Wander & Dormin,
at the beginning of things.
Shadow & Horned Boy.
I really, really adore the game ICO. I put it on my Influence Map & I have a reference in my Interests, but that hardly scratches the surface. For me-- we'll, you know that scene in Fellowship of the Ring when Galadriel talks about how if she took the One Ring, she would become a Queen, beautiful & terrible? Oh how I like that passage. The Queen of the Castle of the Mists has always been "Evil Galadriel," to me, & her daughter Yorda is Arwen & Fingolfin all mixed together. Yorda breaks my heart, & Ico is every tiefling protagonist you ever wanted to see. The bold, brave boy, the heir to Link with his Zelda, Yorda. & I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way-- not for nothing was ICO's spiritual successor The Shadow of the Colossus used to illustrate Ebert's post recanting his statements that video games couldn't be art. That is a huge factor both for as well as against this book-- on one hand, the book reminds you of the huge upswell of positive memories you have for the game-- one year I beat it on Christmas day!-- & that reflected glow is nice. On the other, it has a huge legacy to live up to, one that it doesn't have much hope of actually meeting. The ultimate failure of the book is that it doesn't hold true to the themes of the game; it abandons the emotional premise.
In ICO, there is only the eponymous protagonist Ico, the white girl Yorda, & the dark Queen. The story is minimalist, with the dialogue being obscured by mysterious glyphs & gibberish speech. The puzzles of the castle & the threat of the shadow spirits provide tension, but the story is open, fluid, encouraging exploration & experimentation. The sparseness of the narration allow you to tell your own story, make everything incredibly open to interpretation, one giant gorgeous Rorschach blot. To Miyabe's credit, she makes it clear that this novel is her "variation," her own personal mythology. That goes a long way, with me. Still-- the novel doesn't hold true to the core of the story. Much of the tale is told through flashback's to Yorda's life, creating a father for her, another horned champion, scholars, handmaids, the whole nine yards. & Yorda & Ico "talk," telepathically; that sort of defeats the point, doesn't it? More over, it isn't Yorda & Ico that win the day-- it is the "Mark" acting through Ico, his magic shirt; it is the "Book of Light" acting through Yorda. Undercuts everything...but not as much as Ico waking up with amnesia on the beach, forgetting everything that happened. & there was no scene of them falling asleep on the couch! So sad. I will say this; the story Miyabe tells is cogent, & the twist at the end is pretty good, actually. The novel isn't a betrayal, it just isn't what I wanted. Though as Brian said, it will be lovely to have it on my shelf.