Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad
Assassin's Creed character
First appearance Assassin's Creed (2007)
Created by Ubisoft
Voiced by Philip Shahbaz (Assassin's Creed)
Cas Anvar (Revelations)
Portrayed by Francisco Randez

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad (Arabic: الطائر ابن لا أحد, meaning "The Flying Eagle, Son of Nobody") is a fictional character in the Assassin's Creed series. He serves as the main protagonist of Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles and Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines. Altaïr also shares the role as protagonist in Assassin's Creed: Revelations with Ezio Auditore da Firenze and is playable once in Assassin's Creed II. He was generally well received by critics and gamers alike, although Philip Shahbaz's voice-over performance was widely derided.

Altaïr is an ancestor (on the maternal side) of Desmond Miles, a modern-day assassin. He killed his mentor, whom he called his second father, Al Mualim in September 1191 in Masyaf, after discovering his betrayal. Using the Apple of Eden he seemed to know the future, as he uses a small firearm to kill Abbas Sofian in 1247, long before guns were invented. He lived from 1165 to 1257, and his remains were found in the Masyaf castle library by the Florentine Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 1512. Though his face can be somewhat seen in the original Assassin's Creed, it is fully revealed in Assassin's Creed: Revelations when he is older.

Character background

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad (1165–1257) was born to a Syrian-Muslim father, Umar Ibn-La'Ahad, and his wife, Maud, who died of complications during childbirth. Umer was later executed by the forces of Salah ad Din when he was revealed to have participated in a disastrous mission to assassinate the ruler, which resulted in Umar killing a nobleman who had caught him. He allowed himself to be executed and the last thing he heard was the voice of his son crying for him.

As the years passed, Altaïr grew to be a skilled Assassin, though very arrogant. He once led the retaking of Masyaf after Al Mualim, the Mentor of the Order, was captured, which earned him the respect of his fellow Assassins. He was then sent on a mission to Solomon's Temple to recover a hidden artifact. The mission was a failure, as Altaïr broke the tenets of the Order and left his fellow Assassins to face the Templars alone after he was thrown from the room by Robert de Sablé. Altaïr fled to Masyaf to report his failure but was followed, resulting in Masyaf being attacked by the Templars. The Assassins were able to fend off their enemies, but Altaïr was punished by being stabbed by Al-Mualim.

Altaïr later awoke and discovered that he had been stripped of his rank, but was told by Al-Mualim that he would be able to recover it if he could kill nine Templars in the Holy Land. Altaïr was able to assassinate the first eight, then discovered that his last target was Robert himself. He then made his way back to Jerusalem where he met Robert. However, as he removed the helmet of the Templar, he found out that he had not faced Robert but a girl. He allowed her to live and she told him that Robert had made his way to Arsuf. Altaïr followed and finally killed Robert, who revealed that Al Mualim was actually using Altaïr to obtain the Apple of Eden, a powerful artifact left behind by the First Civilization. Altaïr returned to Masyaf, where Al Mualim confirmed what Robert had said. Altaïr, aided by a number of other Assassins, fought his way to Al Mualim, who had used to the artifact from Solomon's Temple to enslave the people of Masyaf. Altaïr and his mentor battled each other and Altaïr finally killed him, taking his place as Mentor.

After these events, Altaïr eventually began to study the artifact, known as the Apple of Eden, and recorded his findings in a journal known as the Codex. He also married Maria Thorpe, who was the decoy of Robert de Sable, after he convinced her to defect to the Assassins. He had two sons, Darim and Sef. During this time, Altaïr used what he had learned from the Apple to create new techniques and innovations for the Assassins to use. He later journeyed to Mongolia with Maria and Darim to assassinate Genghis Khan. They returned ten years later to discover that Abbas, Altaïr's rival, had usurped control of the Order. Abbas tried to force Altaïr to give him the Apple, revealing that Sef had been executed and told that Altaïr had ordered it. Angered, Altaïr used the Apple but Maria told him to stop, resulting in her being stabbed by one of the Assassins loyal to Abbas. Altaïr and Malik fled Masyaf and Altaïr fell into a deep depression. Years later Altaïr retook the Order with the help of Assassins led by Tazim Al-Sayf, the son of Malik.

He began rebuilding the Order, splitting it up into small "guilds" located around the world and began construction of a large library hidden under Masyaf, sealed by five keys containing his memories. When Venetian explorers, Niccolò and Maffeo Polo arrived in Masyaf after they were invited by Altaïr and Darim, he told them of his experiences and put into action his idea of dividing the Assassins into smaller groups with their help. Later, Masyaf was attacked by Mongols and Altaïr helped the explorers escape by using the Apple to fend off the attackers. He then divided his books by giving some to the Polos and sending some to Alexandria. He also gave the Venetians the memory keys to the library, before sealing himself into the library along with the Apple after saying goodbye to Darim. While in the library, Altaïr recorded one last memory on a key he kept with him and died moments after. His remains were found centuries later by his descendant, Ezio Auditore da Firenze.


In the Assassin's Creed series

The original Assassin's Creed takes place in 1191. During the Third Crusade, the Crusaders' armies clash with Saracens, fighting over control of the Holy City of Jerusalem. Altaïr is tasked by Al Mualim to find and retrieve a sacred object: The Chalice. It is said to have the power to unite under one flag all the factions of whatever side possesses it - in order to win the final battle. But the Chalice is too powerful an object to be left in the hands of men alone – it must be found and destroyed quickly. After learning that the Chalice is kept in Jerusalem, Altaïr manages to arrive before the Templar leader, Robert de Sable. There, he successfully rescues the Apple of Eden from a group of Templars. There it is revealed that the Chalice is a woman named Adha, whom Altaïr knew and had feelings for before the events of the game. From her, he learns that the Templars have paid off Harash, the second-in-command of the Assassins, to betray the Brotherhood. Altaïr then plans to attack Alep (the Assassin fortress), kill Harash, and run away with Adha, but after making his way through Harash's Assassin guards and killing him, Adha is kidnapped by Robert and taken to the Templars' port in Acre.

Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines takes place between the events of the original Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II. The game is set on the island of Cyprus, taking the player to two of its cities, Limassol and Kyrenia. Altaïr has traveled to Cyprus from the Holy Land (the setting of the first game) in order to assassinate the last remnants of the Templars.[1] Bloodlines includes more face time with Maria, the female Templar who was spared by Altaïr in Assassin's Creed. Altaïr captures Maria as a prisoner, but she escapes, before being captured again by Altaïr. In the novel Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade, Altaïr and Maria's relationship is more fully explored. They are married and have two sons: Darim and Sef.

In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Altaïr creates a massive library hidden beneath the Masyaf fortress that supposedly has information that can tilt the scales in the war between the Templars and the Assassins. Ezio discovers that five locks seal the door to the library, and that five 'Masyaf keys' must be found in order to open the library. Whenever Ezio finds a Masyaf key, he inadvertently accesses one of Altaïr's memories – deliberately stored inside each key. As Ezio discovers more keys, the memories inside them are further along in Altaïr's life; for example, in the final key, there is a memory of Altaïr in his early 80s, returning to Masyaf to kill Abbas. When Ezio finally enters the Masyaf library, however, there are no books or writings in the library. There is only the skeleton of Altaïr, holding the sixth Masyaf key, and the Apple of Eden on a pedestal at the back of the room. Ezio chooses to leave the apple, having "seen enough for one life".

Other appearances


The character was generally well received. In 2008, The Age ranked Altaïr as the fourth greatest Xbox character of all time, declaring "Not everybody was overly enamoured with Assassin’s Creed, but we have nothing but respect for its protagonist ... If everything about the game he inhabited had been as polished and brilliant as him, we certainly would have felt very differently about Assassin's Creed."[3] The 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition lists the character as the twenty-fourth most popular video game character.[4] He was voted as the ninth top character of the 2000s decade by Game Informer's readers.[5]

IGN nominated and gave the award Altaïr for their "Stars' 2007 Badasssss!" award.[6] In 2008, Mikel Reparaz of GamesRadar ranked him as the sixth best assassin in gaming, stating "Cool talents aside, Altaïr's a pretty compelling character in his own right, gradually growing out of his arrogant-prick phase to become more noble and altruistic. And as he does, he begins to actually question the morality of what he's doing, something few of the other assassins on this list ever do."[7] That same year, IGN's Jesse Schedeen listed Altaïr as one of the fighters they would have in their ultimate fighting game, saying he was a slightly more realistic and efficient version of the Prince from Prince of Persia.[8] In 2009, he ranked first on FHM's list of most memorable hitmen in gaming.[9] Although Altaïr ultimately did not make the cut, Game Informer staff considered his inclusion in their "30 characters that defined a decade" collection, with Joe Juba saying, "Altaïr’s rise to power is no less dramatic and impressive than Ezio’s – it’s just most of his transformation into a peerless master assassin took place off-screen."[10]

On the other hand, Philip Shahbaz's vocal performance, particularly his American accent, was criticized. Hilary Goldstein of IGN, in her review of the original Assassin's Creed, called the voice acting for Altaïr "abysmal," going on to say that he "speaks with an American accent and sounds as if he is auditioning for community theatre."[11] ZTGD's Joey Guacamole offered a similar opinion in his review of the game, calling it one of the worst voice acting performances of recent memory.[12] GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd was somewhat less critical of Shabaz's performance, writing that he did an "all-right" job as Altaïr, but still found him lacking compared to the other actors in the game.[13] Some critics also took note of his undisclosed backstory in the original game. GameSpy's Will Tuttle, when comparing the character to Assassin's Creed II's protagonist Ezio Auditore, wrote that while Altaïr was "undeniably badass," the lack of any backstory or motives made him difficult to care about.[14] IGN, using results from a reader's poll and comments, also listed Altaïr as the ninth most overrated video game character, calling him to a "poor man's Prince of Persia" and declaring him a two-dimensional, very formulaic character.[15]


  1. "Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines Debut Trailer". GameTrailers. July 16, 2009. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
  2. Rositano, Joseph (September 22, 2009). "Academy of Champions Soccer Review". PALGN.
  3. "The Top 50 Xbox Characters of All Time". The Age. September 30, 2008. Archived from the original on October 6, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  4. Jeff Marchiafava (February 16, 2011). "Guinness Names Top 50 Video Game Characters Of All Time". Game Informer. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
  5. Bryan Vore (December 3, 2010). "Readers' Top 30 Characters Results Revealed". Game Informer. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  6. IGN Stars (December 5, 2007). "Stars' 2007 Badasssss! Awards! Continue". IGN. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
  7. The Top 7... Assassins, GamesRadar US, 2008-02-05
  8. Jesse Schedeen (October 15, 2008). "Players Wanted: Ultimate Fighting Game, Part 2". IGN. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
  9. Gelo Gonzales, The 5 most memorable hitmen in gaming, FHM, November 26, 2009
  10. Bertz, Matt (November 19, 2010). "The Snubbed List". Game Informer. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  11. , IGN US, November 13, 2007
  12. , ZT Game Domain, January 17, 2011
  13. , GameSpot, November 13, 2007
  14. , GameSpy, November 17, 2009
  15. Jesse Schedeen (April 24, 2009). "Top 10 Most Overrated Videogame Characters". IGN. Retrieved April 8, 2011.

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