It's Been Three Years And I Still Hate Solas

Solas is one of the best-written characters in video games. It's hard for me to think of a character whose loathsome worldview is so well developed, who, even when he's on your side, manages to be a complete piece of shit about everything. He is a such a great character that I want to strangle that dude with my bare hands.

Solas, besides being an egg-lookin' arse motherfucker, is an advisor to the player character in Dragon Age: Inquisition. He's an elven apostate — meaning he practices magic outside the legally sanctioned circles of mages — and boy, does he have opinions about elves, magic and pretty much everything else.

Voiced by Gareth David-Lloyd, you might be fooled into thinking that Solas is not only worth listening to, but is a good person. You would be wrong.

Solas's introduction has him bursting onto the scene to help you, and his expertise in the Fade is incredibly useful for your quest to close the giant glowing hole that's appeared in the sky. I only started to dislike Solas once I realised that he was always kind of putting me down.

He was smug, and passive aggressive. In fact, the first time you ask him about himself, his response is just, "why?" You must be a hoot at parties dude!

My hatred of this character is the deepest compliment I can think to give the developers of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Solas is so effective because his worldview, where pursuit of knowledge is paramount and those who disagree are worthy of scorn, is fully developed.

Every time Solas snarked at me or a party member about how the Qun is stupid and the Grey Wardens are ineffective, I rolled my eyes because of course he would. In one playthrough I recruited the Templars, who once policed mages and often oppressed them, and thought to myself, "Well, Solas isn't gonna like this."

It doesn't surprise me at all that Solas is a popular character with a huge fanbase. There are so few characters in games that feel this real.

In some twisted way, my hatred of Solas makes me a fan, inasmuch as I hope he comes back for later games and I can tell him how I really feel. I empathise with Solas. I truly understand why he is so condescending, thinks he knows the solution to everything, is dismissive of other points of view, and is a massive racist.

I applaud the writers of Inquisition for their effort, and I thank them for writing a scene where I can punch Solas in the face.

He is the kind of guy who simply doesn't think other people are worthy of respect. Take, for example, the way he speaks to Iron Bull, a Qunari party member. The Qun is a religion in the Dragon Age universe that is a catch all for regressive, rigid societies. Under the Qun, people don't choose their professions or roles in life, but have them chosen for them.

Solas thinks this is bonkers, and will not stop needling Iron Bull about what it's like to live under the Qun. Iron Bull is a nice guy. He goes out of his way to tell Solas that the Qun's stated goal of bringing everyone into the fold is not worth the bloodshed, but Solas won't let it rest until Iron Bull disavows the Qun entirely.

If, in Iron Bull's personal quest, he does leave the Qun, Solas smarmily says, "You are a man who made a choice ... possibly the first of your life." Iron Bull has just given up his entire society and whole way of life, which is not an easy choice and is fairly traumatic, and Solas is congratulating him on not being one of the sheeple anymore.

Solas doesn't just loudly denigrate one race: he compares the dwarven society to a severed arm. "Whatever skill of arms it had, gone forever," he says to Varric, a dwarf. "Although it might twitch to give the appearance of life, it will never dream."

Hey Varric — your entire culture is worthless I guess! He's also got something to say about the Grey Wardens, mages who are support the circle, Templars, and especially other elves, and he voices all his criticisms, unprompted, to the characters who fall into those categories.

Solas, like a lot of arseholes, fetishizes his knowledge and uses it as a bludgeon to get his way. If, in that scene that can end with you punching him, you ask Solas why he doesn't just leave, he'll ask if there's any other expert on the Fade you can recruit.

Of course there isn't. Solas is the only person who has the level of expertise that your party needs. This is why he talks down to Iron Bull about the Qun and lectures Varric about how the Dwarves have stagnated. He is an expert on in a field that few even research, and that, of course, should be respected.

But Solas is convinced that one area of expertise means that the knows everything about everything else, and furthermore it gives him the right to act like a dick constantly.

It doesn't even stop if you romance him. You can only do this if you're a female elf, and Solas's courtship process is mostly condescending to you about elvish culture. Dalish elves, ones who grow up outside of cities in nomadic clans, try to preserve their culture despite much of it being lost to time.

To honour the elven gods, they have face tattoos called "vallaslin." If you romance Solas, he will reveal to you that vallaslin are actually the markings of a slave and offer to remove them for you.

As the player character laments that they truly don't know anything about their culture, that elven history has truly been lost, Solas remarks, "For all the Dalish got wrong, they did one thing right. They made you." You little tiny moron baby, he is saying to you. Your people are so stupid, but you're just not-stupid enough for me to put my dick in you.

