Oliver Bowden is a pen name for Anton Gill – a writer, historian and gamer in one person. He has written many books and the Assassin’s Creed series based on Ubisoft’s video game is just one of them.
The Assassin’s Creed games are very popular, so popular actually that there are little under ten books based on the games as well as a film which came out recently. The Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance is based on the first part of Assassins Creed II and takes place in Italy, mostly Florence and Venice.
The book follows young Ezio, who is to inherit his father’s banking business and continue the family traditions, but the plans change, when injustice is done to the Auditore family and only by chance Ezio escapes execution. His blood is boiling as the boy plans revenge on those responsible for the injustice done to his family. His whole life changes and he has one sole purpose – vengeance.
My only meeting with Assassin’s Creed has been the film, which I was very excited about, but was left somewhat disappointed. I guess I expected more of the Spanish Inquisition and less of the modern times and weird technologies. Nevertheless, it pushed me to read the first Assassin’s Creed book, which I had bought for my boyfriend a long time ago.
The story was a very light read, which was pleasant and it gave the feeling of Italy without really pushing much of the history in the book. The casual mentions of different buildings, architects and history facts did enrich the book in a pleasant, but unobtrusive way.
I did have a couple of problems with the book though one major problem was that the driving force of the plot didn’t seem to be that important to the protagonist. His lack of worries, about spending years and years of time on quests without knowing why he was doing them, didn’t seem like enough to motivate a human being to fight with such fire inside of him. Sure, he was angry about the loss of his family, but to be honest, the story soon turned to a very different point, which was never explained to Ezio and so all that ‘important’ work that he did, shouldn’t have seemed that important to him. Of course, that is because of the game. You don’t really need the big objective to play the game, but if I look at it from the perspective of the book, it seems like he wasted his life away not knowing for what cause he was fighting.
Another thing, that caught my eye and is something that one could expect from a book based on a game, was the obvious division, where a quest starts in a game and where it ends. It didn’t bother me much at the beginning, I guess I didn’t even notice it, but the closer to the end I was, the more I could see when Ezio has received another quest.
The last thing is that I thought the book to be too long. I understand (again) that it is as long as the game is, but I didn’t like the last part of the book. Suddenly in this cold realism and brute force there’s mysticism, magic and piety, I felt like I was thrown out of a boat and I can see how it only makes things cooler on the screen, but that is not the case in a book. I disliked it so much, that the book lost a star only because of the ending.
Nevertheless, the book inspired me, it made me think of Italy (I visited Rome last year) and it made me long for the wonderful art of Leonardo da Vinci (Ezio’s friend, by the way) and the streets of Florence. And as it did so, I bought tickets to visit Florence and Venice, just like Ezio.
Overall I think that author did a pretty good job of turning a game into a book, it proved to be a decent and interesting read and honestly I’ve read a lot worse books. I gave this book two stars on my goodreads page, as I said mostly because of the disappointing ending. And I hear that it is exact recitation of the game, so I guess those who have played it aren’t really going to be interested in it. But it is also not suitable really for romance seekers as there’s quite little of that.
I will definitely read the next one as on goodreads the ratings are going up and up and I want some more of the atmosphere the book managed to create. I probably wouldn’t re-read it though, wasn’t that good.
Let me know your thoughts on the book, game and other things I mention. I’ve seen that a lot of my friends have put it in their ‘to be read’ lists on goodreads, so I definitely want to know what you think! Cheerio!