THE LIONHEART SAGA (FINAL FANTASY VIII NOVELIZATION)
UPDATE 3/19/21 – Halfway There
And with that, Volume II is finally complete. Took a while longer than I expected it to, in large part due to my decision to go back and effectively redraft everything (very little changed plot-wise from the old drafts, so if you've been following this long-term, don't worry too much). I apologize again for having kept things on a literal cliffhanger for so long. Better late than never, I suppose.
Unfortunately, there is going to be another significantly longer gap before I get started on Volume III. Although I've already got everything more or less mapped out in my head, I need to get a detailed outline compiled before I start putting pen to paper again (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). Another reason for this is that Volumes III and IV are going to contain many more of my own original additions than anything up to this point, and I need to make sure everything's sorted beforehand. This includes the 'Selphie's GF' plot-line, which will finally come to its resolution in the next book.
I won't put a hard time-frame on when I'll be back to uploading chapters, since as history has shown, I'm notoriously bad at missing deadlines. The same goes for when I expect the entire novelization to be complete; it's taken me roughly 3 years since I first started outlining it to get this far, and I don't expect it to take any less than that for the second half. But I promise you, it will be finished one day. From what I can gather, out of every novelization on this site, mine is only the 5th to make it this far in the story. I've come too far and invested too much time and effort to give up now.
As a final note, I'm officially re-branding the project as 'The Lionheart Saga'. This is something I've had in mind for a while now, partially because it sounds cooler, and also to differentiate my work from another project that started using the name 'Final Fantasy VIII Unofficial Novelization' after mine.
And while I've touched on it in other posts, for those unaware, the individual volumes are entitled:
Volume I: Fithos
Volume II: Lusec
Volume III: Wecos
Volume IV: Vinosec
Anyway, thank you to everyone who's favorited, followed, and/or left a review on this story. I really appreciate it. Here's to making it halfway through, and to an equally if not even more quality second half. See you then!
UPDATE 2/3/21 - Redrafting Complete
It took longer than I anticipated, but redrafting of Volumes I and II is finally complete! I figured I ought to leave a status update here, though something tells me most people will only find this out once I upload the next chapter. Which should be soon-ish. Just 2 more and an epilogue to go until Volume II is finished. Thank you all for your patience through this process. Time to get back on track.
It should go without saying by now that I'm absolutely terrible at sticking to deadlines. Due to numerous developments in my personal life (both good and bad), I've barely gotten anything done for the month of December. I still have to redraft chapters 11 - 17 of Volume 2, and I'm not entirely sure when I'm going to be getting back around to it. Basically, as usual, things didn't go quite as I was expecting. I just figured I should post what I've got, and offer some kind of reassurance that I'm not dead.
Anyway, 2020 was a miserable year. Let's all just hope 2021 turns out to be a much better one. Happy new year, everybody.
UPDATE 9/17/20 - 2 Year Anniversary & Revisions
VOLUME I - COMPLETE
VOLUME II - COMPLETE
It's hard to believe it's been two years since I started uploading this story here. How far things have come. I want to thank everyone who's taken the time to read, review, favorite, and follow this story. It really means a lot.
My original goal was to have Volume II finished by now. However, after thinking things through over the last couple months, I realized I couldn't keep going as I was. I desperately needed to make some changes in how I'm approaching this novelization. And so, I've decided the time is right to go back and do some revising. Tightening up the prose, ironing out a few plot-holes that have been bugging me, correcting typos, and generally making it less of a chore for people to slog through (and by extension, easier for me to write).
As of this update, I've finished up to chapter 10 of Volume I. Between all of those chapters, I've already managed to cut the word count down by more than 18,000. The rest will follow over the next few months. At the rate I'm going, I expect to be all caught up before the end of the year, possibly a little earlier. I'll be re-uploading them in big chunks, probably half a volume at a time.
For those of you who've been following along, I'm sorry to leave things on such a cliffhanger (quite literally for Rinoa). This is just something I have to do. Thank you for your understanding.
Man, I've been on a bit of a roll lately. Only four more chapters and an epilogue left until Volume II is complete! But, of course, anyone who knows what comes next in the game's story should expect that these next few are going to be some of the hardest to do justice.
That said, even though I've gotten the last three chapters out in pretty quick succession, don't expect the next one to be out as quickly. Aside from wanting to get this all-important scene as perfect as I can, I'll be a bit pre-occupied playing through the Final Fantasy VII Remake for the next... well, however long it takes me to get through it. I'm sure no one's going to hold my prioritization of that over writing this fan novelization against me, of course.
Anyway, I hope you like the newest chapter. The first scene in it is actually my personal favorite I've written thus far. Review, favorite and/or follow if you like what you're reading here.
I suppose if there's one bright side to the current Coronavirus pandemic, it's that I don't have very much else on my plate for the moment, leaving me plenty of free time to do more writing. This newest chapter, as a result, got done significantly quicker than the previous two before it. Perhaps I'll be able to keep that momentum going long enough to finish up Volume II soon. Just six more chapters and an epilogue to go!
