Edward Kenway
Assassin's Creed character
First appearanceAssassin's Creed: Forsaken (2012)
First gameAssassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)
Created byUbisoft
Adapted byOliver Bowden
Portrayed byMatt Ryan
In-universe information
OriginSwansea, Wales

Edward James Kenway is a fictional character in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed video game franchise. He was introduced as a supporting character in Assassin's Creed: Forsaken, a companion novel to the 2012 video game Assassin's Creed III. He subsequently appeared as the protagonist of the 2013 video game, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and its novelization, Assassin's Creed: Black Flag. In the former, he is portrayed by Welsh actor Matt Ryan through performance capture. Since Black Flag's release, the character has made further appearances in several other works within the franchise.

Within the series' alternate historical setting, Edward was born in 1693 into a family of Welsh farmers, but his ambitions to improve his lifestyle eventually prompt him to become a privateer and later a pirate, operating in the Caribbean during the final decades of the Golden Age of Piracy. During this time, he plays an important role in the establishment of a short-lived Pirate Republic, and inadvertently becomes caught in the conflict between the Assassin Brotherhood (inspired by the real-life Order of Assassins) and the Templar Order (inspired by the Knights Templar military order). Initially helping both sides for personal gain, he eventually has a change of heart and joins the Assassins following his retirement from piracy. Later in life, he settles down in London, becoming one of the co-leaders of the local branch of the Brotherhood, until his murder by the Templars in 1735. Edward is the father of Haytham Kenway, who would go on to become a high-ranking Templar and the main antagonist of Assassin's Creed III; the grandfather of Ratonhnhaké꞉ton / Connor, Haytham's son and the protagonist of Assassin's Creed III; and an ancestor of Desmond Miles, the protagonist of the modern-day sequences of the first five main games in the series.

Edward has received a positive reception for his charm and characterization as a morally ambiguous protagonist and self-made man and is considered to be one of the series' most popular characters. Various merchandise for the character, as with other of the series' protagonists, has been released.

Creation and development

The lead scriptwriter for Black Flag, Darby McDevitt, observed that previous series protagonists have joined the Assassin Brotherhood without much deliberation, often as part of a coming of age moment, as their personal goals are already naturally aligned with that of the organization's. For Black Flag, the developmental team wanted to explore the Assassins' tenets, their "creed", from a new perspective. The idea of a talented and shrewd pirate, a cynical and jaded man who comes into contact with the Assassins, was mooted and proposed as the protagonist who presents this different point of view and who may not share the Assassins' worldview or adherence to a higher purpose or ideal.[1] The whole thrust of the story then became a constant conflict within Edward over the very idea of the Creed, even as he co-opts some of the Assassins' methods and tactics for his personal gain.[2][3]

McDevitt explained that Black Flag is at its core a story of immorality and repentance, and Edward Kenway is a married man whose strained relationship with his wife is one of the central struggles in the game.[4] McDewitt describe Edward as a "raucous and bawdy chap" who also has a few significant close relationships with other women in the story, and that his primary motivation in Black Flag is to get rich and prove himself a "man of quality' to his family and betters".[4] As for his personality, McDevitt said Edward "is a pirate who yearns for freedom much like the Assassins do, but loathes the sense of responsibility that a truly functional freedom requires" and that the narrative intends to explore "at what point would Edward realize his brand of freedom is too chaotic to function for very long.”[2] McDevitt compared Edward to his grandson Ratonhnhaké꞉ton, better known as Connor, the protagonist of Black Flag's antecedent Assassin's Creed III, and described his character arc as a counterpoint in someway.


