Lilith Sinclair's Top 10 "Assassin's Creed Characters

With the upcoming long-awaited (?) Assassin's Creed film starring Michael Fassbender as a Spanish Assassin (I'm sure they will explain it in the movie... I hope) peeping like a saucy chicken around the corner, and the fact I am a hooker for all things white, clandestine and stabbity, I decided to conjure up a list of my Top Ten Assassin's Creed characters. For this list, I have heavily edited my choices (no real-life figures or bit-parts) and not all of them may be those big names of the Hidden Blade or those of the Cross in the interest of fairness (no Ezio or Altaïr here kids, we all know how wonderful they are), but characters who have not only made an active impact on the narrative but also on me personally... though for #1, I'm fairly certain you will know who that is, but since you made the effort to click this link and read this far, I owe you a good time and yes, there will be spoilers, so fair warning to you all. Onward!

#10 Claudia Auditore (Assassin's Creed II,  Assassin's Creed Brotherhood)

Ezio Auditore's only sister and one third of the survivors of the Auditore clan in Florence after the fall and disgrace of their family.

Claudia's story was not particularly front and center in both games she appeared in, but she represented and embodied another facet of the trials and tribulations that she, her brother and her mother faced. When the Florentine guard ransacked the Auditore villa and presumably took advantage of her mother, Claudia remained strong for them both and acted as the intermediary between Ezio and her emotionally comatose mother. Upon arrival at the down-trodden settlement of Monteriggioni lorded by her bravo uncle Mario, she is understandably hesitant when Mario thrusts her into the role of financier but with no other options available, she goes forward in her role and becomes quite the businesswoman despite not being able to see her brother for months to years on end.

This talent of hers carried over into Brotherhood when she takes on the role of a brothel madame in order to support her brother's spy network during his mission to bring down the Borgia menace in Rome. While Ezio does not like this, Claudia meanwhile sees no problem and makes the brothel the finest in the city and earns the trust of the girls who work there due to her savvy and good leadership instincts. Later in the game, her brothel is compromised and Ezio rushes to his sister's aid only to see a bloodied blade in Claudia's hand with several dead Borgia guard bodies laying around her. Turns out, Miss Auditore learned several other skills other than effective book-keeping during Ezio's absence. Shortly later, Claudia is inducted into the Assassin order and becomes another valuable ally to the Brotherhood. Grazie, Claudia.

#9 Maxwell Roth (Assassin's Creed Syndicate)

Max is an odd duck. While he is more of a side-mission style of character, the reason why he left an impression on me was due to his flamboyant yet deceptive personality. 

The reckless and devil-may-care actions of Jacob Frye in London catches the eccentric crime lord's attention and he actively pursues an alliance of sorts with the Frye behind the latter's sister's back. Roth knows of the Frye's intention of taking down main antagonist and Templar Crawford Starrick and he decides that the enemy of his enemy is his friend. Jacob agrees to do several jobs for him and each time he learns several intimate pieces of information about his temporary benefactor, the most crucial part being Roth is a self-styled anarchist who believes in no creed or balance, but the beauty of chaos. Ultimately this is what causes Jacob to terminate the relationship (by now you would know how that happens), but for the duration of knowing Roth I was captivated by how convinced he was of his own beliefs. When somebody truly commits to a value or a state of mind, that is what makes them extremely dangerous, but combined with Roth's theatricality and chemistry with Jacob, he went a little beyond your typical trouble maker. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting interactions the characters had was when upon either impulse or calculated intention, Roth kisses Jacob on the mouth, the latter who doesn't seem to mind the gesture one bit, which kicked off a hilariously heated discussion between fans as to whether or not Jacob was gay or bisexual because that's what apparently matters.

#8 Madeleine de L'Isle (Assassin's Creed Liberation)

Let's put our hands together for perhaps the most prominent high-ranking female Templar to show up in a game so far.  

