Berserk: The Flame Dragon Knight novel

Grail

Feel the funk blast
You raise a good point. I should post a version of this on Amazon.
By all means! If I were you, I'd post it all over the place. My worry is that casual Berserk fans will pick up the novel at a local bookstore thinking, "hey, I can read this while I wait on the next volume!" It's time to get the word out. :daiba:

I want to believe in this so hard.
This theory sound plausible to me too, but is also kind of bittersweet -- imagine Miura spending hours on all these illustrations and notes for Fukami, only to see what the end product turned out to be? :magni:
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
This theory sound plausible to me too, but is also kind of bittersweet -- imagine Miura spending hours on all these illustrations and notes for Fukami, only to see what the end product turned out to be? :magni:
Better than the opposite scenario at this point.
 
I fail to see the point of giving Grunbeld's Warhammer a legendary backstory, it gets destroyed and replaced with a new one without a second thought. Unless the new spikier one is also a super duper legendary artefact.
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
I fail to see the point of giving Grunbeld's Warhammer a legendary backstory, it gets destroyed and replaced with a new one without a second thought. Unless the new spikier one is also a super duper legendary artefact.
The hammer Grunbeld wields in the novel isn't the same as the one he carries when he first appears in the manga. Same thing than for his shield and armor.

 

XionHorsey

Hi! Hi!
They couldn't get someone else to write this? R Scott Bakker? Steven Erickson? RA Salvatore? How about the guy who wrote Jojo? Go Nagai? CLAMP? Anyone? Bueller?

I guess he was the least expensive option. :/
 
What a piece of shit. Bad animes, bad games, bad statues, bad toys, those are one thing. They're just crappy products that can be safely ignored and forgotten once their time has passed. But with the way that this thing is claiming to be part of the official canon of Berserk, even as it goes around shitting all over it, this might very well be the worst thing to happen to this franchise. Still keeping my fingers crossed that Miura will retcon it out, because until he does that, I fear this will have rippling effects on the manga.

I sure hope you're correct about your analysis about the pictures, Walter. Because hope...IS ALL THAT I HAVE! :judo:
 
I myself also just got through this dumpster fire of a licensed fanfic, and I wholeheartedly concur with your analysis, Walter. Misery loves company, eh? That said, for the sake of...the sake, I want to point out one or two things I liked.

  • The scene of Grundbeld & Co strategizing against fighting a tiger, gladiator-style was....kinda fun? It was no Griffith-level planning, and it was buried under horrific prose like the rest of the story, but there was an iota of creativity involved.
  • The idea of the Shadow Hand/discount Bakiraka was intriguing? The description of their gear made me want to see Miura artwork of them, so that's something. I don't know, I'm a sucker for world-building.
  • I liked mooost scenes with Benedikte? Other than towards the end where it's apparent Fukami has no idea how Behelits work. If there's anything of this that Miura decides to fully canonize in the manga, I'd imagine it would be her.
  • Of course, it goes without saying, the best part of this novel, the only reason it shouldn't be part of a modern-day book burning, is Miura's fantastic artwork
Other than that, Walter said it better than I could. At first, I was hoping it was just a crummy translation job, but the dialogue is legitimately that cringey and stiff, the pacing is atrociously inconsistent, and it all...just. Uuugh. It's been a long time since a book gave me that much of a headache. Here's hoping it's the last of it's kind.

Edit: also, wait a minute, wait a minute. Walter, maybe you can clear something up for me, make sure I'm not crazy. Correct me if I'm wrong, but we haven't seen an entire, successful sacrifice outside of Griffith's, which was a special occasion. The closest would be the Count almost sacrificing his daughter in the Black Swordsman Arc. I always assumed that if he had gone through with it, Theresia would just be consumed by the vortex of souls. But in the case of Grundbeld, we have no vortex of souls--and unlike Griffith, there aren't other apostles to do the sacrifice-slaughtering. So is it standard operating procedure for the newly-christened apostles to kill their sacrifices themselves, or is that another in the long list of fuck-ups in this novel?
 
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Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
Correct me if I'm wrong, but we haven't seen an entire, successful sacrifice outside of Griffith's, which was a special occasion.
You're wrong.



