Years go by, but the passion of the fans for Assassin’s Creed continues to burn despite the controversial evolution that the saga has gone through over time. And while curiosity about the mysterious Assassin’s Creed Infinity project grows, while waiting for news on the expansions of Valhalla, we want to retrace with you the expanded universe of the Ubisoft franchise. In fact, in addition to the film with Michael Fassbender (you certainly won’t need an Animus to navigate to our review of the Assassin’s Creed film), the brand starring the hooded warriors has known over the years a fertile production linked to novels and comics, of which however, not all are canonical. In this special, therefore, we want to clarify the nature of the most important titles, since some of them provide many additional details on the protagonists of the series.
The prolific publication of books belonging to the Assassin’s Creed brand began in 2009 and continues today. Most of the titles distributed in bookstores around the world bear the signature of Oliver Bowden, pseudonym of the British writer Anton Gill. As a history buff, after a first part of his career spent working as an author in the entertainment world for industries such as the BBC, Bowden threw himself headlong into making adaptations and expansions of the first games in the series: all this up to 2017, when he put down his pen to make room for other writers.
The first Assassin’s Creed novel is Renaissance, transposition of the second chapter starring Ezio Auditore. The series, hand in hand with video games, continues with Brotherhood (the Brotherhood book) e Revelations, adaptation of the homonymous game in which we see the ancestor of Desmond Miles struggling with the Byzantine Templars. Although these novels can be considered faithful to the events of the video games they are inspired by, their nature is halfway between the canonical and the apocryphal, since there are some narrative details that conflict with the original works. During his first adventures, for example, Ezio does not wear assassin’s clothes and is described with a different physiognomy compared to the video game, while the storyline of Claudia Auditore is in principle slightly different. Also in 2011, at the same time as the Revelations novel, it also comes out The secret crusade: it is a story that expands Altair’s past by telling us about his youth before the events of the founder of the saga. A story that we can consider canonical, since there is no element in contrast with the plot of the game.
The literary production of Assassin’s Creed, in the following years, has decided to take a different path than the first transpositions. Also thanks to the success of the prequel on Altair, and the hunger for knowledge of fans on the “lore” of each chapter, starting from Assassin’s Creed III we have some peculiar (and substantially canonical) cases.
Forsaken, an expansive book of the events set in the American Revolution, tells us for example the story of Haytham Kenway, Connor’s father, and how his view on Assassins and Templars was distorted by the tragic events he experienced at an early age. In 2014 it arrives instead the official Black Flag novel, which tells the story of Edward Kenway before his luck trip to the Americas. An excerpt from this book is even present in the game: in the role of the faceless Abstergo employee, in fact, among the collectibles scattered around the French office we also find the first pages of Bowden’s novel. Another element that confirms its canonicity. Going forward, the Assassin’s Creed Unity book starring Elise De La Serre and gives us further background on the fascinating daughter of the Templar Grand Master, torn between duties to his order, love for Arno Dorian and his deep feelings of revenge. AC Underworld comes to life in Victorian London about 6 years before the adventures of the Frye twins: main character is Henry Green, the Indian-born killer who administers the British Brotherhood.
Finally, moving on to the most recent narrative course there is Desert Oath, the novel by AC Origins that tells us about the youth of Bayek and Aya before the two medjays start a family and the order of the Ancients ruins their lives forever. Odyssey’s novel instead transposes Kassandra’s journey in Ancient Greece to discover its true origins, and confirms the canonicity of the female protagonist with respect to the role of Alexios.
Finally there is The Geirmund Saga, the novel of Valhalla which – in addition to confirming again that Eivor’s female avatar is the canonical one – tells different background on the plot of the game through the epic of an unpublished Viking: Geirmund, a Nordic warrior who makes his way into the army by King Guthrum.
Compared to books, Assassin’s Creed canonical comics are not few. As confirmed a few years ago by the official Ubisoft accounts, the first series of comics to be in continuity with the games is The Fall 2010 miniseries explores the character of Daniel Cross, the haunted Abstergo hitman who hunts down Desmond, and his connection with Nikolai Orelov (protagonist of AC Russia).
Also in this case we are talking about a prequel and in particular about the past of the elderly Russian assassin before meeting the young Anastasia Romanoff and learning the secrets of the Pieces of Eden. The story of Cross and Nikolai then continues in The Chain, another miniseries that brings to a conclusion the narrative arc that we have just told you about.
Instead, it is of a completely different nature Assassin’s Creed Brahman: the series takes us to 19th century India but does not follow the events of Arbaaz Mir. The protagonist is Jot Soora, tasked with testing a new VR headset that Abstergo Industries plans to launch on the market as soon as possible. Jet therefore relives the memories of his ancestor Raza Soora, a murderer who lived about two centuries ago. Another interesting graft is The trial of fire, miniseries in which we live the adventures of Charlotte De La Cruz, assassin bent on discovering the location of an Isu artifact at the time of the Salem witch hunt. Charlotte’s story also continues in Sunset, a story that takes the protagonist to Mexico: here she will use the Animus to experience the memories of one of her Inca ancestors in Peru in 1536. The saga ends in Homecoming, in which De La Cruz discovers mysterious links between his ancestors and historical figures of Renaissance Italy, including none other than Giovanni Borgia.
Very interesting is the miniseries Templars, divided into two narrative arcs. The first is set in Shanghai in 1927 and follows the adventures of a mysterious adept called the “Black Cross”. The second arch features the Templar leader Otso Berg and takes us, through the Animus, to the discovery of his roots in 1805.
Assassin’s Creed Uprising of 2017 is an interesting miniseries that brings to fruition the arc of the Phoenix Project started in AC Unity. The first part of the story is placed in the present day and sees the protagonists grappling with a cult that venerates the terrible Juno: the Tools of the First Will. In the second arc, the character of Charlotte De la Cruz takes over again, called to relive the memories of her Spanish ancestor in 1937: Ignacio Cardona. In the third and last act we witness the rebirth of Juno at the hands of his followers on the famous Day of Resurrection. In short, Uprising is the comic series in which Ubisoft, sensationally deviating from the history of video games, has decided to continue the saga of Juno.
The official Assassni’s Creed Origins comic instead it will make Aya fans happy. The miniseries is set in 30 BC during the Ptolemaic reign, but there are flashbacks dating back to 44 BC in which we see Bayek’s wife during her time in Rome, after the game’s finale and after assuming the identity of Amunet, the first Assassin.
The non-canonical comics include the first productions made between 2007 and 2009. These include the official Graphic Novel and a series of French volumes dedicated to assassins who have no longer found space in the main continuity: we have the story of Aquilus in Ancient Rome and that of Numa Al’Khamsin in the Egypt of the fourteenth century through the books entitled “Desmond”, “Aquilus”, “Accipiter”, “Hawk”, “El Cakr”, “Leila”. Finally we have Conspiracies and Bloodstone, set in the last years of World War II.
The Assassin’s Creed comic production even includes some manga. Among them we have Awakening by Takeshi Yano, a Japanese transposition of Black Flag, and the manga that even adapts the adventures of the Chinese Shao Jun (by the way: Assassin’s Creed China in manga version is coming to Italy!), edited by Minoji Kurata.