Good afternoon, nasties! Normally in this section we usually plan to live stream on Twitch. But we’re having a few technical/scheduling issues with streaming. So we’re using a new segment called “Character Spotlight” at the moment to make up for lack of content!
So today I’m going to talk about a character that is very dear to my heart: my Dragon Age Waifu, Solas. And because Solas is, well, who he is, there is a massive Dragon Age Spoiler Warning for this entire piece. I talk about the game as well as Trespasser. Read with discretion.
I understand that, especially after Dragon Age’s newest DLC Trespasser, there’s a lot of mixed emotions about Solas right now. Do they hate him for his convoluted plans? Do they love him because of the romance between him and their own Levellan character? Or are they confused about the entire thing and just want Solas to sit in a corner and calm down for a few seconds?
I can happily say that I’m a mixture of the three. But Solas is still my favorite Dragon Age character of all time. And I’m so excited to explain why that is!
Part One: The Complexities of His Character
Firstly, I love all of the subtleties of Solas’ character that the developers sprinkled in through the game. After the player discovers that Solas is actually the “Dalish God” Fen’Harel, it seems so obvious after replaying the game and watching what he does, what he says, and what he looks like. The way he watches your character as you inspire others to fight against Corypheus, the plans you make with Skyhold, and his remarks about being more curious about you than anything.
He’s also got a strong wolf motif that just kinda passes over the player in the entire game. His tarot images are wolves, he himself has a lone wolf personality, and the necklace he wears is a wolf’s jawbone. Fen’Harel is also supposed to be a trickster, and Solas is quite cunning, very sarcastic, witty and an excellent liar. Seems like all the appropriate traits for the Dalish version of Loki. Curse you, Hindsight!
But even though I’m frustrated that I missed all of the vague hints, I really love the fact that the developers made those decisions; it’s a sign of a well made and carefully made character. And the fact that Solas is a well made character is not only shown in visual ways and through his personality, but also through the interactions that your character has with him.
Solas is one of the easiest characters to get affection with because he usually gives you lots of approval ratings for just listening to him talk. If the player, like Solas, goes about their conversations with curiosity, with an interest in him, Solas hating you is a very rare thing. You’ve really got to go out of your way to disagree with him or to ignore him.
However, I think that Solas was made that way to emphasize how lonely he is. Someone who is deprived of human connection (or in this case I guess mortal connection? Since humans are…well you know what I mean!) or who has felt as though not a soul cares about them is going to feel so wonderful if someone takes an interest in them. I think it’s meant to imply that even though Solas has a lone wolf personality, that he wants to sacrifice so many in order to achieve his goals, what he really wants is to rid himself of loneliness.
And there’s no denying the fact that Solas is the loneliest character of all. Solas was asleep for so long and woke to a world he no longer new. The truth about the elves has been perverted and he’s the only one who really remembers. All the people he cared for died long before he could even say goodbye. Oh, and don’t forget that Solas’ worst fear as revealed in the Fade is that he’s going to die alone. Because, yeah, Solas didn’t already break my heart to begin with, right?
Of course he’s not perfect. Solas has many character flaws. My point is that Solas is such a wonderfully complex character.. Despite the fact that some cannot stand him, no one can deny that he is a character so well made that he has permanently shaped the course of Dragon Age.
Part Two: Romancing Solas
One of the best was to discover more about Solas’ character is through his romance. It’s a tough romance to see, as Solas can only be romanced by a female elf character. But it isn’t until you see it that you understand how desperate Solas is for companionship and how angry he is that he cannot have it.
He’s so withdrawn, so sure that he couldn’t find anyone to connect two that the romance is written where the player character, Levellan (the fixed last name of the female elf), ends up making the first move. When Solas takes Levellan through the Fade in a dream, Levellan kisses him first. After she pulls away, Solas grabs her and they kiss again. You have to press Solas about what it means, and he himself is uncertain.
Later, when Levellan speaks to Solas after his character quest, it’s clear that Solas has found someone he felt he could connect to, someone with an old soul like his, and the inner turmoil he feels about letting someone get close to him is palpable in his tone, in his worlds and on his face. He tries to walk away, but by this time he’s knows he’s already in love. He calls Levellan “vhenan” which is Elvish for “my heart”; that is so fitting because essentially that is what you’re Levellan is doing: saving his heart, resurrecting it.
