Friday, 11 August 2017

REVIEW: "Assassin’s Creed: Revelations" (Book 4) by Oliver Bowden

Book Review by Sapphire Ng

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Book 4)
by Oliver Bowden
Copyright November 2011
Paperback, 512 Pages

Another installment of the interminable Assassin-Templar conflict, and a remarkably fun narrative of purposeful voyages, intriguing puzzles, engrossing political sequences, and a curiously satisfying trace of the philosophical. This narrative featured a moderately thrilling climactic action, and a rather emotive and depressing ending, and is a reasonably adequate sequel to the Assassin’s Creed book series.

Central elements of this plot are intimately entwined with that of book three of this series, with countless references thus to scenes, events and items of its immediate prequel. I especially enjoyed this book’s narrative elaboration to specific exploits of book three, where interesting annexations in details and dialogues to past happenings distinctly increased my enjoyment of the franchise. 

Noting as well this narrative’s not infrequent allusions to characters and beings spanning books one to three of this series and even an ancient tradition of the Assassins, in ways that assume prior knowledge, potential readers would do well to first peruse at the minimum two prequels to, but of course optimally the three prequels to, this book. Those intending to read this book independent of its prequels should be mentally ready to reconcile with questions unanswerable by this very narrative that could very well affect one’s reading experience. 

I especially enjoyed learning alongside Ezio the unfamiliar Assassin combat techniques, weapons and knowledge specific to that of the Istanbul Assassins, as yet again Ezio’s adventures brought him to another foreign land, this time Constantinople. I certainly couldn’t explain my bedazzlement at the marvels of bombs as I, as a reader, joined Ezio in his crash course in bomb-making. I only wished that the action within this narrative actually further contextualized and demonstrated the use of these bombs of such a great intriguing variety.

As with prior books in this series, the exotic environments to which actions took place rendered the plot that much more enchanting. I absolutely savored the visuals conjured in my mind as one of Ezio’s mission in this book brought him into an underground city. I also couldn’t help but got the impression that the author, for this fourth book of the Assassin’s Creed book series, wrote with an increased exquisiteness and refinement, though subtle, particularly when it came to composing narrative dialogues. It certainly astounded me that even somber soldiers could speak as lyrically and expressively as such, “Do not bend the truth to match the contours of your passion.”

In a clear departure from that of prior books in this series, humor assumed a considerably greater presence in this narrative. I really appreciated and treasured the instances where multiple occasions in this book had me genuinely chuckling or laughing aloud, particularly so when Ezio the Master Assassin attempted to pass clumsily as a working musician. It was also refreshing as this narrative lightly remarked upon notions of erroneous killings, and even that of erudition and wisdom being virtues not lost to professional administrators of death. 

Not to my liking however was the still mystifying conclusion to the principal source of mystery and tension throughout the book—the contents of Altair’s library, more specifically, the true significance and implications of the nature of contents found within the library to the world of Assassin’s Creed. It seemed necessary as well to point out that this book’s climactic sequences appeared to fall short of its predecessors—they were tension-filled, fast-paced and exciting, but rather short-lived and filled with less twists and turns, and less setbacks to the protagonist. 

In another peculiar instance, a recounting in a specific juncture within this narrative of a past event—of the death of one dear to Altair—in book three held a point of clear contradiction to supposedly established facts, with regard to the locality of the wound that inflicted death. This nevertheless remains a very solidly written narrative with merits clearly overshadowing its imperfections. 

As for readers ready to be charmed yet again by Ezio the Master Assassin, a man filling the shoes of the primary hero for the very third time in the Assassin’s Creed book series, he or she might need to contend with another side of Ezio, a frailer side, as despite Ezio’s seeming nonhuman invulnerability, and my desire to retain an idealized image of him, he was but just human as you and I.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to the publisher nor the author of the book. This book review is the result of my personal reading and honest opinion.

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