem to have been the fatal flaws of the once-harmonious group.

It was both tragic and inevitable. They'd seen it all, done it all. It appears that, at a certain point, the only thing that would satisfy them was to make the world their playground, a place in which they could enact the darkest tableaux of fear, war, death, corruption, decadence, plague (cough, BLIGHT, Andruil, cough), and enslavement.

The Arrival of Solas...

My own interpretation is that here, watching Andruil slay for fun, breaking her own sacred rules as she hunted earth, abyss and sky while poisoning both herself and the world, watching Elgar'nan and Falon'Din delight in slaughter and power, and watching even Dirthamen and Ghilan'nain plot against her, that Mythal just got scared, depressed, and tired.

I think that for awhile here, she tried for peace nonviolently at first, and sometimes it even worked. But then that wasn't enough. People weren't listening. So then she went into full-on Warrior-Queen battle mode—in Dragon Age: Inquisition and especially in "Trespasser," we find so much evidence of Mythal's physical attempts to stop the carnage! She subdues Falon'Din in his own temple. She overpowers Andruil and removes the knowledge of the Void from her to protect the world. She even may defeat a Titan simply for one more tool in her hand to use to protect her land and people (I'm still trying to figure out what her motive was here, but I'm convinced it has something to do with helping the elves—I just don't see Mythal killing a Titan for sheer gain).

Either way, she does all this, and it's still not enough.

So I think she calls for help. She calls on a friend from the Fade—a friend I believe she knows and deeply loves—someone she trusts to be both friend, companion and protector: Solas. A spirit.

The Case for Solas as Spirit

This is it. I think this is the point when Mythal calls Solas into the physical world, and I believe wholly and utterly that when she does so, she is calling on someone she has known since the world was young, a spirit of wisdom and grace.

And I think he answers out of love for her, and does as she asks, entering the world of Thedas as a slender, quiet young man, as a being who is utterly unique—both spirit and body, old and young, servant and master, guardian and trickster. Who walks in all worlds, both dark and light. I think their bond is one of love, but that it is not romantic; in fact, I think it actually transcends romance.

I'll talk about this more later, but it's intriguing to consider that Solas, already impossibly old in spirit form, may enter the world of the living here, becoming enfleshed at the request of Mythal (much as Cole would do, albeit involuntarily, ages later), in the body of the man we meet millennia beyond this time in Dragon Age: Inquisition

I think this is what Solas means when he says he has always been the person we see before us, and that he's telling the truth; he is who he appears to be. He doesn't carry a wisp or vestige of a god; he is the god himself, the god who knows he's not one and never was; the elf and man who was once a spirit. I think all of this is true, and that the only change to that physical form of his is that the vallaslin that signified his service to Mythal, a symbol that became one of enslavement among his people, he eventually removed with her blessing, leaving only the tiniest scar upon his face as evidence (hey, it was probably his first try), as Cole later remarks obliquely in "Trespasser."

I love the idea of Solas beginning life as a spirit who is then called into the physical world (accepting that call by choice, and with love). It explains so much about him—his passionate embrace of all things fleshly, from the "frilly cakes" he once loved back in the ancient days of Orlais, to his open and fiery sensuality with a romanced Inquisitor. 

It also explains his passionate support of spirits as fellow individuals, his empathy for Cole, as well as his deep grief over the loss of the spirit Wisdom. This isn't just someone he may have known during his long sleep in the Fade, after all, but someone he may have known for ages beyond counting. Someone who is a reflection of who he himself once was. 

It even explains his painting style on the beautiful frescoes in his Rotunda, which I believe are accomplished not only in the finest artistic tradition of the ancient Elvhen masters, but that they also depict the events of DAI as seen not in real life, but instead as if... seen by someone from the Fade. That's my theory, anyway.

So... Enter Solas, stage left.

