"I never knew him. Not really. I thought I had, but it wasn't until I read his journal that I realized I hadn't really known him at all."
"I hope that Connor, my own son, will read this journal, and perhaps, when he knows a little about my own journey through life, understand me, maybe even forgive me. My own path was paved with lies, my mistrust forged from treachery. But my own father never lied to me and, with this journal, I preserve that custom."
— Haytham Kenway
Assassin's Creed: Forsaken is part of the series of novelizations of the Assassin's Creed series of video games by Oliver Bowden. Unlike other books in the series which tend to hew to the timeline and narration of the events of the respective games it adapts, Forsaken covers the events of Assassin's Creed III but also serves as a Prequel, covering the timeline before the first missions of the game proper. Specifically it's Another Side, Another Story to the game, from the viewpoint of Haytham Kenway, the father of the main Player Character, Ratonhnhaké:ton or Connor of IIInote Haytham was the Decoy Protagonist for the first three memory sequences which detailed the circumstances that led to his romance with Connor's mother Kaniéh:tiio.. The book is presented in the form of a journal Haytham kept since childhood and which he irregularly updated throughout his life. The final part of the book has Connor completing the story with his own reflections on discovering his father's story.After the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Forsaken along with Assassin's Creed III covers the Myth Arc of the Kenway Family Saga, described by writer Darby McDevitt as, "the story of a family… a migration, a mixing of cultures, and a dashing of ideals…".Forsaken was very well received on its release and is the first of the series to receive Approval of God as being canonical to the Franchise.
Antiquated Linguistics: Haytham's prose is very clean and understandable but the journal has the style of the epistolary writing conventions from his generation.
Annoying Younger Sibling: Jenny used to treat Haytham, her half-brother, this way. It actually goes beyond indifference as Jenny unfairly holds the child responsible for the way they're treated differently.
Awful Truth: Haytham rescues his sister Jenny and then discovers that Cool Old Guy Reginald Birch who was his Parental Substitute had not only orchestrated his father's death but also sold Jenny into slavery and that their entire relationship was a lie.
The book serves as a milder form of this for Connor, who realizes his father actually was an honorable and decent man rather than the Manipulative Bastard he thought he was. He also learns that they were Not So Different from each other in terms of ideals, but were just too tragically separated by their own life experiences.
Badass Family/Big Screwed-Up Family: The Kenways, natch. Black Flag covers Edward's story, while this novelization depicts the two succeeding generations, Haytham and Connor.
The Bad Guy Wins: Reginald Birch does meet his Karmic Death but he succeeds in his goal of destroying the Kenways, and converting Haytham into a Templar.
Played with as Reginald Birch had no interest in harming the Kenways. He was actually after the First Civilization and their relics. Haytham thus gets his revenge on Birch more thoroughly through denying he's found the First Civilization site than he ever does by killing him. He could have even made it worse by saying that the amulet was useless without an Apple of Eden to actually open the door.
Bad Boss: Braddock murders his subordinates at the slightest infraction.
Birch sells out all of his confederates to throw Kenway off the trail.
Haytham is horrified to realize he's become one when he's trying to recruit Connor.
Big Bad: Reginald Birch in the first half. Since the second is basically Assassin's Creed III in Haytham's perspective, he would take the role as Villain Protagonist.
Big Damn Heroes: Haytham pulls this off several times but alas No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Specifically, his killing of an attacker who was threatening his mother made her horrified and treat Haytham very coldly. When he finally rescues Jenny, its several years later after she's been a concubine into her middle-age and she is horrified that he has become a Templar, the very people who murdered their father and sold her into slavery.
In a Retcon to Assassin's Creed III, Haytham claims to have done this for Connor. He initially backs Charles Lee's gambit to make Connor their fall guy for Hickey's assassination attempt on Washington but goes disguised to the hanging and frees his son from the noose. In the game, we see this sequence through Connor's eyes which is covered by a bag, so it's justified, but this never comes up in any of their in-game interactions.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Reginald Birch is a quiet, nerdy, and somewhat dorky guy. He also does some of the most repulsive villains in the series.
Black Sheep: Haytham gradually realizes that he has become one for his family. He's a Templar Grandmaster while his father and his son are Assassins.
Break the Cutie: For Haytham, Jenny, and Connor; although the epilogue has Connor defiantly declare that although he failed to save his and his mother's people as well as to reconcile his father's beliefs with his own, he remains optimistic for the future: of America, the Assassins, and his own.