Madame de L'Isle has the distinction of not only being one of the major Templars in the series as well as her sex, but also due to her character. While beneath it all she too abides heavily by the Templar doctrine of bringing order and balance to the world through questionable and dangerous means, she also does display genuine care and consideration for her stepdaughter Aveline. While some may argue that it was all an act, I refuse to believe it was completely a falsehood. She had helped raise Aveline from a child into a composed young woman, ensuring she was bestowed every privilege available to women of high birth upon her stepdaughter as well as helped encourage Aveline to take more of an active role in her father's business endeavors in New Orleans. 

Sure, the argument could be made that de L'Isle was binding the ties of her Order to ensure further commerce, nevertheless, considering Aveline was a woman of biracial heritage, Madeleine did not in any way slight her stepdaughter or treated her poorly. In fact, she made the effort to assist Aveline in her efforts to punch gigantic holes into the brutal slave trade of New Orleans even when it could severely compromise her position. Although de L'Isle would secretly send the slaves Aveline liberated to Chichen Itza to unknowingly assist in Templar pursuits, she still ensured they were treated with more respect than the way they were... which I am certainly NOT defending, but you get my drift. After a long, brutal fight for the truth, Aveline uncovers her stepmother's involvement with the Templars, but rather than immediately attempt to eliminate her, Madeleine offers Aveline to join the Order so that they may work side by side to further fight oppression, an offer which truly did appeal to Aveline's heart. Not that it ultimately worked out of course, but for the time we knew her, de L'Isle was more than just a pretty noble face with an unflappable demeanor. She had a heart in there... and a REALLY awesome Templar uniform.

#7 Juhani Otso Berg (Assassin's Creed Rogue, Assassin's Creed Syndicate)

Very early after meeting him as the Faceless Abstergo Hamster, you quickly learn Berg is a hardened individual who isn't just a common mercenary but a man of strategy, principle and intelligence. 

While Berg was contacted by Warren Vidic, the big, swinging dick of Abstergo (emphasis on dick) namely for his combat prowess and storied lineage working the Finnish Army and later a soldier of fortune, he rapidly rose through the ranks and became one of the prime problem solvers for the people who didn't want to get their hands dirty. Despite being ruthless, Berg himself is not an inherently volatile, unfeeling man as he has a young daughter who is afflicted by cystic fibrosis, one of the main reasons why he became a mercenary in the first place (it is also funny to note that when one of Vidic's soldiers caused his ailing infant daughter to cry, Vidic permitted Berg to shoot the soldier in cold blood). Additionally, there was an occasion of which Berg could have killed William Miles (the father of the deceased Desmond Miles) but chose not to due to the fact the man was surrounded by children. While he told his superiors he did not strike due to unnecessary chaos, it's clear he prefers to avoid innocent casualties. 

On top of this, throughout Rogue, Berg knew of Shay Cormac's significance long before the Abstergo higher-ups did which implies the man knows a lot more than what he lets on to those who have employed him. Given he was able to see the awesomeness of Shay before we did, that's saying something.

#6 Abbas Sofian (Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed Revelations)

Abbas Sofian was a bitter, troubled man who lived a bitter, troubled life but so many fans tend to remember he was a traitor and nothing more because Altair is a fan-favourite (yes, I too love my Altaïr ). While he absolutely was a traitor, as with many villains, he had reason to be, a reason which may seem unforgivable initially, but the more you consider it, the more you understand his personality and actions. 

Long story short, Abbas's father was tasked to infiltrate a Saracen encampment, was captured and forced to give up the name of the Assassin - Umar Ibn-La'Ahad, father of  Altaïr - who had infiltrated Salāḥ ad-Dīn's personal tent and killed a nobleman during his escape that same night. Ahmad was nearly executed until Umar stood up to take his place for Ahmad's honor.  

Altaïr blamed Ahmad for his father's death.

Prior to this, Ahmad had come down with a fever in the Saracen camp, and in the weeks following spent his time crying out Umar's name while being treated by Abbas. Some time after, in remorse over Umar's death, Ahmad entered Umar's home, expressed his apologies to Altaïr and then remorsefully committed suicide by slitting his throat with a dagger in front of the young boy. Altaïr immediately ran to the Master Assassin Al Mualim and told him what had occurred. In response to the tragedy, Al Mualim bid Altaïr to be silent about what he had witnessed, and later convinced the Assassins that Ahmad had ran away, to prevent Abbas from being judged for his father's shame. As time went on and Altaïr became Al Mualim's favored Assassin, Abbas's resentment for his former childhood friend began to fester and bubble.  

