Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide Book Review

Book Review | Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide

“This volume is a fans bible, everything they encountered or have yet to encounter is here, ready and waiting for them to explore”

“We work in the dark to serve the light. We are Assassins”

Many years ago, the world was addicted to playing ‘Prince Of Persia‘. Here was a game that captured the imagination and hearts of the gaming community. With its sleek levels, amazing feats to be attempted and completed during the gameplay and the sheer enjoyment gained from sitting down, firing up your console of choice and leaping into a game entranced gamers like no game since ‘Tomb Raider‘ managed. And then Assassin’s Creed was created and released on an unsuspecting world. This game was one of the hardest ever to be played. And I do mean HARD. It was also one of the most enjoyable to even attempt to play. Many friends of mine have had to replace their controllers over the years playing the various incarnations of the game due to their frustration of dying on a level and throwing their controller down on to the floor in anger. Ever since the original game came out, the world has been treated to sequels, offshoots and even a movie of the franchise.

Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide | by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide Cover

Titan Books have released an essential guide to the Assassin’s Creed world. The volume concerns the history, characters, places and technology featured in the universe of Assassin’s Creed. And believe me when I say, its a long but worthy coffee table book that deserves to be read and enjoyed. It encompasses everything that the games have contained within them and stands out as a full guide to what the player can and has experienced throughout their playing time down the years. The book is broken down to nine chapters with the last being a tribute to the ‘Real-Life Brotherhood’, The Assassin’s Creed community itself. We begin the book with a foreword from the head of content for the games, Aymar Azaizia. In his comments, he recalls the first time he encountered the Assassin’s Creed franchise. He reveals this to be through a video presentation and how he found it to be bewitching from the start, the music and the white silhouette paused in the crowd. Azaizia joined the team for the sequel to the game and has been there ever since. He revels in the fact that the franchise uses historical moments in time to base the games in and how this resonates with the gamers worldwide.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Introduction

We now come to the first chapter of the book, the introduction. It is here we will discover “The Assassin Brotherhood” in all its glory. It tells us the tale of the brotherhood, how their values were founded and quote the creed:

1. Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent

2. Hide in plain sight

3. Never compromise the Brotherhood

The Assassins role is covered in great detail and is highlighted with a magnificent full-colour drawing to bring the piece to life. We now come across The Templar Order, who the Assassins oppose. Here, we will discover all about the order, their objectives which are very similar to the Brotherhood’s and their inner workings. As we turn the page, we come across and learn about The Animus, one of the most important tools for the Assassins Brotherhood and the Templar Order both. it is, of course, a way to access genetic memories and gaining information on technological artefacts from the Precursor Civilization. We are given an illustration of the Animus and exactly how and why it works. We come across the timeline to end this first section. Here we will discover every important event in the timeline of the game from an unknown time right through to 2018. Every important event, whether it be a birth, death or assassination is cover here as our time with the introduction comes to a close.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Timeline

Chapter 2 is devoted to The Precursor Civilization. It is in this section that we will discover important historical records about those who came before. We are presented with quick facts about them and have a comparison between the Precursors and humankind. We move on and discover the Known Precursors. We start off with Juno. We read about her historical significance, about her deeds and ultimately about her demise at the hands of Charlotte De La Cruz. Across the page, we are presented with Minerva. Everything that we require to know about her is presented to us here, from her beliefs and her battles to her messages sent through time to Desmond Miles to avoid a catastrophe from happening in December 2012. All are here for the reader to discover.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Precursor Civilization

As we go through the pages, other known Precursors present themselves upon the pages, from Aita and Consus through to Hermes and Aletheia, all are here with their biographies just waiting to be explored. We come across the pieces of Eden, the apples of Eden, the Staves of Eden and everything. We come across the Precursor locations such as the Grand Temple and the other temples we will encounter throughout our time with the game. All are here in superb detail and text.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to Before The Brotherhood. It is here where we will learn about what happened in the ancient past that in turn led to the formation of the Assassins and the Templars. We begin with the end of the golden age and the events that surrounded them. We meet those from centuries ago that formed the basis for our two factions we follow in the game. Kassandra is here in all her splendour, a beautiful woman and a strong one at that. She glowers at us from the printed page as we read and discover her biography and her life. We learn who her key allies were and who was her main opponents.  Deimos stands tall and proud as we come across him.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Before The Brotherhood

We learn about the other characters who constantly shifted their alliances throughout history. Leonidas, the legendary king of Sparta makes an appearance here alongside Nikolaos and Myrrine. Sokrates is here, giving us the benefit of his philosophy. The independent Aspasia looks at us from behind her veil. All are here to be enjoyed. We encounter the Hidden Ones and especially Bayek and Aya, their pictures and biography just waiting to be viewed. The order of the ancients greets us alongside the shifting alliances within. They are all here, gleaming in their glorious magnitude.

