Genevieve appears in the Dragon Age: The Calling novel.
This book was written by David Gaider – one of the main writers of the Dragon Age games. It takes place before Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O).
This profile is best read after our primer to the Dragon Age setting. And after following the link therein that presents the Grey Wardens in greater detail.
It also has S P O I L E R S aplenty about the novel. And some about Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening.
This article is presented in two parts. Since it’s a hair over our can-be-comfortably-read-in-one-sitting-by-a-slower-reader threshold. The second half is there.
- Real Name: Genevieve.
- Note: It is possible that the proper spelling is Geneviève.
- Former Aliases: Warden-Lieutenant Genevieve, Commander of the Grey.
- Marital Status: Single.
- Known Relatives: Warden Commander Bregan (brother).
- Group Affiliation: Grey Wardens.
- Base of Operations: Warden Fortress at Montsimmard, in Orlais.
- Height: 6′ Weight: 185 lbs.
- Eyes: Blue. Hair: White.
Powers & Abilities
Genevieve is a veteran Grey Warden, as well as a senior officer within this elite organisation.
She’s exceptionally strong and fit, has tremendous pain tolerance, and is a fighter of heroic prowess. Commander Genevieve strides around the battlefield in heavy plate and with a greatsword, striking down her foes left and right in sweeping arcs.
Genevieve possesses the typical Grey Warden peculiarities :
- Immunity to Taint.
- Limited life expectancy as her mind increasingly perceives the Old Gods.
- Ability to mentally sense the darkspawn across a distance.
- Increased food intake.
Other assets and limitations
Genevieve demonstrated exceptional levels of willpower, discipline, sense of duty and endurance. Her fanatical devotion to her cause lets her push herself way past ordinary limits.
She functions fine on little sleep, as well. And age didn’t seem to blunt her any. She’s fast, furious and fearless.
Even a crack team of Grey Wardens had trouble keeping pace with her over a long raid in extreme conditions.
On the other hand, she’s not a good leader. She can usually hold the line through sheer sternness and intimidation, but in bad enough circumstances this’ll break down.
And her emotional health is dismal.
Say the magic sword
Genevieve’s greatsword is a magical artefact. It was used by her brother before her. It likely has been handed down from Commander of the Grey to Commander of the Grey for a long while.
It is an elaborate weapon with faint runes. The blade sparkles even in the dark.
My rough sense is that it might be in the same class as Ageless , a unique silverite two-handed sword in DA:O.
But all that we know is that it does a good job penetrating even dragonhide – like Duncan’s silverite daggers do.
There isn’t much data past that. As a ghoul she may share ground with hurlock alphas.
The 1970s had a wave of revival of older European music. From minority stuff such as Breton culture, from medieval songs, from the lesser-known corners of baroque music, etc..
Among this wave, an important Italian author was Angelo Branduardi. And one landmark Branduardi song was Il signore di Baux, often sung in French as Le seigneur des Baux.
It’s a somber, medievadjacent, martial march.
The French version of the lyrics (the translation is amazing) fits Genevieve to a T.
History (part 1)
Genevieve was born in an Orlesian village, perhaps one or two years after her brother Bregan. The siblings were extremely close.
After hearing tales of the Grey Wardens, the griffons and the ancient Blights, all that Genevieve wanted to do was to become a Warden.
She and Bregan managed to meet Warden recruiters. They weren’t really interested in Genevieve, but Bregan impressed them. They strongarmed him by telling him that they would only recruit Genevieve if he joined.
Unwilling to ruin his sister’s childhood dream, Bregan agreed.
Both survived their Joining. They served under the Wardens in Orlais, in the fortress near Montsimmard.
It’s a woman’s life in the army, they said
Life with the Wardens proved even harsher, more regimented and more demanding than anticipated. Genevieve met this head-on. She pushed herself to reach the fighting mastery that the recruiters didn’t think she was capable of.
However, Bregan hated life with the Wardens. Genevieve realised this, and blamed herself for having wrecked her beloved brother’s life.
This in turn made her bitter, which of course Bregan blamed himself for.
Over time, the gifted Bregan ascended to the position of Commander of the Grey. He was thus the most senior Warden in Orlais, answering only to the central command in Weisshaupt.
Genevieve presumably was his lieutenant.
Over the years, things just got worse. Bregan was an excellent commander, but all that laid before the siblings was hardship, casualties, politics, seeing older Wardens take their Calling, and feeling the mounting mental pressure from the Old Gods within their minds.
Love and murder (part 1)
It was presumably when nearing her 40s that Genevieve met Guy, an elite Orlesian fighter. Their relationship was at this point her only solace.
(Since it’s Orlais, Guy’s first name is presumably pronounced Ghee).
Genevieve cracked. She asked Bregan to recruit Guy so they could be together as Wardens. She was gambling with her lover’s life, but Guy did survive his Joining.
(It is possible that Guy didn’t have a choice but to join. However, that would mean using the Right of Conscription. Which is seldom done and presumably would have been mentioned.)
Love and murder (part 2)
Guy found life as a Warden even harsher than Bregan did.
One suspects that Genevieve was ashamed of having risked his life and dragging him into this. But they clung together. They eventually decided to marry.
Guy bought an engagement ring in Val-Royeaux. But his inn room was then raided by a young street thief named Duncan.
