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"Dragon Age 2" (2011): Aveline, Andraste's Descendant


Lee has been playing "Dragon Age" since the first game's release. She enjoys exploring and explaining the characters and the lore.

Fan art of Aveline.

Fan art of Aveline.

It sounds weird, but Aveline has been a source of fascination for me since Dragon Age 2 was released. At first I liked her because she called Carver a "tit" and was a badass warrior woman. Then the DLC Mark of the Assassin was released, and there came the famous fan theory that she was Andraste's descendant, and that made her even more intriguing. It also made some things in the game make sense.

But recently I was playing Dragon Age 2, and after years of playing the game, I decided to shake things up by taking characters on quests I'd never taken them on before. I took Aveline with me to the Bone Pit as my warrior (before then I always took Carver or Fenris) and her comment about slavery made something click for me.

All this time, I thought Aveline was supposed to be a caricature (a Flanderized exaggeration) of her ancestor, Andraste. But now I'm starting to think Aveline was supposed to be a spoof of the sanitized, bigoted version of Andraste that the Chantry worships.

Aveline is basically the writers mocking the Chantry.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's backpedal a little.

The Andraste Theory

Fan art of Aveline and her awesome muscles.

Fan art of Aveline and her awesome muscles.

If you take Aveline with you during the DLC Mark of the Assassin, she has a personal quest where you discover that her family was hunted for their red hair during the Chantry's campaign against "She of the Red."

They were chased clear from Orlais into Ferelden, which is why Aveline has an Orlesian name but is Fereldan herself. Also, Aveline mentions her mother having "impossibly long red hair," so the theory is in accordance with the "only daughters" theme.

We know that Andraste had only daughters, never sons, and that all of Maferath's son's were not her children (though Maferath tried to pass them off as such).

Andraste's daughters all had red hair like their mother, and after she was executed, they were scattered as they fled across Thedas. They were hunted down by the Chantry over the centuries but were believed to have survived. (I think all of this about Andraste's daughters came from one of the World of Thedas books, I can't recall.)

So it seems Aveline's family was one of the last "of the red" to be hunted.

Aveline during the prologue.

Aveline during the prologue.

If this were true, it would make sense why Flemeth would stop and save Hawke from the darkspawn.

Thanks to Dragon Age: Inquisition, we know that Flemeth is hosting Mythal, the elven goddess. It's my theory that Andraste also hosted Mythal at one point. And since Mythal could actually be a dragon (not an elf), and dragons always give birth to daughters, it would then make sense for Andraste to only have daughters if she was hosting Mythal.

So Flemeth didn't swoop down and save Hawke because she was impressed by a mighty ogre being slain but rather because Mythal was concerned for one of the descendants of her former host.

In other words, Flemeth jumped in to save Aveline, not Hawke. I speculate about this further on my Flemeth article.

The Real Andraste vs The Lie

Aveline during the prologue again.

Aveline during the prologue again.

So Aveline is likely supposed to be a descendant of Andraste, but she's actually nothing like the real Andraste and is in fact more like the false version of Andraste that the Chantry created.

I believe the writers did this deliberately because it makes perfect sense given Aveline's life, abilities, and background for her to have wound up a watered down Chantry version of her ancestor.

On my Big Fat Dragon Age Theory article, I speculate that Aveline and Leliana are both descendants of Andraste. But between the two of them, Leliana has a personality much closer to the real Andraste, while Aveline's personality is closer to the Chantry version.

Leliana appears in "Dragon Age 2." (She is altered by a mod here.)

Leliana appears in "Dragon Age 2." (She is altered by a mod here.)

From what we can gather from in-game codexes and Andraste's very own temple, we know that the real Andraste:

  • Championed elves, believed in their rights, and fought alongside them against the Tevinter Imperium. It's also been heavily implied that Shartan, an elf, was her lover (mirroring Solas/Mythal and Inquisitor/Solas)
  • Abhorred slavery (given that she was a slave herself).
  • Believed in freedom for all, even mages (fighting evil mages doesn't negate that. Mages, like any other group, are a diverse group of people, not uniformly good or bad).
  • Loved to sing (according to her childhood friend in the Temple of Sacred Ashes).
  • Might have been a mage herself (according to a codex in Inquisition).

Leliana, our favorite bard spy from Origins (okay, our only bard spy from Origins), checks every point. She loves to sing, believes everyone should be free, champions elves (even if she does start out with ignorant views on them), and might even be a little magical. If you kill her in Origins, she returns in Inquisition as a lyrium ghost (so cool), and you also discover during the quest In Hushed Whispers that she has a surprising resistance to the taint.

In the book Asunder, which takes place after the events of Dragon Age 2, Leliana appears to fight alongside the mages, helping them escape as the templars and Seekers attack them. Again, like Andraste, she believes in freedom for all people. And if she becomes Divine, she sets out to make that happen with very brutal methods not unlike Andraste's rebellion against Tevinter.