Later, after the events of Assassin's Creed with Altair having to slay Al Mualim and to cremate his body (a taboo funerary custom to the culture), Abbas's hatred exploded and from that point on he appointed himself as Altaïr's most vehement rival which accumulated into a coup staged by Abbas to rid the Brotherhood of Altaïr and his family (one being Altaïr 's wife Maria Thorpe who originally worked for the Templars who ended up dying at Abbas's hand). While Sofian's governance of the Brotherhood severely crippled the integrity of the Creed, there is no denying that in a sense, Abbas was perhaps always destined to misery, no matter what and therein lies the true sadness of this character.

#5 Adéwalé (Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Assassin's Creed Rogue)

Born into unsavoury reality of slavery, Adéwalé (let's call him Adé for brevity's sake), the Trinidad-born slave worked various cane fields before he was cast in shackles to join the Spanish treasure fleet when he happened to meet Chris Hemsworth Edward Kenway, a wily Welsh privateer-turned pirate. Together they hijacked a Brig and escaped the harbor with a crew of fellow prisoners during a hurricane. Kenway appointed Adé his Quartermaster of their Brig, formally renamed the Jackdaw and the two enjoyed many adventures together. However, as time went on, Adé started to become weary of Kenway's relentless pursuit for wealth and fortune, which wasn't helped by his meeting which the Master Assassin Ah-Tabai of the Carribean Brotherhood. During his short yet meaningful interaction with the Mentor, Adé came to understand there was a higher calling for him. While he still cared deeply for Kenway, he wanted to achieve more with his life than to be a fearsome devil of the seas and seeked training to become an Assassin. Adé earned quite the reputation among the Brotherhood during his years serving the Creed, gaining many friends and allies along the way, one of them being the newly appointed Mentor of the Colonial American Brotherhood, Achilles Davenport. Adé was an embodiment of the Creed and was admired and loved by many of his fraternity and his years of experience as a seaman made him in one of the finest and most reliable captains of the Assassin navy regiment. 

However, during the events of Rogue, Shay Cormac was eventually tasked to kill Adéwalé, despite the fact Shay too respected the man's integrity. That moment, at least for me, was one of the most emotionally affecting because we were familiar with Adéwalé, we grew to love him, and then we had to kill him. It sucked, it hurt, but the sacrifice wasn't thankless to the game and served as a reminder that there were always consequences for Shay's actions, as much as he did not want to do them.

#4 Aveline de Grandpré (Assassin's Creed Liberation)

I adore Aveline with all of my heart, my only regret is that our time with her has been far too brief (so far) that I wasn't really able to award her a higher spot, but nevertheless, what a character.

Out of all of the main Assassin protagonists, Mademoiselle de Grandpré is perhaps the most well-adjusted, even-minded and generously tempered protagonist. While she had lost her mother at a very young age (though as she finds out later her mother ran away due to a deadly threat), Aveline managed to grow up into a mature, balanced young woman who was comfortable not only as herself, but the identities she assumed during her active years as an Assassin. One of the most intriguing elements of the gameplay of Liberation enabled Aveline to assume the identity of not only her Assassin persona but also that as the Lady of which so many in her higher social circles know her to be as well as a lowly, humble slave who blends in and out of crowds. 
Although this concept of wearing multiple faces may seem a disability, in Aveline's case it is a distinct advantage because not only does it provide her with valuable intelligence but also a slice of life on both ends of the social stratification of her community. She enjoys the education and luxuries she has been given as the fair daughter of wealthy tradesman Phillipe de Grandpré and has a loving relationship with her stepmother but she has also become far wiser to the misfortune which befalls those who society treads on. 

Her dynamics are matched also by the fact she maintains a sense of humor and empathy towards those she cares for, the latter trait surprisingly also applies to the targets she assassinates. When she does away with a Templar conspirator, she is genuinely upset as to why they would stoop to such a level when they could explore other options, saying it didn't have to be the way it was. While her heartfelt entreaties do not weaken her integrity as a character, she displays a vulnerability which is also a strength that we had not quite seen from other Assassin protagonists, it truly is quite refreshing. 

