Author: Oliver Bowden
Published By: Ace Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I love Assassin’s Creed for the fact that the video game combines a great deal of real history with the fictional events placed in them. In other words, this is a historical fiction video game. Now, granted, I haven’t played the game yet…I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t had much time for video games on gaming systems lately and thus, my copy of Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Trilogy has sat on a shelf, unopened. But I have read the novel series based on the games and my latest foray into the Assassin’s Creed novel series is Black Flag.
Black Flag is a new series of Assassin’s Creed video games that take place in the world of pirates. The novel begins in 1711 with a young man named Edward Kenway. Edward worked in the family business helping his father and mother sell their wool, but he is not exactly enamored by the business. Instead, he longs for a life of freedom on the high seas, sailing around the world in search of exotic lands and adventure. Unfortunately, Edward is also fond of his drink and often gets himself into trouble with the locals for putting on heirs.
One day, he gets into a battle with a local, defending a woman’s honor. What he believed to be one nasty fight turned into a vendetta taken out on his family. When his family homestead is attacked and their business ruined, Edward attempts to exact revenge and finds himself facing a battle with a member of the Knights Templar. Though he does finish off some of his enemies, Edward doesn’t last long against the Templar and he soon finds himself a privateer, traveling abroad on the Emperor. Unable to return home to his wife, father and mother thanks to the murder charges he was bound to be facing, Edward throws himself into his new job, hoping to return home a better man both in growth and in monetary value.
Unfortunately, Edward’s plans don’t turn out the way he wanted them to and instead, he becomes a wanted pirate. He eventually runs into an old enemy – the mysterious Templar who caused his family so much misery. Finally exacting his revenge, he discovers the Templar is planning on a meet and Edward sees a way to make some money by posing as his enemy. Again, his plans are foiled, but he soon finds himself working counter to the Templars, not actually joining the famed Assassins, but working with them to foil the Templar’s plans to control the world, all while captaining a pirate ship.
That historical fiction element is still present in this addition to the Assassin’s Creed series. Throughout the novel, we meet a number of historical figures in the Golden Age of piracy like Benjamin Horngold, Calico Jack Rackham, Edward Thatch (AKA: Blackbeard), Lt. Maynard of the English Navy, Bartholomew Roberts, Woodes Rogers and more. All have a profound effect on Edward Kenway’s life and career, some good and some bad, but always important. Edward Kenway does not exactly start off as a loveable character. He will strike the reader as a lazy drunk in the beginning, but one will notice that he does have a heart and he is loyal to a fault. Even though he constantly yearns for riches just out of reach, there is a moral code he maintains that makes him one of the good guys, even when he is not exactly acting on the side of the law.
Black Flag is full of everything I love about the Assassin’s Creed series. There’s action aplenty, a storyline that fits into world history quite nicely, adventure, romance and more. Oliver Bowden’s writing is so descriptive as to transport the reader to the various locales of the storyline. Whether it is on the shores of the secret hideout of pirates, sailing across the sea, in the jungles of a hidden temple or in Kenway’s hometown, you can picture events and incidents perfectly in your mind’s eye. At almost 450 pages in length, with fairly small font, one might find the look of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag daunting, but once you get started reading, you will cruise through the tale fairly quickly thanks to the engrossing storytelling of Oliver Bowden. I was done with the book in a week and looking for more if that’s any indication of how good this tale is.
Fans of the video game are going to love Oliver Bowden’s adaptation. I can’t wait to read the next novel in the Black Flag series!
Buy Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag at Amazon!