Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: The Converts
Review & Summary
Written by Sorrosyss, March 18th, 2023

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

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a new comic by Glénat Editions released in French in January 2023. It was originally partially released in 2020 as a webcomic, with this subsequent release continuing the storyline to an elongated graphic novel. Given the confusing name versus the video game of the same name, it also briefly used the moniker “The Converts” in advertising, but that appears to have since been dropped. We include it within the review title therefore to help separate the confusion of the two mediums.

Written by Mathieu Gabella, the comic story primarily focuses on a copyist monk called Edward. Living amongst a monastery focused on translating documentation, his world is turned upside down by an invasion of vikings led by none other than Eivor of the Raven Clan. Thrust into the world of The Hidden Ones, he meets Hytham, before working alongside a young acolyte called Niels. The two then venture off in search of other encrypted writings, specifically those written by mysterious precursors. Sadly, the storyline does not contain any Present Day set narrative for framing reference, but the storyline does at least try to fit around the pre-existing lore, often referencing events from the video game itself.

The artwork, by Paolo Traisci and Fabien Alquier, is sadly disappointing though. Characters are barely recognisable from their video game counterparts, with many of the faces of individuals depicted with seemingly oval shaped faces. The coloration is pretty drab and dull throughout as well, with no particular imagery standing out or popping off the page as we have come to expect from previous Assassin's Creed comic transmedia.

The timing of the release of this comic is pretty strange as well. After we have just closed the chapter on the Valhalla video game, it seems an odd decision to re-open this historical timeframe once more, when many players are keen to now move onto new narrative experiences after having their fill of this particular setting. The comic unfortunately delivers a pretty forgettable storyline overall, alongside some confusing explanations as to how certain Isu artifacts work. Whilst I applaud the inclusion of precursor content, with the notable addition of a pretty well-known real world location turned Isu site, it honestly borders on more of a magical depiction to them here, than the technological angle that we are so used to. Not to mention, the intentionally incorrect (and impolite) usage of the Isu language here, which sadly translates in one panel to “If someone can explain how to write this s***, it would be much appreciated”, seemingly implying a disgruntled artist that was not shown how to write or use the distinct language appropriately.

These things all considered, coupled with the poor quality art, combines to give us arguably one of the weakest Assassin's Creed transmedia releases in some time. This is definitely one of the times where quality should trump quantity, as the transmedia of late feels like it is drifting further and further away from the impactful stories of years past. By consequence, their lack of any particular connection or significance to the wider meta narrative of the Assassin's Creed video games, is directly weakening the transmedia overall. Whilst we certainly do not want to see the likes of Juno being killed off in a comic again, it does feel like we need some kind of significant and connected continuation of the main Present Day narrative between game releases, something that actually makes the wider gamer audience actually want to invest in this alternative medium for storytelling. Sadly, comics in the quality of this particular one, will not be convincing anyone.

On the other hand, if you are someone that greatly enjoyed the Valhalla setting, then you might appreciate this extra storyline to add to your collection. As mentioned, it does contain cameos from some of the game characters, so it is not a complete waste of your time.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is available from all good stockists, though presently only available in French. No English language release date has been provided at time of writing.


Readingum Abbey, Hamtunscire, England, 9th Century AD
Within the monastery, two resident brothers known as Ecbert and Edward discuss a series of papyrus letters they have received,
written in a language neither understand. An alarm is raised outside, as a cart rushes to the main gates, the occupants shouting that Danes are coming.

Within the walls of the town, a disguised Eivor and a fellow Viking sneak their way inside the main church. Eventually Eivor comes across the copyists area, drawing a sword upon Edward. Without interest in any specific loot, she declares the boy as the best known copyist monk in the lands, stating that he is the true treasure she is looking for. She marches him at sword point to a river entrance, whilst the town is distracted by fires created by the attacking Danes at the main gate. They leap to a longboat together, before leaving for Ravensthorpe.

