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Initially intended as an art book, the project gathered so much material that Ubiworkshop decided to expand it into an encyclopedia.
Artists like Craig Mullins, Tavis Coburn, 123Klan, Gabz, James NG, David Alvarez and many others were given free reign to draw an Assassin from the period and style of their choice, of which the artworks were included in the encyclopedia. There was also a "cartes blanches" section that featured artwork by other professional artists and fans of the series.
A Black Edition was released with the Animus Edition of Assassin's Creed Revelations.
A White Edition was released through UbiWorkshop and with the Ultimate Edition of Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
A Second Edition was released in October 2012 to coincide with the release of Assassin's Creed III. The Second Edition features 120 new pages of content that include information on Assassin's Creed III, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Assassin's Creed: The Chain along with new cartes blanches.
To date, the second edition of the Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia has the largest selection of knowledge about the video game series, with a total of 384 pages. The first edition had a total of 256 pages.
The Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia is divided into four sections:
The Assassin Brotherhood
After a brief history on the Assassins, it explains the key aspects and affiliations of the Order, including their Creed, Eagle Vision and the Codex. Lastly, it gives information on the weapons and gear used by the Assassin Order throughout the ages, which includes the Hidden Blade, Leonardo da Vinci's machines and the various weapons and armor purchasable from blacksmiths.
The Templar Order
Again, after a brief history on their Order, the Encyclopedia describes the Templars' ideology and then introduces their founding of Abstergo Industries in 1937. After introducing Abstergo, it outlines the history of the company, comprising of their numerous ongoing projects, which leads to the Animus section. This section goes further and illustrates the genetic memory of humans, viewing inside the Animus and the Bleeding Effect's influence over prolonged Animus users.
Beginning with an introduction to who the First Civilization were, this section details the history of their race, their comprehension of science and technology and their creation of humanity. Additionally, it explains their legacy by including information on the Pieces of Eden and portrays each type of artifact, including the Swords of Eden, the Staves of Eden, the Shroud of Eden, the Ankh, the Memory Seals and the Crystal Skulls. The Apples of Eden have their own section due to their sophistication and the vast history of the multiple Apples that have passed through the hands of the many characters in the series.
The story is structured in chronological order and features the events that have taken place in the Assassin's Creed games.
The Middle Ages
It begins with the journey of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, in the Middle Ages, covering much of what happened during the first Assassin's Creed game, before gradually moving up through Altaïr's battles in Cyprus and finishes on the fall of Masyaf in 1257.
The next section is the most expansive of the story, and summarizes the events that took place during the Renaissance, detailing the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. It begins with the conspiracy of Florence uncovered by Giovanni Auditore, and then goes through the events of Assassin's Creed II, including the Battle of Forlì and the Bonfire of the Vanities. Continuing on, the Encyclopedia explains the events of Ezio's time in Rome, once again noting additional events such as the Copernicus Conspiracy and the Da Vinci Disappearance.
From then on, the story increasingly makes its way towards the end of Ezio's trilogy, as it outlines the storyline behind Assassin's Creed: Revelations and the discoveries experienced within Altaïr's library. The last section of the Renaissance finishes Ezio's story by describing the events in the short film Assassin's Creed: Embers, and illustrates the arrival of Shao Jun to Ezio's Florentine villa and the conflict that emerges between them and the Emperor of China's henchmen.
The Renaissance Legacy
The American Revolution
Imperial Russia details the events that took place during the time of Nikolai Orelov, and includes the conflict between the Assassins and Tsars of Russia, along with the destruction of the Staff of Eden in the Tunguska explosion.
The Recent History segment follows the conflict between Assassins and Templars in modern day times, and begins with The Great Purge of 2000. It then expands into the story of Desmond Miles, starting with his kidnapping by Abstergo and his following escape with Lucy Stillman. Accompanying this, it describes the messages delivered by Minerva and then finishes with the conflict experienced within the Colosseum Vault.
The Characters section contains profiles on all the characters features in the series, beginning with Desmond Miles and the allies and enemies he encountered. After this, it details the ancestors of Desmond, including Aquilus, Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad.
The profile of Aquilus describes the confrontations between him and the Templars, both in their struggle for the Shroud of Eden and the Ankh.
Altaïr's profile is expansive and details his entire life, finishing with his death inside his library in 1257. After his profile, it gives information on all of his assassination targets, allies and other enemies he combated within his time.
Ezio's profile is quite large compared to Altaïr's. It once again details his life and the allies and enemies he encountered. It adds on, however, with explanations of the Venetian and Florentine conspirators and the confrontation in Constantinople.
Connor's profile details his life throughout Assassin's Creed III. Just like Ezio's profile it details his life, friends & allies and enemies he encountered during events in Assassin's Creed III like the American Revolutionary War.
Aveline de Grandpré
Aveline de Grandpré's profile is much the same as Connor's in that it details her life throughout Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, the friends & allies and enemies she encountered along the way.
Daniel Cross' section outlines how the Templars experimented on him during his youth and his infiltration of the Assassins, whilst including profiles on the people he encountered, including Hannah Mueller, Paul Bellamy and the Mentor.
The last section of the Encyclopedia informs the reader on all the major cities and places visited in the Assassin's Creed series:
- The American Frontier
- New York
- New Orleans
- Chichen Itza
The Black Edition was included with the Animus Edition of Revelations available in Europe, and was also sold separately on the European UbiShop online store. Did not include the "cartes blanches" artwork, but featured an exclusive black cover.
The White Edition was available worldwide on UbiWorkshop and included the "cartes blanches" artworks.
E3 Collectors Edition
Given only to press at E3 2012, in a branded cloth bag along with a promotional card for Assassin's Creed: Recollection. Identical to the White and Black editions, but included a foreword by Alex Hutchinson, a few extra pages of Assassin's Creed III artwork, and an exclusive silver cover.
The Second Edition of Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia is an updated hardcover edition incorporating Assassin's Creed III, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Assassin's Creed: The Chain along with all new "Cartes Blanches". It was released worldwide on 30 October 2012. It includes 120 new pages of content and a revised version of the first edition. It is available to buy from UbiWorkshop.
- On the spine of the Encyclopedia, there was a hidden message written in Unicode. Once translated, and after removing the title in red, the message read "Three lives toiled. Three lives lost. Three messages delivered: the greeting, the warning, the revelation."
- At E3 2012, new editions of the Encyclopedia featured a quote from the Bible written in hexadecimal code instead: "We saw the Nephilim there; We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes; And we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:33). This quote is also spoken by William Miles to Desmond in Assassin's Creed III, after the latter complained about Juno only ever leaving cryptic messages.
- On multiple pages, a molecule was drawn with a benzene ring with a hydrogen atom with two bonds. Since hydrogen has only electron to react with, it cannot form a double bond. Under véry rare circumstances it cán form a semi-double bond (the electrons in very close proximity), but only if the bonds are at 180° angles of each other.
- The encyclopedia mainly uses concept art as pictures, as opposed to CGI renders.