Ryan provided the voice and likeness for Edward Kenway

Edward Kenway is voiced by Matt Ryan, who also portrayed the character in a motion capture studio.[5] McDevitt admitted that the character and his back story became far more influenced by the culture of Wales than he had originally intended; the developmental team only decided to build their story around a Welsh pirate when they cast Ryan as the voice and image of the character. McDevitt originally envisioned Edward to hail from an English port town like Bristol, Portsmouth, or Manchester, but deliberately left his background blank prior to the finalization of the casting process because he wanted to draw from whichever actor was chosen. McDevitt praised Ryan for the charisma and the personality he brought to the character, but recalled that he initially read his lines in a West County accent. Ryan was then asked to speak in his natural Welsh accent, which ultimately prompted McDevitt to finalize Edward as a Welsh character from Swansea, which matches his actor's cultural background. McDevitt consulted Ryan's father for ideas as he wanted to include some colloquial Welsh phrases into the game's dialogue.[6]

Ryan noted that unlike the majority of the game's cast of characters who are fictionalized versions of historical figures, Edward is an original character. To prepare for the role, Ryan was asked to read books recommended by McDevitt as part of their research of the time period, as the game's developmental team wanted to avoid the usual tropes and archetypes associated with the depiction of piracy in popular fiction.[5]


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, the player experiences Edward's life and exploits in the West Indies and the western African coast as part of a simulation played by a silent protagonist who works as a research analyst at Abstergo Entertainment, a corporate front of the Templar Order in the modern era. Abstergo is interested in Edward's memories because of his involvement with both Assassins and Templars during the Golden Age of Piracy, as well as his pursuit of the Observatory, an ancient site built by the First Civilization.

The game's backstory establishes that Edward comes from a low socio-economic background and married a wealthy girl named Caroline Scott, though their relationship became strained over time due to Edward's ambitious dreams of earning a fortune as a privateer. After Caroline eventually lost faith in him and left, Edward decided to pursue his dream and traveled to the Caribbean, where he quickly turned to piracy. He also befriended a number of fellow pirates including Blackbeard, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane and Mary Read, and helped them establish an independent Pirate Republic in Nassau.

In 1715, Edward inadvertently becomes caught in the Assassin-Templar conflict after killing a rogue Assassin, Duncan Walpole, who planned to defect to the Templars. Impersonating Walpole, Edward attends a Templar meeting in Havana, where he learns that the Caribbean Templars, led by Laureano de Torres y Ayala, seek the Observatory, which will allow them to rule the world from the shadows. Mistakenly believing the Observatory to be housing a vast treasure, Edward decides to seek out Bartholomew Roberts, the only man who knows its location. During his search, Edward is introduced to the Assassins by Mary, revealed to be an Assassin herself, who tries to push Edward to abandon his selfish ways and join the Brotherhood. He also witnesses the collapse of the Pirate Republic due to an ideological split between its leaders, and the deaths of most of his friends over the following years.

Edward eventually secures an alliance with Roberts, who takes him to the Observatory, revealed to be a surveillance facility. However, Roberts then betrays Edward and turns him over to the British authorities, who imprison him in Kingston, Jamaica. Edward escapes with the help of Ah Tabai, the Assassin Mentor, and has a change of heart after witnessing Mary's death, deciding to join the Assassins in her honor. After assassinating Roberts and the Templars to prevent them from misusing the Observatory, Edward receives a letter informing him of Caroline's passing and the existence of his hitherto unknown daughter, Jennifer Scott. Wishing to make amends for his past actions, Edward retires from piracy in order to focus on his new Assassin duties and raising Jennifer, and returns to England. Years later, he fathers a second child, Haytham Kenway, and becomes a leader of the British Brotherhood based in London.

Other appearances

Edward's first appearance in the franchise was in the 2012 novel Assassin's Creed: Forsaken by Oliver Bowden, which follows the perspective of his son, Haytham, and recounts the events leading up to Edward's eventual fate. The novel establishes that Edward kept a journal documenting his extensive research on the First Civilization, which was sought by Reginald Birch, his property manager and, secretly, the Grand Master of the British Templars. In 1735, Edward was killed by mercenaries sent by Birch to break into his mansion in Queen Anne's Square and steal his journal. This also allowed Birch to take Haytham under his wing and indoctrinate him into the Templar Order. Although Haytham eventually discovered the truth years later and avenged his father, he chose to stay a Templar.

