Hey all, I blazed through the new Garen novella, and found a number of fun lore tidbits you might be interested in. None of these spoil the story, but they do tell us a little more about the current situation in Demacia. I've also attached some thoughts on the novella below. Enjoy!
- Garen encountered Lux after J3’s assassination, escorting some mages to safety. He let her and the mages go, and then lied to J4 about it.
- Garen makes a point of knowing the names of every soldier in the Dauntless Vanguard, as well as the names of everyone in the Vanguard’s support staff: squires, cooks, servants.
- Garen’s greatsword is named Judgement, which is perhaps no surprise.
- Garen is kind of seen as a renegade loose cannon by some of the Demacian brass. He runs the Vanguard very differently from other Demacian battalions, affording his soldiers a lot of latitude and fraternizing with them despite his high birth and rank.
- Quinn has enhanced senses, to a pretty insane degree. She can hear everything within hundreds of yards, and catch smells from miles away. It’s not presented as magical, just part of being a ranger-knight, but the descriptions are clearly well past the human limit.
- Cithria is the latest recruit to the Dauntless Vanguard, joining the eponymous First Shield. Garen personally signed her invitation to undertake the Testing, a grueling month-long evaluation, and she fucking crushed it. Apparently, her scores were the highest since Garen himself took it.
The Dauntless Vanguard
- There is at least one non-human member of the Dauntless Vanguard: Kriel, a minotaur. He is the longest serving member of the Vanguard as well as its largest soldier.
- The Vanguard is allowed a little more flexibility and individuality than other Demacian units when it comes to uniforms, meal times, and so on. Being the best has its privileges.
- The Vanguard classically consists of 2048 men, sixteen companies of sixteen shields, with eight people to a shield. 37 of the Vanguard have died in the few months since Sylas’ uprising.
- J4 has not become King yet, and hasn’t even really pursued it. He is obsessed with hunting down Sylas, and has basically delegated ruling Demacia to the council.
- Tianna Crownguard has a cold marriage with Lord Eldred, the head of the mageseeker order. Their frosty relationship has gotten even worse since the mage uprising.
- In fact, Tianna seems to oppose the Mageseeker order in general, and is very concerned by their expanding power.
- The Stonehorn clan of Minotaurs have lived in Demacia since its founding, and they built many of Demacia’s oldest and grandest fortresses.
- Demacia is surrounded by a number of small, independent nations on its eastern border. Demacia exercises no control over them, but always comes to bail them out when Noxus encroaches on their territory. In return, Demacia doesn’t have to deal with Noxian raids on their own people.
- These include Arbormark, which has many mages, Skaggorn, full of ex-Freljordians who gave up raiding, Rijenfeld, and Nockmirch.
I also wrote up a longer summary, for those who just want to learn the big picture. You can read it
here, but the TL;DR is Noxus is expanding Westward in force, and LeBlanc may or may not be behind it.
I bought the novella day one, and I freaking loved it. If you’re a fan of League’s lore, I’d tell you to pick it up, and if you’re a fan of Demacia, I’d call it a must-read. It perfectly sums up the region; its beliefs, chief conflicts, and major characters. I wish every region in Runeterra were given littles novellas like this to establish them.
Now, you should know what you’re in for. It’s only 150 pages, so the plot is straightforward and fairly predictable. It’s not a murder mystery filled with twists and turns, but it is a super compelling adventure that packs a lot of action and heart into a small package. I was invested in it, and could not have put it down for the life of me. I knew intellectually that everything would turn out alright, but I certainly was not feeling that in the moment. It grabbed me from the beginning and never lost me; not bad for $5.
I think it does a great job characterizing Garen, and shows you a whole new side of him. He’s still the square-jawed Demacian ideal, but this novella shows there’s a lot of conflict, doubt, and actually some rebellion in him too. It’s also the most we have seen of Cithria so far, and she’s awesome. She’s an archetypal character, the young up-and-comer eager to prove themself, and while she doesn’t stray beyond that, Cithria plays it very well. I was also very impressed by Tianna; she’s only in the book for two scenes, but they reveal a lot about her. She’s still stone fucking cold, no question, but she’s a lot savvier and…wiser, even, than I ever expected.
There are a number of minor Demacian soldiers introduced, and while they only have one or two character traits each, it was enough for me to like them and cheer them on, though one or two did fade into the background. I was a little disappointed in Quinn: she’s fine, but the author really plays her straight, and she doesn’t contribute to the plot as much as I expected. Then again, I really liked how realistic the book was. There’s no power fantasy here; it’s definitely not a hundred pages of Garen and Quinn murdering people and looking badass. Both champions are very human in their limitations, and that made them seem relatable to me. By the end, they didn’t even feel like champions: just ordinary soldiers.
And that’s what I think I loved the most about this book: it perfectly captures the spirit of Demacia. Demacia’s dark side has gotten a lot of airtime recently, and it’s not absent here, but this novella is about Demacians reclaiming their stated ideals. It’s a story about people working together in concert, and facing danger by the strength of the one beside you. It’s about how service and duty inspire people to become greater than they could ever be on their own. And it’s a story about how righteousness is a choice you make, not a result of the enemies you fight. This novella is a reconstruction of what it means to protect the weak and ask for nothing in return, and I found it not only refreshing, but encouraging. If that sounds appealing to you, I can't recommend this enough.
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