Assassin’s Creed -Renaissance by Oliver Bowden (2-4 Quarters)

Second Quarter (pg 124 – 196)

The plot begins to move along at a steady, fast pace during the second quarter of Assassin’s Creed. Although the first quarter seemed to move quite fast, it was the mostly due to the sudden rush of background information and change of tone when Ezio’s family is executed. This was used by the author as a sort of “ramping up” in order to get the plot moving. As previously discussed, I believe this is because the major events of the story have already been set, by the first Assassin’s Creed videogame.

One notable thing about this quarter was the obvious increase of gory killing scenes. Sometimes I feel as if describing this in avid detail was quite unnecessary. Although one may argue that it is part of the experience Assassin’s Creed fans are looking for, some might just want to read the book for the story. Some concepts in the novel admittedly force it to be rated mature, but I honestly don’t think the author needs to write something like “he slashed it round and cut halfway through the guard’s neck before he could recover” or “Ezio slammed the heavy falchion down on the man’s skull and split it in two” just because he can.

Also, a darker side of Ezio is exposed during this quarter when he brutally kills Francesco and Vieri de Pazzi, mercilessly stabbing them multiple times and treating their corpses with disrespect. He later feels remorse and arranges proper burials with masses for them, but I thought the sudden change in character in the heat of battle shows the hate and rage buried within him. This is a very interesting bit of character development I noted while reading.

The story is proving to be quite interesting thus far and I am excited to keep reading!

 

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21 responses to “Assassin’s Creed -Renaissance by Oliver Bowden (2-4 Quarters)

  1. michaelzhao00

    I’ve definitely started to enjoy the book more now that more has been revealed, and we have a solid grasp on who is fighting who and what for. As for the gory killing scenes… sorry Andrew, absolutely necessary. Ezio’s combat skills are a part of how he has grown, and are very much a part of the story as the plot itself, in my opinion. Additionally, Ezio is portrayed as a technologically overpowered cold blooded killing machine, only showing chinks in the armor a couple times like after Francesco, and with the massive and steadily rising kill count he has managed to rack up, the story would be rather different if Bowden described the epic fighting scenes like “…and two more guards went down. Another one. Another one. Another one…”. Something else I noticed was just how much of the plot having moved forward is thanks to the violent confrontations between Ezio and whichever unlucky guy he decided to go after, specifically the Codex pages and dialogue that came out of them. So much so that it seems as if the entire story is constantly building up to the next fight. This does make sense, as the Pazzi and friends and the Medici and company are at the brink of basically, all out war.
    As far as character development, I don’t see too much going on at the moment. Ezio losing control with Vieri and Francesco was Bowden’s attempt at giving Ezio some depth of character, but it didn’t do much for me personally. All of the bad guys in the book so far appear to just be pawns in the grand scheme of things rather than the ones running the show, introduced just to be cut down. Perhaps Rodrigo and Barbarigo are different? Either way, I believe someone will eventually prove to be more than a match for Ezio. We’ll just have to wait and see. Lastly, I like Bowden’s casual incorporation of Da Vinci into the story. He is, of course essential for the advancement of the plot, figuring out the codex pages and all, but along with that came a lively, righteous, and somewhat wacky personality as well.

  2. andrewtodt

    My first impression of the second quarter of the book is that it was better than I expected it to be (which isn’t saying much to be honest) and that I was surprised. I was surprised at a few things, the largest of which was the fact
    that there actually was at least a little bit of internal conflict, the second largest of which was that my formula from my last post (which was supposed to be a joke) has been mostly accurate. The entire second half of the book (for me at least) has been very monotone because all that happens is that Ezio goes out to kill someone, runs into a larger problem that has something to do with that person, and then solves that larger problem by killing the target if they weren’t already dead. While the book does do this very well and with a large amount of detail, which I like, even something good can get boring if it is repetitive.

    Additionally, the way that the characters treat killing and death makes it seem very unreal and makes it very hard for me to empathize with any one in the book. Everyone seems to treat death with nonchalance that would not be characteristic to many (if any) people. One example of this is when Ezio goes with a squad of good soldiers loyal to the Assassins to spy on and then kill Jacopo. When Ezio gets caught soon afterwards and finds out that they slaughtered all of the men who’s lives were entrusted to him and who had families of their own, his only reaction was to say to the guards, “So, if you release me, I’ll spare your lives. How about that?” My reaction to this was basically “oh my god, they just killed your loyal followers who probably had loved one AND YOU CRACK A JOKE!?” Furthermore, he went on to grieve about the man who he was sent to kill and said that when the guards captured him and told him they killed his friends, he was angry that he didn’t get to kill Jacopo and that someone else had done it…WHAT ABOUT YOUR SOLDIERS!?

