As a reader and a gamer, this was inevitable – a second game related book. Although the first was a book that led to a game – Witcher – while this arose from a game. But both related to games that absorb/distract me.
Doherty (Goodreads Author)
THE OFFICIAL NOVELIZATION BASED ON THE POPULAR VIDEO GAME FRANCHISE.THE OFFICIAL NOVELIZATION BASED ON THE POPULAR VIDEO GAME FRANCHISE.
They call her misthios–mercenary–and she will take what she is owed.
Kassandra was raised by her parents to be fierce and uncaring, the ideal Spartan child, destined for greatness. But when a terrible tragedy leaves her stranded on the isle of Kephallonia, near Greece, she decides to find work as a mercenary, away from the constraints of Sparta.
Many years later, Kassandra is plagued by debt and living under the shadow of a tyrant when a mysterious stranger offers her a deal: assassinate the Wolf, a renowned Spartan general, and he will wipe her debt clean. The offer is simple, but the task is not, as she will need to infiltrate the war between Athens and Sparta to succeed.
Kassandra’s odyssey takes her behind enemy lines and among uncertain allies. A web of conspiracy threatens her life, and she must cut down the enemies that surround her to get to the truth. Luckily, a Spartan’s blade is always sharp.
Review 4.4 stars
As a fan of historical fiction and a gamer, this was an enjoyable
book throughout. I admit that I finished the main questline of the game, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey before reading
this novelisation. And I played Kassandra
preferring the performance of the voice actress, Melissanthi Mahut.
Kassandra is a mercenary who is caught up in a conspiracy that threatens her life – and the future of Greece. Here past is entwined with Sparta’s past and one she can’t avoid.
This novel was as immersive as the game but building on what
I already knew of the ancient Greek world and from the game world. Not
surprising from Gordon Doherty, a writer of ancient historical fiction who
clearly knows how to make a historical period come alive – in this case, the
Second Peloponnesian War between
Athens and Sparta at the head of their respective Leagues.
Once finished, I was interested to see how far the historical
detail departed from reality, knowing that some have called the Assassin’s
Creed universe ‘alternative history’. In this storyline, there are elements and
a few characters that are fictional and perhaps ‘alternative’. But the
background, the world and many of the principal players are historical – like my
favourite, Brasidas. The
characters come alive – helped I admit by meeting them in game – although they
may not have the complexities that some readers might expect.
The game is visually stunning – as Greece is – but this
novel adds the smells of the world from the flowers and sea breezes to the unwashed
bodies and corpses. There are moments that are darker, more visceral and
realistic. That’s the power of crafted words.
I’ve idolised Sparta – sometimes – but I’m convinced now
that Sparta is not the place for me. Athens is more suited to my artistic and
democratic temperament – but under Perikles.
This novelisation adds more to the plot – even alternative
motives and actions that embellish a storyline that must work in a game setting
where it’s hard to have multiple endings. For me, there were few surprises, but
I enjoyed the development of characters and situations that fleshed out events
and structure. Time was more akin to what one would expect – journeys take days
and weeks; scouting out a target can take weeks, if not months; events occur
over months, even years. We mustn’t forget that the Second Peloponnesian War lasted
almost thirty years, from 431 to 404 BCE.
This novelisation ended with a clever scene that worked for
the Assassin’s Creed universe and was perhaps better although different from my
ending. A fun and recommended read if you enjoy this genre of book.
Story – four stars
– five stars
Characters – four
Structure – five
Readability – four
Editing – four
I’m still exploring the game of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, although I am now on side-quests and
exploring places unfound – and I have yet to slay the Minotaur. At some point
in the future, I will review the game – if there is the demand. For now, the
focus will be on books – albeit the current one is non-fiction.