The idea that Solas may have entered the world solely at the request of
Mythal, and as a testament of his love for her, makes the end of their
journey all the more tragic and ironic.
Choosing Sides

I suspect that, for awhile, maybe even a few more thousand years or so, that Solas's entry onto the scene helped to stabilize things. He was brilliant, with a knowledge of the Fade/Spirit world beyond any ever seen, and with prodigious magical powers and a gift for diplomacy, a passion for justice and free will, and a slight glint of both rebellion and humor now and then. I think Solas would have fascinated the other Evanuris, and that he may even have grown to love his fellow 'gods' and truly helped Mythal to stem the tide of corruption, at least for awhile.

My suspicion, however, is that, even then, the one thing Solas could not stand was the existence of slavery. As someone who may have existed for countless previous ages and civilizations in the Fade, Solas would have seen the tragedies of slavery in years beyond the telling, and he would have seen the enslavement of their own people by the Evanuris as the height of evil. Either way, he began to fight it, first covertly, and then in open defiance.

At around this same time (or so I hypothesize), we know from the Codices that Mythal stepped in between the conflicts of Falon'Din and Elgar'nan, and that she eventually openly defeated Falon'Din, bloodying him in the sacred place of his Temple itself (an insult I'd imagine he never got over). We also know that Mythal openly defeated Andruil after her final trip to the Void, and that she may even have taken some of her power just as Solas later does from Flemeth, as the Codex notes that Mythal "sapped Andruil's strength and stole her knowledge." Again, Andruil may have taken awhile to recover, but as with Falon'Din, I do not see her licking her wounds and reconciling herself to peace, and it's definitely implied that she had personal reasons to begin to hate and fear Solas, as well, in her own right.

The eventual war within the Evanuris was, for this reason, unavoidable. Eventually, despite Solas's brilliance and trickery, despite all of Mythal's attempts at peace, the oldest and most powerful mages ever seen set themselves up as gods, opposed only by an increasingly desperate Mythal and Solas, who was now making a name for himself by freeing slaves and toppling tyrants in his own right. And so they began to call him Fen'Harel, the Dread (or 'Rebel') Wolf, as the being who could stalk them in all worlds and take them down, and whose magical powers exceeded even their own. 

The Divine Shape

We learn some interesting things in DAI and "Trespasser" about the escalation in tensions at this point. From still another Codex from elven writing found in the Arbor Wilds, we learn that the 'divine' form of the dragon-shapeshifter may not have been solely the province of Mythal herself, but (it's implied) was the province of the Evanuris or 'gods' themselves:

"His crime is high treason. He took on a form reserved for the gods and their chosen, and dared to fly in the shape of the divine. The sinner belongs to Dirthamen; he claims he took wings at the urging of Ghilan'nain, and begs protection from Mythal. She does not show him favor, and will let Elgar'nan judge him."
For one moment there is an image of a shifting, shadowy mass with blazing eyes, whose form may be one or many. Then it fades.

This, to me, is a huge clue fraught with significance. It's really exciting!

While we now associate Mythal as the figure associated with the dragon,
there's a distinct possibility that shape-changing to the 'divine' dragon-form
was in fact possible for all of the Evanuris at some point
Basically, from this scrap of information, it appears to me that Ghilan'nain and Dirthamen seem to have teamed up at some point (which also, to me, implies at least some alignment with the already ferocious Andruil) to support a dragon shapeshifter of their own. Created, perhaps, to battle Mythal? The outcome for the 'sinner' in question did not go well, however, and Mythal allowed Elgar'nan to enact a brutal judgment—again, setting the stage for betrayal, as we already know how close Dirthamen and Falon'Din are supposed to have been.

So... if we follow this logic even further, it would seem to me that Andruil, Falon'Din, Dirthamen, and Ghilan'nain were openly opposed to Mythal, and that (based on Mythal's parallel rage to Flemeth's) Mythal's mate Elgar'nan also aligned with them eventually (overcoming his previous antagonism with Falon'Din). And based on the implications of our final talk with Solas, it appears that Sylaise and June, too, joined in, as all of the 'gods' were judged by him as complicit in the betrayal. I've even wondered if Elgar'nan only pretended to judge the 'sinner' mentioned above, and if instead the criminal wasn't actually freed instead. If so, this 'sinner' could in fact be the entity who eventually committed the actual murder of Mythal.

