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Day Two: Favorite Character

And here we run into trouble, because I could make a case for almost any of the main party characters. Why does the second question have to be the hardest? I mean, I do have an easy answer, and that answer is Alistair, but -- spoiler alert! -- he's going to get quite a bit of attention in the "favorite LI" and "OTP" posts, and it hardly seems fair to devote three posts to him when I love so many of the other characters so much.

But the race for second place is ridiculously close. Isabela, Aveline, Varric, Zevran, Morrigan, Sten, Bethany and Carver, Fenris, Anders, Sigrun, Nathaniel, Hawke... I want to write about them all. And I suppose I could, but that's a different meme for a different day. So as I think about these characters, I come back to the one who makes me laugh, makes me smile, breaks out of so many molds, and takes no prisoners as she does it. The one who I had in my party at every reasonable opportunity, even the first time through DA2 when she essentially replicated the skills of my dual-wield Hawke. Today, we're going to talk about Isabela.

A lot of people have written a lot of words about why they like Isabela, and why she's such a great character -- this essay from PopMatters is one of my favorites. So I won't belabor the points others have made too much, but simply put, Isabela is awesome. She's funny, she's flirtatious, and she's loyal -- but only if you earn it. She's sexual, but in a way that she herself defines and owns. It's so refreshing to see a female character who is frank and self-confident about sex without becoming a sex object. I haven't completed an Isabela romance yet (it's next on my list, when I get around to a third time through DA2), but she's an excellent flirtation parter, and an even better best friend. Her cheerful amorality, as exemplified by the battle quote in the title, makes for a nice contrast to most of Hawke's other teammates. She has her problems, yes, and like everyone she convinces Hawke to help her with them, but unlike the others, she doesn't focus on them all the time. Not that she's shallow -- far from it; when pressed, she has some of the most sensible opinions of anyone in the game regarding the important issues of the day. But she prefers not to dwell on them; instead, she lives in the moment, with more than a touch of hedonism, and I love her for it.

Isabela also develops some of the best relationships with the other party members. Her protective, big-sister connection to Merrill, her friendship with Varric, her flirtations with Fenris: they all ring true, and bring out the best in both the other characters and in herself. Nowhere is this more clear than in her friendly rivalry with Aveline, which is among my favorite fictional friendships of all time. They needle each other, support each other, and actually grow as people through becoming friends. It's a beautiful thing to see, especially between two women, and most especially in a video game. And it's due in large part to Isabela and her self-confidence. I love her to pieces, and I look forward to her further adventures in the comic coming out later this year.

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