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ICO: Castle in the Mist Paperback – Aug 16 2011
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About the Author
Miyuki Miyabe's debut story, “Warera ga rinjin no hanzai” (Our neighbor’s crime), won a new writer award in 1987, and since that time, she has become one of Japan's most popular and best-selling authors. Miyabe's fantasy novel Brave Story won the Batchelder Award for best children's book in translation from the American Library Association in 2007. The Gate of Sorrows is an adult novel in the same universe as The Book of Heroes (Haikasoru, 2010). Her other works available in English include All She Was Worth, Cross Fire, The Sleeping Dragon, Apparitions, ICO: Castle in the Mist, and more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The game relied on stunning visuals and touching physical interaction between Ico and the mysterious girl Yorda to illustrate it's world and touch the player. However, novels have no such luxury. Therefore, Miyuki Miyabe therefore took it upon herself to flesh out the details. Where does Ico come from? Why was he sacrificed to the Castle in the Mist? What is so special about him? Miyabe was given permission from the creators of the game to answer these questions herself, filling in the questions and gaps left by the game. That is not to say, however, that this novelization is accurate to the world created by Fumito Ueda and the other creators of the Team Ico games. Rather, the story presented here can be viewed as one possible version of the world. It is, in Miyabe's words, a "variation on the world of 'ICO'" and is a "novelization of the story found in the PlayStation 2 game.... Sort of."
So, what is important is not the story's accuracy, but rather it's ability to give the reader the same sense of wonder and immersion that the original game was so good at conveying. Does it succeed? Well, to be fair as of this writing I am only 40% of the way through the book. Much of that 40%, however, was spent telling the story before Ico ever enters the castle. The reader is shown his village, people that knew and cared for the boy. You are told why he is sacrificed, why the villagers obey the custom. And as a book it does this very well. It is a simple, light, fast read. Perhaps it is merely the excitement of living in this world once more, or getting to see another part of it (even if it isn't in line with the canon established by Shadow of the Colossus), but I find it difficult to stop reading. The personality given to Ico seems to be based heavily on how he moves and gestures in the game. While I have yet to see him wave and shout "BUUURRRR" or even an "Oompah!", he is a well mannered active young boy. He runs about and plays in the woods, but is disciplined and behaved (explaining his obedience at the beginning of the game). Even an explanation for his inhuman stamina and resilience is given, which I found particularly amusing.
I find myself now excited to see what happens next, and how other events from the game are handled. If you have ever played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, you know how indescribable the beauty and atmosphere of those worlds are. If you find yourself longing to revisit that world, this "Ico: Castle in the Mist" is the perfect way to do so. It is a fresh take on the dusty old towers and stone of ICO. And should you be unfamiliar with either of those games, do yourself a favor and pick them up. If you have a PS3, please consider the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection coming out Sept 2011. And should after playing either of those games you are left wanting more, please consider giving "Ico: Castle in the Mist" a read. You will find a world of magic and loss and love within its pages.
Castle in the Mist is an adaptation of the popular PS2 game ICO. The book was originally written in Japanese but you wouldn't know it, as the translation to English is on the mark with no noticeable mistakes in spelling or word usage. The author, Miyaki Miyubi, has said that while the book follows the game for the most part, it isn't intended to be a "strategy guide" for it, as she took some liberties with the subject matter. While noticeable, the story follows the game very closely. A good portion of the novel takes place before the game, so understandably, that is where she takes the majority of her freedom with it.
If you're a big ICO fan you won't want to pass this book up. While its unmistakably "ICO", the book gives new perspectives to the story that will have you looking at the game in another light. It's a shame Castle in the Mist isn't considered canon since its so beautifully written but that shouldn't make fans pass on it. Canon or not, the book captures the essence of ICO to the core and I felt like it deepened my emotional involvement with the characters even more than my experience with the game. For example, the first seventy pages take place immediately before the start of the game and are dedicated to giving the reader a deeper understanding of the events that need to take place without fully giving the why... a great introduction to the journey that's about to be embarked on.
The castle is captured well by the author, as well as its inhabitants. Fans of the game will remember the shadows were like flies that simply needed a good swat of the hand; always annoying but never a threat. The book does a good job of communicating the terror they bring and turning them into a somewhat more formidable foe, although I had a hard time always "believing" the new danger because of my experiences with the game. I don't want to give away much more, but I will say that Castle in the Mist is as much Yorda's story as it is Ico's.
Again, ICO fans... this is a must-read despite it being non-canon. You'll see the characters in a new light, that while artificial it may be, can't be far from where TeamICO intended it and Miyabe's take on the castle's haunting origin is amazing. Also, with the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus collection set to release right around the corner (9/27), Castle in the Mist is a great way to jump back into the game. Highly recommended.
The book is still very much the same but also so much more. As you read you grow very attached to Ico and Yorda and their wanderings in the caslte but that's not all. The author does a wonderful job of exploring Ico's village and it's people and you get a good sense of what's at stake in the world. However what got to me and hopefully will you the same is Yorda's tale of how the Castle in the Mist came to be. This story is about facing your fears and not always doing what is easy but what is right and friendship - the bond we make with friends and how they leave imprints on our hearts and minds that are never forgotten.
If you've heard of the game, played it or are just a fan of fantasy stories do not pass this one up. It truly is something magical.
There were only two things that sort of threw me in a loop: firstly, the construction of the book itself is a bit odd. The main chapters are separated as thus: Before the game - the beginning of the game - a complete background of the castle and Yorda - end of the game. I'm not sure how else she could have done it to make it better, but I was so engaged in the third chapter that I felt like falling off a cliff when it cut off. Not a big deal as it wasn't so distracting as I was finishing the book. Secondly, there's a lot of inner dialogue that repeats the things that were just said. I suppose that this creates deeper impacts to a point, but sometimes I just go "Duh". Then again, she still did a pretty good job considering she wrote for a game with little to no dialogue and made it convincing.
One last note here: To anyone who has played both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, this book was written before the release of SoTC. Therefore, some continuity between the two games is lost in the back story, but it's not a big deal.
Overall, this novel was great. Much better than other game-based novels I have read. ("The Infernal City" anyone?) The language flows through the pages and really embraces the world it ha created for the reader.
This book would be great for any fan of the game or anyone into fantasy novels. Anyone will enjoy this without missing anything from not playing the game.
Miyabe is one of the best-selling Sci-Fi authors from Japan, but this is her first franchise related novel. It does differ from the game in some large ways so even if you're familiar with the game you'll get a lot out it. The characters were very well done even if a bit mature for their ages, but these are certainly no ordinary kids. The story was told from two perspectives while one of them also jumps through time to tel how things got to be the way they are. At first this was a bit confusing as I couldn't see where it was going, but with some masterful misdirection Miyabe's version won me over. I'll definitely be reading more of Miyabe's work.