Note: I also love how Aveline was not regaled to being a love interest of her fellow Brotherhood member Connor Kenway. While the idea at some point was played with, I'm glad Ubisoft didn't travel that route. It gives Aveline a sense of individual agency and it doesn't cheapen her relationship with Connor in the slightest. Though okay, I love looking at 'ship fanart, but that's beside the point!

#4 Connor Kenway/Ratonhnhaké:ton (Assassin's Creed III)

My initial reaction to Connor aka Ratonhnhaké:ton (don't ask me to pronounce that quickly), while not unfavourable wasn't exactly one of love at first sight either. 

I had just finished the highly emotional Ezio Auditore Saga playing as the Florentine Fabio (sorry), that I was expecting the next Assassin to be equal if not moreso engaging on the same level as Ezio that I ended up feeling underwhelmed by the time Assassin's Creed III was done. For the longest time, I felt alienated from Connor because of this before it finally dawned on me; Connor was never supposed to be an Ezio clone, or an  
Altaïr variant or like anybody else. Connor was Connor and the more I read into the character, the more I realised he is one of the most engaging, complex and singular protagonists the series has ever had. 

Connor was the son of a Mohawk woman and an English Grand Master Templar who was raised in his mother's culture, yet he grew up feeling conflicted about whether or not he belonged wherever he dwelled. Although he was loved and respected, this notion stayed with him long into adulthood. After the untimely death of his mother, he went to seek Achilles Davenport who had long been living in disgrace after the downfall of the Colonial Brotherhood where he trained as an Assassin and in the process, breathed new life into the all but extinct Creed at that point. Taking up residence at Davenport's Homestead and assembling a valuable collective of misfits who had been cheated by the society they were a part of, he found himself starting to find a secure place and purpose in the world. Bearing his values and beliefs in mind as he continued his journey, he found himself being challenged by his father, Haytham Kenway, with whom he struck a shaky alliance with. Father and son worked together several times and Connor gradually became aware there was far more to the Assassin and Templar conflict which met the eye which I will not spoil, but rest assured, it leaves a hell of an impression on Connor and by extension, the player.

Inevitably, Connor and Haytham came at odds where one of them absolutely had to die, and it was Connor who survived. Hunting down the last of his father's allies (CHARLES LEEEEEEE!), the battle was done, but the war against the Templars was far from over. Despite being loyal and conscientious to the Creed, after all of his experiences, after all of the people he had known had come and gone, Connor retained his guard because he knew the world was a complicated, sometimes dangerous place... but he also had formed valuable ties within the Brotherhood and for that, he was ever thankful for.  

#3 Pierre Bellec (Assassin's Creed Unity)

Unity wasn't one of my favourite games truth be told, and although I have grown to enjoy it after a second playthrough, it still didn't resonate with me the way I wished it had. It was an AC game during the French Revolution for crying out loud, I should have adored it! But anyway, this isn't a bitchfest about what could have been, this is about the character of Pierre Bellec and apart from the portrayal of the Marquis de Sade, is my favourite character of the game. 

Bellec was a brusque, sour-tongued hard-arse to the very core and a staunch believer in the Creed. He took Arno Dorian under his wing during their prolonged incarceration at the Bastille where he taught the younger man several of the finer points of the Assassins without jeopardizing the Brotherhood (that ribbon of the plot actually reminded me of The Count of Monte Cristo which is a good thing, mind you). Upon their daring escape, Dorian hits up Bellec again and from there is taught the ins and outs. Bellec is a firm teacher, but he is not without his baggage. Prior to his captivity, he had witnessed the terrible downfall of the Colonial Brotherhood, witnessing mass genocide perpetrated by the Templars of the Colonial Rite- seeing something like that is bound to make anybody extremely suspicious and paranoid. Recruiting Arno was a risky task from his point of view, but he recognized potential greatness in Dorian and decided it prudent to have him inducted into the Parisian Brotherhood. 