    When it comes to the gore of the book, I agree with Michael that it is necessary, although I agree for different reasons. I think that the gore is necessary not because combat skills are part of Ezio’s growth (because he hasn’t really grown since his first combat mission, by that time he already seemed to be a cold-blooded killer) but because it adds depth to the other wise repetitive pattern this book is seeming to fall into. Now that Ezio is leaving for a new location, namely Venice, I’m hoping for the book to introduce some new pattern, but I’m afraid that it will be too much to ask for. I’m assuming it will just be more missions to kill people, except instead of jumping over streets he will be jumping over canals.

  3. allenzhang

    Oops, I forgot to publish my post… But anyway. The book is moving along quite nicely, I must say, with the fast-paced style that I like. Where I am at, Ezio has just arrived in Venice, and he and Leonardo are settling in. I get the feeling that at this point in the story, something big is going to end up happening soon. At the very least, I expect that there would be some type of realization or major plot event extremely soon. After all, the Barbarigos are there in Venice. So my prediction is that Ezio is going to go on another killing spree soon, and perhaps finally figure out what he’s doing and why. I hope you and I won’t be disappointed, Andrew T.

    All three of you guys mentioned the prevalence of gore in the book, and I agree with Michael and Andrew T. that the gore is actually necessary for the book. I mentioned briefly in my first post that the book was descriptive, and a lot of the description comes from the heated battle scenes and the vividly described fighting and killing. Without the intense images in the battle scenes, the book would be really boring. Then again, the book is the story of an assassin, so there is bound to be killing, and so why not make the killing vivid while you’re at it? It’s for a mature audience after all.

    I have to disagree slightly with you, Michael, when you say that the plot moved forward with the Codex pages and all of Ezio’s successful assassinations. To me, it seems like Ezio hasn’t fully understood his purpose because he doesn’t yet know the entire mystery of the Codex and the reason it exists. That brings me to my next point, which is that the Codex seems to be a very important part of the story. In my first paragraph, I said that Ezio might finally figure out what he’s doing soon, and I believe it will have something to do with the Codex. Several of the characters have dropped hints at the magnitude of the Codex pages, like when Mario and Ezio are talking about the Codex pages, Mario mentions that a man named Altair could have written the mysterious pages. I don’t know the backstory of Assassin’s Creed very well, but I’m pretty sure Altair is a really ancient and famous assassin. So that seems important. The plot itself also reveals quite a bit about the Codex. Almost all of the major enemies that Ezio killed had a Codex page, which means that it has something to do with the ultimate revelation.

    I also want to quickly mention something that both Michael and Andrew L. did, and that is the scenes where Ezio loses control and brutally kills Francesco and Vieri. Andrew L., you said that it was the hate and rage coming out in him, but I believe it to more as a result of the need for vengeance. Ezio is human, and it comes as no surprise that he would lose control when seeing the direct causes of the death of his family. He did, however, realize his mistake and after those two incidents, never treated his enemies with such disregard. In conclusion, though, the book is actually proving to be extremely interesting (as Andrew L. said) and I am excited to continue reading.

  4. allenzhang

    Oh and are we going to make a new post each time? Or should we continue commenting on the same one? I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to do the latter. -.-

  5. I’m excited about the book finally taking the time to throughly explain everything that is happening. This is mainly because I thought the book was rushed in the beginning, but now that the author is writing about something they actually WANT to write about, it is starting to get a lot more fun to read. As for the fight scenes, I don’t completely agree with Michael. Some scenes are necessary and it becomes obvious very quickly that Ezio is skilled in combat, but at the same time some scenes seem a little unnecessary. After trying to find the quote for half an hour I gave up, but there is a part where the author takes the time to explain is gruesome detail the dismemberment of an enemy Ezio thought was necessary to kill. This troubled me a bit reading it but not because it was disgusting, but because the author already made it obvious how dangerous Ezio is. Does every part of the book with combat have to be described in perfect and maybe too perfect detail? Absolutely not, especially not in this setting where someone is on a murderous rampage to avenge his dead family. Sure he has grown and his fighting skills can help show that, but carelessly brutal slaughters is not the best way to show Ezio as a dynamic character.

    To critique the book even more, it seems like Ezio is almost too cold hearted. Sure his family got murdered, but he kills people without a second thought and afterwards he can be a perfectly social and charming person without those deaths weighing on his conscience at all. He was exposed to violence growing up, but large scale like this, even with the trauma he has been through, does not justify the amount of change in values and character that Mr. Bowden portrays in Ezio. To me, he seems on the verge of American Psycho mindset. The murders of Francesco and Vieri almost prove this too much. He was provoked yes, but he didn’t think twice and felt no remorse in doing what he did, further showing the almost scary character that Ezio has become.

