Historical Fiction

Assassin's Creed: Forsaken

Author:  Oliver Bowden

Published By: Ace Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                Iím a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed novel series based on the video game by Ubisoft Oliver Bowden is an amazing author who has perfectly captured the characters in the video game series and created credible backstories and adventures for each in kind.  I have read four books in the Assassinís Creed novel series and loved them all.  I couldnít wait to read the next in the series Ė Forsaken.

                Based on the characters found in the Assassinís Creed III video game, Forsaken begins as a journal written by Haytham Kenway.  As a young boy in London in the 1730s, Haytham has lived a lonely life.  His father and mother are doting parents and his father has trained him to fight and think for himself, questioning what he is taught by others.  However, Haythamís half-sister, Jenny, seems to have no use for him, except to scorn him and he has no access to other children his age.  Though lonely, Haytham tries to enjoy what he has until one night in 1735 when his home is invaded, his father killed and his sister taken.

                That fateful night would change the direction of Haythamís life forever, for shortly afterwards, it is decided that Haytham Kenway will live with Reginald Birch.  It is with Birch that Haytham will learn more than just sword play Ė he will learn how to kill, as an emissary for the Knights Templar.  As it turns out, Reginald Birch is the Grandmaster of the Order in London.  Under Reginaldís tutelage, Haytham has learned a great deal about the Knights Templar and their ideals.  He has also continued the search for his sister and his fatherís killers.

                But every time Haytham appears to get close to the truth of what happened that night in 1735, it would seem that he is dragged further away.  Even more frustrating is that it would appear Reginald is the factor steering him away from finding his fatherís killer.  And yet, Haytham owes Reginald a great deal, and thus, he puts these ideas out of his mind for the sake of the Order.  He eventually finds himself in America, fighting alongside members of the order in the British Army against the French in the Seven Years War.

                In America, Haytham is made the Grand Master of the American Templar Order, but he has begun to question quite a few things.  Though he believes in the existence of Those Who Came Before, he is becoming more disenchanted with the established members of the order, especially when he discovers that he has been lied to all this many years.  Haytham learns that his father was actually an Assassin and that Reginald lied to him about the reasons behind his fatherís murder and his sisterís abduction. 

First on his agenda: rescue his sister.  Next, make those who killed his father and tortured his sister pay.  Finally, find a way to unite the two ordersÖbut uniting the Templars and Assassins will be no easy task, especially when the colonists are looking to rid themselves of their British rulers.  These rebels have someone among them that will capture Haythamís interestÖsomeone whose ideals somewhat mirror his own, but also stand in the face of his hopes for the future.

Oh, how I love the writing of Oliver Bowden.  He is so descriptive, I can picture everything taking place in the novel in my mindís eye.  I love that Assassinís Creed: Forsaken is written in a Knights Templar point of view.  In all of the previous novels, we have seen the Assassins point of view, so it was refreshing to see things from the other side of the battle.  Of course, Haytham has some Assassins ideals taught to him by his father, but a great many of those ideals are very similar to those of the Knights Templar.  In the end, it is how those ideals are applied, in addition to the failures of men that determine who is right or wrong in this battle between the Knights Templar and the Assassins. 

This novel allows us to see that not all of the Knights Templar were power-hungry monsters.  Certainly, Haytham is a flawed character Ė he has become jaded by doubt thanks to the deceptions heaped upon him by the very people he trusted most of his lifeÖthe people who made him the man he has become.  We find ourselves divided between cheering Haytham on as he achieves his goals and cringing at his errors and blind faith in his mentors.  I literally wanted to reach into the book and slap some sense into him a couple of times early on when the evidence was right in front of him regarding his fatherís murder and he failed to see it.

In the end, we mourn for what could have been and hope for a better life for the new character we have been introduced to Ė one that Haytham had hoped to bond with, but later realizes he is too jaded and their views too different for that hope to become a reality.  It is a sad ending, but one that is hardly unexpected.

The next book, Black Flag, is supposed to follow one of Haythamís Assassin ancestors.  I canít wait to check it out!


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