I wrote recently about some of the questions I get from readers and followers. So I've started a series of posts I'll note as "Reader Questions." They'll be a little hastier, a little more "off-the-cuff," but I hope they'll still prove helpful or mildly amusing.
Another popular query I get—perhaps the biggest one—is about my sympathetic stance on Solas.
I really appreciate these questions, and care about being as fair as I can be in my analyses here.
First off, I'm a sucker for tragedy, and the sheer irony and sadness of Solas's situation is fascinating to me. Like all the best anti-heroes (or villains), he began his path with the very best of intentions. He saw evil being done and did what he could—freeing the slaves, leading rebellions, ending wars, punishing murderers. He wanted to save his people, and yet in the end, despite the very best of his intentions, he doomed them instead—and in every literal way you can imagine. He took away their immortality. He trapped them in a world without magic (or at least, comparable to their previous lives). He crashed their beautiful suspended cities, killing thousands as the Veil removed their abilities to float and fly. He trapped their spirit-friends beyond an almost impenetrable barrier, and he (worst of all) put them on a path that directly led to their exile and enslavement.
But the fact that Solas's name means 'Pride' is no accident. Time and again, he's shown that he's often blinded by his own intellect. Here, for instance, nothing but the sundering of the world itself would suffice for his vengeance. And for that act, his people paid.
And they're still paying, even thousands of years later.
So there we are. And speaking dramatically, as a writer? This is pure catnip for someone like me, and is incredibly fun and emotional from a story standpoint.
Love Doesn't Equal Approval
But if we romance him? Holy schnikes, the devastation, the feelings, the tears, the blanketforts! All thanks to—it turns out—a suggestion from the divine David Gaider to Weekes. (My favorite part is that Gaider admits later that "The sheer wickedness of it appealed." Of course it did.)
I mean, let's face it, I was so upset when Solas dumped me (um, I mean, my Inquisitor—DAMMIT) that I called my best friend. And, as you may have seen from my humiliating admission here... there may have been tears.
Actions Vs. Plans
As you know... I think Solas is traumatized at the time of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and that he's still a bit mad. Still, he seems to like planning to tear down the Veil a lot more than he actually likes taking action to do so.
Even two years later, he still hasn't done it. Even when he's all-powerful and eye-blinking people into stone (after a considerate warning, of course).
I'll go into this further when I explore "Trespasser" here, but the facts are pretty incontrovertible. In terms of his most immediate recent actions, Solas:
- Manipulated the Orb to Corypants (hoping to unlock it and take out Cory in the meantime)—this is NOT OKAY, and Flemeth/Mythal seems to have distanced herself as a direct result
- When the act led to worldwide apocalypse, he helped the Inquisition (even risking almost certain suicide in Haven). Keep in mind—if he's truly evil, he could have joined Corypants, who seems to have treated his lieutenants with respect and even empathy (see also Samson and Calpernia) so it was a definite option for Solas to get close to the Orb with much less risk to himself
- He led the Inquisition to Skyhold and gave them a headquarters
- He fell deeply in love with the Inquisitor but would not sleep with her while deceiving her about his identity
- He personally helped to defeat Corypants (even when it directly led to the breakage of the Orb)
- Two years later, he saved the world from a Qunari plot
- He then saved the life of the Inquisitor, even if it meant also saving his greatest rival. To whom he also told all of his plans for the sake of honesty and openness.
I guess my point is, I think Solas just isn't that good at being bad. His baseline is to be honorable and honest, even when it doesn't profit him and in fact may severely hamper his goals.
Ravens from the Blanketfort
A sympathetic Solas may be painful for players, but in the best way. it's also smart, engaging, and a subtle way to play for our hearts over our brains.
Because, of course, ultimately, I think the writers wanted us to like Solas. There's good reason for this both dramatically and technically. It's more emotional, more painful, more surprising. It packs a bigger whammy and has more impact, when we realize the Dread Wolf was next to us all along. The impact of that realization, first of all—walking with a god. And that we cared about him, and made him care, too. And to realize we maybe even loved him.
So, for me... between "Kill" or "Redeem," I'm gonna go "Redeem" every time.
Just know that, for those of you readers who chose "Kill," I'm still with you, I'll still blog about your options as best I can (despite my admitted bias). We'll see what happens at the end of the story.
Want to make a bet? Whoever was wrong has to buy the pride-cookies!
Works for me.
Meanwhile, see you next time... and thanks for the debate! Please feel free to continue to tweet, DM, or comment your questions and thoughts here... I love hearing from you, and (love Solas or hate him) I appreciate your reading my Thedosian rambles more than I can express.