    Finally, I am slightly concerned about the setting of this book. It has jumped around quote a bit and especially in the first dozen pages. This is probably just the fast paced style of the book we have already addressed, I’m just worried that Ezio is going to go on a goose chase through Venice and multiple other places to track down whoever he feels is necessary to kill for revenge. The rushed feeling of the book is still bothering me, which might account for me feeling the way I do, but regardless, I just don’t want the setting to get out of hand because the book is already a little bit all over the place as it is. Throwing in the concept of moving from city to city just to kill anyone who he might think is related to the killings of his family, would make the book too confusing and sloppy all together.

    • andrewliu31

      Third Quarter (pg 197-298)
      Note: From now on comment on this post instead of making a new one

      This quarter, as predicted by Andrew Todt, proved to be a continuation of Ezio’s endless slaughter of The Knights of the Templar. As we discussed in class, I find it really irritating how easily Ezio has overcame all his previous enemies, along with the idea that they are just cut down one after another before there is time for character development. By my count (correct me if I’m wrong), the only Templar to survive for over a couple chapters so far is Rodrigo Borgia, the Spanish guy. Besides him, all the rest of the antagonists are hunted down and eliminated by Ezio, almost too quickly. I personally thought there was a lot of potential for a cool character in Jacopo de Pazzi’s loyal and quite intelligent secretary. But nope, he died without even giving a fight, even giving Ezio the location of the meeting without any torture whatsoever. However, this was a trap and didn’t really help him. Ezio’s other targets all refuse to give him information, as well as stating that they are no use to him. Ezio kills them anyway, saying something like “it is my duty”. This brings me to my next point.

      Like Reiley mentioned in his previous comment, I too think that Ezio has become a bit cold-hearted, giving his victims no thought. I believe this almost psychopathic mindset is completely necessary for him to continue in his line of work and stay sane. Or maybe blessing them before he kills them comforts him, alleviating any guilt.

      Finally, I don’t really like the overuse of a different language in books that involve characters that live in a different country. Although I know it is very popular among authors as a way to help immerse the reader into the culture, sometimes using it too much, especially when it is hard to figure out the meaning of the word unless one thinks really hard about it, kind of detracts from the experience. That’s just my opinion, what do you guys think?

      • michaelzhao00

        Aye Teeee with that prophecyyyyyy
        Moving on, it seems like our posts are focused on Ezio’s character, specifically the fact that he is overly cold-blooded, and a bit about the detailed murders. I think we can agree to disagree a little here. Something else that was discussed, the pace of the novel. Since arriving in Venice, the plot advancement has slowed down considerably(think infinity minus one), and Ezio has settled down with Antonio and company, allowing for relatively unimportant details, or I should say, subjectively relatively unimportant details like the belt and chain(massage?) couch to take the spotlight. I liked the second quarter of the book more than the first, the third beats out the second as well, thanks to moments like “‘And for what you said about my kinswomen I’d cut your balls off with this if I thought it was worth it.’”, or “‘Put your dagger back in its sheath,’”, among many others. Bowden has managed to throw in some humor into the story, which is constantly in desperate need of it, for obvious reasons. Ezio’s dark sense of humor when killing people spices things up, which to me, as a detached observer of this story, is a good thing.
        Andrew, about the different languages, I didn’t notice any foreign languages being used excessively, maybe a few words here or there, but google translate is always there for you if context clues aren’t playing nice…
        I’ve noticed the repeated usage of the cliche of characters unable to get their last profound, game changing, earth splitting word out. These didn’t bother me personally, in fact they added some comic value, but cliches are still an issue, and that means points off for Bowden.
        This recent quarter of the book has brought forth an abundance of derogatory language, so much so that I don’t know for sure if I could recommend it even to the mature fellow freshman in our class. However, my reaction to this is that profanity certainly has its place in language, and it does yield funny scenes, like Barto food water deprived absolutely cursing out the guards while in a cage, as well as developing his character.
        Where I left off was right after Leonardo and Ezio made a joint revelation about the Codex pages, signaling the beginning of the end. Of the book. Ezio leaves us with “‘The one I have yet to strike a line through – The Spaniard!’”. The Spaniard has been the only one to have come in contact with Ezio multiple times and survive, essentially cheating death, which is Ezio’s middle name by now. We all agreed that we didn’t like how all the bad guys were swatted away like flies, but it was appearing to have been a setup… I predict an epic final confrontation between the two.

