This is one of those books that's long overdue, given the success of the franchise. World of Thedas Vol 1 doesn't expand all that much on the Dragon Age universe and falls short in key areas.
Chapters include: Legend, Map of Thedas, Races, Nations, Magic, Religion, The Fade, The Blight, Bestiary and Glossary. It reads like an RPG sourcebook; granted it's derived from an RPG so that's hard to avoid, but I felt like I should have some dice handy while I was going through it. The layout is gorgeous- some stunning artwork from familiar names like Joy Ang, Fran Gaulin, Jae-Keum, Steve Klit, Caspar Konefal and Nick Thornborrow. Simply beautiful.
There's cameos from some old friends- Varric, Leliana, Morrigan, Anders, and even Flemeth and Corypheus. Brother Genitivi acts as the resident scholar, often supplying commentary on the entries as well.
Much of the information presented is not new, simply fleshed out. And that's where the problems come in: while there are some interesting nuggets and pearls, too many times you'll see either a contradiction to the established canon or something so lacking you wonder why they even bothered with it. And others just leave you scratching your head.
Here's a few examples:
Endrin Aeducan is stated to be mourning the loss of his eldest and youngest sons (it's supposed to be his eldest and middle child). Seems small but it's a huge error if you know the franchise... and how'd they miss it?
Noble ranks in Ferelden- the place we're all most familiar with- are also off, listing an arl as the equivalent of a mayor. Really? Isn't an arl supposed to be an earl or something? Heck, the Bioware chatrooms have better and more detailed info than this 'official' release.
New details about Wardens and the Calling are also confusing: the book states that they must first serve alongside dwarven troops for a year before going off on their own. Since when? And what's the point of it if they're not going to even last that long anyway? Also no new information about the Joining Ritual or how it was discovered.
The chapter on Religion is where it really drops the ball in my opinion. The section on the Old Gods is sketchy- no surprise there- but something about them would've been appreciated. Were they vessels for powerful extra-planar beings or just dragons with powers and abilities far beyond those of other flying serpents? The Elven Gods get a little better treatment- they're supposedly all trapped in the Black City. How? Why?
Humanity is the newest race on Thedas; apparently they all came from somewhere else... But as they make up nearly all of the Maker's worshipers, what was he doing all that time, let alone before Andraste showed up? Who were his followers?
Kossith (Qunari) are said to have migrated to Ferelden in ages past, giving rise to ogre darkspawn, but then why hasn't anyone ever seen them before the Fifth Blight?
World of Thedas is nice enough to have; you get lots of data conveniently packaged for your enjoyment. But there's precious little new information provided in it so it's a toss up as to whether it's worth your while or not.