Anyway, the problem with how the sacrifice is depicted in the novel is that the people being sacrificed aren't actually summoned alongside Grunbeld, as Walter pointed out. The Brand isn't supposed to be some scar that shows up out of nowhere. It's something Void applies himself. Also, Fukami depicts the God Hand asking Grunbeld to sacrifice two women (one he loves, and another one that's just a friend, which is already odd) but then there's a surprise third that apparently the people who perform the ceremony hadn't anticipated. This makes no sense at all and is just not how these ceremonies are explained in the manga.
 
The only silver-lining, that I can think of, regarding this novel is the absolute respect and belief that Miura has as an artist and a person by this community. Not a single person even tried to insinuate that the existence of this novel shows that Miura sold out. Just writing this senate makes me angry and sick to my stomach. I've never meet Miura nor have I seen or read that much about his person, but I have 100% belief that such a thing is beyond impossible. And I'm sure most of you would feel the same way.

If you think about it, if this was most other franchises, the author selling out would be one of the first things to suspect. But since it's Berserk and Miura, no one in their right mind considers it, and rightly so. I'm certain that Miura had no final say in the matter because of a contract. Most project like this are done by getting a license, but the content of the novel and its quality might be left to the new author. It all depends on the contract. Who knows. :shrug:

It's just sad to have the names of Berserk and Miura be associated with such low-level writing. It's just a glorified fan-fiction, and nothing more.
 
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Walter

Administrator
Staff member
  • The scene of Grundbeld & Co strategizing against fighting a tiger, gladiator-style was....kinda fun? It was no Griffith-level planning, and it was buried under horrific prose like the rest of the story, but there was an iota of creativity involved.
Yes this was one of the highlights, because it involved some actual quick thinking, and the table-turning moment when Grunbeld discovers he can actually wield the war hammer that was placed there as a taunt by Tudor. That all felt good. What wasn't great was the whole scenario leading to that moment.

Grunbeld, a captive of Tudor forces, had already outright killed a Tudor knight in a sparring match (not a duel), and despite the Tudor guys having killed a guy just for having diarrhea earlier in the novel (not a joke), they don't publicly slaughter Grunbeld. Instead, they just think Grunbeld is cool. But then, arbitrarily, the Tudor guys come to realize, "hey this guy's actually a threat." And they decide not to make him disappear and obscure his quiet death in a chamber somewhere, but to don their Bond Villain cap and push him into a gladiatorial arena, import a fucking tiger from Kushan territories, give he and his comrades an opportunity to plan, AND place a war hammer within reach. Of course, the plan falls to pieces in moments, the war hammer bashes in the tiger's skull, and moments later the place gets raided by Grant soldiers.



Other than that, Walter said it better than I could. At first, I was hoping it was just a crummy translation job, but the dialogue is legitimately that cringey and stiff, the pacing is atrociously inconsistent, and it all...just. Uuugh.
Yeah, it's not as if the beauty of the book was lost in translation or something. The book didn't set Japanese fans on fire either. We immediately heard sharp criticisms about it upon its release, and other members here had read it as well, and hated it.

I always assumed that if he had gone through with it, Theresia would just be consumed by the vortex of souls. But in the case of Grundbeld, we have no vortex of souls--and unlike Griffith, there aren't other apostles to do the sacrifice-slaughtering. So is it standard operating procedure for the newly-christened apostles to kill their sacrifices themselves, or is that another in the long list of fuck-ups in this novel?
The book drops the ball on this one too, because it's not explicitly stated what happens to Benedikte and Sigur. Here's the key passage:

"As for Benedikte and Sigur, they didn't try to escape. Sigur pulled the dying Benedikte into an embrace. They both calmly looked up at the giant fire dragon, like they were peacefully accepting their fate. Perhaps they were fully aware that this dragon was Grunbeld.

