If you have carefully followed “Assassins’ Creed III” plot, you might think that you have understood all the subtleties of the Haytham/Connor relationship… A relational tangle between a father and his son which is getting worse and worse through the game. That conflict can only be seen under the light of the somewhat never-ending (like Ubisoft’s spinoffs) and complex fights between Assassins and Templars.
The official and recognized book Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken written by Oliver Bowden depicts all of Haytham Kenway’s life. It has more the characteristics of a prequel, because Haytham is not very present within Connor’s adventure, and their ways only parted a few times. The deal is presented as a personal and weekly diary written by Haytham.
I’ve finally got some answers to some of my questions: Why did Haytham always have the famous Assassin’s blade on him? Did he betray his order? Who was Reginald Birch and what was his part in the Templar hierarchy?
How did Haytham become the ruler of the American Templar branch? Why did he leave his Indian mistress raising his child, Connor, all alone? What did he do while Connor was trying to unleash the USA from its chains? What did he think during the last moments of his life? Did he take a look back on what he had accomplished?
This book answers all these questions in an honest and detailed way. The whole book is placed under the sign of a bloody vendetta; just like you helped stubborn Connor to deal with his life (play through?) during the game. There are lots of similarities between the two stories, and if you like the story and Connor, and if you want to rewind and remix it while understanding new segments of the “Assassins’ Creed III” universe, this book is for you. For me, Haytham is a scheming and mysterious character, and it was a particular pleasure to understand and follow him through such an adventure.
The end (=the last 100 pages) of the book is sticking closely to the video game reproducing facts and events while introducing some liberties at the same time. Dialogues and some background settings are slightly changed for better or for worse.
I did have mixed feelings about that part. Were these changes made for not boring people that had already finished the game? Haytham’s point of view is still interesting but how can we give him our confidence if some lines of dialogues and places are not the same? Is that a common translation problem? I actually read the book in French (sorry for not being a good old patriot!) but it was a bit disturbing to see pieces that didn’t stick together.
If you start reading that book, make sure you don’t spoil anything. I will give you a few guidelines for not spoiling the game (if you don’t want to spoil the book, just reverse my suggestions). DON’T start reading before finishing the third sequence. Read the last part of the book (fourth part) once you have entirely finished the game (epilogue included). With such a step you might gain a two- sided view of the assassins’ creed story which is quite valuable for such an inexpensive book.
A more violent part is also very present, with descriptions close to the scripted killing movement that you can find in the game. Haytham fights like Connor, which is not very surprising. Why wasn’t this book rated 18+ for god’s sake? It seems as if Bowden depicted what he had seen on an internal pre alpha built version of the game… and it’s probably the case. Moreover the universe and streets are described authentically.
[GAME SPOILERS BELOW]
In my opinion, the weakness of “Assassin’s creed III” story can be found in the fickleness and the irrationality of Connor’s decisions. If he was betrayed by Washington, who ordered to kill his family, why didn’t he give up the idea of taking his revenge? Was Achilles’s indoctrination so strong that Connor accepted to sacrifice his liberty for a higher purpose – bringing freedom to a country? Didn’t this make him close to the doctrine of the Templars, which is in a general way – the end justifies the (badass and amoral) means?
We find exactly the same incoherence in Haytham’s life. The Templars seemed to have bloodthirsty minions in both of the loyalists and patriots camps. In the book there is no convincing explanation concerning this problem, except that Haytham tried unsuccessfully to negotiate.
[GAME SPOILERS ENDZ]
At the end of the book I’ve finally accepted Haytham and Connor as antiheroes. America loves gangsters after all… Their life is being enameled by past contradictions. It must be a common thing found in murderers or assassins’ lives, however if you want to know more about the subject you should ask a criminal expert.
Paradoxically, one of the core features of “Assassins’ Creed III” is totally absent during the course of the book. Reliving jaw dropping and tipping point historical events, meeting Washington (except for killing him) and major historical figures is seemingly only a matter for Assassins… and for Connor.No, you won’t go deeper into your cheap history lessons with that novel. Too bad you were waiting to read that book to impress your history teacher. At best you can learn a few things about the social customs in the 1700s e.g. how women were treated or outlines of European war alliances (which were most of the time less stable than Charlie Sheen’s relationships).
I’ve always had a problem with Tie-ins products. Most of them are so bad, that they seem to be counterfeited! And that statement can be applied also to books coming from video games. This book escapes that judgment, but only by a whisker. However the fan base of Assassin Creed is starting to grow, so maybe the quality of the game – and of the books? – will have to adapt to a wider audience. Are people more fanatic of the story or of the history settings? We don’t know. To be continued…
The Destiny of Desmond’s genealogy was to stay on the assassin’s side. However both camps get more or less blended during the last episode. Was Haytham Kenway just an error in the fate that guided Desmond’s ancestors? Assassins’ Creed is a story of some lunatic fringe who started to doubt their convictions only after they had made irreparable damage to their surroundings. It’s a story of people of another time and place, but a story that will forge the ideas and the soul of a fictional future Western World. Newfoundland.
The second “Haytham Kenway artwork” was found on the tumblr of an artist called… “lazercock” … here is the link, take a look! It’s great.
Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken (<-link) costs 10$.