  6. allenzhang

    First, I want to quickly address Andrew’s point about the use of a different language in the book. I disagree with you, Andrew, when you say that the foreign language use detracts from the reading experience because it is difficult to figure out what the words mean. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but first of all, you have the paper copy, and the paper copy has a wonderful thing called a glossary for all your translation needs. Aside from that, I personally believe the use of Italian and Latin is actually extremely effective for the setting, and when the use of language is coupled with the fact that many of the characters are real historical figures (addressed in the next part), the entire story seems more realistic. Speaking of historical figures, there are lots of them in the book. Other than the obvious ones like Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli, did you know Marco Barbarigo and Lorenzo de’ Medici, among many others, are real people? Marco Barbarigo, in history, ruled as Doge of Venice for less than a year, just like in the book. He succeeded Giovanni Mocenigo as doge when the latter died, speculatively by poisoning, and when Marco died, he was succeeded by Agostino Barbarigo. Lorenzo de’ Medici was a real Italian statesman, and his family, the Medici, had a large rival. This other family was called… (drumroll please)… the Pazzi. On Easter Sunday, the 26th of April, 1478, Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano were attacked by the Pazzi in the Cathedral of Florence. Giuliano died, but Lorenzo escaped with a stab wound. All this history falls into nice accordance with the book, which I personally like a lot.

    As somewhat of a side note, you again mentioned that this section of the book was again just slaughter, Andrew L., but I noticed- you aren’t exactly far enough in the book to get to the real fun stuff. (Page 298 is only around 65% into the book…)

    Both you (Andrew L.) and Reiley mentioned how Ezio has become more cold-hearted and that he “gives his victims no thought”. I think it is quite different, however. Ezio may seem cold-hearted, but he is simply trying to defend what is right. Think about it this way. If there was a big bad guy or an evil organization (cough ISIS) trying to take over the world, I don’t think there would be very much mercy involved when trying to stop the bad guys. Imagine if, say, a French soldier happened to run into a leader of ISIS. I would imagine the French soldier would kill without very much thought. What Ezio is doing is essentially the same thing. He is fighting to stop a malicious organization from controlling the world, and if it takes killing to do so, so be it. Does anyone understand utilitarianism??

    Reiley, you say that Ezio’s killing is not justified by the fact that pretty much his entire family was betrayed and killed and the trauma he goes through. Unfortunately, I do not believe you have been in his situation before, and neither have we, which means that none of us are in a position to fairly judge him. Never forget Atticus’ famous quote, “You never really understand a person until you understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around it” (Lee 39).

    Let me end on a happier note: the book really starts to ramp up (FAST!) once you get to chapter twenty-one. Happy reading.

  7. Ugh Allen using a quote from tkam… i don’t want to have to write a response following that up. No just kidding, but anyway, getting to my first point, Allen, stated that Ezio is protecting what he sees in his mind as right but right is a relative term. We as readers can put our selves into his shoes and understand what he thinks is right but there is definitely a line we have to draw to understand where Ezio stands sanity-wise. Sure he might think what he is doing is right, but that doesn’t mean his definition of right justifies the amount of unbelievably gruesome deaths Ezio has caused with no remorse. It all comes down to opinion, but I think Ezio’s character has developed to the point of becoming almost a little bit numb to human emotion. At least when he sees someone who he might’ve thought had been involved in any way to the death of his family. It might be a bit of a jump to say this but Ezio seems a bit bipolar (psychopathic as Andrew said) so maybe the trauma and constant exposure to so much death is affecting his mental and emotional wellbeing beyond just grief.

    As for Andrew’s point about the wording detracting the reader from the novel, I think this is absolutely bogus (no offense Andrew). The wording might be a bit flourished, but that just means there are words we haven’t heard before. And personally, I don’t have much of an issue a lot of the time understanding just what the sentence or phrase with that word means. The only problems I am having with words are with words that are in italian but even those are commonly defined in the same sentence or the one after. Probably for fluency of the reader’s reading. Anyway, the like the wording and it makes the reading sound more regal. There is one exception and that is the plethora of words they use to portray fight scenes (example, lurid, which Mr. Bowden has used numerous amounts of times) but I have already explained how I felt about fight scenes in my previous comment, so I’m choosing to ignore these scenes for sake of proving how I feel about the topic of wording.

    Andrew also mentioned how unrealistic the idea of Ezio killing all his enemies so easily is. I don’t agree with this either because of the amount of experience he has had with fighting throughout his entire life. Along with the amount of weaponry Ezio is armed with, I don’t think it is unrealistic or hard for Ezio to kill these people without many issues. There are scenes where Ezio kills multiple people at once, and these scenes might be slightly questionable but I think they are justified by the gang violence experiences and fighting skills Ezio has picked up over the years.