Benedikte, Sigur. Both of you, live on within me. The two of them vanished within a wave of hellfire."
So... huh? I know what hellfire is in the context of Berserk (karmic fire), but it doesn't KILL people or make them VANISH. So did Grunbeld burn them with his dragon breath? Nope, not that either. Because a few paragraphs after this one, the book explains how he discovers he even had dragon breath when he feels a sensation in his chest, and "clucked his tongue and activated his internal flame-generating organ." :ganishka:
 

jackson_hurley

even the horses are cut in half!
So... huh? I know what hellfire is in the context of Berserk (karmic fire), but it doesn't KILL people or make them VANISH. So did Grunbeld burn them with his dragon breath? Nope, not that either. Because a few paragraphs after this one, the book explains how he discovers he even had dragon breath when he feels a sensation in his chest, and "clucked his tongue and activated his internal flame-generating organ." :ganishka:
Only way I can figure that one out is a bad metaphor for them to be drag by the vortex. A very bad one if it's one at all.
 

jackson_hurley

even the horses are cut in half!
Yeah naturally it's the only thing it could be referring to, but how is that "a wave of hellfire" ???
Like I said, a very bad metaphor. The wave being the ocean of souls and the hellfire prolly being eaten or dragged off or wtv by said souls... I dunno to be honest haha thats the most clever thing I can come up with for this mess of a work. :ganishka:
 
I just read Walter's review on the novel.

What a joke. Something like Berserk to be thrown to carelessly to some incompetent person. I also agree with Walter's hypothesis on why it even released in the first place. I had considered purchasing it -- but no, I've supported the series is a more than fair amount (though not as much as some people here). In my own way, me not purchasing this book is supporting Berserk. Sorry, Miura. I appreciate the art as always -- but I don't even have any interest in reading it for free.
 
OOOOF. Watched a review on youtube that raised many similar points to Walters post. Definitely will not be buying it. Looks like it makes Richard Knaak's World of Warcraft tie in "War of the Ancients" look like War and Peace.
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
I was immediately convinced when Walter told me of his idea that Miura might have drawn up the novel's illustrations first, then sent them to Fukami and left it to him to fill in the blanks. That revived the mesmerizing hope of Miura eventually writing his own (much better) version of what happened, which I am desperately clinging to. It also made me want to try and guess what said "true story" might be just from the pictures. Since people have recently expressed interest in such an exercise, I give you below my take on a possible version of that tale. Now, just to be clear, there's an enormous amount of potential variations if one simply bases themselves on the illustrations, so please just take this for what it is: a fun little thought experiment.

-------

Grunbeld is born in a small village in the northern country of Grant to a family of woodsmen. He is remarkable even as a boy due to his imposing stature. During his teenage years, his village is attacked by the armies of Tudor, a neighboring country that covets Grant's natural resources. Most villagers are slaughtered, but he is captured and taken to a border fort, where he is made to fight in a pit as a slave. He meets two other youths there, Sigur and Edvard. One day they are made to fight together against a tiger imported from foreign lands. Sigur and Edvard remove their shirts and tie them around their left arm to provide a modicum of protection against the animal's claws. Edvard grabs a torch to fend it off too. Grunbeld is bolder. He uses an emptied, spiky brazier as a two-handed weapon. They triumph from the beast and manage to flee from the fort. Grunbeld loses sight of his companions in the escape, and suffers from injuries as he takes a fall to evade his pursuers.

He is woken by the touch of a huge wild dog who licks his wounds. Close-by, lying naked on a moose, a young girl watches him with a strange gaze. Her name is Benedikte and she is a druid, a priestess of Grant's ancient religion. She is a little eccentric, but has certain abilities, like the power to speak with animals. She provides him aid to heal his injuries, and later, through a ceremonial dance, she prophesies that he will save Grant from Tudor. Years pass. Grunbeld has reunited with Edvard and Sigur, who hail from Grant nobility. Through his prowess in battle and backed by Benedikte's prediction, Grunbeld quickly rises through the ranks to lead Grant's army. He commands a force of 3000 men with Edvard and Sigur acting as his trusted lieutenants. Benedikte, who is very dear to his heart even though he mostly stays aloof around her, is never far. She always sees his real self through his stern facade and treats him normally despite his size, in a way no one else ever has in his life. Her humor and upbeat attitude are a singular light in his otherwise brutal life.

