- "'Nothing is true, everything is permitted.' This is the world's only certainty."
- ―Mary Read, discussing the Assassin's Creed with Edward Kenway, 1716.[src]
Mary Read (c. 1685 – 1721) was an English pirate and member of the West Indies Brotherhood of Assassins, trained by the Mentor Ah Tabai. She was also one of the founders of the Pirate Republic of Nassau.
In order to facilitate her career as a pirate, she posed as James Kidd, an illegitimate son of the late William Kidd.
Little is known about Mary's childhood years; it was suggested by Charles Johnson, author of A General History of the Pyrates, that Mary's mother began dressing her in boy's clothes at an early age to pass her off as the son of another man, but the legitimacy of this claim is unknown.
In her teen years, Mary began a career as a sailor that eventually granted her a position with the Royal Navy. There she met her first husband, a Flemish soldier and comrade; however, he was killed soon after their wedding. With little life left for her in Europe, Mary set sail for the West Indies, where she resumed the practice of dressing as a man and took on the alias of James Kidd.
A short time before the establishment of the Pirate Republic in Nassau, Mary met Ah Tabai in Spanish Town, Jamaica. She trusted him at once, sensing a "sort of wisdom" in him, and became an Assassin soon after.
Life of piracy
In 1715, Mary, under the alias of James Kidd, met with captains Edward Kenway, Edward Thatch and Benjamin Hornigold in the town of Nassau. Mary noticed the Assassin robes Kenway was wearing and inquired as to how they came into his possession, to which he responded that he got them off a corpse; in reality, the robes had belonged to Master Assassin Duncan Walpole, who was attempting to betray the Order and join the Templars before Edward killed him.
Edward expressed an interest in locating a place called the Observatory, which Mary claimed to be a myth, likening it to the Fountain of Youth or El Dorado. Edward subsequently followed Mary to Andreas Island to take part in a lucrative plantation raid, and the two struck up a friendly camaraderie.
Following the acquisition of Nassau by pirate forces, Edward, Thatch, Hornigold and Mary met again at Salt Lagoon, to discuss how to better protect their "Pirate Republic" from British recapture. Thatch proposed they capture a Spanish Galleon, which Edward accomplished by assassinating the Templar Julien du Casse, allowing Thatch to commandeer his ship.
Edward then took the island of Great Inagua for himself. There, Mary led Edward to a Mayan stela in the jungle, asking him to complete the puzzle and goading him into using Eagle Vision, which she described as a "kind of shimmering" and "the light of life".
After confirming her suspicions about Edward's abilities, she showed him a set of tunnels leading to du Casse's manor, where they discovered maps pertaining to the location of Assassin bureaus throughout the Caribbean. Edward admitted to selling the maps to the Templars himself, and Mary, perturbed, suggested he should warn the targeted Assassins.
As she was about to leave port, Edward claimed that she knew more about the Observatory than she had previously suggested. In response, Mary advised him to meet her in Tulum in several weeks' time.
Tulum and the Sage
- "We're Assassins and we follow a Creed, aye. But it does not command us to act or submit... only to be wise."
- ―Mary Read explaining the Creed to Edward, 1716.[src]
Weeks later, Mary rendezvoused with Edward near the Assassin stronghold on Tulum, where he angrily berated her for forcing him to sneak through hostile territory, past the Assassin sentries.
Though the Assassin Mentor, Ah Tabai, was furious with Edward for his ignorant collaboration with the Templars and killing the Assassins in Havana, Mary calmly informed him of Edward's possession of "the sense" and requested Edward be allowed inside an important Mayan temple.
After claiming he would recognize the Sage, Bartholomew Roberts, if he saw the man again, Edward was permitted into the ruin. Mary explained the nature of the Creed to Edward while leading him to a central antechamber, but was ultimately dissatisfied with his interpretation; although Edward took an interest in the Creed's second clause, Mary asserted that he did not actually understand what it meant. She also revealed that the Assassins had targeted Edward for assassination following his actions in Havana, and that it was only on her request that they had relented.
At the center of the temple, they eventually unlocked a bust of the Sage, which Edward confirmed exactly resembled Roberts. Returning to confirm their discovery with Ah Tabai, Mary and Edward found that British soldiers had taken the compound, capturing many Assassins and Edward's crew. After fighting off the British, Mary spotted Laurens Prins, a Dutch slaver and an elusive assassination target, leaving the area by ship.
Prior to Edward's dismissal from Tulum, Mary brought him to a temple at the center of the compound, explaining how she became an Assassin and noting the long-standing nature of the war between Assassins and Templars. Inside the temple, she showed him a door that could be unlocked with Mayan keystones located via the stelae. She encouraged him to seek out the keystones, claiming that unlocking the door would garner the respect of the Assassins in Tulum, and grant him a mysterious and ancient reward.
Pursuit of Laurens Prins
- "Just my bloody luck. Two major targets, and I'm kept from killing 'em both."
- ―Mary on Prins and Torres, 1717.[src]
The next year, Mary ran into Edward in Kingston, both of them following Prins and Laureano de Torres y Ayala, the Templar Grand Master. Mary was prepared to assassinate her two targets, but Edward restrained her, urging her to wait until Prins led them to Roberts, whom the slaver held prisoner.
Mary reluctantly consented to go along with his plan. However, Prins detected them, forcing the two to run. Mary attempted to assassinate Prins against Edward's wishes, but he forcibly prevented her from doing so, insisting they try to use Prins to reach Roberts again. Enraged, Mary nonetheless agreed to rendezvous with Edward at Prins' manor, demanding he assist with the assassination.