Broken Pedestal: Haytham towards Reginald Birch. Averted with Edward, who even after discovering he was an Assassin, Haytham has nothing but respect and admiration for, believing that From a Certain Point of View, he is honoring his father's wishes by thinking for himself.
Conflicting Loyalty: For Haytham, who hopes to honor his father's teachings with his own convictions as a Templar, and later his own growing fondness for his son.
Cool Old Guy: Haytham thinks this of Reginald Birch who is more than willing to play it up. He's not, of course.
Despair Event Horizon: Haytham's mother, Tessa Kenway, undergoes this on the night Edward is killed by home intruders and Jenny is kidnapped by the same and that Haytham had to kill one of her attackers. This Trauma Conga Line proved too much for her, and she becomes a shell of her former self, turning over Haytham's parenting duties to Reginald Birch, who she doesn't know is a Templar and the man who orchestrated the attack on her family.
Downer Ending: For the Kenways as a whole. Edward Kenway, who loses everything he ever built and achieved in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. His wife goes mad from grief, his daughter is Made a Slave and becomes a spinster, and Haytham ends up becoming Archnemesis Dad for his own son and dies at the latter's hand, leaving him with a great deal of issues in addition to his tragedy as a Native American in Post-Revolutionary America.
Good Parents: Edward and Tessa Kenway. Subverted as Jenny hates Edward and Haytham learns to think ill of his mother.
False Friend: Reginald Birch for Edward Kenway, who he engaged to be married to his daughter Jenny only to discover that he was a Templar. Haytham realizes the same much later, but its far too late for him to make a meaningful change in his life.
Foil: Ultimately, the Kenway line is this to the Auditore line. The Auditore family have been Assassins for who knows how long and legitimately earned their affluence, whereas Edward earned his through piracy and while both families raised their children to be Assassins, Haytham became a Templar. The Auditores were always there for one another and were a functional, supportive family... while the Kenway family, who all do love each other, are strained by the events of their lives and are very dysfunctional. Ezio and Claudia would keep in touch, while Haytham and Jennifer would be very distant from one another. Ezio manages to save his mother from the Despair Event Horizon, while Haytham barely spares his mother and sister a second thought as he delves further into Templar affairs. And so on.
Follow in My Footsteps: Edward raises Haytham to follow in his path as an assassin. Haytham initially believes being a Templar is making his father proud, and even when he realizes his father was on the other side, he entertains the idea of uniting both the Assassins and the Templars, much as his own son Connor entertained.
The Kenways are social pariahs despite their great wealth and status with a poor family next door not wanting them to show up at their child's funeral. This is understandable if Edward's status as a pirate is public knowledge.
When a thief attacks the Kenways on a night out, Edward insists on compassion with Reginald Birch wanting to go Vigilante Man and kill him. Edward later asks Haytham if he felt that thief deserved to die and is pleased when Haytham says no. This gains resonance after the announcement and release of the game, since Edward is a former pirate who made his early fortune from plunder and high seas robbery, suggesting why he felt sympathy for the thug, and perhaps wanted to know if his son would forgive his former life if and when he discovered it.note Haytham never seems to have found out, he never mentions it in the book or in Assassin's Creed III though his sister seems to know and in the game's DLC Connor knows too, affectionately ascribing his sailing skills to his Pirate grandfather.
There's also the nice fact that the Kenways family dog is called Thatch, which foreshadows his own friendship with Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch.
In a quiet moment when Haytham is playing with his soldier set, Reginald Birch sneaks in and uses the toys to teach him the importance of leaders and men being in charge, a prime indication that he is a Templar.
Hero Killer: Reginald Birch orchestrates the death of Edward Kenway and the indoctrination of his son into the Templar order.
History Repeats: Edward's second wife Tessa married him in protest over her father's wishes and caused a brief scandal, much the same happened with his first wife Caroline as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag reveals. She also dies alone of a disease, much like Caroline, though Edward is dead this time.
Honor Before Reason: For all his criticism of Connor for upholding his ideals in the face of reality, Haytham himself suffers from this. He admits in his journal that Charles Lee, while more talented as a military commander than George Washington, is also unclean, rude and has no political savvy to be The Paragon that The American Revolution would need, and in many ways Lee would be a weak leader to the Templars. Despite this, Haytham's entire idea for the Revolution rests on Charles being in charge, with no backup plan or anything — Haytham supports him solely out of loyalty and commitment to the Templar cause. Assassin's Creed III clarifies that were Charles to assume Washington's post, Haytham planned to be The Man Behind the Man.