Even when he likes you, he can't help but give you a backhanded compliment. If you have high approval from Solas after his personal quest, he'll ask you if the anchor, a glowing wound in your hand that gives you special powers, has changed your countenance in any way.

"Has it affected you?" he asks. "Changed you in any way? Your mind, your morals, your... spirit?"

What he means is: I thought a member of an inferior race could not do things that I personally deem as smart. Have you been physically and mentally altered by magic to be a little more like me, who is right all the time?

I've met people like Solas before, though granted not ones who talk with spirits and walk in dreams. But in the real world, there are people who are smug, dismissive, who can't even give a compliment without insulting you a little, who delight at a chance to lecture you, and who are huge racists.

It is a testament to the writing of Dragon Age: Inquisition that Solas feels just like one of those people. His character leaps off the screen. Or at least I wish he would, so I could break his goddamn nose.


Comments

    Sera is worse.

      Thirded. I came into the comments just to post that.

      She is the only character in a Bioware RPG I seriously considered letting go when they threatened to.

        Ugh. Sera... The vomit-inducingly twee bastard child of James T. Quirk of the Starship Quainterprise, designed to appeal to tumblrites who are desperate for outlets to express their desire for rebellion against the tyranny of the parents who don't charge them rent, and a society that doesn't acknowledge their uniform uniquness, let alone pay them like rockstars for their talent of having opinions.

        I hate Sera so much.

          I seriously could not have put it better myself.

            I liked Sera. My party was typically Dorian, Sera and Cassandra.
            I'm not going to spout a paragraph or two defending her but I liked her character and thought she was fun to have in my party, esp if Cassandra was in it too.

            Solas bothered me. Even before I knew the ending, I did not like him at all. I didn't go out of my way to antagonise him, I never saw the option to hit him for example, but he was never in my party once I got another mage.
            The only other character I disliked was Vivienne.

            Nobody could have put it better. This is one of the best things I've ever read on the internet.

          I desperately tried to like Sera. Because she was supposed to be funny and fun and sassy and quirky, right? I'm probably the latte-drinking, oversized glasses-wearing millennial she was supposed to appeal to. BUT I HATE HER. Because she is SO RUDE. And SO NASTY about elves. She's not like those stupid, oppressed elves, she's a "special elf". She is on my list of characters who I just CANNOT with.

            She's very 'my way or the highway'. Has her worldview and is sticking to it no matter what. Not interested in hearing any other perspectives, because she's got it all figured out. Can't even entertain the idea that she might not be perfect.

            I hate her so much.

              During her companion quest she flat out murders an unarmed nobleman right in front of you if you ask him too many questions. If you convince her to not murder him before she gets a chance to she gets all huffy and butthurt that you stopped her from murdering someone.

              Oh wow change the pronouns and you could be talking about Sera OR Solas! :D

              I think her attitude towards elves is what really killed any chance of me liking her. Especially because the only reason she seems to have this vitriolic dislike of other elves is because... they didn't let her join their alienage club when she was a kid or something? Like, she gets on their case constantly for being victims and not letting go of the past, but she's still bitter YEARS LATER about COOKIES.

      Awww don't you be picking on my Sera!

      She reminds me so much of my friend I can't help but like her

    I haven't played Dragon Age: Inquisition, but from the few examples shown in this article, seems like the author is reading a little too much into this. I'd argue that her dislike of the character is altering her perception somewhat. Sure, Solas seems to be a dick, but the author's interpretation of his dialogue is pretty harsh.

      Pretty sure the author's just playing it up for dramatic effect, yeah. :)

      No, Solas is mouthing off just to hear his own voice a fair percentage of the time.

      "Varric, I wrote a book too. How to Elfsplain for fun and profit. Here's the top 8 reasons why Dwarven culture sucks, and Orzammar will collapse."
      "... You know I grew up in Kirkwall, right Chuckles? Like I said last time you started on this, I've never even been to Orzammar."
      "Oh... one second. Kirkwall, Kirkwall... okay. Kirkwall's links to the Tevinter slave trade?"
      "You've read it."
      "... Even the bit where the city was built to drive people insane and encourage blood magic?"
      "Unless it's to make a joke about 'that's why everywhere in DA 2 looks the same', I don't care. You're worse than Anders."

    In Solas' defense, re: knowing everything about everything: he does kind of have the benefit of being, y'know... an actual God who's seen civilizations rise and fall and noted the pattern and signature of their follies.