  8. andrewtodt

    You guys are all getting quite excited about how the book is ramping up and getting faster but personally, I think that the book is not getting any better because even though it is getting better, the sheer repetition (which I don’t like) takes away from the story considerably and somewhat nullifies it. I often even find myself reluctant to start reading it again while before I had read it because I wanted to read it (admittedly this might have something to do with my playing the games and thus knowing the end of the book).

    When it comes to the actual contents of the book, I agree with Allen that the historical accuracy of the book (and yes, I did know that Lorenzo Medici and Barbarigo where real people) is quite fascinating and makes it more interesting as it moves along. However, since I support the Assassins (and are thus on the poorer side) I don’t have the luxury of a paper copy of the book and must read it online, without the use of a nice glossary so the latin and Italian language in the book really breaks any flow in the book since if I come across one it usually means a quick trip to Google and/or Wikipedia. I also agree with Allen in that Ezio is not just a cold-hearted killer because he does give his victims at least some thought as shown by how he wants to not savage their body but let them die with honor and how he decides to put Jacopo out of his misery. He also probably truly believes in his cause against the people who he sees as part of this horrible organization trying to kill all of his family and friends (which they are). It is often like the crusaders, in modern times we can see how some of the crusades massacred entire cities and did what we now know are horrible things like when the crusaders of the first crusade massacred an entire town with no survivors and then ate them. However, in their time, this ‘holy war’ and the religious cause was very serious and dominated their lives and you could call them stupid for it but they were very devoted to the faith, enough so to try and reclaim the holy land (I’m not saying that their were ulterior motives, there most definitely were) but the same thing probably applies for Ezio in that we can’t grasp the magnitude of his beliefs because we don’t live in the same time as him.

    When it comes to the actual plot, it doesn’t interest me very much because while Bowden has made many parts of the book richly detailed (mainly violent parts) the plot is very lacking for me. The actual plot of the book is just a simple good vs. evil scenario that can be interesting under certain circumstances, but this is not one of those circumstances. Additionally, the entire book is very shallow and quite literal. Not a single part of the book had struck me as symbolic in any way and I have yet to see any interesting comparisons with, say, something more relatable.

  9. michaelzhao00

    Boys, it has been a ride. The little boy in the start of the book by the name of Ezio has finally fulfilled his destiny. He has trained with the best of them and ascended. Gone even further beyond. Achieved his final form. The SUPREME ASSASSIN.

    In the last quarter of Assassin’s Creed, things got pretty interesting. We all know what happened, so I’ll skip right to the main course of this christmas dinner of a blog post, beginning with the end. Of the book. The last fight scene between Ezio and Rodrigo aka the Spaniard aka DA POPE did not disappoint, and I believe that we even called that he would be the last survivor, based off the fact that he was the only one to cross paths with Ezio and not die. I liked it because it demonstrated the fact that Ezio was still human, which was something we all pointed out earlier on. Even with his fighting abilities at their peak, he was no match for the mystical staff, wielded by Rodrigo. This happened elsewhere in the last quarter of the book, namely when Ezio was injured while retrieving the apple, and then had it stolen by the monk. Obviously Ezio would have to run into some tougher adversity eventually, and it came in the form of Rodrigo Borgia and his magic staff. As for the monk, he certainly stirred up the waters in Florence and caused a problem contributing to the central plot of the story, but he was taken out before things got reaaally interesting, and he could have contributed to the god scene to make it even more suspenseful had he not been. The God scene itself was in my opinion, a little random in a bad way, and I feel like the stakes could have been higher with some help from better utilization of the previous three quarters of the book, but it did at least make sense in accordance with the rest of the book.

    At the end of the book, Borgia reveals that he wants the power of the transcendental being to have the power to have all men and women judged and punished for their evil and wrongdoing, but Ezio has more faith in humanity and is trying to stop him. This rather fits the modern day cliche of the bad guy on a mission to eradicate the human race or parts of it because of an imperfection which is unacceptable to them. This is a tried and true “make-you-think” storyline, and there’s a reason it’s used often, but just something worth pointing out.

    Overall, Bowden did a fantastic job of developing characters through dialogue, especially in heated moments, and monologues of characters directed toward enemy guards intended to provoke were certainly… provocative.

    Das it mane.

    • andrewliu31

      Haha Michael I thought that last phrase was french or something at first

      Hey guys, as you know, last time I made a comment about the use of different languages in the book. Apparently, it was met with some very heavy opposition. You guys made some really good points, especially Allen’s thing about the glossary, that was really helpful. I have to admit you kind of swayed my opinion on the topic a little, but still, I just don’t the Italian to be a particularly amazing part of the book. However, just keep in mind to speak a little bit more respectfully here, especially since I clearly stated it was my personal opinion. I know we are all friends but this isn’t meant to be a “roasting” contest.

