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Jacob: "Why did you do it? All of it?"
Roth: "What? Snap a baby crow's neck between my thumb and forefinger? Slice to bits the ones you deem "innocent"? Keep the world in its divine manic state? For the same reason I do anything -(he kisses Jacob, much to his disgust and shock)-why not?"
―Roth's last words to Jacob, 1868.[src]-[m]

Maxwell Roth (died 1868) was an associate of the British Templars and one of Grand Master Crawford Starrick's seven henchmen. During the mid-19th century, he controlled London's criminal underworld; training several of Starrick's gang leaders to rule the city's boroughs.

Biography

Early life

According to Roth himself, he was born to a loving couple that named their son Oberon. They acted in a traveling theater troupe, where the boy learned to perform for the masses. However, they began to struggle financially and were forced to turn a life of crime so they could make ends meet, thieving and defrauding during their performances.[1]

Their illegal lifestyle robbed the group of their passion to perform, causing them to eventually disband and part ways, much to Oberon's dismay. The family subsequently moved to London, but failed to find steady work there due to their criminal past. While his parents lived on the streets, Oberon moved in and out of various workhouses, all the while envying the rich upper classes.[1]

One day, Oberon, having had enough, took on the name Maxwell Roth and ran away to join the circus, in an attempt to recapture the happiness he recalled from his days in the troupe. He learned acrobatics, boxing, and sleight of hand, but was again faced with a lack of money. Roth decided to return to London and use his newly acquired skills in the criminal underworld.[1]

Working for the Templars

Over the years, Roth was frequently imprisoned, though he always got out, and worked various jobs, from street-cleaner to gun-for-hire. His deadly combination of brain and brawn saw his network expand and his infamy grow; some men worked for him, others simply owed him money, but all feared him.[1]

Roth was soon sought out by the Templar Grand Master Crawford Starrick, who offered him an incredible amount of money to train a number of Starrick's underlings, including Octavia Plumb, Edith Swinebourne, Rexford Kaylock, Bloody Nora, Cletus Strain, Lilla Graves, and Victor Lynch to be gang leaders.[1]

With the money he had received, Roth bought and refurbished a burnt-out theater in the Strand which would later be called the Alhambra Music Hall. He used it as the base of his operations, all the while keeping up a legitimate facade by funding shows for the public to enjoy.[1]

Betraying Starrick

By 1868, Roth, who maintained control over the Blighters various dealings, had begun to grow restless under Starrick's employ, expressing his disdain for Starrick's meticulous control over the city. Favouring more of an eclectic lifestyle, Roth sought out Starrick's nemesis and opposing gangster, Jacob Frye, leader of the burgeoning Rooks. Together the pair formed a partnership and began to undermine Starrick's criminal and economic power throughout the city.[1]

The pair sabotaged Starrick's shipments of explosives and kidnapped his henchmen Hattie Cadwallader, Benjamin Raffles and Chester Swinebourne. Pleased with Jacob's performance, he invited him again to the Alhambra for more of Roth's amusements.[1]

However, as they continued, Jacob began to grow perturbed by Roth's tactics. He eventually severed their agreement when Roth's anarchistic behavior saw him attempt to destroy one of Starrick's workhouses with children inside; while Jacob opposed Starrick and despised child labor, he would not sacrifice innocent lives to strike against the Templar Grand Master. To this, Roth shot at the dynamite crates that Jacob had previously placed, sending the workhouse ablaze and angrily left, forcing Jacob to rescue the children from the burning building.[1]

Following this, Roth sent Jacob an invitation to a grand performance at the Alhambra—the corpse of the baby crow he had been raising as a pet—signifying his malevolent intentions. Once Jacob had arrived, Roth announced to the crowd that the show, Corvus the Trickster, was dedicated to the Assassin, themed around near-death stunts, before he promptly set the theatre ablaze with the guests still inside.[1]

Prior to the inferno, Jacob managed to free the theatre's machinist, who lowered the stage's rack. This later allowed the Assassin to climb the rigging and cut away one of the sandbags above the stage, snaring Roth by the foot and elevating him up to his demise at the end of Jacob's Hidden Blade. In the midst of his final words, Roth explained his motivations, which essentially boiled down to just two words: "Why not?", before planting a goodbye kiss upon the unsuspecting Jacob and passing away, ending the Blighters' firm grip on London as well as Starrick's control of the criminal underworld.[1]

Trivia

  • Maxwell's death and partnership with Jacob, is the subject of an era-appropriate folk song, called "Jokes, Jokes, Jokes", that was created for Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. Similar "murder ballads" were written for John Elliotson, Pearl Attaway and Philip Twopenny.
  • The name Maxwell comes from Mack, a shortened version of the Scandinavian name Magnus, and the Old English Wella meaning "stream"; together they mean "Mack's stream". Roth is derived from the German word rot, meaning "red".
    • Meanwhile Oberon, Roth's alleged given name, was the name of the king of fairies in Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, possibly referencing Roth's profession as a stage performer.
  • At the end of Sequence 8, during his assassination Roth kisses Jacob Frye, Jeffrey Yohalem later confirmed that Roth was in love with Jacob, and that the kiss was left as ambiguous as possible for Jacob to "figure things out."
  • Maxwell Roth is Jacob Frye's only romantic interest, as they avoided giving him a female interest in the main story.

References