Ravensthorpe, Ledecestrescire, England, 9th Century AD
A month passes, and Edward finds himself tasked with assisting Hytham, a member of the Hidden Ones. Forced to convert documents daily, he tries to escape multiple times, each time being caught by one of the Viking guards. On his final attempt he is returned to the village for the third time by the hunter Niels. As they re-enter the village, they are confronted by Eivor, Hytham, Sigurd and a farmer called Gunnar – father to Niels. The latter berates Niels for going hunting at the wrong time, leaving the hunter expressing his wish to leave and travel the world to get away from his father, before the two briefly clash, leaving Gunnar knocked down upon the ground.

Hytham speaks privately with Edward, surprised that he wants to return to the monastery, but no longer wishing to enslave him on site. Before he leaves, Edward reveals he was very interested in the documents mentioning “the Precursors”, shocking Hytham who thought they were well hidden in his house. The latter walks to Gunnar's house, where he is found continuing to argue with Niels. Hytham drops a bag of gold, to exchange for Niels' freedom. The two men head to Hytham's home, where they discuss Niels potentially joining the Hidden Ones. Hytham hands him a list, showing how many slaves are held by a nearby tyrant lord. Niels states that he does not like killing, except only where necessary. Hytham encourages him to work alongside him.

Readingum Abbey, Hamtunscire, England, 9th Century AD
Edward journeys back to the monastery, and is warmly greeted by the other monks and their leader, Brother Bran. He learns that his brother is not there, as he had journeyed out in search for help to rescue Edward, yet had not returned. Bran shares Ecbert's belongings with Edward, which were left behind. Among them Brother Bran shows him some documents, which also contain the symbols of the Precursors, as Edward had seen on Hytham's scrolls. Bran begs him not to get involved with translating the messages, as he believes them to actually be sorcery.

Edward rushes towards Ravensthorpe and encounters Niels, Eivor and Hytham on the road. Niels has been tasked to head to the Hidden Ones bureau in Lunden, which promises more secretive documents. Fascinated by the precursors, Edward requests to travel with Niels and the two head towards Lunden with Eivor's blessing.

Hidden Ones bureau, Lunden, England, 9th Century AD
Edward and Niels arrive in the city, and quickly find their way to the supposed Hidden Ones bureau. They both leap down to the tunnels below the city, where the local female Mentor named Adelaïde sneaks upon them, placing her hidden blade at Niels' throat. They introduce themselves, before the Mentor explains that they understand several communications on a secret language are being passed by messengers on behalf of Aelfred, King of Wessex. The two initiates are tasked with searching the city for informants, and to listen out for clues in taverns. Over several days, the Mentor trains both of them in combat and stealth skills.

Wincestre Abbey, England, 9th Century AD
Moving their investigations to Wincestre, Niels and Edward search the archives of the Abbey itself. There they find a group of
hooded men conducting a meeting. Pretending to be attendees, they find their way inside. The group has met because each of the summoned people had received a parchment written in an ancient language, and together they agree that these writings are the work of a miracle, for they all separately understand the mysterious language without ever having learnt it. Their leader has gathered them as he believes the Church in England needs to be managed differently, far from Rome’s control. They believe they need to create more proselytes to their cause, through the use of the ancient writings, the same way the monks present had previously received the ancient writings before their own conversion.

One man lowers his hood, revealing himself to be Brother Bran. He refuses to accept the ruling, and requests to leave. As the meeting ends, a group follows after Bran, intending to kill him to keep their secret. Niels and Edward intervene, along with assistance from their Mentor Adelaïde. They look over the slain group members, realising they all have pict tattoos. Their orders must have come from the very far north.

Hadrian's Wall, Kingdom of Alba, 9th Century AD
The three Hidden Ones travel to the northern territory of the Scots. There they find a large group of Picts and Danish at a nearby
village. Lead by a group of monks, they are making individuals read from documents containing the same ancient markings to see if they can understand the miracle symbols. As the tensions between the monks and the civilians start to rise, the Hidden Ones are forced to step in, triggering a large scale battle which with their training they quickly win. A surviving villager girl offers to take them to the next village, where she explains that the monks had been taking blood from individuals who could not read the symbols, only to return a day later with scrolls that could then be read by them. The symbols on the scrolls then strangely impart knowledge and understanding in an extremely short amount of time. The creator of their order, self-proclaimed Saint Columba the Reborn (his name taken from the original saint) first discovered this language after supposedly fighting with a “demon” at Loch Ness. Intrigued by this, the Hidden Ones elect to travel there and investigate.