At the same time, I wonder if this isn't also when the Forgotten Ones, renewed in strength and awaiting their chance, sensed the schism and warfare among the Evanuris, and used the situation to make another attempt to conquer the Elvhen people once more. It would make sense, and also explain why Solas took action against both sides of the conflict, as well.

Either way, with their fellow immortals aligned against them, and war threatening from the Forgotten Ones, Mythal and Fen'Harel could not stand against them all. But it seems they tried.

But it was not enough. They were betrayed, and Mythal was murdered.

And after Mythal fell, as we know, Fen'Harel's vengeance tore apart the heavens, created the Veil, destroyed both the safety, culture, and immortality of the elves, and cast both the Evanuris and the Forgotten Ones into imprisonment for the ages. He did this both to save his people and to avenge the murder of the person he loved most in all worlds, but as we already know within the world of Dragon Age, by doing so he also inadvertently doomed his own people to mortality, defeat, diminishment, and eventual enslavement by humans.

And all because he answered the cry of Mythal.

A Closer Look

Thanks as always for reading! I'll be taking a closer individual look at each member of the Evanuris in further posts, following the hints and revelations of Dragon Age: Inquisition and "Trespasser."

And of course, for me, the pantheon must begin not with the cliche of the Father, but with, instead, the Mother... so I'll be posting on Mythal soon to follow, as the first of many more to come in the series intermittently over the coming months.

Meanwhile: what do you think of the Evanuris? What are your thoughts about the theories I've posted here? Do you think it's possible that Solas and Falon'Din may have been spirits in the first place? I'd love to hear what you think, so please do share your reactions in the comments!


  1. It didn't occur to me that Solas and Falon'Din could have been spirits first - but it now makes total sense after reading your article!
    Solas always struck me as being more than just Elvhen, largely because of how at ease he and Cole converse and view the world. He understands Cole in a way no one else can. And when that happens with us humans it's largely because of how we envision things in our minds. For myself, I think and process in images, even when it's words or numbers they are part of an image on a page. When I communicate with someone who thinks in words or concepts there is a far greater chance for miscommunication and misunderstanding. Solas has a hard time in this land of "tranquil" because they see the world entirely different, and I think the same goes for him and the Evanuris. Mythal being the exception was his bridge between worlds, and I think without her he has trouble reconciling them.

    1. Thank you for this eloquent comment, and apologies for my late late reply! I've been having a few tech issues with my comments sections, so thank you for bearing with me.

      You caught on to Solas-as-possible-spirit much earlier than I did, it sounds like! And I agree -- I absolutely think his conversations with Cole are both vital to understanding Solas's origins, as well as to understanding how he's attempting to deal with this incredibly upsetting world in which he's found himself.

      I love that you point out how differently each of us may see the world, and especially that you talk about seeing it through images, as an artist. I think this is a lovely and very apt way to point out the differences between the way Solas sees the world and the way the rest of our companions may (or at least, the majority of them).

  2. Hi Angela,

    First of all, let me say that I greatly admire your writing and your passion for the Dragon Age series. I'm a bit of a latecomer and most of the juicy discussion has already taken place on other message boards and forums, so to find someone who clearly knows her stuff to produce insightful content like this is a delight.

    The mysteries of the Elven pantheon is one of the things I like best about the series. Part of why I love DA is the role reversal of the elves - from the Tolkien-style immortal, powerful and wise people to a defeated and broken ragged bunch of former slaves. When the reveal hit in Trespasser that the elven gods were not gods at all but supremely powerful mages, it hit me like a punch in the gut - but I also felt like that was classic BioWare. Set up a trope, then undercut it and give it a twist.

    Just some quick thoughts:

    1. I do agree that the black eyes of the twins could be a hint as to their nature. Not only do possessed people in DA change eye colour, so do the asari in Mass Effect when they embrace eternity. And of course, it goes back to the ancient superstition that the Eyes are the Windows to the Soul.

    With that being said, I don't think that they were the same being. I think they were two separate elves who bonded with spirits from the Fade, which gave them their abilities with crossing the realms of living and dead.

