Author: Gordon Doherty
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
I’ve been truly enjoying the Assassin’s Creed novel series based on the video game by Ubisoft. I’ve finally reached the last one in the series and, lo and behold, I discover it is written by a different author. Most of the Assassin’s Creed novels have been written by Oliver Bowden, but Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is by Gordon Doherty. Will this novel measure up to all of the ones I read previously?
Odyssey is centered on a Spartan woman named Kassandra. In 451BC, Kassandra was a happy child, doting on her new baby brother when a prophecy by the Oracle turns her life upside down. Because of this prophecy, Kassandra’s brother, Alexios, is to be cast from the top of Mount Taygetos to prevent the fall of Sparta. Loyal Spartan, Nikolaos, sees it as his duty to his country, but the rest of his family doesn’t quite see it that way. In an effort to prevent her brother’s death, Kassandra attacks the senior ephor presiding over the ceremony, accidentally sending Alexios to his doom in the process.
Now, as an adult, Kassandra is repenting her actions, living in Kephallonia as a mercenary for hire. At her side is an eagle named Ikaros and Phoibe, a young Athenian orphan. Down on her luck, Kassandra sees an opportunity for a better life when she is offered a new job – to assassinate the Wolf, a Spartan general. To do so would mean facing uncertain danger infiltrating the battle lines of the war between Sparta and Athens, but it would mean wiping her debt clean and a life of freedom. Her journey will be fraught with danger and deception, but success will mean so much more as she discovers the true identity of the man she is about to kill.
For Kassandra is about to learn that the prophecy that brought doom to her family was orchestrated by individuals seeking absolute power. And those involved in the cult that has grown in strength since 451BC are masterfully hidden amongst the innocent on both sides of the war. Can Kassandra see through the conspiracy and put an end to the cult that threatens to destroy Sparta and Athens both?
Gordon Doherty does a great job in maintaining that gaming atmosphere, his descriptive writing allowing us to observe Kassandra’s various trials in our minds’ eyes as though it were scenes from a video game. Kassandra is a character we instantly relate to and root for. She is flawed, but she has strength of determination. The various events of her life are often exhilarating in their action-packed sequences, but the danger and betrayals can be equally crushing. As the tale of her journey unfolds, the reader is absolutely mesmerized, trying to figure out, just as Kassandra is, who the true enemy actually is and how he or she can be stopped.
Odyssey is not your average Assassin’s Creed novel. There is no mention of the Order of the Assassins or the Knights Templar, for this tale takes place long before the creation of either order. This novel takes place at a time when the “apple” of the original novels was a pyramid hidden inside the Cave of Gaia. Fittingly, the final book of the series speaks of the beginning of the journey.
I loved every minute of it. Gordon Doherty is a gifted writer, able to captivate his readers with characters they grow to love…or hate, depending on the individual. Either way, these are characters we become invested in. The locales are beautifully described. Being an avid reader of Greek and Roman mythology and a study of the war between Athens and Sparta, I loved the historical references in the novel, with appearances by such historical figures as Hippokrates, Pythagoras, Aristophanes, Sophocles and more.
Whether you like action novels, mysteries or a mix of both, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is a great read and Gordon Doherty has proven more than up to the task in following in Oliver Bowden’s footsteps.