Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden: A Book Review

Assassin's Creed Black Flag


It’s the Golden Age of Piracy – a time when greed, ambition and corruption overcome all loyalties – and a brash young captain, Edward Kenway, is making his name known for being one of the greatest pirates of his day.

In the brilliant new novel, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, discover the story of how Edward, a young privateer, became one of the world’s most deadly pirates and was drawn into the centuries-old battle between the Templars and the Assassins.


Author: Oliver Bowden

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: 01/11/2013

Pages: 464

My Rating of ‘Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’: 5 out of 5

My Chosen Format: Paperback

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan. It’s literally my favourite thing in the gaming world. I love everything about it and think it’s a genius idea and hope it goes on forever (if not in games then in books, film, tv or some format). I own all of the novels (I’ll get round to reading them … so little time) and was sorely let down by the first one I read (Renaissance). It got a very generous two stars from me in that review. So, it was with very low hopes that I picked up Black Flag.

The first chapter was enough to make me realise I could give it five stars then and there. It is told in first person narrative, is laced with humour and seriousness and swashbuckling action AND it doesn’t read like a videogame walkthrough/transcript (which is what made Renaissance so poor, in my opinion).

I will struggle to put into words how much I enjoyed Black Flag, especially when compared to Renaissance (I know, the whole point of a review is to put into words how much I enjoyed it, but it was that good I just might struggle).

Edward Kenway is the perfect protagonist for Black Flag. He’s a rogue of sorts as he’s kind of on the edge of the whole Assassin brotherhood (he has the gifts but none of the respect or desire of the assassins) yet still wants to fight the Templars due to their crimes against both he and his family.

In the game, you start off as a half-drowned Kenway, washed up on an Island with nought but the shirt on your back and the breath in your lungs. The book, however, starts off with Kenway as a lad back in England, living with his family and trying to earn his keep as a merchant for his father’s wares. You fast learn that Kenway is a troubled lad who enjoys drinking more than he enjoys most else. His personal choices send his life off into unforeseeable directions that lead us into this wonderful tale of piracy, romance, heartbreak, sorrow and revenge. This is why, in my opinion the book is better than the game. You get to know Edward as a person and you feel his pain and sorrow.

The cast of characters are wonderful. As with all Assassin’s Creed books/games the cast are real people from history. As much as this series is made for entertainment, it’s also a good tool to get a bit of learning into people. We have everyone from Stede Bonett to Blackbeard, from Woodes Rogers to Calico Jack and Anne Bonny. Quite literally everyone who made the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ so golden.

I know a lot of people out there who aren’t big on video games tend not to read novel adaptions of videogames. Totally understandable. I would, however, implore anyone who wants to read a piracy-based novel (even if they hate videogame adaptations) to try Black Flag. Unless you know Black Flag is based on a game, you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell from the book. It’s one of my favourite pirate novels and right up there with one of my favourite historical fiction novels.

You also don’t have to have read any other Assassin’s Creed novel. This is a standalone book that can be enjoyed without any knowledge of the franchise.


16 thoughts on “Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden: A Book Review

  1. Glad to hear how much you enjoyed this. Mad respect to the franchise and Ubisoft (even if I am one to think they are milking the series big time). It’s nice to hear that a book adaptation of a video game actually delivers something good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Black Flag was such a great game. Glad to read that the book was good especially after the other AC book. Not read many pirate books, On Stranger Tides and I’m struggling to think of any others so it’s good to know this is a good read if I ever feel like some pirating action.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you I am a self-confessed Assassin’s Creed obsessive. I absolutely loved Black Flag the game so I’d be more than happy to read a novelisation – especially after such a glowing review! It’s great to hear that it does the game justice and stands out of its own accord and I’m looking forward to hearinf what you.make of the others! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I already reviewed Renaissance. Wasn’t too happy with it. But this one … oh my word, it was fantastic. It’s nice to see a fellow blogger giving Assassin’s Creed some love. Just for that you are right up there as one of my favourites 😊 if you do get around to reading it, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

      I need to get back to playing Origins. I have been slacking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha likewise!! I’m loving Origins – I only wish there was more time to play it… and read everything… and blog…! Never enough hours. I am at a gaming festival this weekend though so I get 4 days straight of non stop gaming 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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