    2. I love the idea of immortality being a burden (and the sly comparison to RPG players. It's true, once you reach a certain level of power the game becomes boring cos there's nothing to challenge you any longer. For an entire race of immortal beings like the elves, war for the hell of it was inevitable, in hindsight.

    That makes the Tevinter Imperium less horrible, if they were merely an human power taking advantage of the weakness of the warring elves, and continued the elven practice of slavery instead of inventing it (still horrible though).

    3. What connections do you think the Evanuris have with the Archedemons/Old Gods? Some people theorise that the seven Old Gods match up with the seven elven gods (minus Mythal and Fen'Harel, who were never trapped). Are the Archdemons actually the remnants of the Evanuris?

    That would explain Solas's anger at the Grey Wardens for trying to kill off Archdemons, and why he takes the Old God soul of Urthemiel from Flemeth/Mythal, which she took from Kieran.

    4. Do you think Corypheus was telling the truth when he said the Golden City was already black and empty when he entered, and that the Chantry doctrine that his and his friends' entering the Golden City corrupted it was wrong?

    Because if he is, a fundamental tenet of the Chantry is proven wrong. Another tantalising theory I've read is that the Golden City was actually Arlathan, which was vanished and deliberately set in the Fade. But by Solas? By Ancient Tevinter? No one knows.

    Also, what do you think of the idea that the Blight was not a curse, but a security measure intended to keep people out of Arlathan/The Golden City/The Black City?

    Anyway, I just want to let you know that I greatly enjoy your writings and analysis, and I hope you don't lose interest in the blog. I'll keep reading!

    1. Hi Sulaiman,

      Thank you for such a thoughtful and detailed response to my post! I so appreciate your taking so much time and thought to discuss it -- and I'm so glad you enjoyed the analysis.

      I think you make some great points, so I'll respond to each in order:

      1. On Dirthamen and Falon'Din -- while I think exploring the idea that they were two sides of a single being (spirit and flesh), I agree that the likelihood is that they were truly two separate beings. Although here again -- I do think they were opposing kinds (spirit and physical being).

      2. That's exactly what I felt ultimately -- that war among the Evanuris was inevitable. Although Tevinter will never get a pass from me -- they always seem so power-mad to me, and even in their earliest days, they seemed willing to excuse anything for the sake of that power (slavery, conquest, death, blood sacrifice, etc.)

      3. If it helps, I address the potential ties between the Evanuris and the Old Gods a little bit in my latest Mythal post. I definitely think it's probably not a coincidence that the numbers are the same. I'm not sure if this means they are literal matches, though... it's definitely a possibility!

      What's interesting about the Old God soul situation is that it's optional. Solas takes Mythal's life-force either way.

      I just don't think Solas would have imprisoned the Evanuris in Archdemon form ultimately. To me it's too impractical and unleashes terror and apocalypse upon the very people (the people) he was trying to free and save. So to me the logic doesn't work. But I am going to explore it further, too, so we'll see.

      4. I believe Corypants when he says the Black City was already black, because the other stories are just Chantry propaganda, to me. I also believe him when he says the throne was empty. I think his conclusions from these things are wrong (he believes the Maker damned and abandoned his people), however. I think the Black City was Blighted and empty for reasons that are probably tied to Andruil, so more on that later!

      I don't know if I see the Blight as an actual curse, since my take on it has always been that Andruil brought it up from the Void, poisoning the earth (and a Titan, which resulted in Red Lyrium) and unleashing it on the world before Mythal defeated her, removed her knowledge of its location, and attempted to mitigate the damage.

      But we'll see -- meanwhile, thank you so much for reading!

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  4. This was terrific. You touched on the idea that immortality eventually begets corruption, and I wonder if that is what is happening to Solas too, that his highest principle, freedom, is starting to corrupt him to the idea that any sacrifices and lives lost are worth attaining it.

    1. Thanks so much! And that's a terrific point -- I would absolutely agree that this is part of Solas's fatal flaw as of the end of Trespasser. He's so used to knowing more than anyone else that he at this point assumes there are no other solutions because he would have thought of them. He literally cannot conceive of being wrong about tearing down the Veil.

