In The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, it takes apple, spicy pepper, Hylian shroom, sunshroom, ruby, fire keese wing, and a red lizalfos tail to make a red dye for clothes–and according to novelist John Boyne’s latest book A Traveller At The Gates Of Wisdom, the exact same ingredients were used for dyeing in the fifth century court of Atilla the Hun. But that might stem from an apparent humorous mistake on the part of the author.
Reddit user u/NoNoNo_OhHoHo spotted this curiously familiar list of ingredients in The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas author’s latest epic, where the dressmaker protagonist plots a poisoning using a red dye. Amidst an otherwise straightforward historical setting, the mention of Octorok and Lizalfos seems a little out of place.
In a Twitter thread, writer Dana Schwartz pointed out that Googling “ingredients red dye clothes” automatically brings up a list from Polygon’s Breath of the Wild dyeing guide, which appears in the novel almost verbatim.
However there’s a chance the inclusion isn’t just a hilarious mistake–the novel isn’t quite a straightforward historical fiction, but instead an epic beginning in biblical times and ending in the future, with every chapter skipping forward through time. Reviewer Jonathan McAloon writing for the Irish Times notes the Zelda reference as a purposeful technique designed to “destabilise the historical integrity” of the setting–along with a medieval Irish monk quoting Liam Neeson in Taken.
Intentional or not, it seems the biggest oversight here is the supposed toxicity of the BOTW ingredients–in the game, they’re all perfectly edible, and can be cooked up in recipes to grant certain buffs.
Update: Shortly after publication John Boyne replied to Schwartz’s Twitter thread, appearing to confirm that the inclusion of Hylian ingredients was, indeed, a hilarious mistake, though he doesn’t remember how exactly it happened.
The good news for Zelda fans is that the easter egg will be forever preserved in Boyne’s book despite him never having played a video game in his life–while all authors should take this as a reminder to always double check your source when looking for outlandish-sounding ingredients.
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