Assassin's Creed Dynasty: Volume 3 – Review & Summary
Written by Sorrosyss, April 2nd, 2022
French Translation from the original source by Azuu

Note: Non Spoiler Review, but a full Spoiler Summary follows

Assassin's Creed Dynasty is a manhua comic written by Xu Xianzhe currently running in the Chinese market, which is now receiving its initial translations into French via Mana Books, and English by Tokyopop.

Remaining within China in the year 755 AD, the third volume continues the story of a Hidden Ones member known as Li E. This issue sees the battle between General An Lushan's rebel forces, and the Imperial Army of Emperor Xuanzong enter a new
level of hostilities. The rebel forces have rapidly moved across China in this time period, and the author does a good job in showing how the battle across the region played out in true historical reality.

The brutality of war is really brought out by the artwork, again completed by Zhang Xiao. Utilising the traditional manhua heavy shaded aesthetic, there are as usual several stunning single page panels present here. You can tell that the imagery of the original Assassin’s Creed games was used as a strong inspiration for the hero, as he regularly cuts a nostalgic image walking with his hood raised. The characters themselves are generally well drawn to the degree that you can distinctly tell them apart easily, which highlights the quality of the art in general.

The oriental setting continues to stand out as we've rarely explored it in the Assassin's Creed IP, and it has a rich history of drama and mythology just waiting to be utilised. Dynasty continues to be a strong entry into the transmedia space, as it expertly weaves the traditional assassin experience against a background of cultural events and political intrigue. Sadly there remains a complete lack of Modern Day content to give us a framing perspective, but we've seen on other products that this can sometimes be introduced later in the narrative. Certainly though if you have an interest in a different and refreshing setting for the franchise, this manhua would definitely be a recommended option to start with. Assassin's Creed Dynasty Volume 3 is available now in Chinese and French, from all good stockists. An English version is presently expected in June 2022.


Near Chenliu, Henan Province, China, 755 AD (Tang Dynasty)
General An Lushan continues his advance on Chang'an, nearing upon Chenliu. Within his tent, he takes audience of a number of captured enemy fighters. There he talks openly about his first born son, Qingzong. Throughout his son's life, the General had been mostly absent as he fought wars across the land. An Lushan is therefore saddened to hear that his son had been executed in Chang'an. Remarking that the land now labels him as a traitor, he states that it is time that he started acting like one. He then begins executing the prisoners one by one.

Changshan, Hebei Province, China, 755AD (Tang Dynasty)
Li E and Yan Jiming spar in the courtyard, the latter trying to learn all he can from the sword skills of the former. They are interrupted by Ho Hong'er, Jiming's wife. She desires to train too, and impresses Li E with her sword prowess. She then tells them that the Governor Yan Gaoqing has assembled his team of advisors, and they should all go see him inside the Governor's office. Yan Gaoqing tells all present how the rebels have slowly taken over most of the Hebei territories, with cities being sacked and innocents slaughtered. The Imperial army has now retreated to Tong Pass, intending to make a stand there. He suggests that all of their available forces should be committed there to aid the Emperor’s forces.

Tong Pass, Shaanxi Province, China, 755AD (Tang Dynasty)
Imperial and rebel forces battle viciously. With the rebels pushing the imperials back almost to Chang'an itself, General Gao Xianzhi of the Imperial army is forced to make a difficult decision, alongside Feng Changqing, his military governor. If the rebels get too close, the outpost and the pass itself would no doubt fall, as such they decide that they must let loose all arrow volleys that they have, in turn sacrificing their own warriors still fighting in the pass below. Upon their order, hundreds of men become rained with arrows, killing nearly all instantly. The rebel forces halt in their tracks, their leader removing his mask, revealing themselves to be Sun Xiaozhe.

The General is joined by the eunuch Bian Lingcheng, who congratulates him on stopping the rebel attack, but now expects the Imperial army to drive them out of the pass. The General dismisses the notion, pointing out how many men they had lost in the battle already as it was. Lingcheng states that he is there to strip the General of his titles, at the demand of the Chancellor Yang Guozhong. The General refuses to commit their forces forward, insisting that the eunuch can head out
the pass first if he would like.

A package is delivered from Chang'an, which the General opens to find a letter from Li E. He states that he was a soldier under his command at the Battle of Talas, and that he calls upon his former leader now to have hope. He suggests that if he (along with Yan Gaoqing’s and Yan Jiming’s forces) manages to eliminate the two main rebel generals stationed at Tumen Pass, An Lushan's forces might be eventually surrounded and crumble without direction. Li E states that they can infiltrate the rebel forces at Tumen Pass by providing a shipment of wine, and would likely keep them drunk in the coming days. Thus, he proposes a counter attack through the nearby Tumen Pass to try and rout the enemy generals by surprise. Gao Xianzhi sees no other option than to aid this plan, and commits a leader alongside several men to head to the Pass as directed.

Tumen Pass, Shaanxi Province, China, 755AD (Tang Dynasty)
The small band of men approaches the battlements of the Tumen Pass, lead by Yan Gaoqing and Yan Jiming. They greet the rebel generals Li Qincou and Gao Miao, professing their admiration for how they have kept the pass safe for the surrounding area, offering pots of wine as thanks. Though suspicious, the generals invite the Governor and Jiming inside, welcoming the wine gift, though demand that the rest of their men wait outside. Once inside, one of the wine pots opens to reveal Li E hiding inside. He makes his way quietly around the area eliminating guards by stealth. Eventually he sights
his two allies in battle with the rebel generals, and utilises a crossbow to fire into the room providing covering fire.
With the generals dead, the pass is taken by the Imperial army, who lie in wait along the pass. The rebel reinforcements eventually arrive, but are struck down by archers around the hills.

After the battle, Li E inspects some of the insignias carried by the rebel generals. He is shocked to note that they appear to belong to a previous dynasty, that of Empress Wu Zetian, and represent turtles instead of fish as the insignia created by the Imperial court for the various ranks of society - and for An Lushan’s generals before they started the rebellion. A letter reaches him from General Gao Xianzhi, congratulating him on his plan to take the Tumen Pass. It had emboldened the resolve of nearby areas to join the Imperial army, and he requests Li E at their new Imperial staging ground at Taiyuan. Li E says goodbye to Yan Jiming and heads to Taiyuan on horseback.

Correspondence, 755 AD
Another letter is addressed to Li Bai from Abe No Nakamaro. A brief summary of the events around Chang'an are relayed. Abe also mentions the existence of a secret society working amidst the Imperial court, called the “Golden Turtles”, which was actually started during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, who identified the highest ranked government officials with golden turtle insignias. During the Shenlog Revolution of 705, Empress Wu Zetian was overthrown and the Tang Dynasty was restored, with many Golden Turtles being killed, but some members of the secret society had survived and continued using the golden turtles insignia to identify themselves.

Abe suggests that both Chancellor Yang Guozhong and An Lushan are members of this secret group and that the chancellor had actually schemed and intentionally prompted An Lushan into fashioning the rebellion to strengthen his own power within the court and the Golden Turtles secret society. Knowing that the letter cannot reach his friend, he again chooses to retain it for the time being.

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