      On a more positive note, final quarter! Let’s get right into it. I agree with a lot of what Michael said, particularly about the ending. Like he said, it was really random. Like the whole time everyone’s catholic, and then boom, guess what? The Greek and Roman gods were real the whole time! This is just so random (sorry for repeating myself I just can’t think of another description). This could have worked out better if Bowden actually went into more detail about the codex pages that the Creed found over the giant time skip, giving the reader a better idea about the contents of the vault, and like Michael said, building more suspense. Just a small note, I thought Athena’s (or Minerva’s, etc..) explanation answered a lot of questions about the book, but at the same time brought up more…Anyway, I liked how the last sentence closed out the book by looking to the future, showing that Ezio and the Creed’s work is never finished. There is a sequel, right? If so, I have to read it some time.

      In terms of thematic message, the book did a really bad job of giving one until the end. Most of it is really literal, like the retelling of a bunch of events. This changes in the last chapter when Ezio conveys it pretty bluntly when he was fighting DA POPE (sorry, Rodrigo). “The Assassins will always fight for the betterment of humanity. It may ultimately be unattainable, a Utopia, a heaven on earth, but with every day that the fight for it continues, we move forwards out of the swamp” (465). This also fit in with Athena’s input. The negative depiction of the corrupt priests and monks, along with Ezio’s little speech to Florence (pg 447), gives the idea of humanity seizing control of its own future instead of depending on some otherworldly forces. To sum it up, like one of our classmates once infamously said, “Don’t let life play you. You get to play life.”

      Well, that’s it. The book was great and I hoped the rest of you enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy Holidays!

  10. allenzhang

    I must say, the book was actually pretty interesting- the book starts when Ezio is 17. It ends when he is 44 years of age. Obviously, it spans a really long time. And by the way, there is indeed a sequel to the book, Andrew. In fact, there’s an entire series. Seven more books (so far). Just in case you wanted to know, in order, they are: Brotherhood, The Secret Crusade, Revelations, Forsaken, Black Flag, Unity, and Underworld. The entire series is the story of the war between the Assassins and the Templars. So yes, the Creed’s work is not yet done. (I’m already in the process of obtaining the next book.)

    I’ll have to agree with both of you when you guys say that the end is a little random. As I was saying after we all finished the third quarter, the book ramps up reaaaaally fast, and I meant it. The book in the first two thirds or so is relatively realistic, but then once THE APPLE turns up, the realism meter of the book plummets to the negatives. If that wasn’t enough, Minerva decides to drop by for a visit for some apparent reason, who then apparently isn’t a god and instead was part of some superior civilization but then made the humans… What the heck. All I got out of the “god scene”, to be perfectly honest, was that there was more for Ezio to do. Minerva tells Ezio that he “must find the other temples. Temples like this. Built by those who knew how to turn away from war. They worked to protect us, to save us from the Fire. If you can find them, if their work can be saved, then so, too, might this world.”

    Both of you guys talked a bit about the theme of the book. Michael, you noted that it fits the so-called “modern-day cliché”. All I have to say is: think J.R.R. Tolkien, and you’ll understand where a good deal of this cliché came from. The reason fantasy is so mainstream today is largely thanks to him.

    Finally, I thought that Michael’s last bit about “monologues of characters directed toward enemy guards intended to provoke” was… amusing. I think it was just Bartolomeo and Caterina, though. (That moment when you figure out what they’re actually saying to the guards…) Am I missing anyone?

    Much remains to be done. But never forget…
    Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

  11. Unlike you guys, I didn’t find the ending to be very random or surprising. I thought this because to me there had been a steady build up of mythical artifacts and ideas, largely in part because the ‘Apple’ had been in play for quite a while and it did the same things as the vault (i.e. tell the future). Additionally, the reality of a God had been previously suggested by how Eden was considered to be a real place that had existed. However, I still had many grudges with the ending of the book. The most prominent of these was how anti-climatic his final battle with Borgia, I mean it was almost entirely dialogue that just explained things. Additionally, when Minerva appeared and explained the entire timeline of humanity, it wasn’t very interesting to me and just made me really confused instead of wrapping up the book. Finally, the whole moment when Ezio refuses to kill Borgia seems totally out of character to me since he had been ruthlessly killing everyone else and when he went on to say that he was done killing I was just downright annoyed because I know for a fact that he actually keeps being a cold-blooded killer in one of the sequels.