Grunbeld has grown so big that on the battlefield he uses a chariot pulled by four horses. His shield is as tall as a man and no enemy can withstand his giant warhammer. His fearsome strength, his savagery in battle and his red hair have earned him the nickname of "Great Flame Dragon". He has his armor, helmet and shield decorated to reflect this. At some point, he also acquires a strange stone, said to be a kind of talisman, that he keeps on a leather strap around his right wrist when he fights. Maybe a gift from Benedikte. For years, Grunbeld and his troops manage to defeat and thwart Tudor's Red Walrus Knights. But they are a small force against the might of a much larger country, and this prolonged war takes it toll on them.

Tudor eventually proposes an accord: a right to a share of Grant's resources in exchange for putting an end to the hostilities and bestowing it protection as an ally. However Grant will also need to convert to the religion of the Holy See and end its old practices, deemed heretical. Many are amenable to this proposal, and Edvard in particular favors it. Tudor has recently put an end to its conflict with Midland, and is widely considered to have lost. They need to wash away that humiliation, and they require resources to rebuild the country. They will now focus their full might on this conflict if they can't get what they want. Grunbeld however will not yield. After all this time and all they've done, he won't come to a compromise with Tudor other than their full retreat, and can't accept an agreement that would jeopardize Benedikte's status — and life. Sigur is also tired of the war, but her loyalty to Grunbeld takes precedence over those feelings... and even over her affection for Edvard. Besides, she also grown close to Benedikte.

As the day of the next battle edges closer, Edvard comes to a fateful decision. He secretly contacts Tudor and makes plans for Grunbeld to be killed on the battlefield. He will help them capture Benedikte so they can lure Grunbeld to a specific spot, where a battery of cannons will obliterate him. Grunbeld will die a hero, true to himself, and as the new leader of Grant's army, Edvard will ensure his country can survive as a proud and autonomous nation, even if that involves some sacrifices. Then, he and Sigur might finally...

On the day of the battle, Grunbeld is determined not to falter despite the overwhelming odds. But when Edvard tells him Benedikte has been captured, he gets into a rage like no other. He rushes in ahead of his troops, mowing down enemies left and right, annihilating anyone in his path in order to reach her. Just as he does, Tudor fires a volley of cannon balls. He shields her with his body and manages to save her. She's intact, but he's not. He has suffered heavy wounds. His shield is in tatters and his left arm is mangled. His right arm isn't in much better shape, and his armor is punctured. Tudor soldiers are now moving in to finish the wounded dragon. Sigur, who has witnessed the scene, tries to intervene, but Edvard stops her. She realizes his treachery and, heartbroken and outraged, turns on him. As they fight, a dying Grunbeld faces utter rage and despair. He can't be beaten! Not him! Not like this! And his call is answered. He is taken to the God Hand with Benedikte still in his arms. He is offered a choice, a second chance. And he sacrifices.

Meanwhile, Edvard and Sigur are still fighting. She won't listen to him. He tries to disarm her, but delivers a mortal blow without meaning to. She stumbles backward, lifeless. He falls to his knees over her dead body. This isn't what he wanted. It went all wrong. Suddenly, he looks up. A monstrous, fiery creature stands over him. An actual dragon, and one whose crystalline body can't be scratched even by cannon fire. Edvard's death comes swiftly. Tudor does not win this battle, nor does it win the war. A few years later, as Grunbeld lays asleep, he experiences a strange dream... A call. Someone is waiting for him in a faraway land. The Falcon.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Just when I thought I was out ... you pull me back in. :daiba:It's a serious bit of mental gymnastics we're asking of people at this point, to forget everything we know about the novel (that's what my therapist keeps recommending) and try to intuit what the illustrations alone could spell out for a proper storyline. But I'll play along as long as I can endure it.

For those who want to follow along, these are based on the illustrations which can be found here: https://imgur.com/r/Berserk/8hf8K/

They triumph from the beast and manage to flee from the fort. Grunbeld loses sight of his companions in the escape, and suffers from injuries as he takes a fall to evade his pursuers.
Escaping their imprisonment, while not supported anywhere, at least makes more sense than what happened in the novel -- the end of the fight was perfectly timed with a rescue operation.