      BUT. I think the Inquisitor (either in high friendship or especially romance) has actually made an impact here. I think the implication that he cannot stay away from her (as seen in the Trespasser epilogue slide) is promising because -- in my view -- she has always been able to change his mind before, to get him to see things differently. I still hope that this may be possible in the next chapter of Dragon Age to come.

  5. Once again, a lovely article. Thank you for writing. There's always heaps of food for thought, and it's wonderful fun to read!

    My personal theories differ slightly...

    I think Mythal summoned Solas, a Spirit of Wisdom, and bound him into service. I don't think Mythal was a very nice person, though I suspect she avoided the corruption of the void brought back by Andruil on one of her hunting sprees. I believe Solas probably was the sinner... he rebelled for some reason, potentially simply because he couldn't stand to be a slave, or being a spirit of Wisdom, saw what had to be done in the world, but saw that no one was doing it (Mythal included). I suspect that this rebellion may have been encouraged or engineered externally, or perhaps was simply opportunistically seized upon to blame him for Mythal's murder. I think Solas' vengeance for that was what brought down the veil, etc, and all of this happened against the backdrop of the elves having won the war against the Titans and/or the Forgotten Ones - who probably were defeated, but not entirely annihilated and may have had a hand in events.

    I also cheer for Falon'Din to be one entity. :)

    Anyway, I adore speculating and the opportunity to read others' theories. Much love your way!

  6. "...Because, let's face it: People change. Or, as Anne Rice's ancient vampires discovered, perhaps it's a more subtle thing—that people who can exist for centuries do not so much change as become more and more who they always were at their core...."

    Loved this comment, and it brought to mind something one of the doctors carrying on the Minnesota Twin Study said in a documentary I watched. They have continued to interview those twins still living for decades now, and he remarked that as people age they become more of who they really are; i.e., they shed the trappings of societal fashion and behave more strongly in line with those heritable traits with which they were born. Becoming more and more of who you are at the core over time may be a very human trait as well as an Elvhen one. Just a passing thought....BTW, love your stuff.

  7. Sort of nitpicky, but if Falon'Din was also a spirit, like Solas, why would Solas possess "a knowledge of the Fade/Spirit world beyond any ever seen"? Wouldn't Falon'Din possess a similar knowledge of the Fade/spirit world, being (originally) a spirit himself?

    1. My take on this is that Falon'Din was sort of the lord of the Dead Zone, of the Fade dealing with the dead. Where Solas was lord over the entire Fade. So Falon'Din is like a state governor but Solas is the President. (Or so I guess?)

  8. "I'll address this in more detail farther on. In the references to lightning, are they referring, meanwhile, to Elgar'nan's mage abilities? Or did he, like Zeus and Thor, profess to use both lightning and thunder against his foes?" Do you think maybe the Evanuris can only change into a certain type of dragon? Like, Mythal can turn into a fire breathing one and Elgar'nan can turn into a thunder and lightning one? Doesn't Morrigan mention in Origins that you only get to be "one type" of bird when you become a shape changer? I don't remember 100%, but I figured it was worth mentioning if I don't completely misremember :)

    "Because, let's face it: People change. Or, as Anne Rice's ancient vampires discovered, perhaps it's a more subtle thing—that people who can exist for centuries do not so much change as become more and more who they always were at their core." Woof. That gave me shivers. Yet another reason why immortality is a curse, no? And a very, very scary thought. Imagine if you were cursed with immortality. Watching things, people, civilisations, etc. grow and wilt away. The boredom, as you mentioned. I wouldn't want that for my worst enemy X)

    The "arrival of Solas" bit intrigued me. I had a thought. Probably a stupid one, but here goes XD If the others got batty mad and warred with each other, what if Mythal were too? What if she didn't _really_ want peace, but rather vengeance for all that bullshit they had caused her lands and her people? What if she "summoned" Solas as the ultimate "fuck you" to them to properly fuck them over? Solas IS sympathetic of her so she could totally have messed with his head, tricking him into dooming his own people.
    You've really rolled out the tin-foil for me, here, haha!
    You write "(Solas) a spirit of wisdom and grace". What if her calling him to her made him into pride? Because of her pride in her plan and (if she really was corrupted) her vengeance?
    It's probably very unlikely, but it was fun to theorize regardless :P