Anyway, I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these troubled times. As usual, review, favorite and/or follow if you like what I do.
It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to really sit down and work on this. I spent the last month or so moving house, which took up pretty much all of my time, hence the relatively longer than usual wait for the next chapter. I hope you like it, though. As of this one, we've officially passed the halfway mark for Volume II.
I've also decided I'm not going to be doing the chapter-by-chapter podcast thing after all, simply because it would have been that much more work for me to juggle, and would have taken away even more time I could be spending on writing the actual novelization. I've realized it's probably a better policy to just stick to what I know, rather than trying to branch out into various sub-projects which barely anyone will care enough about to check out.
Regardless, thanks for the support, and I'll see you all in 2020.
UPDATE 9/17/19 - One Year Anniversary & Podcast Announcement
As of today, it's officially been a full year since I first started uploading this novelization here. After more than 200K words, just under 6K hits, 30+ favorites and followers, and a slew of immensely flattering reviews, I can honestly say things have come a long way from such minuscule beginnings. If you've been here from the start, then I'd just like to say, thank you so much for having stuck around for so long. And if you're brand new, then let me take the opportunity to personally say, welcome aboard.
And so, to commemorate this milestone, I've decided I'm going to start doing something a little special going forward, as a way of offering you all a little bit of bonus content while I continue to plug away at each new chapter. Namely, a 'behind-the-scenes' podcast series examining each chapter of the novelization in chronological order, detailing the general approach I've taken to adapt the game into written form, my reasoning behind many of the changes I've made to the story (both large and small), and also some occasional trivia fans of the game may or may not be aware of.
You can find a link to the podcast episodes here (just replace the two vertical lines with dots): drive|google|com/open?id=1wfzfNa9mAX_iP7qOkXRvYprgMOkedaBE
Episode 1 covers the prologue and first chapter of Volume I, both originally made public on this same day one year ago. Please excuse the less-than-professional grade audio quality; I do own a proper microphone, but don't have it with me at my current residence, and so had to record the voice-over on my webcam instead. I will hopefully be able to rectify that in the not-too-distant future.
Once again, thank you all for your support, and stay tuned for more chapters and episodes coming soon.
So, it should be pretty apparent that I'm almost certainly not going to be getting these out on a weekly basis anymore. Looking back, I'm honestly not sure how I managed to keep a pace like that going for so long for the first volume. I apologize for the 5 week or so gap for this one, but there are other things I've been needing to prioritize in my personal life right now. From now on, I'm just going to say each chapter will be finished when it's finished, however long it ends up taking.
Thank you for your understanding.
Editing on "Volume I: Fithos" is (tentatively) complete. Barring any lingering typos I might have missed, the book as it stands is officially finalized.
Alterations to the previously written draft are largely minimal, mostly coming by way of fixing errors, editing the general prose of earlier chapters to stylistically compliment the later ones, and some slight re-arranging of certain scenes between chapters to better serve the overall flow of the narrative. The most obvious change in this regard is the creation of an entirely new Chapter 4, comprised of segments which were originally written as the ending of "Dereliction of Duty" and the opening of "Waltz Beneath the Stars". I believe that the overall pacing of these chapters has been greatly benefited by this, but in doing so however, has naturally thrown off all of the user reviews posted for every chapter after 3 by one. I apologize for this, but I ask that you please understand that my only other option was to completely delete this novelization and re-upload it all again, losing every single review, favorite and follow thus far. Hopefully I won't need to resort to this again going forward, but of course, that's something I'll only be able to judge once Volume II starts making serious headway.
Speaking of which, as of this writing, "Volume II: Lusec" can be considered officially in production. As mentioned in my previous update, I intend to have the prologue out sometime within the next month. I'm going to try to aim for regular weekly updates, but at the same time, I'm not prepared to make any outright promises. The last thing I want is to rush out sub-par material just to meet a deadline. What I will say however, is that if all goes according to plan, this second book will be a significant step up from the first one in every respect. Some of the scenes I have outlined, both original and derived from the game, legitimately give me chills, and I cannot wait to share them with you all.
As usual, if you enjoy my work, please feel free to leave a review telling me what you think. I really appreciate all the support thus far, and want to say thank you for coming along with me on this journey. Onward and upward we go!
As of this writing, the novelization's first volume (of four), entitled "Fithos" has been fully uploaded in its first completed draft. It covers the entirety of disc 1 of the original game.
Up until now, I had strived to release a chapter roughly every week or so, and with the exception of two significantly longer than usual gaps for the holidays and sickness respectively, I have mostly managed to abide by this set parameter. However, from this point forward, following a brief sabbatical to give myself a much needed rest, I intend on spending the next 2-3 months refining my existing writing. More than simply correcting typos (of which I am aware there are quite a few), or otherwise adding more detail to certain portions which may have been somewhat rushed, my general style has already begun to change the more I have written, to the point where as the chapters go on, it starts to read like the work of a different author. And so, before going any further with the story, I believe the time is right to do some polishing and fine tuning.