Loch Ness, Kingdom of Alba, 9th Century AD
As the three approach the lake, they witness a large structure emerge from the lake, with a group of people entering inside. The Hidden Ones are shaken by what they witness, but conclude that it must be Precursor technology. Edward believes that all the answers are inside, and against the wishes of the Mentor decides to head inside the structure. She suggests he at least waits until sundown, and sure enough after the dark of night arrives, Edward dresses as a monk and attaches behind a larger group heading towards the structure. Inside the entrance is a large stairwell, heading down to below the lake.

The stairs open up to a large multi-tiered structure, where groups of monks are busy writing texts in the same ancient language. Upon a platform, a sole monk dips blood to pen – the same blood that had been collected from the villagers - and writes in cursive Isu Language upon a Piece of Eden, a metal Codex that appears to glow and in turn manifests the symbols upon a screen in Isu Language capital letters. The text reads “If you keep repeating what you see on the screen I cannot help you. Please try using one of the commands I have in my memory so I can help you”. Edward finds himself bumping into Ecbert, the latter taking the two brothers
to a quiet area to reunite. They discuss how Edward found his way here, with Ecbert confirming how this precursor technology is allowing Columba and his acolytes to encrypt the knowledge from specific books and sacred texts into this ancient language, and to make it available only to those who have donated their blood and have converted to Columba’s group, in turn providing knowledge tailored specifically to them. He insists it is the future, though Edward argues that it completely erodes the freedom of those individuals, having the revelations and knowledge thrust upon them, sometimes with deadly consequences, while Ecbert believes that this technology should be removed from Columba’s hands and handed it to “the good hands” of King Aelfred the Great, who would be able to use it to control the kingdom and the Church. At this moment a group of guards come along, demanding to see Edward's “mark”, its absence resulting in the two brothers being marched from the room.

They are presented to the monk leader, the false Columba, but at this moment Adelaïde appears, opening a mechanism which causes the water above to come flooding inside. As everyone rushes to a higher platform, Ecbert grabs the precursor Codex from the platform.
The Hidden Ones are forced into battle with “Columba” and his monks, but the latter prove no obstacle to the trained assassins. Adelaïde requests to take the Codex to her order, but Ecbert tries to throw a dagger at her. She responds by catching it and throwing it back, killing him instantly. As she attempts to take the Codex, Edward strikes at her in vengeance of his brother, toppling Adelaïde and the tablet over the platform edge. The tablet smashes against a solid surface, with Adelaïde also suffering a fatal fall. Niels implores Edward that they must leave before they drown, the latter instead electing to leap into the waters to find what remains of the tablet codex. Niels dives in after him to save him.

Ravensthorpe, Ledecestrescire, England, 9th Century AD
A few weeks pass, and Niels make his way back to Ravensthorpe. He meets with Eivor and Hytham, and details what had occurred. He mentions he tried to save Edward, but was unable to. He returns Adelaïde's blade to Hytham, and explains that he realises now that the world of a Hidden One is not what he desires from this life. Hytham tries to convince him that the Hidden Ones are the ones pushing for a true and good future. Niels counters that if that were the case, they should have won their war long ago. He then leaves the village, leaving the others to drink for the rest of the day.

Wincestre, England, 9th Century AD
Edward presents himself to King Aelfred. He shows the broken codex to the King, and apologises. He mentions that his brother's death is the work of the Hidden Ones, and that he is willing to serve Aelfred in a cause of vengeance against them. The King had originally sent Ecbert to infiltrate the monks, as such he embraces Edward, welcoming him to his Templar inner family.

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