That night, the two met atop a windmill off Prins' property. Surveying the manor, Mary noted that it would take more than stealth for them to reach Prins. She suggested that she distract the guards, giving Edward a chance to neutralize them. Mary then removed her bandanna and reddened her lips with her own blood, revealing her identity as a woman, much to Edward's surprise.
Mary then approached the estate's gates, feigning injury, and killed the guards that came to her aid. She infiltrated the manor and found Roberts, only to discover he was working for Prins. He held her at gunpoint at the same time Edward assassinated Prins, but she escaped after Roberts informed Edward of his true allegiance. Roberts then shot the alarm bell and made his escape, followed shortly thereafter by his two would-be rescuers.
After reaching safety and regrouping with Edward, Mary confessed her true name at his request. However, she warned him not to tell a soul, or she would "unman" him.
In 1718, Mary arrived in Inagua to find Edward recovering from a wild party he had hosted, reacting with disgust to his continued indifference to finding a greater purpose. The two did not meet again until after Edward escaped Isla Providencia, where he and Charles Vane had been marooned by Jack Rackham. Edward returned to Great Inagua to find that Rackham had barely lasted a few months as captain before Adéwalé and Mary overpowered him.
Edward then returned to his search for Roberts in hopes the man would lead to the Observatory. Mary pleaded with him to forget about the gold and instead work with the Assassins, but he ignored her.
During Edward's search, Mary became better acquainted with Anne Bonny, a barmaid in Nassau, with whom she struck up a lasting bond. Anne's partner, Rackham, threatened by Mary's attentions, attempted to start a brawl with her. Unwilling to take part in a meaningless altercation, Mary was compelled to reveal her true gender, and soon her real identity was well-known throughout the West Indies.
Capture and trial
In October 1720, while she was sailing as a part of Jack Rackham's crew, their ship was attacked by a sloop that was commissioned by the Governor of Jamaica with the intent to take out Rackham. Being that most of the crew were drunk, many of the pirates provided little resistance, with only Mary, Anne, and an unknown man fighting to their full potential.
Eventually, the crew was imprisoned and sentenced to be hanged. At the trial, Bonny and Read revealed that they were pregnant, which led to their executions being delayed, since British law prevented women from being executed while they were expecting.
Mary and Anne were then moved to a prison in Kingston, and four months later, Mary gave birth to a girl. However, in accordance with the pardon, her child was taken away, and Mary became ill due to the prison's unsanitary conditions.
The two women were soon rescued by Edward and Ah Tabai, who successfully infiltrated the prison and took out the guards stationed inside. Despite this, Mary was too ill to leave, even with Edward's insistence. With her dying breath, Mary asked him to redeem himself for her sake, and said she would always be with him. Refusing to leave her behind, Edward carried her body to Ah Tabai's boat, and she was taken to Tulum for burial.
Personality and characteristics
Mary was an easygoing and adventurous woman, readily presenting as a man to facilitate her career and life as a pirate. Though she was one of the de facto leaders of the Pirate Republic in Nassau, she largely left its governing to Thatch and Hornigold, focusing her energy on external pursuits.
Deeply dedicated to the Assassin Order, Mary believed the Creed exemplified a love for life and liberty that crossed cultural bounds, and she was driven in her efforts to support their cause. She intensely pursued her targets, chasing one down in the street and using her feminine appearance to trick the guards at Laurens Prins' estate.
Mary believed that there was something special about Edward Kenway; she spoke on his behalf to her Assassin brethren, and tried repeatedly to convince him to look beyond his greed. She often became irritated with Edward's selfishness, believing he was not living up to his full potential. However, she remained hopeful that he would see the error of his ways and join the Assassins in time, a belief that was realized after, and because of, her death.
Equipment and skills
Mary was a master of disguise, pretending to be a man for most of her life. She wore a green leather coat with a white shirt underneath, as well as a pair of boots. When disguised as a man, her shirt was folded up, and she wore a bandana. She would also put small amounts of her blood on her lips if she needed to appear feminine. This allowed her to easily trick guards.
Mary was equipped with dual Hidden Blades, along with a pistol, cutlass, smoke bombs, as well as a blowpipe. She could easily hold her own in combat, taking down several British sailors before her arrest. She was capable of various assassination techniques, and also had skill at lockpicking.
As an Assassin, Mary was a proficient freerunner, and could perform the traditional Leap of Faith. She was also a skilled swimmer, diving through the caves underneath Tulum with ease. As exemplified during the attack on Tulum and her infiltration of Laurens Prins' manor, Mary was an expert at stealth, using the environment to move around undetected. Mary was also adept at Social Stealth, moving through the crowds when tailing her target.
Although she was rarely seen captaining any ships, Mary was a skilled sailor thanks to her time in the Royal Navy. When sailing with Jack Rackham, Mary served as the de facto captain of his ship for most of the time.
- It is possible for Edward to leave Mary's body behind in the area between the prison and the boat, initiating a slightly different cutscene.
- Originally, Edward was meant to witness and participate in Mary Read and Anne Bonny's battle against the British, ending with their imprisonment, but this idea was dropped during the early stages of development.
- Olivia Morgan stated Mary's voice came about because of how much she lived her life as a man. Her recordings often went to second takes as her voice still did not sound low enough.
- In the novelization, Edward becomes somewhat attracted to Mary after she reveals her true identity to him, to the extent that he is disappointed when she uses her James Kidd persona again later on.