TWILIGHT PRINCESS NOVEL TESTIMONIAL
Entry for the October 2012 Testimonial Contest
by Maddie Zelda Allen on Monday, 1 October, 2012 at 19:27
I remember when Twilight Princess first came out, back in 2006. My brother was so frustrated with the fishing at the very beginning, and I was always there to offer words of encouragement and chirp about how adorable the cat he was fishing for was. Now, six years later, I have completed the game on my own a few times, taking in the deep storyline, hidden secrets and wonderful graphics. This game was my portal into the Zelda world, turning me into an obsessive fangirl for the series in less than a year.
Zelda Dungeon is one of my favorite websites for Zelda information, and when I saw the article about this Twilight Princess novelization I was quite interested. I remembered that I had seen a few chapters of it earlier, not thinking too much of it initially, but I decided to give it a try. I added the table of contents of all the chapters to my bookmarks to read later.
Well, as soon as I started reading those chapters it was very hard to stop. Reading online gives me these awful headaches if I read for too long, but they didn't even matter to me as long as I was reading this story. I tried writing Twilight Princess as a novel myself before I knew about this one, and I stopped dead in my tracks at the first temple, unwilling to go on. However, this story powered through and kept going; it's much, much more thought out than mine ever was. Many chapters end on suspenseful notes (something I'm very fond of doing myself) causing me to glance at the clock and mutter, “Just one more; I promise this is the last one,” before reading on, often late into the night.
I know there are plenty of people out there who don't like reading or are apprehensive about reading stories based on games because they're worried about the horrors within, like fan characters, marriages, children, etc., but this story isn't like that. It actually follows the plot, not word for word, but pretty darn close, the way it should be. There is some variation, but it's healthy and included to help the story flow better and make more sense.
And there are those who absolutely abhor the whole video game genre, but they still love a good read. Well, I guarantee you that if someone didn't like games and had never heard of Zelda, and you plopped this story down in their lap, they would love it to the very end, even though it's based on a game itself. Twilight Princess has a very rich, deep storyline, and this novel really helped flesh it out. People deserve to know about it and enjoy it, even if they don't like games. This novel makes that possible.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some differences between the story and the actual game, the foremost being that Link actually talks in the novel. For all the hardcore Zelda fans, we all know that Link has never spoken an audible word save it be the phrase, “Come on!” from Wind Waker. However, Link is quite the talker in the story, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Once again, it helps the story flow better and feel more realistic, and it really gives him some depth and personality. We all know Link is the hero and that he cares about people, but giving him the ability to talk helps us to know about his feelings, emotions and physical endurance throughout his journey.
Another difference would be Midna. Now we all know she has plenty of personality in the game from beginning to end, but this story fleshes out her character even more: there's more communication between her and Link, and we get a closer look at what she's like beneath the mask of cruel comments and laughs. We get a more detailed backstory of where she comes from, and how she really feels about Link. And lastly, we realize that she is more than a shadow, capable of physical and emotional pain, suffering right along with Link whether it be from freezing weather, free falling from the sky, or almost drowning.
Difference number three: Princess Zelda gives Link her cloak before she disappears. In the game this doesn't happen, but in the story Link wears that cloak basically every day after he receives it from her. It had protected her from the effects of the twilight, allowing her to remain seen and not turn into a spirit like so many others. This Sheikah artifact aids Link greatly on the remainder of his quest, especially when he gets to the Twilight Realm in Zant's territory. I just think it's clever to work something so insignificant in the game into a key part of the plot in the book.
Another thing different from the game is that Link gets hurt, a lot, in the story. Sure, you take damage during fights and all, but you can just pop the cork on your bottle and a fairy will heal you and then you're all better. Unfortunately for Link, real life doesn't work that way. In this novel he often leaves the temples and dungeons a little worse for wear, sporting tattered clothing, a bleeding nose, and nasty cuts and bruises. Oftentimes these wounds leave him bedridden for a few days, really adding to the whole 'Link isn't perfect' effect. Detailed injuries are even better, really helping the reader connect with the pain Link feels.
Another difference to note is how in-depth the characters are in the story. In the game you exchange few words in a short cutscene, get some information, yada yada, and then you're out of there. However, this novel helps the people Link comes in contact with feel – well, more like actual people. They have feelings, ideas, opinions, and a burning desire to not let Link risk his life for any reason. They sometimes serve as obstacles for Link, causing more time for character development as he finds a way to work with them or get around them. Take the Group for example. In the game you talk with them, look at a map, and then you're off; but in this story Link actually works with them and sometimes may end up starting an argument. It really helps expand the story more as a whole.
The last difference is the fact that when Zant puts the Shadow Crystal into Link, he's way, way more aggressive in this novel than in the game. Because in the game, he's exactly the same, even though when you get to Princess Zelda she tells you that an evil power binds him and the only way to banish it is to get to the ultra-powerful Master Sword. The story shows the internal struggle Link has to stay sane and in control of himself. However, he does loose himself when he gets to the Sacred Grove, which really makes for an exciting read.
There are many, many more differences, for better or for worse, but these five will cut it for now. Let's move into my favorite chapter of the novel. It was really, really hard to pinpoint one chapter, since they're all so well-written, but I decided on Through the Barrier Part 1. It creates a very suspenseful mood, what with the dark storm clouds, the evacuation of the townspeople and the uncertainty in the air. And when Link is talking with everyone in Telma's bar before the storm on the castle... it just struck me so hard how beautifully written it was. I could picture the entire scene perfectly, with special emphasis on when Rusl makes his speech about Link. I nearly cried when he said (which is now one of my favorite quotations), "A hero is not defined only in battle. They also inspire. They bring hope of a new horizon. They return faith to faithless. You are a hero in every way. The courage of your heart is unmatched." It was like a movie scene, a very emotional and heart-touching movie scene, only found in the best of movies. Not everyone has the ability to spark such emotions, but the author of this novel surely and truly has that gift.
I strongly feel, with every cell in my body, that this magnificent story should be published as a real book and sold in stores. Oftentimes when I go to the game store I'll check to see if they have the Zelda games in stock, and if they do, I get all giggly and happy. If I went to a book store and saw this story sitting on the shelf, the same exact sensation would come over me except maybe on a larger scale. It would truly make my day so much better knowing that Nintendo cared enough about their fans that they would publish a fan-made novelization about one of their masterpieces.
This story is gorgeous, and kudos to the author, who's stuck with it until the very end. There are people out there (like me) who start something great and just never finish it. However she's stayed devoted to this story through countless times of staying up late into the night to finish a chapter, I'm sure. That is true devotion. There are plenty of people who believe that they're the biggest fan of something just because they know everything about it, but it takes a true fan to write a memorable well-developed story full of happiness, pain, sorrow, betrayal, friendship, and love. It does justice to a great game thousands enjoy, and now they can enjoy it in a different way; through the loving hard work of a devoted diehard Twilight Princess fan who believes anything is possible.