    "If so, this 'sinner' could in fact be the entity who eventually committed the actual murder of Mythal." That would have been the ultimate backstab, though, wouldn't it? Oof. Trusting your own hubby would sort it out and then discover at the worst possible time he's used him to betray and kill her? Yeouch.
    Whatever happened with Mythal, having your entire family turn against you is understandably grounds for slight bitterness :P

    As an actual answer to your questions though, I really, really, REALLY like your brain. :D Your theories are really sound, I think. You've really done your research and you puzzle it together really neatly. I will actually explode if we don't get proper answers in DA4. I wouldn't be surprised if you hit the nail right on the head, though.
    I absolutely think they could have been spirits at some point. But I think both got their own (separate) bodies, tbh. It still leaves the eyes a mystery, but I just don't know what to think of that, if I'm honest. Though I am having severe doubts it is an omen for anything good... :S

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It was so much fun to read! :D

  9. The subject of the Evanuris has always been one of the most fascinating to me, so reading this article was a delight! Thank you so much for this sum up, it really helps you organise your thoughts.

    Personally, I don't believe any of the Elvhen of the pantheon were spirits in pure form. Looking at Cole, it's just not how these beings are structured. Solas himself accepts Cole naturally, but even to him the fact that Cole is a spirit occupying and sustaining a living, functioning human body seems to be a novelty. He accepts him the way he would accept a spirit. But Solas to me is very much a man (or, an elf) with flaws of one. Spirits are more neutral entities, preoccupied with the one emotion they represent or reflect. There is a purity and one-sidedness to them, even if the intention is malicious. The Evanuris are just that to me also - powerful, but painfully flawed.

    I'm also inclined to believe the Evanuris where not really blood relatives (at least not all of them as one biological family). If they are glorified generals, that means that means they were just natural and proficient leaders, who naturally already were in a commanding position before they were called gods. That means that their rule, or link, is simply because they were all formidably gifted individuals. It rarely occurs that one family has so many magnificent units. I think more that they divided they rule as a reward for their war efforts, geographically or in some other way. But in a world where everyone is so interconnected by the Fade, I wonder if blood relations matter much at all.

  10. I absolutely agree, this was very enlightening ! That would explain why he feels so strongly about Cole asking to be bound after Here Lies the Abyss.
    By the way, what do you think of his name? We know that Solas means "pride". Pride is associated with demons throughout the Dragon Age series. However, Solas states that spirits and demons are basically the same. Is it possible that he was a Pride "spirit" when Mythal summoned him ? I believe that the fact that his very name is a feeling gives us a pretty good clue about his true nature.

  11. Hi Angela,

    I think you have done a great summary and analysis of what is known about the evanuris's rule. I also think it is an interesting how immortality could have been a double edged sword for elvhen kind.

    You have made a good argument towards Solas being a spirit (in a elven mage's body).There are some points which I find worth mentioning.
    Solas mntions how he grew up in a village and how he discovered fade, including spirits and demons, then. Although, in true trickster fashion, he might not have been slightly misleading his audience with this statement.

    When discussing Cole's identity, he also remarks" spirits don't have emotions, they embody them". Now consider Solas with his a many layered nuanced personality, rendering his character that bit more "human".

    His ability to understand the nature of spririts is quite possibly linked to his imperishable bond with the fade, being an elvehn somniari. On a more mortal note, he also displays the ability to take other people's perspective to understand them better, be it elf, dwarf, human or spirit. This quality is often overlooked(by some) it seems.

    This being said, there are few facts, and fewer things that can be safely assumed when it comes to Solas' character. The truth could lie either way , or, possibly be a combination of both. Potentially, this could be explained in more lore in the next tale of Dragon Age?


"Dragon Age: Dreadwolf" Predictions & Ponderings (and "What's in a Name?" Redux)

He doesn't call, he doesn't write, but finally, it looks like we might be hearing from Solas at last (2023?), as BioWare announces t...