Leliana was also front and center in the Sacred Ashes trailer for Dragon Age: Origins (a trailer that always came off very religious to me) and will attempt to kill the Warden if they desecrate Andraste's ashes.

To say that Leliana was set up to be Andraste's descendant is an understatement at this point. I feel that's exactly what the writers were doing. Andraste is even said numerous times to have had red hair, even though the Chantry sometimes depicts her as blonde.

Leliana is basically Andraste reborn.

Fan art of Aveline being a killjoy.

Fan art of Aveline being a killjoy.

Meanwhile, Aveline is nothing like the Andraste we know from the lore.

Aveline probably wouldn't be caught dead singing, let alone having anything remotely like fun.

Unlike Andraste, Aveline is ignorant about elves and has an almost callous indifference toward them. If you take her along during the quest to kill Kelder (the guy who kills elven children), she will ask a bereft elven father why he doesn't just go to the guards, as if the guards cared!

Aveline is like someone asking a black person why they didn't report something that happened in the ghetto to the police. She's completely ignorant to the fact that authority figures are just as dangerous to minorities as the criminals who prey upon them.

And indeed, during the events of Act 2's climax, it's revealed that one of Aveline's guards raped an elven girl and no one cared when the elves reported it to the guard. Aveline is the guard captain at this point, so the fact that the case was just swept under the rug only further underscores the fact that she just doesn't care about elves or understand their lives. She's not rich or even of high status, but she has lived her entire life completely separate from elves, and it has ruined any chance of having developed empathy for them as people.

Compare this to both Leliana and Andraste, who grew up in lower class positions. Andraste was a slave just like the elves, while Leliana started out an orphan living with the employer of her mother, became a bard assassin, and survived by committing survival crime in the underworld. Because minorities are often reduced to the same activities, she spent a lot of time with elves. And while she still had some ignorant views of them thanks to Orlesian culture, she had a lot more empathy for them as people than Aveline, who never interacted with them much at all.

Fan art of Hawke losing at cards. Aveline is not amused.

Fan art of Hawke losing at cards. Aveline is not amused.

Aside from being a grump who never has fun and neglects hate crimes against elves, Aveline is also wary of mages and magic and was married to a templar on top of that, which makes befriending her as Mage Hawke a little difficult (she makes some really crappy comments about mages throughout the game). Again, this is in direct contrast to Leliana and Andraste, who fought alongside mages and may have been a little magical themselves.

So because of her upbringing, which kept her from interacting with mages and elves and other "minorities," Aveline grew up to become a complete replica of the Chantry's false version of Andraste:.

  • The Chantry hates elves so much that Shartan was removed from the canon (though I have another theory about that on my "big fat" theory article) and elves aren't allowed to join the monastery or become priests, etc.
  • The Chantry hates mages and confines them to the Circle, while ranting about how magic exists to serve, never rule. Therefore, mages are not allowed to take up leadership roles unless, of course, they are Grey Wardens or Inquisitors.
  • The Chantry is also uptight about singing and dancing and having fun. Sebastian is a perfect example of this.

So with that in mind, it makes sense that the Chantry would take the historical figure of Andraste and present her as a holy warrior who upheld their ideals, rather than the elf-loving, magic-wielding, singing, dancing mage she likely was in reality.

In other words, Aveline's upbringing molded her into a sad spoof of her own once mighty ancestor. I thought it was a neat thing that they did, but only pedantic nerds like me would even have noticed it.

The Point of my Epiphany

Beautiful fan art of Aveline with Wesley's shield.

Beautiful fan art of Aveline with Wesley's shield.

Again, what brought on this sudden revelation was the fact that Aveline made a comment about slavery when I took her to the Bone Pit.

When you first enter the Bone Pit with Aveline during Act 1, she will comment that the mine thrived on slavery but that Kirkwall wouldn't exist without it. She didn't directly condone slavery, but her nonchalant comment sure made it sound that way.

A completely appalling implication. And very ironic given that Kirkwall used to be a part of the Tevinter Imperium and may even have been the place were Corypheus entered the Black City. And yet Aveline shrugs at slavery while her ancestor, Andraste the slave, spent her entire life fighting for her freedom!

Yes. Aveline was very much a living, walking replica of what the Chantry likes to pretend Andraste was, while Leliana actually is a living, walking replica of Andraste.

I dismissed Leliana as "boring" in other articles (where I complained about the lesbian option always being disappointing or skeevy) but Leliana is actually a really great character.

So is Aveline.

It would be interesting to learn more about Andraste in future games. Actually meeting her ghost or unlocking some mystery about her might be the only reason I would buy the next Dragon Age game.

They ruined everything else for me.

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