Guy spotted him, and they fought over the gift. The starving Duncan was desperate for loot, but Guy refused to let go of Genevieve’s ring.
Duncan ended up accidentally killing Guy as he tried to force him back. As he died, Guy thanked the thief.
And death and death and death
Duncan was arrested. Unexpectedly, Genevieve came to recruit him.
Her stated point was that a man capable of killing Guy had to be a mighty fighter.
Her actual expectation was that Duncan would die during the Joining. After experiencing a small slice of the misery she, her brother and her fiancé had to endure.
Duncan refused. As he saw it, that Guy was glad to die meant that life as a Warden was horrible. Out of spite, Genevieve used her Right of Conscription, to the furore of Val-Royeaux authorities.
But Duncan survived his Joining.
By this point, the voices of the Old Gods had done too much damage to Bregan’s mind. He had thus taken his Calling, embarking on a suicide solo combat foray in the underground Deep Roads.
Genevieve succeeded Bregan as Commander of the Grey.
But she was just a placeholder while looking for a better candidate. Since she had taken her Joining along with Bregan, she wasn’t expected to have more than one or two years left before her own Calling.
(Who succeeded Genevieve is unrevealed. The next named Commander of the Grey, Alisse Fontaine, took her position in 9:28. And she came from Nevarra, so there may indeed have been a drought of leading Orlesian Wardens after Bregan.)
The main portraits here for Genevieve were done in a stylised, somewhat-animated-movie style. But I later did photorealistic portraits for various members of her team, which makes this style for portraying Genevieve a bit out of synch.
So I’ve later added portraits done in a photorealistic style. And heh, here’s a video of the sculpt going through its stock idles, because why not (and yes, I should have toned down the roughness of the eyelash).
History (part 2)
The new Commander of the Grey then had a clear vision. In her dream, her brother had been captured by the darkspawn. He was held prisoner in a long-lost Dwarven city.
This seemed unlikely – there was no precedent for darkspawn ever taking prisoners. But Bregan knew the location of the Old Gods. Thus, if he talked the darkspawn would find them and start a Blight.
Struck by her vision, Genevieve hurriedly assembled a crack team of Wardens and rushed to Orzammar.
(One in-universe account insists that her initiative was unsanctioned. This is hypocritical. Montsimmard — the Orlesian Grey Wardens fortress — constantly runs urgent missions without approval from Weisshaupt — the central command. The condemning tone of the document implies that Genevieve had political enemies in Weisshaupt.)
Challengers of the unknown
The Warden Commander worked with Orzammar authorities to determine where her brother might be held. He likely was in the Ortan thaig, a ghost city under Ferelden.
But reaching Ortan meant navigating large distances in unmapped, hostile subterranea.
However, four persons *had* reached Ortan in the recent past. King Maric, Queen Rowan, Teyrn Loghain and the bard Katriel had used the Deep Roads during the Fereldan War of Independence. And both Maric and Loghain were still alive.
(A “thaig” is a major underground Dwarven city. The “Deep Roads” are a network of subterranean passages between those, kinda like underground highways. Almost all thaigs, and the immense majority of the Deep Roads, are now occupied by the darkspawn.)
Hail to the King, baby
But it was a long shot. The Orlais-hating Loghain immediately dismissed their request that he guide them.
Yet to everyone’s surprise, Maric volunteered.
Genevieve was reluctant to drag royalty into this. But finding her brother was too important. Guided by Maric, the party crossed Ferelden and entered the Deep Roads.
The operation was a harsh one, but the Wardens progressed quickly. Maric remembered the path well, the team could march double-time, and they could sense the darkspawn ahead to dodge battles.
Then their luck inevitably ran out. The Wardens but narrowly won a pitched battle against a horde of darkspawns.
Retreating from reinforcements, they ended up in a strange magmatic cavern. To their utter surprise, they were attacked therein by a dragon.
The team once again demonstrated its might by slaying the creature. It was Genevieve who struck the final blow, ramming her sword into the badly wounded dragon’s maw and not letting go. But Julien was killed during this battle.
Soldiering on, the team found the Ortan thaig. They also picked up Bregan’s trail.
Increasingly reckless as she could sense her brother’s presence, Genevieve force-marched her party right into the den of a desire demon. It had been trapped among the dead Dwarves for millennia.
However, Maric resisted the demon. He then rescued each party member from the dreams and nightmares the creature had trapped them in. All but one – Nicolas preferred to remain in a dream where he was reunited with his lover Julien. He saw this as preferable to returning to reality.
Freed, the party destroyed the demon.
Her brother’s keeper
Genevieve’s reckless, over-focused leadership was now in question. There even was a brief brawl, as it was obvious that she’d lead the entire squad to their deaths.
Furthermore, all Wardens but Duncan saw that the Taint was progressing at a greatly accelerated pace across their body. Warden-Commander Genevieve, being the closest to her Calling, had thought that it was just her. It had never occurred to her to ask the others.
Genevieve eventually left the party. She could sense that her brother was now close by. In her view, leaving meant that she wasn’t dragging her troops into her suicide mission now that she no longer required them.
But she vanished in the night without explanations. Lacking information about her decision, the rest decided to go after her to help.
The second half has the end of the history, the description, the characterisation, the stats stuff, the quotes, etc..
Source of Character: Dragon Age: The Calling novel.
Writeup completed on the 10th of February, 2020.