He is woken by the touch of a huge wild dog who licks his wounds. Close-by, lying naked on a moose, a young girl watches him with a strange gaze. Her name is Benedikte and she is a druid, a priestess of Grant's ancient religion. She is a little eccentric, but has certain abilities, like the power to speak with animals. She provides him aid to heal his injuries, and later, through a ceremonial dance, she prophesies that he will save Grant from Tudor.
Oh, you swapped these around so that he meets Benedikte after his imprisonment, not a bad idea. This does make more sense, because Grunbeld's injuries don't have any connection, at least through the images alone.

For years, Grunbeld and his troops manage to defeat and thwart Tudor's Red Walrus Knights. But they are a small force against the might of a much larger country, and this prolonged war takes it toll on them.
I like the inevitability this scenario implies. They're valiantly defending their homeland, but it's not a defense that can last. It also plays well into what eventually happens in your scenario -- Grant either has to compromise (Edvard's plan) or go down fighting (Grunbeld's plan).

Tudor eventually proposes an accord: a right to a share of Grant's resources in exchange for putting an end to the hostilities and bestowing it protection as an ally. However Grant will also need to convert to the religion of the Holy See and end its old practices, deemed heretical. Many are amenable to this proposal, and Edvard in particular favors it. Tudor has recently put an end to its conflict with Midland, and is widely considered to have lost. They need to wash away that humiliation, and they require resources to rebuild the country. They will now focus their full might on this conflict if they can't get what they want. Grunbeld however will not yield. After all this time and all they've done, he won't come to a compromise with Tudor other than their full retreat, and can't accept an agreement that would jeopardize Benedikte's status — and life. Sigur is also tired of the war, but her loyalty to Grunbeld takes precedence over those feelings... and even over her affection for Edvard. Besides, she also grown close to Benedikte.
Wow you really put a date on this thing! (the climax of this encounter would be sometime during the 1-year gap after Guts left the Falcons). This is a really tough value judgment though, but it would offer an important introspection into Grunbeld. Which is the right choice to make? And what does his choice say about him as a person? Unfortunately, the open variables at play make this kind of a wash. There's not enough information about the people of Grant and their adherence to their particular way of life to gauge which is the right choice for the people -- whether to endure another decade or more of siege warfare, or be swallowed by a different culture. Is Grunbeld a tyrant for making that choice, or is he aligned with his people?

On its face, Grunbeld's plan to stalwartly defend until the end is fitting for him (since he's all about defense), and utterly stupid unless there's some massive reserve army that could feasibly topple Tudor's forces in short order. All he's doing is prolonging the inevitable, and the people will suffer along the way. This all works, because though Grunbeld was remembered as a hero to his people, he's not necessarily making the right decision FOR his people. He's doing it for a woman, and for his personal grudge against Tudor. I think this would have to be hammered home in a full story in order to make it clear the value judgment he was making -- that Grunbeld is dismissing an option for peace out of hand, because of his personal feelings against Tudor.

None of that should-he-would-he talk really matters much though. Because as a future apostle, it was within causality's plan for him to grind Tudor's occupation forces beneath his giant dragon feet. Everything before that point should work as a kettle set to boil.

As the day of the next battle edges closer, Edvard comes to a fateful decision. He secretly contacts Tudor and makes plans for Grunbeld to be killed on the battlefield. He will help them capture Benedikte so they can lure Grunbeld to a specific spot, where a battery of cannons will obliterate him. Grunbeld will die a hero, true to himself, and as the new leader of Grant's army, Edvard will ensure his country can survive as a proud and autonomous nation, even if that involves some sacrifices. Then, he and Sigur might finally...
Ah, you bestowed Edvard a logical motivation for his turn. So in this scenario, he's not going "full" villain necessarily. He's removing an impediment to what he sees as his people's progress, and clearing a path to peace (and Sigur), but he can only get there by betraying his friends.