    When it comes to theme, the theme that the people who believe in humanity and are optimistic will prevail could be a theme of the book but to me it is not a very good theme since it is only really captured at the end of the book and is somewhat obvious. Furthermore, to me it is an idea that more so just reflects the new school of thought that was one cause of the Renaissance that said that humans can improve themselves and need not rely on God. To me, the Templars and Assassins don’t represent pessimism and optimism, but rather the individual and large organizations respectively.

    Finally, before I conclude my last blog post, I wanted to address a few other annoyances I had with the book that have not been addressed. The most prominent of these was how arbitrary many things were in the book, things like how the leader of the thieves (ya, I don’t remember his name (I think it was Antonio…?)) decided to put Ezio as the tactician for a rescue mission. Why? Because Ezio proved to him that he was good at stealing, which makes no sense to me. The second most annoying thing was how the book was not always consistent with itself like when Ezio spared Borgia at the end and how Ezio took a couple of weeks to learn to hide in a crowd but only took three hours to become amazing at climbing and at least as good as the best thieves who had been climbing as a career for years.

    I don’t expect to be reading the sequels like you guys.
    Au Revoir & Buona Fortuna

  12. Alright a little late sure but I only recently finished the book and my ideas are flowing at one o’clock am. First of all, the ending was surprising but not out of character for the feel of the book or the personality that Ezio has built up over the course of the book. Of the dialogue was a little long winded and the whole intervention of the real world with numerous new characters like Borgia and Minerva from some kind of divine authority definitely caught me off-guard, but I was relatively satisfied with the ending. Ezio did not react the way I thought he might, but at the same time, he did make several comments showing his more violent side during his conversation with both the characters I mentioned earlier. At the same time, some of the comments that came up in the discussion between Ezio and Borgia foreshadowed the fact Ezio was never going to kill Borgia. At one point Borgia even goes as far as to point out that Ezio would never decide to kill Borgia and only then was I really confused. None of the earlier conversation had involved any related topic so it seemed out of place. Only for the comment though, not for Ezio’s character. As for Minerva, her presentation at the end of the book was definitely random, but this entire story was pretty much a how-many-people-can-this-one-crazy-guy-kill kind of book so the writer had to tie it up somehow in some dramatic way to make it seem like any of the book was actually relevant. So in a way, I knew this kind of ending was coming. It was random, but I predicted the randomness.

    Second on my mind sticky note of agenda for this book, Andrew L made a comment about the final moments of the book and how they point to the future. I thought the whole book was a tied up mess of events, the same as Andrew, but I think the ending was a way to advertise the other books if the readers are interested is sequels where they can quench their thirst for violent books. The entire book was poorly structured and the ending was just a way for the writer to be done with it and try to make the book a book and not what it really is. A how-many-people-can-this-one-crazy-guy-kill kind of book. Because of this, I disliked the last few sentences and the idea of more books make me cringe but regardless, it was a book that was enjoyable for at least the short time when I was trying to find depths into the characters of the book.

    Looking back at the book, I didn’t think it did a very good job with the character development only because I thought about it too much. The writer thought about it too much too. I feel like Bowden tried to include a progressive changing character with Ezio but was more concerned with how many assassin’s creed nerds he could get to buy this book. The scenes where Ezio is “changing as a character” were forced and were only to avert the readers from realizing the utter how-many-people-can-this-one-crazy-guy-kill kind of mood.

    The beginning was intriguing but the story and character development deteriorated as the book progressed and the ending made me dislike the book more for it’s feel of only being written for commercialization of the other books or merchandise included in the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

  13. michaelzhao00

    Review time.
    When we decided to read this book, it was brought up as a joke, gained traction, and the rest is history. Keeping that in mind, Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden gets a 7/10. The flaws pointed out were mostly unanimously agreed upon and undeniable. Namely rushed beginning, terminator of a protagonist(but not Schwarzenegger), too many characters, a couple chiches, lack of underlying messages, lack of suspence, but most devastatingly… FOREIGN LANGUAGES!!!! HOW COULD THE THE AUTHOR… oh… oh…
    I’m willing to put those shortcomings by Bowden aside because of the purpose of this book, which is why it gets such a high rating. Mr. Bowden most likely recieved a phone call late at night one rainy spring night, had a lengthy discussion during which he was informed what was wanted and expected from him, before an undisclosed amount of money was deposited into a secure Swiss bank account many months later. This book was written to accompany the AC video games, so before even typing the first word, the author was already bound to the storyline of the game. The way I see it, he wasn’t supposed to add underlying messages or themes of society. He was forced to twist the facts to match the theory, instead of twisting the theory to match the facts, and because of this, a lot of the issues the group had with the book can be accounted for.
    Now for the things Bowden did well, my favorite part of the book was the sense of humor throughout, even from the guy whose full time job was murdering people, which made it even funnier. The bulk of the story, or at least the important parts, were told through dialogue, and Bowden did a splendid job of giving characters voice and personality, which made the plot-light story enjoyable for me. As was not noticed by myself but pointed out, things were kept historically accurate, and the small things always make a difference.