Edward is also featured in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, the novelization of the 2013 video game, and Assassin's Creed: Awakening, a non-canonical manga adaptation of the game, written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kenji Oiwa. In 2017, Edward appeared in the third issue of the Assassin's Creed: Reflections comic book miniseries, which recounts his encounter with infamous pirate Edward "Ned" Low. He is also the protagonist of the webtoon Assassin's Creed: Forgotten Temple, which follows his search for Pieces of Eden in Southeast Asia a few years after the events of Black Flag and began publishing in April 2023.

Edward's legacy and his mansion serve as a plot point in the 2015 game Assassin's Creed Syndicate, in which the protagonists search for a Shroud of Eden found by Edward during his travels. He is also featured in Dead Men's Gold, a story arc from the 2018 mobile spin-off game Assassin's Creed: Rebellion, which serves as a prequel to the introduction sequence of Black Flag. Like other series protagonists, Edward's outfit has been an unlockable cosmetic option in most subsequent releases, including the remastered version of Assassin's Creed III, released in 2019.

Outside the Assassin's Creed series, Edward has been referenced in the 2020 game Watch Dogs: Legion, where a statue of the character can be found in an underground Assassin Tomb in London, as part of a non-canonical crossover between the Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs franchises.

Promotion and merchandise

In conjunction with Ubisoft, Todd McFarlane and his McFarlane Toys Design Group designed a highly detailed, hand-painted, and cold-cast resin limited-edition statue of Edward Kenway. Only one thousand pieces were created and distributed worldwide, and each statue includes a Certificate of Authenticity hand-signed by McFarlane.[7]


A cosplayer recreating Edward Kenway's unhooded appearance.

Edward Kenway has been well received by video game journalists, with high placements on several "top character" ranking lists of Assassin's Creed series protagonists.[8][9][10][11] VideoGamer.com ranked him among the best pirates in video games.[12]

Matt Purslow from IGN described Edward as the "true secret weapon" of Black Flag, the central element that binds the game's disparate elements and features together, and argued that it manages to avoid the pitfalls of over-reliance on MacGuffin plot devices like its predecessors due to the narrative focus on Edward's personal journey.[13] He found the character's privateer-turned-pirate background, a chancer looking for profit whose decision to steal the robes of a member of the Assassins sparks his growth from rebel to honorable captain, to be a "fresh perspective to the overarching narrative of the series".[13] Andrei Dobra from Softpedia interpreted McDevitt's statements about Edward in an interview with VG247 as indicative of a belief that the popularity of Black Flag is largely because the character is an unusual protagonist who trumps many established tropes concerning heroes in the franchise.[14] In an article which offers an impression of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla Jordan Ramée from GameSpot reflected on his gameplay experience with Edward in Black Flag fondly, where combat sequences often involved head-on confrontation of foes and that Edward solves many of his problems as a pirate that's making the most of the tools of an Assassin.[15] Evan Stallworth Carr from The Daily Californian found Edward Kenway to be "a deeply interesting character" who displays a "charismatic and outgoing personality" for his pirate persona. On the other hand, Carr opined that he does not fit well into the lore of the series, which in his view ultimately hurt the plot of Black Flag.[16] Stephen Totilo was of the opinion that while the subplot involving the wife he left behind paid off beautifully at its conclusion, Edward is a "forgettable lead" and his character arc is "shallow".[3]

The ending sequence of Black Flag has attracted praise for its depiction of Edward's character development. Tom Phillips from Eurogamer found it to be a "surprisingly mature conclusion for a series all about stabbing people in the neck", as Kenway finally gives up a life of piracy to settle down with his newly discovered daughter, and that it took the entirety of the narrative of Black Flag where his experiences of the deaths of all of his close friends and loved ones lead him to making a sensible decision about his life.[17] Erik Kain from Forbes found the final moments of Black Flag to be "surprisingly beautiful", describing the finale as an "oddly sad and redemptive" contemplation of the character's loss which segues to his conversation with his daughter which is both playful and regretful in tone.[18]


