3.5 out of 5 stars
First published in 2010, Brotherhood is the second book in the novelization of the Assassin’s Creed game series. The games were published by Ubisoft and the novels were written by British author, Oliver Bowden. Brotherhood continues the story of Ezio Auditore de Firenze, an Italian Assassin who joined the Order in his teens and is now in his early forties. It continues straight from the end of the first novel making it doubly important to have read Renaissance or to have at least played Assassin’s Creed 2.
It was good but it wasn’t great…
Firstly, this novel really did entertain me. It was easy a quick and easy read. The novel continues right from the end of the first so you are thrown in at the deep end – it describes the being Minerva and Ezio’s confusion as he leaves the chamber and the suspected dying Pope behind to reunite with his uncle. The whole opening sequence during the first few chapters was nicely handled – you get to feel Ezio’s anxiety and disbelief, you’re reunited with this character so suddenly yet so assuredly that it felt simple going back into the story after the gap I took between the first and second novel. Everyone talks and behaves just as you would be expecting them too in that situation – the rush, the thrill, the desire to escape with their lives. It’s all thrown at you so suddenly but softened by the wholeness of the characters. Nothing during the first part of the novel is overstated or left for you to try and make sense of – it is all very easy to pick up.
Ezio’s development as a character was one of interest to me throughout the novel because of how prominent he is. He is the driving force behind the story so I was really hoping for him to have matured well now that he was in his forties, and in some cases I wasn’t disappointed. He proved himself to be a gentlemen by helping those who needed him when he returned to Monteriggioni, helped with the training of soldiers during the installation of new canons and was fantastic with his younger sister, Claudia. That being said, there were times when his character was thrown completely in the opposite direction out of the blue and his inner thoughts were pushed forwards in an attempt to explain his actions yet only made me question why he would act in such a way more.
His relationships throughout the novel were questionable and sketchy at times. Caterina was an absolute sore point for me. How he pined for her and turned into a puppy near her frustrated me to no end. I liked her as a character! It was brilliant to see a very well written female character – she was strong, brave, confident, a fighter. She was a very well balanced character, it was what being around her did to Ezio that made me want to throw him into a furnace… Then there was the later relationship turn with Claudia that, again, made me want to hurt him. Claudia does the Creed a good favour by becoming the matron of the Rosa in Fiore after the murder of it’s previous matron. But because of this, Ezio becomes angry at her and talks to her like a vile, petulant child. She returns his spite equally – because she is another well-rounded female character – but the whole situation seemed ridiculous to me. I understood that he wanted to protect her but there was no need for the appalling attitude he took with her.
My expectations for this novel were of mid-height due to my experience with the first. It was certainly an interesting read – the story was well paced and thought out, the additional scenes which did not occur in the game were laid out easily and everything was described with enough detail that I could imagine Rome in all it’s ruin and not feel overwhelmed. There were also certain elements of the book that I was expecting yet still managed to take me by surprise – everything surrounding the Borgia family, really. Nothing was spared when it came to them – including the events of the party (the polite word for what that scene really was) half way through the novel. A lot more of the Borgia’s history was explored during this novel and I felt like a gained at least a bit more knowledge of who they were in relation to the history of Italy.
Unfortunately, the major drop in rating for this book for me comes from the disgusting amount of grammatical errors littered throughout the novel. I have never seen a novel so sloppily edited before – it was like reading a fan fiction. Misspelled words, missing punctuation and so many other mistakes simply ruined the experience for me. It was even worse in this novel than it was in the first making me question whether Penguin even hired someone to proofread this before they went ahead and published it! Over use of exclamation marks made the writing feel sloppy, almost like they had hired a ten-year-old to write the story and put the face of an old man as the author. Amazingly, there were no errors during that scene meaning that one was either worked on a disturbing amount of proofread so many times in place of the rest of the novel.
Brotherhood was still a half-decent novel even with all it’s mistakes. The Italian’s spoke as though they were from London, the spelling and grammar was atrocious in places and part of the reason I was able to get through it so easily was because at points I did just want to be done with it. But at the same time I enjoyed it and will be carrying on with the rest of the series (including Unity when that’s released in November).