If I’d known then what I know now…
I’m not going to go into spoilers, but some events that happen in the Dragon Age storyline are going to hit people who read the prequel novels a lot harder than those who didn’t. If I’d known ahead of time what was going to happen in the story, I would’ve urged folks to read The Stolen Throne and even The Calling (though it wasn’t that great a novel it did contain a goodly amount of backstory) before playing.
And yes, with the weekend here I’m finally done waffling and creating ‘alts’ and am actually moving forward in the story!
If you bought your version of DA:O digitally, or if you bought the console version, you might be interested in downloading the manual for the game (I haven’t seen the console manual but I’m told it’s pretty thin). I just had a read through it and learned some nuances I wasn’t aware of. Plus it gives some info that might help you in picking a race/class combination.
If that isn’t enough, there’s a fan-led project called Dragon Age: Origins – The Missing Manual (at least, that’s what it is called until O’Reilly, who publishes “The Missing Manual” series, hears about it). It’s very much a work-in-progress but already does a good job of making existing information easier to parse. For example, this chart on what each character behavior setting does is, to me at least, easier to grok then looking at the tool tips in-game.