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I didn't really know what to espect when I decided to read this novel. I have never played the game Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360), which this is based on, and only had a slim idea of what the game is about. I didn't have high hopes for this book, being a game tie-in I just hoped for a quick action packed read, and it did deliver on that score, and indeed was much better than I had expected.

The story takes place between 1476-1503, thus proceeding over a number of years, indeed during 'interesting times'. The renaissance was in full swing in Italy when this story takes place. Our hero, Ezio Auditore witnesses the hanging of his father and two brothers and swears vengeance. It is then that he starts learning things, such as that he is descended from the Order of Assassins, who are out to prevent those descendants of the Templars from gaining their goal of world domination. Whilst learning the Assassin's Creed Ezio must overthrow the Templars.

What follows is a grand romp through the Italian renaissance, taking in the de' Medicis, the Borgias, da Vinci, Machiavelli, the Sforzas, and Savonarola and his 'bonfires of the vanities'. Whilst locating pages from a Codex, battling foes and helping others, Ezio makes friends and allies to help him on his what has become a quest. With loads of swashbuckling and derring-do, and some romance, will Ezio be able to prevent the Templar conspiracy from obtaining its predominance, and will we also find out who the prophet that has been foretold really is?

A good historical tale this also incorporates a little bit of sci-fi/fantasy, and should appeal to a large number of readers. If you have never played the game it doesn't matter, and you shouldn't let that put you off. If you have played the game I don't know if this novel will help you win, but it may add a different and more absorbing level to the game, and your playing experience.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 December 2014
For those who stumbled onto this book by accident and are intrigued by the cover the Assassin's Creed series is actually a popular video game franchise which follows different Assassins through various periods of history.

Renaissance is the first of many novels based off the series, most specifically it focuses on a young man from Assassin's Creed II called Ezio Auditore. The plot follows the almost never ending war between the Assassins who believe in freedom with the creed "nothing is true, everything is permitted" and the Templars who believe in control for the benefit of the masses.

Set in the Italian Renaissance it follows Ezio's journey from a cocky young street punk to leader of the Assassin order which is essentially a series of revenge killings with no real depth. As a computer game with voice acting, gameplay mechanics, side quests and atmosphere this worked perfectly well. As a book however it lacks depth and is simply formulaic, the names change but other wish each section of the book is the same.

The problem is that this book is simply Assassin's Creed II almost exactly. I really expected a deeper look into the characters, and more of a side story companion to the game, instead it's almost the script written down.

The other problem in regards to that is although a book aimed at English speaking peaple there are random Italian words thrown in here and there which once again kind of worked with the game but is just a pain to leap to the index for translations for words here and there, it just doesn't work.

I got enough enjoyment as a fairly large series fan to finish the novel and Ezio even here still manages to be fairly charming but it was otherwise an uninspiring read that adds nothing new for fans but lacks any real depth of character for anyone who isn't a fan either.

I wouldn't read others in the series based on this unless they are spin off stories to add meat to the universe.

+ Is a return to Assassin's Creed II!
+ Ezio is still likeable when allowed be.

- Is a return to Assassin's Creed II...
- Random Italian words are pointless.
- Adds nothing new for fans, not deep enough for newcomers.
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on 10 November 2011
I actually bought this book from the Penguin Books website as soon as it came out. I was excited about the Assassin's Creed novels, ever since The Invisible Imam had been announced. Just think how much could have been told with the books that could not fit into the games! In my imagination the stories told on paper would let you revisit the beautiful, but limited scenes of ancient times depicted by the games, set the historic decorations with more authenticity than a game ever could, and trace the story of assassins through it. Of course, I didn't expect an instant classic, but I had no idea that something offering as much freedom for creativity as Assassin's Creed series could be made into a book so... awkwardly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a gamer, I can handle l33t and even lolspeak (not that these were used in the book, don't worry), but I'm also an avid reader; so even though I do prefer classics to anything else, a little bad dialogue and historical mistakes generally can't put me off. In short, I normally wouldn't judge a game-based book too harshly - especially if it's about the game I loved.

However, Oliver Bowden's creation really managed to annoy me to hell. I frankly don't even know where to start - the poorly depicted characters, the bad dialogue, modern swearing, or the use of Italian language in and out of place, similar to use of sprinkles on a really bad pie. (Or, better illustrated in this comic: [...])

I had to come back to the book a few times to finish it, merely because it almost made me hate the game, exaggerating all the little things that could tick you off - and it's not just the conveniently-random use of Italian. I mean, learning to blend in part, already mentioned by one of the reviewers, is ok in the game, because well, it's part of the game - but reading an actual passage about that in a book is just ridiculous. Why don't you also put into the story how Ezio collects extra cash by walking around town bumping into people in between missions?

