Assassin's Creed: Unity

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9780425279731: Assassin's Creed: Unity

A Templar and an Assassin are caught up in a quest for vengeance during the French Revolution in this novel based on the Assassin's Creed™ video game series.

“I have been beaten, deceived and betrayed. They murdered my father—and I will have my revenge at whatever cost!”


1789: The magnificent city of Paris sees the dawn of the French Revolution. The cobblestone streets run red with blood as the people rise against the oppressive aristocracy. But revolutionary justice comes at a high price...
 
At a time when the divide between the rich and the poor is at its most extreme, and a nation is tearing itself apart, a young man and woman fight to avenge all they have lost.
 
Soon Arno and Élise are drawn into the centuries-old battle between the Assassins and the Templars—a world with dangers more deadly than they could ever have imagined.

An Original Novel Based on the Multiplatinum Video Game from Ubisoft

Le informazioni nella sezione "Riassunto" possono far riferimento a edizioni diverse di questo titolo.

About the Author:

Oliver Bowden is a pseudonym for an acclaimed novelist. He is the author of the Assassin’s Creed tie-in novels.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL OF ARNO DORIAN

12 SEPTEMBER 1794

On my desk lies her journal, open to the first page. It was all I could read before a flood tide of emotion took my breath away and the text before me was splintered by the diamonds in my eyes. Tears had coursed down my cheeks as thoughts of her returned to me: the impish child, racing through the hallways of the great Palace of Versailles; the firebrand I came to know and love in adulthood, tresses of red hair across her shoulders, eyes intense beneath dark and lustrous lashes. She had the balance of the expert dancer and the master swordsman. She was as comfortable gliding across the floor of the palace beneath the desirous eye of every man in the room as she was in combat.

But behind those eyes lay secrets. Secrets I was about to discover. I pick up her journal once again, wanting to place my palm and fingertips to the page, caress the words, feeling that on this page lies part of her very soul.

I begin to read.

EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL OF ÉLISE DE LA SERRE

9 APRIL 1778

i

My name is Élise de la Serre. My father is François, my mother Julie, and we live in Versailles: glittering, beautiful Versailles, where neat buildings and grand châteaus reside in the shadow of the great palace, with its lime-tree avenues, its shimmering lakes and fountains, its exquisitely tended topiary.

We are nobles. The lucky ones. The privileged. For proof we need only take the fifteen-mile road into Paris. It is a road lit by overhanging oil lamps, because in Versailles we use oil lamps, but in Paris the poor use tallow candles, and the smoke from the tallow factories hangs over the city like a death shroud, dirtying the skin and choking the lungs. Dressed in rags, their backs hunched either with the weight of their physical burden or of mental sorrow, the poor people of Paris creep through streets that never seem to get light. The streets stream with open sewers, where mud and human effluent flow freely, coating the legs of those who carry our sedan chairs as we pass through, staring wide-eyed out the windows.

Later we take gilded carriages back to Versailles and pass figures in the fields, shrouded in mist like ghosts. These barefooted peasants tend noble land and starve if the crop is bad, virtual slaves of the landowners. At home I listen to my parents’ tales of how they must stay awake to swish sticks at frogs whose croaking keeps landowners awake; how they must eat grass to stay alive; how the nobles are exempt from paying taxes, excused from military service and spared the indignity of the corvée, a day’s unpaid labor working on the roads.

My parents say Queen Marie Antoinette roams the hallways, ballrooms and vestibules of the palace dreaming up new ways to spend her dress allowance while her husband King Louis XVI lounges on his lit de justice, passing laws that enrich the lives of nobles at the expense of the poor and starving. They talk darkly of how these actions might foment revolution.

My father had certain “associates.” His advisers, Messieurs Chretien Lafrenière, Charles Gabriel Sivert, and Madame Levesque. “The Crows,” I called them, with their long black coats, dark felt hats and eyes that never smiled.

“Have we not learned the lessons of the Croquants?” says my mother.

Mother had told me about the Croquants, of course. Those peasant revolutionaries of two centuries ago.

“It would appear not, Julie,” Father replies.

There is an expression to describe the moment you suddenly understand something that had previously been a mystery to you. It is the moment when “the penny drops.”

As a small child, it never occurred to me to wonder why I learned history, not etiquette, manners and poise; I didn’t question why Mother joined Father and the Crows after dinner, her voice raised in disagreement to debate with as much force as they ever did; I never wondered why she didn’t ride sidesaddle, nor why she never needed a groom to steady her mount, and I never wondered why she had so little time for fashion or court gossip. Not once did I think to ask why my mother was not like other mothers.

Not until the penny dropped.

ii

She was beautiful, of course, and always well dressed though she had no time for the manner of finery worn by the women at court, of whom she would purse her lips and talk disapprovingly. According to her they were obsessed with looks, status, with things.

“They wouldn’t know an idea if it hit them between the eyes, Élise. Promise me you’ll never end up like them.”

Intrigued and wanting to know more about how I should never end up, I used my vantage point at the hem of Mother’s skirt to spy on these hated women. What I saw were overpowdered gossips who pretended they were devoted to their husbands even as their eyes roamed the room over the rims of their fans, looking for unsuspecting lovers to snare. Unseen, I would glimpse behind the powdered mask, when the scornful laughter dried on their lips and the mocking look died in their eyes. I’d see them for what they really were, which was frightened. Frightened of falling out of favor. Of slipping down the society ladder.

Mother was not like that. For one thing she couldn’t have cared less about gossip. And I never saw her with a fan, and she hated powder, and she had no time whatsoever for charcoal beauty spots and alabaster skin, her sole concession to fashion being shoes. Otherwise, what attention she gave her comportment was for one reason and one reason only: to maintain decorum.

And she was absolutely devoted to my father. She stood by him—at his side, though, never behind him—she supported him, was unswervingly loyal to him, backing him in public even though behind closed doors they would debate and I would hear her cooling his temper.

It’s been a long time, though, since I last heard her debating with Father.

They say she may die tonight.

i

She survived the night.

I sat by her bedside, held her hand and spoke to her. For a while I had been under the delusion that it was me comforting her, until the moment she turned her head and gazed at me with milky but soul-searching eyes, and it became apparent that the opposite was true.

There were times last night when I gazed out of the window to see Arno in the yard below, envying how he could be so oblivious to the heartache just feet away from him. He knows she’s ill, of course, but consumption is commonplace, death at the doctor’s knee an everyday occurrence, even here in Versailles. And he is not a de la Serre. He is our ward, and thus not privy to our deepest, darkest secrets, nor our private anguish. Moreover, he has barely known any other state of affairs. For most of his time here. To Arno, Mother is a remote figure attended to on the upper floors of the château; to him she is defined purely by her illness.

Instead, my father and I share our turmoil via hidden glances. Outwardly we take pains to appear as normal, our mourning mitigated by two years of grim diagnosis. Our grief is another secret hidden from our ward.

ii

We’re getting closer to the moment that the penny dropped. And thinking about the first incident, the first time I really began to wonder about my parents, and specifically Mother, I imagine it like a signpost along the road toward my destiny.

It happened at the convent. I was just five when I first entered it, and my memories of it are far from fully formed. Just impressions, really: long rows of beds; a distinct but slightly disconnected memory of glancing outside a window crowned with frost and seeing the tops of the trees rising above billowing skirts of mist; and . . . the Mother Superior.

Bent over and bitter, the Mother Superior was known for her cruelty. She’d wander the corridors of the convent with her cane across her palms as though presenting it to a banquet. In her office it was laid across her desk. Back then we’d talk of it being “your turn,” and for a while it was mine, when she hated my attempts at happiness, begrudged the fact that I was swift to laughter and would always call my happy smile a smirk. The cane, she said, would wipe that smirk off my face.

Mother Superior was right about that. It did. For a while.

And then one day Mother and Father arrived to see the Mother Superior on what matter I have no idea, and I was called to the office at their request. There I found my parents turned in their seats to greet me, Mother Superior standing from behind her desk, the usual look of undisguised contempt upon her face, a frank assessment of my many shortcomings only just dry on her lips.

If it had been Mother alone to see me, I should not have been so formal. I would have run to her and hoped I might slip into the folds of her dress and into another world out of that horrible place. But it was both of them, and my father was my king. It was he who dictated what modes of politeness we abided by; he who had insisted I was placed in the convent in the first place. So I approached and curtsied and waited to be addressed.

My mother snatched up my hand. How she even saw what was there I have no idea, since it was by my side, but somehow she’d caught a glimpse of the marks left by the cane.

“What are these?” she demanded of the Mother Superior, holding my hand toward her.

I had never seen the Mother Superior look anything less than composed. But now I would say that she paled. In an instant my mother had transformed from proper and polite, just what was expected of a guest of the Mother Superior, to an instrument of potential anger. We all felt it. Mother Superior the most.

She stammered a little. “As I was saying, Élise is a willful girl and disruptive.”

“So she’s caned?” demanded my mother, her anger rising.

Mother Superior squared her shoulders. “How else do you expect me to keep order?”

Mother snatched up the cane. “I expect you to be able to keep order. Do you think this makes you strong?” She slapped the cane to the table. Mother Superior jumped and swallowed and her eyes darted to my father, who was keeping watch with an odd, unreadable expression, as though these were events that did not require his participation. “Well, then you are sorely mistaken,” added Mother. “It makes you weak.”

She stood, glaring at the Mother Superior, and made her jump again as she slapped the cane to the desk a second time. Then she took my hand. “Come along, Élise.”

We left, and from then on I have had tutors to teach me schoolwork.

I knew one thing as we bustled out of the convent and into our carriage for a silent ride home. As Mother and Father bristled with things left unsaid, I knew that ladies did not behave the way my mother had just done. Not normal ladies, anyway.

Another clue. This happened a year or so later, at a birthday party for a spoiled daughter in a neighboring château. Other girls my age played with dolls, setting them up to take tea, only a tea for dolls, where there was no real tea or cake, just little girls pretending to feed tea and cake to dolls, which to me, even then, seemed stupid.

Not far away the boys were playing with toy soldiers, so I stood to join them, oblivious to the shocked silence that fell over the gathering.

My nursemaid Ruth dragged me away. “You play with dolls, Élise,” she said, firmly but nervously, her eyes darting as she shrank beneath the disapproving stare of other nursemaids. I did as I was told, sinking to my haunches and affecting interest in the pretend tea and cake, and with the embarrassing interruption over, the lawn returned to its natural state: boys playing with toy soldiers, the girls with their dolls, nursemaids watching us both, and not far away a gaggle of mothers, highborn ladies who gossiped on wrought-iron lawn chairs.

I looked at the gossiping ladies and saw them with Mother’s eyes. I saw my own path from girl on the grass to gossiping lady, and with a rush of absolute certainty realized I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be like those mothers. I wanted to be like my own mother, who had excused herself from the gaggle of gossips and could be seen in the distance, alone, at the water’s edge, her individuality plain for all to see.

iii

I have had a note from Mr. Weatherall. Writing in his native English, he tells me that he wishes to see Mother and asks that I meet him in the library at midnight to escort him to her room. He urges me not to tell Father.

Yet another secret I must keep. Sometimes I feel like one of those poor wretches we see in Paris, hunched over beneath the weight of expectations forced upon me.

I am only ten years old.

11 APRIL 1778

i

At midnight, I pulled on a gown, took a candle and crept downstairs to the library, where I waited for Mr. Weatherall.

He had let himself into the château, moving like a mystery, the dogs undisturbed, and when he entered the library so quietly that I barely even heard the door open and close, he crossed the floor in a few strides, snatched his wig from his head—the accursed thing, he hated it—and grasped my shoulders.

“They say she is fading fast,” he said, and needed it to be hearsay.

“She is,” I told him, dropping my gaze.

His eyes closed, and though he was not at all old—in his mid-thirties, the same age as Mother and Father—the years were etched upon his face.

“Mr. Weatherall and I were once very close,” Mother had said before. She’d smiled as she said it. I fancy that she blushed.

ii

It was a freezing-cold day in February the first time I met Mr. Weatherall. That winter was the first of the really cruel winters, but while in Paris the River Seine had flooded and frozen, and the poverty-stricken were dying in the streets, things were very different in Versailles. By the time we awoke, the staff had made up the fires that roared in the grates, and we ate steaming breakfast and wrapped up warm in furs, our hands kept warm by muffs as we took morning and afternoon strolls in the grounds.

That particular day the sun was shining although it did nothing to offset the bone-chilling cold. A crust of ice sparkled prettily on a thick layer of snow, and it was so hard that Scratch, our Irish wolfhound, was able to walk upon it without his paws sinking in. He’d taken a few tentative steps, then on realizing his good fortune, given a joyous bark and dashed off ahead while Mother and I made our way across the grounds and to the trees at the perimeter of the south lawn.

Holding her hand, I glanced over my shoulder as we walked. Far away our château shone in the reflection of sun and snow, its windows winking, then, as we stepped out of the sun and into the trees, it became indistinct, as though shaded by pencils. We were farther out than usual, I realized, no longer within reach of its shelter.

“Do not be alarmed if you see a gentleman in the shadows,” said Mother, bending to me slightly. Her voice was quiet. I clutched her hand a little tighter at the very idea and she laughed. “Our presence here is no coincidence.”

I was six years old then and had no idea that a lady meeting a man in such circumstances might have “implications.” As far as I was concerned, it was simply my mother meeting a man, and of no greater significance than her talking to Emanuel, our gardener, or passing the time of day with Jean, our coachman.

Frost confers stillness on the world. In the trees it was even quieter than on the snow-covered lawn and we were absorbed by an absolute tranquility as we took a narrow path into the depth of the wood...

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Descrizione libro Ace Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A Templar and an Assassin are caught up in a quest for vengeance during the French Revolution in this novel based on the Assassin s Creed(TM) video game series. I have been beaten, deceived and betrayed. They murdered my father--and I will have my revenge at whatever cost! 1789: The magnificent city of Paris sees the dawn of the French Revolution. The cobblestone streets run red with blood as the people rise against the oppressive aristocracy. But revolutionary justice comes at a high price. At a time when the divide between the rich and the poor is at its most extreme, and a nation is tearing itself apart, a young man and woman fight to avenge all they have lost. Soon Arno and Elise are drawn into the centuries-old battle between the Assassins and the Templars--a world with dangers more deadly than they could ever have imagined. An Original Novel Based on the Multiplatinum Video Game from Ubisoft. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780425279731

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Descrizione libro Ace Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A Templar and an Assassin are caught up in a quest for vengeance during the French Revolution in this novel based on the Assassin s Creed(TM) video game series. I have been beaten, deceived and betrayed. They murdered my father--and I will have my revenge at whatever cost! 1789: The magnificent city of Paris sees the dawn of the French Revolution. The cobblestone streets run red with blood as the people rise against the oppressive aristocracy. But revolutionary justice comes at a high price. At a time when the divide between the rich and the poor is at its most extreme, and a nation is tearing itself apart, a young man and woman fight to avenge all they have lost. Soon Arno and Elise are drawn into the centuries-old battle between the Assassins and the Templars--a world with dangers more deadly than they could ever have imagined. An Original Novel Based on the Multiplatinum Video Game from Ubisoft. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780425279731

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