Why I Leave Hawke in the Fade

Keeping the Tome of Koslun in Dragon Age 2 is a dick move. It’s like stealing ancient religious scrolls from the Vatican, running off to Luxembourg, and waving them in the Pope’s face while saying, “Neener neener”…and then killing the captain of the Vatican guards, most of his best men, and kicking the rest of them out of the country. When they’re gone you shove the scrolls in a chest and never speak of them again.

The game, however, did not give you the option of giving the Arishok the Tome without also giving him Isabela. It’s also the one thing Hawke actually achieves in the entirety of DA2: saving Kirkwall from the rampaging Qunari. That lasts for four years and then it descends into chaos after Anders does his thing. Hawke keeping Isabela in Kirkwall in the first place also arguably causes their continued presence and eventual loss of patience so, really, it’s all her fault in the first place.

Hawke’s whole story revolves around damage control, whether that damage accrues to (or from) her family, her friends, Kirkwall, or the mage or Templar faction. I play her like Mr. Incredible: I just cleaned that up! Can’t the world stay saved for, like, five minutes? Every time she turns around there’s another idiot doing something to endanger people and she’s the only one who can stop it.


In Dragon Age: Inquisition she continues that role. She’s not there to help build the Inquisition, she’s there to stop the Wardens from making their mistake even worse. [Sidebar: Why, why couldn’t her Warden friend have been Nathaniel Howe for those of us who still had him alive? Imagine making the choice between those two instead of her and Stroud!]

Once you stomp Erimond (and how satisfying is that?) and the dragon chucks you off a cliff and into the Fade, however, you’re left with a Warden and a Hawke. The pair of them volunteer to stall the Nightmare until the rest of you get out of the Fade and whoever leaves with you immediately heads for Weisshaupt.

I reason that the Warden powers that be will listen to a fellow Warden, particularly if he was in the group that ended the Fifth Blight. Why should they pay any attention to what Hawke says, even as an emissary of the Inquisition? Someone who felt the false Calling, escaped from Clarel’s agents, and fought at Adamant would get a much more serious hearing than some random woman who happened to kill the Arishok five years ago.

Hawke has nothing else to recommend her as a trustworthy source and she might not even have done that. Loghain, Stroud, and Alistair all bring first-hand information as a part of their warning. He knows what Nightmare’s fake Calling felt like (and Stroud may have joined long enough ago to feel a real Calling and be able to explain any difference).

[Sidebar Two: I admit that I conflate Stroud and Riordan, which means I have naught but a lingering crush and admiration for epicness for the man who flung himself off a tower to wound the Archdemon as well as gratitude for having saved young Bethany from a life in the Gallows or giving that snot-face Carver some purpose and sense of honor rather than either of them being dead. For other people the choice between Hawke and Stroud may be easy. For me, it is not.]

The Warden, whether Alistair, Loghain, or Stroud, was there when Clarel started convincing the Wardens that raising a demon army and ending the Blights made sense. He makes the most reliable witness, the one that stands the best chance of convincing Weisshaupt that there’s a big problem out there that they cannot ignore.

As an added twist, consider that leaving a Warden in the Fade may be a bad idea down the road. If the little piece of Flemeth you carry to the Free Marches can make a whole new one why wouldn’t the little pieces of Coryphy-fish intestines you send to the Fade be able to regenerate, given a suitable host. What’s a suitable host, you ask? It’s a Warden. If you leave one of them physically in the Fade what’s to say the durable fellow won’t find it and grow a whole new tainted bod from the remnants of poor Alistair or Stroud?

I’ll do one playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition where I leave Stroud in the Fade because I want to see what happens. Otherwise, much as Varric makes me feel awful about it, Hawke is finally going to make a lasting contribution to the world of Thedas.

One final note: I love Hawke. I thoroughly enjoy playing DA2. I’m not trying to insult the game or the character. Leaving Fenris or Anders to their own devices (and imagining them getting that letter from Varric) seems both sad and like a bad idea. Leliana better keep an eye out or my Inquisitor might not survive the reaction. However, sending Hawke off to Weisshaupt and leaving a Warden physically in the Fade strikes me as the greater of two evils.

2 Response to "Why I Leave Hawke in the Fade"

  1. Bethany says:

    I completely disagree. Stroud isn't a bad guy, I'll give you that---but blaming the whole of the Kirkwall Problem on Hawke (either directly or vicariously) is such a foreign (to me) way to look at it, I can't help wondering if we've played the same game. My Hawke does everything he/she can to help. It's probably due to his influence in the first place that Anders doesn't go nuts earlier--in fact, I feel like that's very likely the case. And let's be clear: Anders will always go nuts. That has zero to do with Hawke. Hawke friend or Hawke rival tries their best to help/contain Anders, and it fails because Anders is his own character with his own choices (or at least, Justice gets to decide if not Anders).
    Hawke had not one thing to do with the thieving of the tome. He did not make Isabela come to Kirkwall and he did not keep her from leaving. My Isabela came back and tried to do the right thing---BECAUSE of Hawke. No way in Thedas would she have come back without him. She's billed as a very ego-centric character. Without Hawke showing her another way to be, she would have continued right to the end, leaving Kirkwall to the dubious mercy of the Arishok. The Arishok was totally going to get that book, until he decided he gets to punish a citizen of Kirkwall (and a personal friend). Uh. No. Again, not Hawke's fault--it's the Arishok's choice. He doesn't get to just lop off heads and take over a whole city because a book was stolen. It was the Arishok's (and Mother Petrice who I hate with the passion of a thousand suns) choice to push that--not Hawke, who did everything he could to right the situation. As for the ending of the game, how is Hawke responsible for Meredith losing her mind and Orsino turning to demons? He cannot control the templars or the mages. That's the point. He's not God. I feel like you are expecting Hawke to somehow stop everyone else in the game from being a person/having an agenda/needs/opinions. That's not his role. Anyway, my two cents. Not because you can't abandon Hawke with impunity and to your heart's content, but because I feel like my Hawke at least need some defending.

    I'm not blaming Hawke for things outside her control. She does her damndest with what she's given, and mine do it with a smile. The game limits Hawke's options and reactions which means she does some stupid things because she's forced to choose between the lesser of two stupid things.

    That said, I did outline a reason why leaving a Grey Warden in the Fade was a potentially poor plan. I don't want my Hawkes to die but I want her whole story is a series of short-lived victories. I love the idea that her name will go down in history as the woman who saved the Inquisitor.

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