Once Volume I is in a place that I am content with, work on Volume II, "Lusec" will begin (and I'm sure you can guess what Volumes III and IV will be called). Fortunately, the working outline for the next volume is largely complete, being even more fleshed out with detail than that of Volume I, and so once work eventually begins, it should be back to mostly consistent chapter uploads. I expect to have the prologue of Volume II up sometime around late April or early May. I promise it will be worth the wait. Some of the things I have planned for this novelization going forward will blow your mind.
In the meantime, if you have read my work and enjoy what you see, please do feel free to leave a review telling me what you think. I thoroughly appreciate all the kind words so far. To have reached double digit counts for reviews, favorites and followers, and be just shy of 2.5K views in a mere 5 months is truly more than I could have expected. Frankly, I'm just happy anyone cares at all. Likewise, if you have any questions, please feel free to PM me. I promise I will try to keep any responses spoiler-free outside of what is already common knowledge in the original game. With the things I have in store, there's no way I'm about to let slip the big guns. And as mentioned in my original blurb below, I welcome any and all constructive criticism. My ultimate goal is to make this the FFVIII novelization by which all others are judged, and with the encouragement you've all given me, I really do think it's feasible. We're already a quarter of the way there.
All material in this novelization is without exception based upon a pre-existing story by Kazushige Nojima, Yoshinori Kitase, Shinji Hashimoto and Square Enix Co., Ltd.
Final Fantasy VIII, while not my favorite entry in the long tenured video game series, nor perhaps even the most well-beloved in many circles of the fandom, remains a very important and nostalgic game for me, personally. Moreso than the plentiful number of memorable moments such as the opening cutscene (my pick for one of, if not the best opening to any game ever), the Dollet Field Exam, Squall and Rinoa's waltz, the train kidnapping, the assassination attempt, missile base mission, battle of the Gardens and so much more, it is the underlying themes of overcoming childhood trauma and self imposed isolation that have left their mark on me more than anything else, and inspired me to make changes in my own life. It is a story that, despite its at times stumbling execution, I have come to appreciate even more with the passage of time, especially since I first started drafting this novelization.
That all being said however, I would like to take a moment to set some guidelines under which I have gone about undertaking this arduous task. Namely, those concerning what any readers should and should not expect from this fan work, and how it might differ from other works of its kind.
To sum it all up, those expecting a one-for-one recreation of the video game in written form that slavishly adheres to every little minor detail and nuance will be in for quite the disappointment. I initially set out with this exact goal in mind when I made my first attempt to write this novelization back in 2013, swearing to myself that I would only take liberties with the source material when absolutely necessary. It was to the point where I found myself attempting to describe every single environment exactly as it appears in the game, trying to shoehorn in as much descriptive language as possible to get every detail down precisely. This as you may imagine was an absolute chore, sucking almost all enjoyment out of what was meant to be a labor of love. What's more, in approaching the story with such a tight creative window to operate within, I felt the writing itself lacked a unique voice, and was at times just boring to read. I got about as far as the group setting out for Timber before I scrapped everything and put the project on ice indefinitely.
Five years later, with experience working as an editor on a similar (and highly acclaimed) fan novelization under my belt, I feel far better equipped to approach this task with a new mindset. That being to create a "re-imagining" of a classic video game, rather than a simple re-telling. Rest assured, the vast majority of major plot points are all intact, and the characters themselves remain the same in terms of their personalities and actions. You're not going to be getting some cheery, happy-go-lucky bastardization of Squall, or a gloomy, emo Zell. However, certain details and minor plot points surrounding the story at large, or even those touching on the motivations and backstories of specific characters may be altered, embellished or even outright removed. Likewise, some plot threads will be entirely created from scratch and inserted into the story to compliment the already existing script.
Rather than putting too much focus on making sure every last hair of the original work is in its proper position, my objective is to create a novelization that puts the narrative flow and character interactions above all else to create an enthralling experience for the reader. As such, before even typing up the first draft of the prologue, I sat down over the course of many months, outlining the story from the beginning, scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot. The goal is for every single scene included to either progress the overarching narrative forward, or to further develop and build off the characters' relationships with one another (and ideally both at once). Suffice to say I'm not a fan of "shit happening" for the sake of it.
At the end of the day however, this is merely my own unique interpretation of events adapted for a different medium, and I thank anyone who decides to give it a read for doing so, and welcome any and all constructive criticism. I would also like to thank M.J. Gallagher, for having given me the honor of assisting him as an editor on his own Final Fantasy VII Unofficial Novelization, as well as inspiring me to give this a shot in the first place. And of course, a big thank you to the folks at Square/Squaresoft/Square Enix, past and present who had a hand in creating this game. Every time I go back and play it, it always gets me thinking about the good old days… and the time 9 year-old me had to ask my dad for help because I couldn't understand what the hell the junction tutorial was telling me to do. And neither could he.