I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Assassins Creed book The Magus Conspiracy by the wonderful Kate Heartfield, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.
So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.
I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.
So let’s crack on with a review then!
What is Assassin Creed
Assassins Creed is an adventure game franchise published by Ubisoft (One of my Edge of Empire Co-hosts used to work there as well I should probably mention), and depicts a millennia-old conflict between the Assassins, who fight to preserve free will, and the Templars who desire to bring around peace by controlling people.
The games take place throughout various historical periods, the original 2007 game being set in the era of the 3rd Crusades, and the latest game Assassins Creed Valhalla, set in the Viking Invasion of Britain, and the next game Assassin’s Creed Mirage will be set in Baghdad during the Islamic Golden Age.
This book takes place over about a decade before Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, starting in 1851 with the passing of Ada Lovelace, the genius daughter of Lord Byron. Confessing to her friend, the 19 year old acrobat Pierrette Arnaud, her concerns over technology and ideas she may have passed onto a shadowy mysterious correspondent, known only as the Magus.
Meanwhile, Adas childhood friend Simeon Price, is shipwreaked when the troopship, HMS Birkenhead, carrying him and his regiment to the Cape Colony runs aground. After being saved by a mysterious cloaked stranger, he decides to take the strangers advice, and desert from the army, and seek out a new brotherhood in Vienna.
When Ada finally passes away, she leaves Pierrette with instructions to seek out Simeon, having received word that he survived, believing that he may be able to undo what she has done and stop the Magus.
And thus our characters are thrown into a decade spanning adventure, as they encounter the Assassin’s and learn that Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.
Look, I am always gonna look on an Assassin’s Creed book with a fairly high opinion as its one of my favourite video game IPs, I am currently replaying Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, so I may be a bit biased in that regard.
The Magus Conspiracy weaves through a period of history that in the UK, we kind of look back on as being fairly stable and an era of massive industrial revolution, but on the continent it was an age of upheaval, revolution and brutal repression.
This particular story, as with many Assassin’s Creed games, takes us through historic events, such as the 1853 attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph and the Orsini Affair and has us encounter historic characters, such as Julius Jacob von Haynau, the Habsburg Tiger, John Ruskin and Lizzie Siddal.
This book feels like a love letter to the period and gives us a fantastic trip through parts of Europe as events such as the unification of Italy are in full swing, the Crimean war is underway and Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself as Napoleon III.
Crack is this book, stands on its own quite well, knowing a bit about the games, will help ease you in, but its easy enough to grasp the key concepts.
The characters are nicely well rounded and feel like whole people, and I am very much looking forward to the publication of the rest of the trilogy, to encounter them some more.
Now the Magus, well, I clocked who he was pretty quickly, which was a bit of a shame, but sometimes that’s just the way things need to work, after all, I was holding more facts than the characters were.
There is plenty of action here, and I loved the little decision that Pierrette made that meshes up with the real history and is an obvious place for a sequel!
I came away from this book, kinda hoping that Ubisoft do something with the characters and put them in a game, oh and meeting Ethan Frye and Jayadeep Mir again was a nice little treat!
Easy 5 out of 5 Stars!
The Magus Conspiracy is out now as a paperback, ebook and audiobook!