Assassin’s Creed: Heresy
Assassin’s Creed is a series of video games from which has spun several print and graphic novels as well as a newly released movie. Heresy is the newest Assassin’s Creed print novel. The series is built around a fictional battle between Templars and Assassins where both have clandestinely opposed each other for millennia. The battle is over how to achieve peace: through free choice (Assassins) or via control (Templars).
In Heresy the conflict is set in present-day London with time-slips to 15th-century France. The main character is Simon Hathaway, director of historical research for Abstergo Industries, a cover company for covert Templar projects. He is a Templar and direct descendant of the 15th-century Templar, Gabriel Laxart. The story begins with Simon proposing a new project for Abstergo, namely to tap into their employees’ genetic memories to gain valuable historical information. Abstergo can do this using their “animus” device, which allows a person to inhabit their ancestor’s body as a kind of second consciousness of which the ancestor is unaware.
Simon volunteers himself as the first candidate. He proposes to follow Gabriel as he fights alongside Joan of Arc and to find Joan’s sword, a supernaturally powerful weapon. Obstacles arise—seemingly from Abstergo itself. Not to spoil the ending, but Simon does succeed in a nicely surprising way.
It helps a lot to know that the story is based on a video game, making it easier to roll with the fantasy and science fiction. It is decidedly a fun read, plus the history around Joan of Arc’s battles and trial is impressively detailed. The only problem I see is that if a reader doesn’t know the history ahead of time, it will be hard to separate truth from fiction. But as a light and imaginative tale, Heresy is perfect.