Nick Dinicola from Pop Matters found the narrative approach by Black Flag to be interesting, as its lead character does not become an official member of the Brotherhood of Assassins by the ending of the game; instead, the story explores both sides of the long-running Assassin-Templar conflict from the perspective of an indifferent protagonist, and allows players a better sense of the Assassins' code of conduct as Edward gradually becomes sympathetic to their cause and acknowledges that their creed is “the beginning of wisdom.”[19] In his paper which examines the representation of female characters in the Assassin’s Creed Series published by St. Mary's University of Minnesota, Stephen J. Fishburne described Edward Kenway as "capturing the ideal of masculinity and the self-made man to the greatest extent" amongst other male protagonists in the series, and noted that "the consequences of his irresponsibility are really only felt by those around him" because he is still considered the "hero of Black Flag".[20] In a paper which analyzes the cultural depiction of piracy in video games, Eugen Pfister said the depiction of pirates as rebels but not revolutionaries in Black Flag is historically accurate. Pfister noted that while Edward mostly acts ethically and adheres to his own code of conduct as he tries to do the “right thing”, he becomes a “gentleman of fortune” of his own volition in the first place, and that even more importantly, he seeks no redemption for his violent actions when it comes to exploring and hunting for victims. This is reinforced by the game's mechanics, which encourages constant pillaging and raiding of merchant ships to improve the performance of Edward's flagship and offers the character "no incentive to ponder the possibility of becoming an honest man again".[21]


  1. ^ Brenna Hillier (9 July 2013). "Assassin's Creed 4's hero is a "counterpoint" to AC3's Connor". VG247. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b Dave Cook (20 January 2014). "The making of Assassin's Creed 4: origins, reparations & uncharted waters". VG247. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b Stephen Totilo (29 October 2013). "Does It Say 'Arrgh' When You Make a Kill?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag story of sex and repentance outlined by lead scriptwriter". Polygon. 3 May 2013. Archived from the original on 4 September 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
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  6. ^ Kathryn Williams (22 September 2013). "Shiver me timbers! Pirate hero in new Assassin's Creed is a Welshman!". Wales Online. Archived from the original on 2 February 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  7. ^ Scott Johnson (6 September 2017). "Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Edward Kenway Statue Revealed By McFarlane Toys". Comicbook.com. Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
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  13. ^ a b Matt Purslow (9 July 2020). "The Evolution of Assassin's Creed: From the Holy Land to Valhalla". IGN. Archived from the original on 28 April 2022. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  14. ^ Andrei Dobra (21 January 2014). "Assassin's Creed 4 Succeeds Because of Its Unusual Protagonist, Ubisoft Believes". Softpedia. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  15. ^ Ramée, Jordan (13 July 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Reminds Me Of Playing Black Flag". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 5 November 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  16. ^ Evan Stallworth Carr (7 November 2013). "4th installment of 'Assassin's Creed' makes up for lackluster plot with killer gameplay". The Daily Californian. Archived from the original on 22 May 2022. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  17. ^ Tom Phillips (27 November 2013). "The Assassins' Propaganda". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  18. ^ Erik Kain (10 December 2013). "The Surprisingly Beautiful Ending Of 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag'". Forbes. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  19. ^ Nick Dinicola (29 July 2014). "The Assassins' Propaganda". Pop Matters. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  20. ^ Stephen J. Fishbune (2018). ""Competent, Capable, and Practically Dressed": The Representation of Women in the Assassin's Creed Series" (PDF). Minnesota: St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 July 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Eugen Pfister (September 2018). ""In a world without gold, we might have been heroes!" Cultural Imaginations of Piracy in Video Games". 11 (2). FIAR: 30–43. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)