I Hate You Templar Dad: How Haytham views Connor's resentment against him. He doesn't quite grock Connor is an adult man capable of making adult decisions... nor does he realize that Connor knows he's responsible for the Boston Massacre, the Purge of the American Assassins, and other activities that were inclining him to view Haytham as a monster.
Edward Kenway resembles Domenico Auditore, the poor founder of a rich, wealthy family who went through much Trauma Conga Line to go from Rags to Riches, and Giovanni Auditore in being a Doting Parent to his young son, while engaging his feisty daughter to a worthless suitornote Duccio for Claudia Auditore and Reginald Birch for Jenny and moreover secretly training his son for the Assassin life.
Haytham's equation with his family echoes and contrasts to Ezio with his mother and sister. Maria, Ezio's mother suffers severe trauma after the attack on her family note which led to her husband and sons being arrested and later executed but she recovers from the attack because of Ezio's devotion to her. For Tessa it's a Despair Event Horizon. Likewise he and his half-sister Jenny, were never close and they become permanently estranged even after Haytham pulls a belated Big Damn Heroes to save her.
Reginald Birch likewise plays a role in Haytham's life much like Mario Auditore, only with a different ideology and a Hidden Agenda.
Haytham like Ezio is driven initially by revenge but seems to put it aside and aspires for wisdom and a more meaningful purpose. He also meets the love of his life in a new land and culture note Like Ezio meeting Sofia Sartor in Istanbul in Assassin's Creed: Revelations but what for Ezio is a belated, unexpected Earn Your Happy Ending becomes for Haytham a source for personal anguish when he meets his son Connor, an Assassin, on the other side of the conflict.
Locked Out of the Loop: Little Haytham knew nothing about his father's past which seems to have provoked many rumors among his neighbours. He doesn't know that his father was an Assassin or a pirate which his sister clearly knows. This leads him to misunderstand several details that he observes and records in his journal as a young man.
Lighter and Softer: In Assassin's Creed III, Haytham is responsible for the Boston Massacre and numerous other ruthless actions in order to bring about American independence (which would "coincidentally" drastically increase his personal power as Grand Master of the Americas), but Haytham's portrayal here is closer to The Hero. Of course, these are his journals that, in the end, he's having delivered to Connor expressly to tell his side of the story...
Motive Decay: Haytham's journal entries is very introspective and deals with his own confusion of the kind of person he has become, his belief in the Templars in conflict with his own loyalty to his family. Without this novelization putting his actions in context, the game depicts him as incorrigible and thoroughly unsympathetic to Connor.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Edward Kenway's secretive nature but public profile attracted too much attention to the valuable artifacts in his possession, namely a journal with information on the First Civilization.
In his later years, Haytham as a Templar accuses Charles Lee of this, chastising him for treating Haytham's then-little son Ratonhnhaké:ton (the future Connor) the way he did, since it gave him the wrong ideanote that Lee was responsible the razing of Kanatahséton and led to much Poor Communication Kills.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Perhaps the Kenway family motto. Edward, Haytham and Connor pay a hard price for what they think is the right course of action.
Haytham ends up stabbed by a family he tries to protect. Later, the son of an Assassin he spares during a mission ends up joining Connor's branch of the organization and doing many missions against the Templars.
Not So Different: Haytham and Connor more or less. The former going through a similar Trauma Conga Line and having a similar inquisitive spirit about life and people.
Haytham becomes Not So Different from Reginald Birch, trying to manipulate and indoctrinate Connor into the Templar cause, much like he had been.
On a darker note, Jenny Kenway insists that Edward handing her off in marriage to Birch without taking her own feelings and desires into account isn't better from her own experience as a concubine in the Ottoman Court. She even says she was better treated in Istanbul.
Once More with Clarity: The book has a running theme with this, with Edward even telling his son that to know things it was important to see things differently. Haytham records observations in his journal all through his life, and as an adult, he rereads his earlier entries and makes connections that he could not have made as a child.
Edward:"To know and see things differently, we must first think differently."
Pay Evil unto Evil: The plan to castrate Birch. Many readers were disappointed they didn't do it.
