Historical Fiction

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Author:  Oliver Bowden

Published By: Ace Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Having become entranced by the ideas behind the Assassin's Creed video game series, I decided to check out the books based on the series.  I started with Renaissance as I had been warned that reading these books out of order would cause great confusion.  I was totally drawn in by the storyline of Assassin's Creed: Renaissance and couldn't wait to get my hands on the next novel, Brotherhood.

Brotherhood starts where Renaissance left off.  Master Assassin Ezio Auditore has just defeated the leader of the Borgia family and received a vision of the future and a warning from a "goddess" that he must protect the world from heading into the destruction of his vision.  Uncertain as to what it all means, Ezio returns to his fellow assassins and is horrified to learn that Rodrigo Borgia, AKA Pope Alexander VI, has survived his battle with Ezio. 

Though there is a certain triumph in having beaten the Borgia family and exacting revenge for the death of his father and brother, Ezio knows that the peaceful moments will be few and far between as long as the Borgia still exist.  He has no idea how correct he is.  No sooner does he return to his uncle's home, but it is attacked, his uncle murdered by Rodrigo's son Cesare.  Ezio barely escapes with his life, leading his family and the rest of the survivors of massacre of Monteriggioni to safety, but he looses the Apple, an object with magical powers vouchsafed for Ezio and extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.

It is soon discovered that Cesare has taken control of Rodrigo and his army and has made it his goal to conquer all of Italy.  It is Cesare's secret hope that, once the secrets of the Apple are revealed, he will be more than the ruler of Italy...people of all nations will find themselves bowing to him.  Ezio must find a way to stop that from happening, but first he must work on uniting the Brotherhood once more, for among them there are traitors and spies and no one is quite sure who can be trusted and who is working with Cesare to undermine the Brotherhood of the Assassins.  Can Ezio stop the Borgia surge or will Ezio be betrayed once more by someone closest to him?

Oliver Bowden is an amazingly descriptive writer.  He brought me right into the game.  Having never played it before, I could still picture every single moment...every single battle...brought to life through his writing.  More importantly, Bowden made Ezio Auditore more than just an Assassin whose vow is to destroy the Knights Templar.  He makes him human.  Sure, Ezio fights to the death often, but he does show mercy just as often.  And then there is the side of him that longs for love and a real life, in anguish over the burden he has been made to carry and hopeful for a day when that burden will cease to be.

This book is full of action and intrigue.  There are so many twists and turns in the plot and one will never quite be certain who it is Ezio should trust.  I loved that the storyline included a number of characters from history, including the Borgia family, Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Agostino Chigi and more.  Somehow it made the events of this novel, though mainly fiction, seem somehow real.  And the swiftness of the story - the book is over 500 pages in length, yet I breezed through it in a matter of days.  I couldn't put the book down! 

The first two books of the Assassin's Creed series were so enjoyable, I bought the Assassin's Creed: Ezio Trilogy video game.  I can't wait to play it!


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