    • andrewliu31

      Michael, good review overall but please stop making fun of my opinion. I’m entitled to it and your “joke” isn’t really helping the whole “freedom of speech/expression” thingie that this blog is supposed to be about.

  14. andrewliu31

    Rating: 5/10

    Summary: Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance is a fiction book based off of the popular video game series set in Europe during, well, the Renaissance. The main character, Ezio, is a son of a powerful banker and enjoys a carefree lifestyle, and a fairly normal one. However everything changes for the young man when his brothers and father are hanged and he is forced to become a fugitive with his mother and sister, hiding from the same powers that he once trusted. Soon he discovers the war being waged between two powerful underground organizations, along with his deceased father’s involvement in it. He then sets out on a quest for justice and vengeance spanning over several decades, cutting down the corruption in his path.

    Rating Explanation: Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance was a great story in terms of engagement and action, but was a bit lacking in the literary department. The vocabulary and language were quite sophisticated and at times, clearly meant for mature audiences. However I can not help but feel that if one were to somehow take all of that away the book could easily be put in the children’s section. In terms of plot, this hypothetical “Assassin’s Creed: PG” would still be a bit lacking even for its age rating. The entire novel is basically just the retelling of a series of events in which Ezio murders countless corrupt nobles, and contains little else (okay, maybe it’s not possible to make an Assassin’s Creed PG, but my point stands). The take-away/main idea behind the story was barely hinted at until the last chapter, where it’s just bluntly revealed, as if the author realized he forgot it and added it at the last moment. The theme itself was quite thought-provoking and complex, but so much more could have been done in order to develop it. It really feels like the author just added it to try to give meaning to the events of the video game. I know a book with a predetermined plot is difficult to make interesting, but I can’t cut Bowden any slack because that doesn’t change the fact that it’s honestly just not that good of a book.

    Recommended Audience: The recommended audience for this book is MATURE. The language used and the gory scenes make the reasoning behind this rating obvious. I could provide an excerpt (and I assure you, it would be coming from a very large selection), but I don’t think it’s really necessary. DO NOT read this book if you are uncomfortable with swearing, profanity, blood, etc. And it should be kept out of the hands of young children. Actually all children. It would probably give them a very twisted idea on how to go about with political change.

  15. andrewtodt

    Rating: 4/10

    Assassin’s Creed was a book about how Ezio, a young man living in Florence, had his entire world changed after his father and brothers were unjustly killed. He then decides to go on a quest for vengeance and along the way finds out about two (not very) secretive organizations that have been fighting each other for centuries and have grown to take over nearly every position of power in Europe (I mean seriously, one faction or the other holds every possible position of power in the continent including the papacy and entire cities support one or the other yet they are still supposedly secret). On his journey he finds out about Rodrigo Borgia, the man responsible for the deaths of his family and decides to pursue him while cutting down every significant Templar on the way.

    Honestly, I did not enjoy the Assassin’s Creed book as a whole. At the beginning it was the most interesting for me because the characters were new and events were first staring to unfold, including the first assassinations and battles. However, despite the assassinations being relatively well written and detailed, it gets boring after the dozenth time. It’s like watching a good stand-up comedy, the first time you watch it you don’t know what is going to happen so it is funny but after the fifth time you know all of the jokes and it isn’t funny or interesting because you know exactly what is going to happen. That was my main complaint with the book, it was just far to repetitive. Additionally, while Michael seems to have enjoyed the humor in the book, I did not because it was far too coarse in my opinion. Additionally, both of you mentioned how Bowden didn’t have much creative space since the plot was already decided before he had even put pen to paper. However, I disagree because to me, the events had already been decided on but Bowden could have still done much more with things like developing the characters to have more than just a few defining traits (example: Ezio’s only defining traits are ‘good at killing’ and ‘wants revenge) and while he had to include the events in the video game, it did not mean that he could have elaborated on events happening in between and thus include things other than Ezio just going out and killing even more people.

    I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone but a mature and ardent fan of the video games because unless you just want more of what is in the video-games I doubt that you will find very much entertainment or literary value. I also say the mature part because the gore is a step up from the video game and every single significant female character except his family is sexualized in some way, to say the least.

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