      WHAT!? ;-)

      He's such a sneaky sneaky....god.

      I thought it was really good and telling about the tone of the Dragon Age Universe that someone in Solas' position would not be benevolent. Our expectation would be that he'd be all knowing and fatherly, but he's a jerk.

      A tired, cynical dog of a man who's spent way too long trying to save people only to have them disappoint him kind of jerk, but a jerk none the less.

        There was always something very gentle and soothing about his snark. Like a parent who's tired of asking, "And what have we learned about eating thistles?"

        Hey! What's yer beef with dogs? "cynical dog of a man" - ugh. Dogs aren't cynical. Dogs are way better than people. Sorry, but I've never understood why folks use the term "dog" as derogatory. Dogs are awesome and love you unconditionally. Humans (and cats) are heartless sacks of shite, spite and misery. Solas is defo a cat type of person - smug and needing to be kicked across the room.

    I got a few laughs out of this, agree with just about everything. I hope the sequel can give us another more characters like this.

    This article made me laugh & i really needed a good laugh so thank you Gita.

    I’ve never identified with an article so much in my entire life.

    He does have one major redeeming quality...

    He's not Fenris.

      I don't know. I think the demon-possessed terrorist has him beat. I learned to live with being yelled at by Fenris for basically everything I ever did. (Also, at least Fenris is hot.)

    Ok... He's not wrong about Bull if he stays with the Qun. There's a scene in the Trespasser expansion that shows that very clearly.

      Agreed. The Qun is awful. It even includes a substance that renders people braindead if they don't accept their "place" in the Qun or are deemed too dangerous: eg. mages. The Qun is trash.

    I'm really hoping you can join Solas in DA4 and help with his elf uprising.

      HAHA THANK YOU! I ended Inquisition thinking NO I'm not stopping you I want to join you

    Geezus it makes me sad how few of the DA: Inquisition characters I can even remember, especially when compared to the previous games...

    I know a lot of people liked it but for me there was a great game suffocated to death by filler, and it means sadly that any well written stuff/characters were mostly lost on me as i presumably stopped caring until M & F eventually turned up.

    Iron Bull was cool though - he should deffo get his own game :)

      I killed Iron Bull in my game. Backstabbing jerk.

    Could never use him, looks like Billy Zane which is distracting.

    It's been a while since I've played, but is there any point in the game where Solas either
    a.) admits he's wrong or
    b.) changes his mind
    because of what someone else said?

      I think if you romance him. He admits that the world is trash but was surprised to fall for you.
      Also, he admits he majorly messed up by giving Corypheus the orb in the first place.

    I thought Solas was boring af until I realised at the end of Inq that he was possibly a villain and there was clearly something cool and mysterious going on with him. Then Mr. Von Egg suddenly became incredibly interesting to me. Because I love me a villain. But then I played Trespasser and realised he wants to murder every man, woman and child to achieve his worldview. Then I wanted to wring his scrawny, little neck. Especially since I romanced him and was pretty offended he wasn't at least going to save ME from complete annihilation in the oncoming apocalypse. You rude, rude asshat.

    But though I definitely intend to find and kill Solas asap in the next game, that feeling is nothing compared to the intense rage I feel when I even hear the name Anders. I will never forgive and I will never forget. You psychotic, ginger terrorist.

      Well he doesn't want to directly kill everyone. Just fix what he did originally and restore the world.. which has a nasty side effect of basically ending the world as we know it

        I feel like we can perhaps fix the elf inequality issue without slaughtering all life on Thedas. I DUNNO. Maybe that's a crazy thought. Solas's quest is all about Solas. He wants to alleviate HIS guilt. It has nothing to do with helping the elves. He doesn't even view them as being true elves. He basically states he views himself as unlike them, above them. So his motives for mass murder are entirely selfish. His elven uprising rings pretty hollow when he looks down on other elves almost as much as humans do.

        But tbh I'd probably be less insulted generally if he wasn't just like "thanks for the lols, have fun dying in the oncoming chaos" to you.

          Honestly I'm curious about what the ultimate result would be. His mistake in the first place was creating the barrier between the real world and the fade, which severed the link the elves had with basically themselves.

          It's more than just giving elves equality, he fucked up and is the cause of what happened. As for killing everyone?I'm curious as to how.spirits? magical explosion?
          Humans, etc should of existed before his initial change and they survived the change the first time.

          So I am hoping the next game gives us the option to both correct his mistake but do it in a less apocalyptic way that's hopefully not found in a loot box you have to watch other people open.

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