The Resenter: Jenny Kenway at the end of Forsaken becomes a bitter spinster who admits to hating her father for not training her as an Assassin and not giving her the same affection as he did for Haytham. A real Tear Jerker in retrospect, if you know the end of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
Jenny's behavior, while understandable, become something of a Kick the Dog moment in that she treats her 8-year-old brother like crap for it.
RetCon : The book alters some of the circumstances in the events of Assassin's Creed III, while in turn Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag retcons some elements of Forsaken. The biggest change is that Forsaken describes Haytham's father has having dark hair when Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag makes him blonde. Also at the end of that game, Jenny was stated to be Jennifer Scott, after her mother's maiden name, while in this book she is referred to as Jenny Kenway.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Haytham massacres an entire monastery which had kept his friend Jim Holden captive and moreover castrated him. He and Jenny do the same when they attack Birch's chateau.
Rousing Speech: Braddock gives a cringe-worthy one to his men, talking about how they have to steal the land of the Native Americans and oppress them to expand.
Shaggy Dog Story/Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Haytham joins the Templars in search of emotional support after the attack on his house, and also in the belief that the Templars will help him find revenge and rescue his sister. However the investigation goes nowhere with key witnesses dying before Haytham has a chance to interrogate them. He later discovers the Awful Truth of Birch's betrayal. Haytham's quest to avenge his father's death and rescue his sister proves futile in the end. It doesn't repair his family, it in fact makes him and his sister estranged permanently, his best friend Jim Holden commits suicide and his Parental Substitute was a fraud with Haytham having nothing left but the Colonial Templars, only for that to be sabotaged by his son.
She Knows Too Much: Jenny Kenway discovered Birch's true allegiance and told her father. Birch who seems to have set upon indoctrinating Haytham has her kidnapped and sold into slavery so as to manipulating her brother better.
Sins of Our Fathers: The main theme for Jenny, Haytham and Connor, all of whom suffer in consequence for actions and choices made by Edward Kenway. Specifically, the Journal on First Civilization Research that Edward developed in his career drives Birch to attack his house, gets him killed, destroys his family, leads Haytham to go to America, and then Connor becomes embroiled when Juno asks him to recover the amulet that Haytham acquired as part of his quest.
Spotting the Thread: Haytham's investigations into the attack on his family is helped when he rereads his journal entries as a boy and notices something that he had later put out of his mind. A pair of boots in the maid's room, which belonged to The Mole that helped bring the Templar mercenaries to their home.
Surrounded by Idiots: How Haytham comes to view his fellow Templars by the time the American Revolution starts.
Haytham: These men - not one of them was a tenth of the man Holden had been. I was sick of them, I realized, heartily sick of them. And my feelings were about to intensify.
Undying Loyalty: Haytham towards the Templars and Charles Lee. Even after finding out that he became a Templar by being manipulated by Reginald Birch, the ideals had such an impact in shaping Haytham and he discovered the Awful Truth so late in his life, that he was unwilling and unable to let go of the cause even if his own father and his son are Assassins.
Haytham's best friend, Jim Holden has this for him. The only truly good person Haytham knew in his middle years and who puts the rescue of Jenny on high priority. His eventual fate is a major Tear Jerker.
Unreliable Narrator: Haytham has one of these cases with himself, as his earlier entries have him failing to realize a bunch of things going on behind the scenes at the time. Likewise, he's definitely prone to painting himself in the nicest light possible given he ends up killing numerous associates. They had it coming, though.
Villainous Valour: The final meeting between Connor and his father is given context here: Haytham gives Charles Lee the amulet for the First Civlization and tells him to go, while he stands back to face Connor, an unstoppable Implacable Man who had whittled every other Templar and who is also years younger than Haytham. His final entries even seems to have awareness and even seems to hope that Connor finds the journal and understands his father better. As in the game, he's Defiant to the End and upholds the Templar values with the same conviction of Assassin heroes.
Worth It: Connor gets a coda to Assassin's Creed III where he gets to answer to the question, as a Native American, whether or not the slave-holding and expansionist United States was worthy of his support. Connor decides that its transformation into a free and just society might take centuries but stands by his choices. Given how so many people called him on the carpet for his choices, it's nice to know Connor is at peace with his choices.
"World of Cardboard" Speech: Connor gives a deeply moving one at the end of Forsaken and this was originally part of the game itself and exists in deleted audio: