Last Descendants – Fate of the Gods (Review, Summary & Analysis)
Sorrosyss, December 30th, 2017

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

Non Spoiler Review

Fate of the Gods is the third release of The Last Descendants, an Assassin's Creed young adult novel series. Written by Matthew Kirby, the series focuses on six teenagers with unique DNA whom have all managed to get caught up amidst the invisible war between the Assassin Brotherhood and Templar Order.

The previous novels have split the teenagers between the two factions and other forces at play. As a result, they have ultimately been using an Animus to explore eras such as the draft riots of 1863 New York, and the Mongol Empire of the 14th Century. This particular book focuses on Sweden in 985AD, and is very much centred around the exploits of the Vikings within this time period. After discovering powerful Pieces of Eden known as Prongs, our heroes uncovered that these daggers are actually the blades of the Trident of Eden, with the last piece believed to be have been held in the possession of a Viking warrior. With Isaiah in control of two of these pieces already, the completed Trident would hold the world in peril - and as such the race is on between the factions to secure its location first.

Matthew has always had a compelling style to his writing, and I found myself imagining and visualising his depicted scenes very easily. I have always argued that we should try and cover the three main time periods of Assassin's Creed in every product – the Modern Day, the Historical Story, and the Isu. I am thankful to Matthew for trying to incorporate a certain game character into the storytelling, as I do feel it adds a level of immersive interconnectivity to proceedings when we take in all of these time periods together.

Overall, I felt this story did a good job of closing out the final chapter. Each of the characters managed to get some kind of tangible closure, yet it still left the door open for further stories in the future. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to seeing these characters again at some point. Overall though, if you have had a keen interest in how a Viking setting may play out for Assassin's Creed, you are certainly encouraged to pick this book up. For fans of the previous books, or Modern Day/Isu fans, there is still plenty here to keep you entertained.

My only negative thought on the book is that its narrative is ultimately self contained. By that I mean that even the characters themselves avoid contacting the greater Brotherhood and Abstergo, and intend to keep these events strictly to their knowledge. The result of this is that the story that we experience naturally has no visible impact on the wider Assassin's Creed universe, save for the partial destruction of a few Abstergo buildings. I feel that's a bit of a shame, as if we want the transmedia stories to more directly feed into the game narratives, we really should be incorporating them to a further extent. Of course, the other side to this is that doing it in this fashion actually allows the authors to have the freedom to craft a story of their own without fact checking every lore detail. I suppose that this is a question to gauge from the fans themselves, but certainly of the two options I would prefer all transmedia projects to directly feed into the wider lore, much in the same way that Marvel Studios manages to tie all of its independent stories together to a main narrative whole.

Warning: Go read the novel, otherwise Spoilers follow from here!

Story Summary

Styrbjörn the Strong
Sean via working with Isaiah, experiences the memories of Swedish Viking Styrbjörn the Strong in 985AD, who lead the Jomsvikings to attack the Danish king Harald Bluetooth. Harald has the final Prong dagger. Styrbjörn defeats and forces the Danes to surrender and in turn orders them to attack his uncle Eric at Svealand for the Swedish throne.

Natalya, Owen, Javier, David, Grace, Monroe, Victoria and Griffin - all wait at the Aerie, and must find the Prong before Sean and Isaiah do. David experiences the memory of Östen Jorundsson, a farmer who lives with his son, wife and two daughters. Also, the slave Arne the Dane. Owning a slave upsets and desyncs David.

Javier experiences the memory of Thorvald Hjaltason, an assassin with a hidden blade. He is lead by Lawspeaker Torgny, a blind man.

Monroe convinces Natalya and Owen that they could enter a special simulation of the collective human unconscious as it is technically a memory. Archetypes are believed to fill the simulation, but the two of them appear as themselves.

Östen is called to war by a bidding stick, leaving his family behind. Grace replaces David in the Animus.

Sean and Isaiah hide their Animus in a remote chapel in Scotland. Sean continues experiencing Styrbjörn’s memories. He believes him to be immune to the effects of the dagger held by Harald.

Owen and Natalya continue to explore the special memory and hear a voice guiding them from a bright light. They then enter an endless forest, and find a giant snake hunting them.

David replaces Grace in the machine. Östen reaches the Fyrisfield, where Eric loyalists gather. Spies insist that Styrbjörn’s ships are two days out.

Thorvald and Torgny have a meeting with Eric. They plan to block the river with a stakewall, and Thorvald seeks reliable men for this task. He recruits Östen.

Natalya and Owen run from the giant snake, until she realises that it is a fear archetype. She allows herself to be swallowed whole and a path is formed to follow. This had been the Fear test.

Grace joins Natalya and Owen in the special simulation. They end up following a dog along the path, who eventually leads them off to a mound, where an old dying cave man in rags awaits them.

Styrbjörn’s advance is stopped by the stakewall. After threatening Harald, he finally obtains the final Prong. Harald and his ships depart overnight as a direct response to this.

The caveman passes away after a conversation where he asks them to get his dog a new friend. Owen stays with the deceased man, whilst the dogs mourns. It begins to snow. Grace and Natalya head back to the path to find the crossroads where they could search for a new friend for the dog. Owen nearly passes out from hypothermia, but the dog drags him away to safety, and they both go to follow the others.

Thorvald orders Östen and his men to lay poison traps and snares to stop Styrbjörn’s advance. With sneak attacks on their camps at night, they aim to terrify their enemy.

Thorvald uses the trees to hide and bides his time, managing to slay several of Styrbjörn’s key men.

Owen and the others await strangers at the crossroads, with a few passing by including a warrior who owned a tower, and a farmer who wanted to protect his flock. Finally a female wanderer was offered the dog which she duly took. The simulation turned darker. The Devotion test was complete.

Under the moonlight, they find a cliff face, with two paths. One with a rope, the other a sheer climb. Intending to reach the summit, they climb without it as part of the Faith test. Natalya attempts to jump off halfway up but is saved by Grace. They find a doorway and enter inside.

Styrbjörn leads his band towards Fyrisfield. A herd of cattle is sent towards them, tied together with weapons adorned across them - clearly sent to stampede and slay them. Styrbjörn manages to jump atop them and cut the ties between the cattle, splitting them apart and saving many men. Some of Eric’s troops arrive, but they are mostly farmers and are easily slain. That night Styrbjörn marries Thyra, a shield maiden. As an offering to the gods, they place the dagger inside a boulder. Sean now believes he has the location of the Piece of Eden itself.

Minerva's advice for our heroes
Owen and the others enter the doorway, and amidst the sharp architecture of the walls they meet Minerva. She explains that the path was created by her, and the memory will help shield them to the Trident. Their simulation thus ends on this revelation.

Thorvald infiltrates Styrbjörn’s camp, leaving poisoned silver as a deceit for enemy troops to pick up. He witnesses the hiding of the dagger inside the boulder. He claims the dagger a short time later, before gifting it to Eric directly. Eric is informed he needs a champion, and Östen is named as such.

Styrbjörn’s band reaches Eric’s guards and the battle commences. Hopelessly outnumbered, the Vikings start to falter. Styrbjörn calls out Eric for one-on-one combat but he is challenged by Östen, they fight, but poison in Styrbjörn claims him. Thyra reaches his side as he dies and is captured. She is taken as a trophy by Östen whom is also entrusted with the mysterious Prong dagger by Thorvald. Östen hides the dagger at a spring near his home.

Natalya, Grace and Owen await the others. David, Javier, Monroe, Griffin and Victoria arrive. They discuss how Isaiah may have once been an Instrument of the First Will, a faction dedicated to Juno but now planned for his own victory. Sean and Isaiah last saw the dagger in the boulder, which knowing differently gives them an advantage. After a meal and sleep, Owen, Natalya, Griffin and Grace depart for Sweden by jet.

Travelling across Sweden, they ditch the car they hire and find the former spring close to Östen's house has now a water company factory built upon it. The dagger was found during building works and it sits in a display in the reception. They wait until dark and Griffin goes in alone to claim it. Shortly afterwards some black helicopters arrive and gunshots ring out.

Griffin retrieves the dagger but is badly wounded in the process and he manages to escape with the others to the forest – giving Grace the dagger. Griffin dies from his wounds. They return to the car to find Isaiah and multiple armed troops in waiting. Taking the dagger from Grace, they are all subsequently lined up for execution.

In a flashback, Sean is exhausted from using the Animus, unable to discover what happened to the dagger. One of Isaiah’s team discovers about the dagger at the water company. Sean is thus left to die by Isaiah, but he manages to free himself from the Animus, and gets inside of a self driving SUV. He calls Victoria at the Aerie and is given directions to the other’s last known coordinates.

Isaiah mocks the fears of Owen, Natalya and Grace at gun point. At the dying moment, an SUV pulls up between them and Isaiah and they all climb aboard Sean's vehicle - leaving Isaiah and his troops behind as they are helpless to stop the bullet proof vehicle. Victoria arranges a flight and they all quickly return to the Aerie knowing that Isaiah will be on his way.

They prepare the Aerie facility for an inevitable attack, setting traps and leaving debris to prevent helicopters landing closeby. When they finally arrive, Owen takes one down with an EMP grenade. They all fall back to defend their position and eventually Isaiah arrives with the Trident. He tries to use each of its powers upon them and they all realise that they now have the power to resist the visions (thanks to Minerva's advice). They engage in hand-to-hand combat with Isaiah, before Javier finishes Isaiah with his hidden blade. The remainder of Isaiah’s troops snaps out of a trance, and Victoria orders them away. The six Last Descendants hold the Trident, summoning Minerva and her voice comes to Owen and energy comes from within him into the Trident. The others channel the same and in the end the Trident glows and it explodes into destroyed metal.

David and Grace decide to return to their parent’s home, happy to be out of the Assassin / Templar war. Natalya returns to her grandparents home, declaring that the temporary school program had ended. Owen accepted that he may never know what his father did that day in the bank. He returned home to his family. Javier also returned home, hiding the hidden blade under his bed. Monroe had left him a phone number, but he remained unsure as to whose it might have been.

Sean regularly visits Victoria, who has been acting as his psychiatrist, with the promise of new leg prosthetics to help him walk some day.

Monroe felt that the remains of the Trident still warranted study. As did the Ascendance Event. He felt the DNA of the six teenagers still offered more secrets, but for now they deserved a rest.


Isaiah from the comic book
series Last Descendants Locus
Isaiah's True Calling

It was suggested that at some point Isaiah was in fact a member of the Instruments of the First Will. We suspected this given his usage of a manifesto, but in the end it turns out that he had even gone rogue from Juno as well.

It is not the first time we have seen Pieces of Eden affecting the mind of individuals, and I feel it is safe to say that this was yet another example of this as Isaiah caved to delusions of grandeur.

Detail from the cover of the
first novel (Hungarian version)
The Fate of the Teenagers

What now for our teenage heroes? Well, several of them just seemed happy to be home. (David, Grace and Natalya) Sean appears to be going through therapy, but by all accounts is looking to be able walk with the aid of prosthetics soon. In that respect, I believe he may be working deep within Abstergo. Javier has hung onto Griffin's Hidden Blade, and with his affection for the Brotherhood it seems clear that their destinies are interlinked. But what of Owen? With his troubled family home, he still struggles to reconcile with the fate of his father. Where will he ultimately end up next? It's a good question.

The Ascendance Event

In the end it turns out that the Ascendance Event was a creation of the Isu, Minerva. Combining the sub-DNA of our six teenage protagonists revealed the code of the collective unconscious, which could be read by an Animus. In doing so, it contained a warning and advice from Minerva as to how to resist the powers of the Trident. This is what helped destroy it in the end.

But is that all the sub DNA contained? As Monroe continues to study their DNA, he almost suggests that there are further secrets to be unveiled. What could they be? I suppose this was left as a deliberate hint towards any future sequel for the series. Perhaps we will find out some day.

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