Starkhaven is an independent and prominent city of the Free Marches which lies close to the Minanter river.
In 2:15–2:45 Glory Starkhaven arose and prompted its king, Fyruss, in attempt to unite the Free Marches under his banner and build his own empire. In 2:80 Glory, Fyruss was betrayed by his Tevinter allies and ousted from Starkhaven; the Tevinter Imperium conquered his city in result. This led the Chantry to declare an exalted march to reconquer Starkhaven from the Imperium. The following battle for the independence of Starkhaven was short, but bloody.
Now, the largest city in the Free Marches, the independent city-state of Starkhaven is ruled by the Vael family and has strong ties to the Chantry in its governance. It sits on the Minanter River in the northeast and borders with Antiva. Starkhaven has had its share of memorable events in Thedas history, such as being the site where the Second Blight was ended with the Archdemon Zazikel's destruction by Grey Wardens, and in the Steel Age, when it was besieged by Qunari invaders who hoped to cut off trade to the north, only to be repelled. It is known to have had at least one Champion rise to prominence who participated in the Battle of Ayesleigh.
It is a place of wealth and opulance, with many kingly estates with fountains of marble and paths of granite. It is also famed for its superb cuisine, with its most famous dish being fish and egg pie. It is made with three deboned fresh fish, boiled eggs, dried fruit, spices, and thickened cream, topped with a light crust.
Being the largest of the Free Marches' many city-states, Starkhaven is governed by a prince. The ruling family is the Vaels, though the majority of them (including the ruling member) were murdered in 9:31 Dragon by Flint Company mercenaries in the employ of Lady Johain Harimann of Kirkwall. The Harimanns intended to usurp the Vaels, placing the maleable Goran Vael on the throne.
Before the slaughter of the Vaels took place, they exiled their youngest son, Sebastian, to Kirkwall, in order to live a chaste life in service to Andraste's Chantry. The young Vael avenged his parents, killing both Johain Harimann and the Flint Company Mercenaries, though Goran Vael still rules the city.
- According to Varric, Starkhaven is "pretentious".
- If in Act III Hawke refuses to kill Anders for his crimes, heir claimant Sebastian will immediately depart for Starkhaven with the promise of returning to Kirkwall with a large army to bring Anders to justice.
- If in Act III female Hawke rivals and flirts with Sebastian, he says "The prince of Starkhaven and the viscountess of Kirkwall? It would be the strongest alliance the Free Marches ever had".
See alsoCodex entry: The City of Starkhaven