Recently, Barnes and Noble have been offering a fanfiction based on the Legend of Zelda series for free on their website as a download for the “Nook“ application, which allows you to read books on computers, smart phones, and other devices. “Silent Hero” tells the story of a Link who has not appeared in any game in the Zelda series, but follows the same heroic lineage. I had the chance to read the book and here are some of my thoughts.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. In this case, you can judge “Silent Hero” by its cover. The design is mediocre at best, and the quality of the novel is fairly close to matching the quality of its cover. “Silent Hero” is a stale read. Its major flaw is the overall concept of the novel itself, which is crucial to almost every aspect of the book. The flaw in the novel’s concept is the author’s need to include as many aspects of the Zelda series as she could into one short novel. Not only is this so tacky it gives me a headache, it creates both an unoriginal and watered-down plot.
The plot is extremely unpleasant, but may be a misguided fanboy’s/fangirl’s dream. The basic idea is that Link and Midna team up and travel between different areas from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Majora’s Mask, while references to The Wind Waker also occur. They travel to Termina, the Twilight Realm, and other regions of Hyrule while encountering classic Zelda races such as the Gorons and the Gerudo. I can’t help but to cringe every time the author threw in another element from other Zelda games without regard. The greatest example of these overly mashed up elements is the “Zorita” race, which is a mix somewhere between a Zora and a Rito. In the novel, this is supposed to be the next logical step for the Rito race to evolve. For anyone who wants to really get picky with this, the story references the split timeline, and seems to clearly take place on the child timeline somewhere after the events of Twilight Princess. Despite this fact, somehow the Rito exist in this timeline, and some of the characters reference the events of The Wind Waker.
Being a fanfiction, it is expected that many elements from the series it is based on will be used throughout the book. This time it goes a bit too far. Almost nothing new is brought to the table in this tale. It is simply a regurgitation of names, items, and puzzles that most people recognize from other games. This could be interesting in some situations, but in “Silent Hero”, it’s overkill. For instance, earlier on, the reader gets a taste of what Kokiri Forest is like, but then Midna arrives, Link and her meet, travel to Termina, meet the Happy Mask Salesman, and the Great Fairy in North Clock Town, all in a matter of a few pages. From this point on, the plot continues in the same manner. This is probably under the assumption that the readers have played these games, but I don’t think it works either way.
Combining all of these elements into such a short story creates a linear and bland plot. The entire time it feels rushed to get to the next part. This causes the reader to never truly get a feel for any of the settings or characters. This also makes the overall plot become: “First they go here, then they meet this person, then they do this”. It is just a series of events without ever really getting into the locations or characters’ personalities.
A problem with cramming elements into the plot is that the book has three main villains. For such a short length, that is certainly a great deal, especially when only one of them gets introduced before the end of the book. The other two don’t even appear until the last 10% of the read, and you hardly hear about them otherwise. I really didn’t feel any fear of the villains because of this. Because of the lack of focus on them, they are hardly significant to the overall story, and almost useless.
All of these bits could have been saved if the writing was fairly decent, but it unfortunately was not. Most of the novel lacked good description or any description at all. The dialogue is pretty one-dimensional, and at times certain things that were said completely took me out of the book (or at least made me lose the little interest I had already). Midna’s dialogue could use the most work. I understand that the author was trying to capture her sassy nature, but when she said things, like “For real?” and “retarded”, it really didn’t make much sense and was really off-putting.
What I did like from the author was the first few pages. I think the description of the forest and the overall area was nice and even created a nice, relaxing image in my mind. I encourage her to try to expand upon writing in such a manner, without pushing as many ideas into one. Basically, the author thought too big. A huge epic tale may be great, but this fails to deliver as one. Borrowing elements from a series to write a fanfiction is great but trying to make an all-encompassing fan work is simply overkill. While we must remember that this was written for fun, there are some great fan works out there today that are more creative, and may deserve the attention a little more. I think this author had the right idea and with some work, could write a great piece of Zelda fanfiction.