Perhaps my mistake was that I expected a game-inspired book, and I received a typical product of today's pop culture marketing...
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on 17 February 2016
I have always thoroughly enjoyed Ezio as a fantastic and well-developed character who seriously builds in character over time. The book adds great deal to the combat situations but most of it is a direct novelisation as the game story was already fleshed out. Secret Crusade has an advantage over this because it had the ability to add so much detail to a story that had little but nevertheless this is a great read and thoroughly enjoyable, it is always good to have Ezio's inner monologue.
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on 30 March 2011
I truly loved reading this book. Typically, I'm not much of a book person but since I enjoyed the game so much I thought I'd give this a go and was instantly hooked. If you haven't played the game then please don't let that put you off - you don't need to know anything about the game at all to understand it. The only advantage of knowing the game is that you can easily put the faces and voices to the characters.

The story is gripping and the historical references have made me interested in looking up the real locations and events, and also asking my wife if we can visit Florence sometime to see the real place!

I also recommend the soundtrack to Assassin's Creed 2 which is available on iTunes. It's the perfect accompaniment to listen to whilst reading the book for maximum escapism!

Looking forward to reading the sequel and finding out what happens next as the climax of the book makes you eager to read more!
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on 14 February 2011
This is a really absorbing book in the Assassins Creed universe. The majority of it is re-writing the 2nd game, but the extra details added, like the DLC sections, make it a fascinating read. Read it slowly, try to imagine the characters voices, and you'll love this book. If you're an Assassins Creed fan, obviously. If you haven't played the games and had this bought for you, or you bought it yourself, you might find it underwhelming and unrealistic, but for fans this is excellent.

I find myself turning the pages even faster towards the end, interested in how the author would close out the book. I won't reveal anything but it's a direct continuation onto AC Brotherhood, so I recommend you buy that book as well and read it after this book. An excellent book, and more are coming in the future I'm sure. A book based on the original is coming out in 2012, it's here on Amazon somewhere.
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on 7 May 2011
I personally love The Assassins creed series, the games are great and so are the books, the books are literately the story of the games, but with out all the Animus and Desmond crap that are only in the games. The books also get more in-depth about Ezio and that characters featured in the game. I found it quite an enjoyable read, quite light hearted and fun to engage in. The writing skill is not very complex and the dialogue isn't hard to understand. Only one snag, there are some pages with small parts of Italian, luckily there is a dictionary at the back. it was just a pain flipping pages, but it was worth it.
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on 19 June 2010
i was intrested to see what the book would have to offer , or wether it was as i expected it to be , the game in words.
Thankfully it wasn't , this book contains a lot more meetings between characters like christina and ezio , how they met and more background leading up to the assassinations. The book is 515 pages long ( there is a extensive glossary of italian words used in the book) and took me a few weeks to read over evenings.

This is an accompniment to Assassins creed 2 , telling the story of Ezio Auditore and his search for vengence and clearing of his name. Along the way he must face trials of love , learning to fight and survive , as well as finding out his familys hidden secrets. A note for the story is that it sorrounds only Ezio and his stories , their is no mention of the animus and desmond or incoded files, This is great for the story as it breaks away from the gaming center and lets you observe Ezio as a character rather than a code being controlled. The story has a lot of excitement and action, like the game , but i found that although the build up to the assassinations is big and indepth , the mpoment of assassination at every moment was a little dry and didnt have the same sense of grandeur as it did in the game. I guess to fully enjoy this you need to have not played the game and be clear of your view , so you dont compare them.

The cover has Mr Ezio Auditore in his full gear and a grand italian background to match, The back of the book puts forward what the story entails and gives a bit of background about the waring families and why italy is in the state its in.

This book is very exciting and intresting , however i dont get the full effect as i have played the game and so struggle to see the book as a seperate enitity. Overall though good book , it just needed a bit more on the assassination moment than the build up.
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on 22 April 2014
The first in the series by Oliver Bowden, this book was a fantastic read. Having only played AC2, this book managed to again capture my imagination and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Having already played the game, I wasn't sure about reading a book that follows the same plot but reliving the experience in a different format was brilliant. Great book.
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on 4 April 2014
Being a fan of the Assassin's Creed series I was dubious about reading this book, but found myself pleasantly surprised. It is an entertaining read, although at times it feels as though it was sticking too closely to the video games, which is not entirely a bad thing, but certain events, such as the Bonfire of the Vanities, served little to no purpose in the game, and even less in the book.

There are several typos, though, too many for a man of Bowden's calibre (look up his true identity, and you will see what I mean). It is definitely worth a read, especially for fans of the series.
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