Chapter 4 is devoted to The Assassin Brotherhood. It is here where we will discover the Brotherhood throughout the ages, from the Renaissance, the great purge and so on. Everything about the Brotherhood is encapsulated within the pages of this section. Their training is revealed in full, their iconic abilities, the hidden blade weapon they wear up their sleeve and more. We learn who the main assassins are. Altair Ibn-LaAhad is the first to make himself known, accompanied by his biography. Ezio Auditore is up next, poised to strike at us from his picture that accompanies his biography. The lovely but deadly Shao Jun stands ready to despatch all enemies as we meet her. A member of the British Brotherhood, Edward Kenway stands tall as he readies himself for action. All are here including their allies throughout time and history, ready and waiting to be discovered.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Arbaaz Mir

Chapter 5 is all about The Templar Order. Their history is presented to us once more here including the structure of the order in general. The induction ceremony is unveiled before our eyes in its entirety before we come across the Main Templars. Robert De Sable glares at us as we come across him, his biography explaining all to us from his birth up until his death at the hands of Altair Ibn-LaAhad. Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) makes his presence known to us, this man of God pulling the strings in his own way. Prince Ahmet in all his regal glory stands before us in arrogance. Madeline De L’Isle is here, still attempting to sway all those in her orbit to submit to her whims. Baptiste makes his presence known, decked out in his voodoo attire. The tragic Elise De La Serre presents herself, bringing her beauty into the light. Their allies finally make themselves known to the world, dragged from the shadows to face the world they inhabit.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Page 12

Chapter 6 regards the Technology and Weapons we will find and use throughout the games. Everything is covered here, from the Animus throughout the ages, Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions, the Borgia war machines, the tomahawk, the climb leap glove and the cane sword. The ships that will be encountered during the gameplay are all here in their glory too. Chapter 7 regards the locations and settings encountered during our time within the Assassin’s Creed world. We start with the main historical periods. We begin with Greece and make our way through Constantinople, Spain, North America, and Russia as we go through the years until we reach Shanghai and the Twentieth Century Opium Wars. Each location is examined in great detail as we go through this section, discovering facts that we may not have picked up during our time immersed in the gaming world. The Industrial Revolution is looked into, The American Civil war is presented to us, The Louisiana Rebellion is laid bare for all to see. We come across the Abstergo Facilities and all that they contain and encompass.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Locations And Settings

Chapter 8 deals with Modern Day. It is here where we are brought into the present and the battles that still rage even after centuries of conflict. The present-day Assassin Brotherhood and their Templar Order adversaries are laid bare before our eyes. Abstergo Industries has all their secrets revealed including their subsidiaries and products. The Inner Sanctum is dragged into the public eye and many of their members are unveiled.  Juhani Otso Berg is profiled. This main member of the present-day Templars gets a full biography for us to digest. Daniel Cross is profiled as is Warren Vidic. All the modern-day Templars make an appearance. As do their Assassin equivalents. The Mentor is given a full back bio. William Miles is exposed. Gavin Banks is revealed. Desmond Miles is profiled. The short life of Lucy Stillman is given to us. All is presented to us here in a rather enjoyable section that culminates in a look at the other factions and unafflicted individuals we encounter in the modern-day battle. We finally come to our final section. This two-page spread is devoted and dedicated to those individuals who make up the Assassin’s Creed community. Those who participate in Cosplay. The ones who upload video content online. The ones that engage in live events and of course, to the fan art that appears online, in homes and such like, These people devote most of their free time to Assassin’s Creed and the worlds it has created and is a fitting end to a sublime book.

Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide - Real-Life Brotherhood

Final Thoughts:

Anyone who has played and enjoyed being in the Assassin’s Creed universe will get a massive blast out of the book. The whole book is a dedicated look inside something that has taken the whole world by storm and continues to do so to this day and beyond. This volume is a fans bible, everything they encountered or have yet to encounter is here, ready and waiting for them to explore. The biographies of the factions and characters who appear in the pixels and the story of the Assassin’s Creed world are without reproach as is the glorious paintings and designs of the characters and their worlds that make up this extraordinary book. Budding artists and computer artists will also get a kick out of the book as they will marvel at the vivid textures and vibrant colours the pictures here represent. The world of Assassin’s Creed has been thought out brilliantly and this book can only compliment the world that has been lovingly and so wonderfully created. Grab your copy now!

 

Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is published by Titan Books and is available to buy NOW!

 

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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!

 

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Editors Note: A big thank you to our friends at Titan Books for sending over our advance review copy.

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