22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable, but with some issues,
This review is from: Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade (Paperback)
Having written two commercially successful novelisations of Assassin's Creed titles, Oliver Bowden now brings us Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade; the life story of Alta´r, the iconic protagonist from the first of the Assassin's Creed games.
The book itself is split into four main parts. The first two concern themselves mostly with the events as featured in the first game, part three with the story of Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines (a Playstation Portable title) and the final part focuses on the later life of Alta´r.
Bowden is effective at generating a sense of immersion, his use of language is lively, he is able to avoid repetitive use of language and his use of dialogue is well-balanced against more action-driven elements of the story. However, there is a fundamental issue that the author must have struggled with that we, the readers, might find problematic as well. This problem being that for the first two parts in particular, the book is a very rigid re-telling of the events of the first game. It feels stiff, often rushed and fails to engage the reader. Whilst clearly important in telling the tale of Alta´r and his quest for redemption in the eyes of the Brotherhood, these earlier sections will seem all too familiar to fans, with little periphery exploration to make them seem worthwhile. It also feels as though Bowden himself felt overly restricted by the structure and wanted this phase of the story told as quickly as possible, so he might begin to use his talent far more freely.
Thankfully, Part Three starts to show signs of improvement. Whilst it also follows the story of another game, with our hero doing battle against the Templars in Cyprus, the writing is more relaxed and confident, the character of Alta´r is more fleshed out and it does not seem as repetitive in structure as earlier sections. The pacing is far more energetic and fluid and you start to get more of a sense of a writer who's enjoying himself. This evident enthusiasm continues into the fourth part. This final section (excluding the epilogue) is undoubtedly the strongest of the entire novel. It has emotional gravity, peril, tragedy and even a small moment of joy. It is here that we are finally granted an insight into who Alta´r was, as we follow him in the later years of his extraordinary life. For followers of the games, this part makes the novel a worthwhile endeavour, for laymen it brings the tale to a fitting conclusion.
Whilst, initially, this is a book that retreads a lot of ground, the second half adequately compensates for this. Its easy and accessible style make it an effortless read that, eventually, begins to bear fruit and should suitably entertain both fan and casual reader alike.
David Kerr "Fan of horror, steampunk, crime and science fiction. Favourite authors include Clive Barker, George Mann, Mark Hodder and Neil Gaiman."
Location: Wirral, England
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