Manga-ka: Akira Himekawa
Rating: All Ages
Release Date: August 2009
Synopsis: “Link, a Hylian Knight, serves Princess Zelda at Hyrule Castle. When Shadow Link kidnaps Princess Zelda, Link once again must prepare himself to defeat the forces of evil. To do so, he needs the legendary Four Sword, but getting it means battling the ancient evil power Vaati. The Four Sword also splits Link into four different versions of himself, and these new Links aren’t team players! Rescuing Zelda, beating Vaati, and getting his wild alter-egos under control isn’t going to be easy!”
It’s the start of another Link incarnation here in the sixth book of the Legend of Zelda series. Link, now the son of a Hyrulian knight, is also a knight himself but to the dismay of those around him is arrogant and impetuous. However he soon learns the hard way that that’s not the kind of person that makes a hero, and when a dark sorcerer kidnaps the Princess Zelda, he draws a legendary sword that splits its wielder in four people.
There’re lots of really funny moments in this one now that we have an extended cast of characters to play off one another. The four Links are entertaining from the get-go, first arguing over who gets to be called Link and then realizing their individual roles as different parts of the original Link’s personality. Some of the four aren’t as distinct as others but the pure-hearted quick-to-tears Red Link always stands out, as does the easily angered Blue Link. I loved how energetic the four were but it proves unfortunate for them that their four mystical swords aren’t nearly as high-powered, meaning it’s off on some side quests until they’re strong enough to save Zelda!
The group travels from great castles to green forests, from ice caves to pyramids, and with each strike of their combined weapons against a foe they find their swords getting that much stronger. Along they want they’re given helpful trinkets from friends they rescue and each one brings them one step closer to becoming true heroes. There is a bit of violence in this book, little more than there’s been in previous books, but it’s still worth a note in lieu of the all-ages rating.
Along with the four Links there’s a fifth one as well, a Shadow Link that serves as their greatest protagonist throughout most of the volume. He uses his physical appearance to his advantage against the four and works to separate them and halt all chances of saving the Princess. Both he and Link have a good amount of depth to them in the story, which makes for both spirited confrontations and ease for readers getting attached to the characters. Good thing too because Four Swords is another dual book story, meaning readers will need to wait until part two to learn what happens next after the cliff hanger ending.
Akira Himekawa’s artwork is in top form, as it’s often proved to be before, keeping many stylistic elements of her story consistent throughout the series while still drawing this current version of Link in a way that compliments the character’s original design. In this case the Links come from the Nintendo Gamecube game of the same name which sports character designs more ‘chibi’ and cartoony in nature than some of its predecessors. The expression work in this volume is especially good, making for some great laughs thanks to spirited physical humour that brings the four Links to vibrant life.
Four Swords is already off to a strong start, emphasizing the artist’s fantastically eye-catching artwork while bringing another version of this iconic character to life in a way that’s terrifically fun. While playing the games will add another layer of enjoyment to the reading experience, anyone can pick up these books and enjoy – I know I always do!