By the end of the game, when Solas “breaks up” with you, the pain both Solas and Levellan feel haunts that scene and the rest of the game. His loneliness has consumed him, and now he’s dragged the person he loves down with him. And he’s had to leave Levellan with the bitter truth that the Dalish elves are all wrong. One thing I will say I loved about that scene was the opportunity to remove the Dalish Vallaslin, which Solas reveals was not a Dalish rite, but former slave markings. If you tell Solas to take it off, the scene is very tender and also somewhat sexual in nature. The languid way Solas moves his hands over Levellan’s face can give you goosebumps. The scene is a metaphor for intimacy, but also for freedom for both Levellan and Solas, and it’s certainly a scene worth witnessing.
And before he disappears, he tells you that what you had “was real”. To someone analyzing his character, that was never any doubt. But to the me that was playing the game at the time, I was furious. If it was so real, if you really loved my Levellan, why leave? What is the mystery keeping you so distant? I was disappointed, but loved the romance for the drama. For the respite it brought Solas. Even though Solas’ decision frustrated me (and, you know, no sex scene) I didn’t regret pursuing the romance. Solas was mysteries and romantic, and I eat that stuff for breakfast. That didn’t mean I wasn’t frustrated though. Solas leaves, then is revealed to be Fen’Harel, but what’s going on? Was everything he said really a lie? And here I thought he was genuine!
Luckily Trespasser fixes all that!
Part Three: Trespasser and Solas
Seeing Solas in Trespasser was the pinnacle of that DLC for me. Deciding the future of the Inqusition was very stressful, and I felt so heart broken that Bann Teagan seemed to hate my guts (but wait, don’t you remember me?! From Redcliffe?! Why are you being so mean?!). But the character interaction was the greatest part. And, of course, the scene where my heartbroken Levellan reunites with Solas.
The moment in general is really eye-opening. Solas just confesses everything. Partially, I’m sure, because he feels like he owes your player character some answers (especially a romanced Levellan). Also, because he genuinely thinks there is nothing your character can do to stop him at this point. And, honestly, he’s not wrong. It wasn’t till this moment that I felt true anger at him. He was so misguided, so deeply rooted in what he thought was right and couldn’t be convinced otherwise. For someone who didn’t romance him, or who never connected with him, I understand why. Even though he seems to feel saddened for what he must do, it all seems fake because he refuses to back down.
That scene is like night and day with a romanced Levellan and/or an Inquisitor Solas connected to. He’s smiling when they reunite. Solas tries to ease your character’s pain. He’s gentle in his tone and words. He tries to explain why he doesn’t want to hurt them (especially Levellan) and that he doesn’t want to hurt anyone more than he has to. It’s still taxing that you’re unable to convince him to abandon his plan, but his heartbreak is so evident that it’s easier to choose the dialogue option to save him rather than to end him.
But what Trespasser does more than anything is it finally exposes all of Solas’ character to you, and you can finally judge whether or not you like him. It shows you why he’s lonely and how jaded he was until he met the Inquisitor/your Levellan. It shows you why he was so harsh towards the Dalish. It shows you the true reason why Solas had to leave a romanced Levellan, and the fact that he truly feels he has been tasked with being the bad guy even though all he wants is to save his people.
There are so many reasons why Solas is my favorite Dragon Age character: His moral ambiguity makes him an interesting ally and enemy. His wit and humor are attractive, and his voice is beautiful (you’re amazing Gareth David-Lloyd!). The loneliness he feels, that he cannot escape, is something many of us, including me, can sympathize with. Romancing Solas helps expose more about Elvish culture, and it further develops Solas’ intricacies. You’ve got to see Solas/Levellan at least once! He’s just such a great character that I could gush about him for hours and not stop. I’m sure days later I’ll think of more stuff I want to add to this article because I muse about Solas’ complexities endlessly.
I’m very excited to see where he takes the DA franchise. Will he be the next game’s main villain, or is there more darkness lurking that we have no idea about? The end of Trespasser seems to imply that the next Dragon Age installment will take place in Tevinter. So until then, I’ll be playing Mass Effect Andromeda as I wait for more Dragon Age and BioWare goodness!
See you guys next time!