[MAJOR ENDGAME SPOILERS THROUGHOUT] Don't read this post unless you've fully completed the game and want to know more about the Isu-specific story. Assassin's Creed Valhalla
's Isu story is, much like Odyssey
's, presented to us through a heavy mix of history and legend. It is made clear to us early on in Valhalla
visions of Elysium, Hades (the Underworld), and Atlantis only depict the Isu society at a surface level, and that these visions are largely twisted to conform with the myths and legends that humans developed in the millennia since the Great Catastrophe. It is much the same in Valhalla,
but knowing this we can use these visions to infer more about the history of the Isu in the time immediately leading up to the Great Catastrophe.
I admit, a lot of what follows is speculation and comes from me applying my pre-existing knowledge of lore to twist it into a coherent story. But I feel it is worth putting into words. Apologies in advance for the long read.
Also, for the sake of clarity: I shall be referring to multiple types of "memory transference" in this post. When explicitly referring to the Aesimead process, I shall use the term imprint
. Aesir-Jotun War
The never-ending conflict between the Aesir and Jotun is depicted in great detail in Valhalla
's dream sequences. As Shaun Hastings points out in his analysis of the various different Isu writing styles, the Isu do not appear to be a singular, "monolithic" culture as previously thought. There's more than one faction comprising the Isu (much like humans are divided into nation states), and at least two of these factions seem to be at odds with one another.
The Aesir–the Norse pantheon of gods–represent a new faction of Isu who seem to be at odds with the "Jotun", a faction of Isu we have met before (and I will go into detail about shortly). The Aesir appear quite similar to previous Isu we've encountered, though with more 'character'; Odin, for instance, is ultimately interested only in saving his own skin and surviving Ragnarök (the coming Great Catastrophe) which the Nornir, an allegory for the Calculations, predict as inevitable. In order to do so, he makes allies of his sworn enemies, the Jotun. A faction you'll be familiar with.
The Jotun are the Capitoline Triad and the Greco-Roman pantheon; Suttungr (Jupiter), Gunlodr (Minerva), Hyrrokin (Juno), and Angrboda (Aletheia) – the voice actors for each of thse characters are also the same. It is made abundantly clear in the Jotunheim arc who many of these individuals are, what with Gunlodr reaching out to, and narrowly missing a response from, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, whilst Hyrrokin seeks only to restore a lost love (Aita). To do so, Hyrrokin provides Odin with the means to survive his own death in a manner similar to what the modern day Assassins and Templars know to be Sages. Though it would appear that the process by which the Aesir make use of this imprinting technique is more refined than Juno's attempt. SIDE NOTE: I previously speculated that there would be a conflict between the Isu representing the Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons, and that this conflict could well be the previously mentioned War of Unification. The exact circumstances of the conflict depicted in
Valhalla are different to my theory, but similar enough to warrant this side note. Fenrir, Loki, Aletheia
Loki's apparent betrayal of Odin also fits well within this take on the lore. By baring child with Angrboda (Aletheia), a sworn enemy of the Aesir, Loki made himself outcast from Aesir society. Odin's calculations predict that Fenrir, Loki's child (and more likely than not not
a giant wolf) will take his life before Ragnarok, and in order to avoid this, he locks Fenrir away for all eternity.
We know from the Animus anomalies that Loki and Aletheia spent some time together after
Fenrir's imprisonment discussing their options. During this time, Juno's plan to conquer the post-Great Catastrophe world was uncovered and she was imprisoned. Aletheia is also, I believe, discovered to be suffering from a terminal affliction.
Determined to free their child(ren) from the "Mad-One" Odin's grasp, they devise a plan. The circumstance of Juno's imprisonment are known to Loki and Aletheia, and with Aletheia's terminal affliction, the decision is made to transfer her consciousness into the Staff of Hermes. This plan is played out in detail during the events of Odyssey
's DLCs and Valhalla
's modern-day sequences. Return of the Aesir
As we discover in the latest Truth video, nine Aesir make use of the imprinting process to record their consciousnesses; Odin, whose consciousness is next seen in Eivor; Tyr, in Sigurd; Freyja, in Svala; Thor, unknown; and five others. Despite being forbidden, Loki sneaks in and imprints his own memories, which eventually surface in Basim.
At this point, it is worth noting that the recurrences we see in Valhalla
: Eivor, Sigurd, Svala, Faravid, and Basim are not necessarily the first recurrences to have happened. If they are like the Sages (Brendan of Clenfort), it is safe to assume that these recurrences can and may well have appeared multiple times even before the 870s CE. Though the more refined Aesir process of imprinting their memories might preclude this.
likewise, whether the process for these imprinted memories resurfacing is or can be as damaging as it is for the Sages is unknown, but during the events of the game we see Tyr's memories start to resurface in Sigurd, whilst Loki's appear fully restored in Basim even before the game begins. Odin's memories appear to Eivor as "visions", but Odin does not appear, at least on first viewing, to be attempting to supplant Eivor's own conciousness, rather than wanting to exist alongside her. That said, he still seeks to impose his own will and values on her, by suggesting actions she might take.
This is why, canonically, Layla is able to choose between two different gendered DNA streams: one (the female one) is Eivor's, whilst the male stream is Odin's. This could well mark the first time that we've played the historical segments as an actual Isu, since I do not believe Eivor is considered a Hybrid like Kassandra and Alexios are. Conclusion
So, that's my understanding of the Isu story in Assassin's Creed Valhalla
. I'm sure there are some points I've forgotten (and will likely add in the comments at a later date), and there are also probably points where my logic falters slightly. Feel free to politely discuss below, and I look forward to reading your own views.
EDIT: Obligatory thanks for the Reddit Gold! I'm glad people are enjoying the analysis.
ADDENDUM: Please see this post
for an analysis of the Animus anomalies transcripts and how they fit in with the high-level overview above. EDIT: Isu Caste system
Something I'd like to add to this post is a theory regarding how Isu society is structured. We know from Syndicate
that Isu society is, at least in part, a caste-based one. Juno and Aita are described as being members of the "Illuminat" caste, though no further explanation or description is given. We don't know if the Illuminat are a caste within the Jotun society, or if the Jotun and Illuminat are one and the same thing.
's dream sequences, some time is spent describing Freyja and her connection to the Vanir. Although, from what we see, she is not treated any differently than the Aesir (Odin, Thor, Heimdall, and Tyr) treat one another, the distinction that she is Vanir, and not Aesir, is made more than once. This would appear to suggest that the Aesir and Vanir are different cultures, but not necessarily different castes, with Odin and Freyja's marriage, perhaps, being an attempt to unite or bring peace between the two societies. In Freyja's Codex entry, she is described as bringing a modicum of peace to the Aesir's otherwise "militaristic" society.
Likewise, Loki is described (in-line with Norse mythology) as a Jotun. If, as speculated aboe, the Jotun and Illuminat are the same thing, this suggests that there was some level of acceptance of inter-caste interaction and tansfer. Certainly enough that when Loki hooked up with Angrboda/Aletheia it caused no small amount of contention with the Aesir, who had come to accept Loki as one of their own, rather than Jotun.