As time went on however, Bellec revealed himself to also be extremely argumentative, fundamental and ultimately fatalistic due to his past experiences. He wanted the Brotherhood to endure and would do anything, absolutely ANYTHING to keep it safe, even if it meant sacrificing some of his own fraternity in order to do so. This clearly did not sit well with Arno and it predictably resulted in tragedy, but Bellec's reasons never lost their resonance through the story, and in Arno's own world view. 

#2 Lucy Stillman (Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood)

Lucy was born into the Assassin Order and diligently served until the time came for her to act as a splinter cell agent to infiltrate Abstergo. Prior to her involvement in the Animus project, she aced a degree in Neuroscience where she was picked up by Warren Vidic  to work at Abstergo, which was exactly what the Assassins were counting on. For some time she worked closely with Vidic before finally meeting Desmond Miles who had been kidnapped for the Animus project. Lucy retained professionalism for the sake of her cover, but she also secretly displayed great compassion for the understandably pissed off and confused Desmond. Finally, an opportunity for escape presented itself and Lucy fled Abstergo with Desmond in tow where they met up with two other Assassins. All four quickly set to work to beat the Templars, but not without difficulty.

Lucy is a badarse boffin who wasn't afraid to throw down when the time was fit, but she was also incredibly tormented. Although she was born an Assassin, she served intimately as a Templar and even became friends with those who were supposed to be her enemies, as a result, it left her conflicted about where she stood. Although she wanted to help achieve the Assassin goal, she had also seen the flip side of the coin and that is was perhaps her greatest weakness. It was this torn loyalty which ended up being her downfall, despite her relationship with Desmond, despite her aspirations to help the world, it still made no difference to the higher purpose. Some may have branded her a traitor, but in truth, Lucy was a martyr who had seen and done so much that most of her fellow Assassins would never have deemed to have done themselves. 

Okay, prepare yourselves kids, I'm about to cheat so hard, but this is MY  list and you will respect my choices! (Well, you may not and no hard feelings if you don't because I love you).

#1 Shay Cormac and Haytham Kenway (Assassin's Creed III/Assassin's Creed Rogue)

There is absolutely no way I can choose one over the other because it just so happens I love these characters equally, there is no way I could make a single decision, so a tie it is. 

Prior to Rogue, I would have deferred right to Grand Master Kenway without a single blink. He was confident, clever, courteous (for a snobby Brit) and reasonable yet at the same time dangerous, cold, efficient and capable of being sadistic. When you start III as him he could be vicious yet at the same time righteous, especially when it came to how he felt about the treatment of the First Nations people being subjugated and the compassion he felt for them. Through Connor's eyes, it's clear Haytham has undergone more than several lifetimes of change. While a lot of these incidents occurred in Oliver Bowden's amazing novelization of Assassin's Creed: Forsaken (seriously, read it, it's perhaps the best of the series), I never felt myself hating Haytham and even in his dying moments, none of his character and motivations were lost on me.

Then, along came Shay.

I won't go into too much detail about what made me adore the character as I wrote a rather expansive piece about the finer details of my admiration for the bloke right HERE, but rest assured, where we only peeked through the windows at the grey areas of the Templars vs. Assassin war through Haytham's eyes, Shay's inclusion kicked open multiple doors, each of them leading to revelations which eerily mirror the ones held by the Assassins but diverge all the same. After so long of regaling the Templars as a bunch of power-hungry, mindless, well-dressed automatons, the tale of Shay Cormac from Assassin to Templar brought light what what was dark. Not only that, but Shay's actions have echoed loudly through the annals of AC history, not only did he directly assist in the deadly purge of the Colonial Assassin Brotherhood as well as hunted down various Pieces of Eden for his Order, but also one of the most important events in human history being his indirect partial instigation of the French Revolution. 

When Shay and Haytham met, I was over the moon- two ethically diverse, fascinating characters not only meeting but working with and off of each other. The result was, at least to me, undeniably magnificent and while Haytham's tale may be done, I hope Shay's continues into the future. Y'all hearing me, Ubisoft?!

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Fallen Botticelli Angel/Elightened Eldritch/Lunatic Fringe
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