On the day of the battle, Grunbeld is as unstoppable as ever and is determined not to falter despite the overwhelming odds. He's mowing down enemies on the frontline when he spots Benedikte being held hostage. They're pointing cannons at her. He rushes in, annihilating anyone in his path, and reaches her as they fire.
I think it'd be more effective here if Grunbeld knew she had been taken hostage, resulting in him recklessly rushing to rescue her, bringing him further away from the defensive line into enemy territory, and he becomes surrounded in the process of getting to her.

He shields her with his body, and manages to save her. She's intact, but he has suffered heavy wounds. His shield is in tatters and his left arm is mangled. His right arm isn't in much better shape, and his armor is punctured. Tudor soldiers are now moving in to finish the wounded dragon. Sigur, who has witnessed the scene, tries to intervene, but Edvard stops her. She realizes his treachery and, heartbroken and outraged, turns on him. As they fight, a dying Grunbeld faces utter rage and despair. He can't be beaten! Not him! Not like this! And his call is answered. He is taken to the God Hand with Benedikte still in his arms. He is offered a choice, a second chance. And he sacrifices.
Good work remediating the nonsensical remote branding of Edvard and Sigur. :ganishka:

The only thing that's rocky here for me is Grunbeld's acknowledgement of Edvard's betrayal, which happens in the periphery here instead of full-frontal. The scenario would benefit from an exchange between them, but maybe that's cliché.

Meanwhile, Edvard and Sigur are still fighting. She won't listen to him. He tries to disarm her, but delivers a mortal blow without meaning to. She stumbles backward, lifeless. He falls to his knees over her dead body. This isn't what he wanted. It went all wrong. Suddenly, he looks up. A monstrous, fiery creature stands over him. An actual dragon, and one whose crystalline body can't be scratched even by cannon fire. Edvard's death comes swiftly. Tudor does not win this battle, nor does it win the war.
A much more tolerable ending for Edvard than... the novel.

A few years later, as Grunbeld lays asleep, he experiences a strange dream... A call. Someone is waiting for him in a faraway land. The Falcon.
Couldn't be too many years later, as the Hundred Years War was already wrapped up with Midland and Tudor.
 
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Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
I think it'd be more effective here if Grunbeld knew she had been taken hostage, resulting in him recklessly rushing to rescue her, bringing him further away from the defensive line into enemy territory, and he becomes surrounded in the process of getting to her.
That's true, makes more sense to have Edvard tell him she's been captured and will be executed on the battlefield to lower Grant's morale, prompting him to rush headlong into the fray. Also makes it easier for Grunbeld to figure out the betrayal.

The only thing that's rocky here for me is Grunbeld's acknowledgement of Edvard's betrayal, which happens in the periphery here instead of full-frontal. The scenario would benefit from an exchange between them, but maybe that's cliché.
I didn't write it down in detail, but the way I pictured it, Grunbeld sees Edvard contemplating the scene from afar, and maybe stopping Sigur too. I like the idea of a wordless exchange. And killing him without even knowing his full motivation feels like something apostle Grunbeld would do. "No mercy for cowards!"

Couldn't be too many years later, as the Hundred Years War was already wrapped up with Midland and Tudor.
I was thinking 2 or 3 years.
 
I wouldn't worry too much about this novel's impact on Berserk's story. Look at all the different light novels Jojo's Bizarre Adventure has had over the years. Almost all of them stink to high heaven and contradict the manga in strange ways. Araki did some pretty fantastic artwork for them all, too. Yet despite all that, not once has any of them actually been mentioned in the manga proper or had any effect on it. The closest we've gotten is a couple of references to Purple Haze Feedback (the only one that's actually worth reading) in one of the video games.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I wouldn't worry too much about this novel's impact on Berserk's story. Look at all the different light novels Jojo's Bizarre Adventure has had over the years. Almost all of them stink to high heaven and contradict the manga in strange ways. Araki did some pretty fantastic artwork for them all, too. Yet despite all that, not once has any of them actually been mentioned in the manga proper or had any effect on it. The closest we've gotten is a couple of references to Purple Haze Feedback (the only one that's actually worth reading) in one of the video games.
That's reassuring, but there is a natural point of intersection between this novel and the manga: Grunbeld's death. And the question will linger about Grunbeld's origin story until he dies and we see what Miura will do.
 
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