Daughters of Destiny, by L. Frank Baum – This 1906 story of succession and conspiracy was originally written under the pseudonym Schuyler Staunton. It takes place in Baluchistan, a region made up of parts of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Within Baum’s fictional portrayal, it’s a separate nation, albeit made up of many different tribes. When the old Khan dies, two princes vie for the throne, one of whom turns out to have lived a secret life and have a connection to one of the daughters of Colonel Moore, who is in the country in hopes of building a railroad there. It’s not too surprising that the tale includes a fair number of stereotypes, but Baum does give a pretty respectful portrayal of Islam. On the other hand, the one Jewish character, referred to as “David the Jew,” is sleazy and money-grubbing. Eric Shanower did the illustrations for the version I read, which is in Oz-Story Magazine.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, by Akira Himekawa – I remember when Beth was playing the game on Nintendo 64 years ago, and I watched some of it, but not all as it was pretty long. As I’m sure you probably know, it has a kind of weird time travel plot, where the young Link becomes an adult when he
says the word “Shazam” pulls the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Temple of Time. The explanation is that he’s in suspended animation for seven years, but it must be awkward for him, especially since he goes back and forth between childhood and adulthood several times. The manga adaptation, while credited to a single name, is actually the work of two people, A. Honda and S. Nagano, who went on to do several other official adaptations of Zelda games. This was their first, originally published in 2000 and translated into English in 2008. It covers most of the highlights of the game, and is quite well-drawn, but does seem a bit rushed in spots. One interesting addition is that Volvagia was a baby dragon Link adopted, but had to kill in his adulthood. The creators point out in an interview at the end that they’re used to writing antiheroes, so Link was a bit of a challenge for them as he’s just a good guy. He was kind of arrogant and lecherous in the American cartoons, but nothing in the games suggests that. In addition to the main plot, there are also two bonus stories, one that takes place beforehand where Link meets the Skull Kid, and one as a sideline during the adventure where Link has to help a bratty winged boy who torments Navi. I’m surprised that the translator didn’t manage to work in Navi saying, “Hey! Listen!”, at least as far as I can recall.
Supernova, by Marissa Meyer – The last book in the Renegades trilogy finally has things come to a head, with Nova Artino outed as the Anarchist Nightmare, and her uncle Ace Anarchy regaining his full powers and seeking revenge. She gradually learns that Ace has been lying to and manipulating her for years. While I think the trilogy has been largely arguing that few people are all good or all bad, and there are a few people who take the heroic side in the end, for the most part it comes out as the the good guys triumphing over the bad guys in the end, and the villains being much more trigger-happy than they had been before. But then, it’s mostly Nova’s story, and this demonstrates just how much she’s been brainwashed despite being essentially good. It also further develops her relationship with Adrian Everhart, whom she fell for despite originally intending to spy on him. Overall, I thought it was a good read.