There is one series of books that is required reading for any Dragon Age fan. It's not to say we copied him, but it's required reading for what it represented when I was thinking about the game. I sort of got tired of the same old fantasy-style stories. I read The Belgariad and Wheel of Time back to back, right? And they both started the same way, with a "chosen one" with a boy in a remote village who is carried away just as his village is destroyed ... they both started the same way. They're both decent series, but they're very high fantasy titles.
Then I picked up a series of books by George R.R. Martin called A Song of Ice and Fire. It's a low magic world there, and ours is a bit higher. Dragon Age is lower than the normal fantasy world, though, because magic is sort of rare and mages are very distrusted. As I described how Darkspawn came to be, people kind of have a bad opinion about them as a group.
For me, it was the tonal shift that really changed for me personally. It was such a dark story, and sometimes I think he may get too dark ... but it was focused on politics and civil war, dark and gritty, and there was the possibility that characters you loved might die. I went from being kind of "meh" on fantasy in general to really excited because of these books. We didn't go out to copy his works, but that sort of shift, that darkness, that seriousness are all elements we've embraced for our game. That's the tone of Dragon Age.
Thanks so much for your time, sir.