John Boyne, the author of the 2006 Holocaust novel “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” appears to have written his latest historical fiction with some slightly unorthodox reference material — namely, the latest game in Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda franchise.
The Irish author’s website describes his latest effort, “A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom,” as “an epic tale of humanity” focusing on family stories “from Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium and journeying across fifty countries to a life amongst the stars in the third.”
But humanity isn’t the only thing featured in Boyne’s book — which is presumably meant to be historically accurate but includes a passage in which a character dyes a dress with ingredients including the “leaves of the silent princess plant,” “Octorok eyeball” and “Hylian shrooms.”
All of these fictitious items are from Nintendo’s 2017 fantasy adventure game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where the game’s protagonist, Link, can create recipes from monster body parts and herbs.
The gaffe, originally discovered on Reddit, brought forth a surge of reactions across social media, with readers pointing out that Boyne had seemingly Googled directions for dying a dress red, stumbled upon one of the game’s recipes and taken it at face value.
Is it an homage? An Easter egg? Hmm. The book is *not* a fantasy. It’s a historical drama set in the real world. I had a hunch, and tried a google search. pic.twitter.com/o3yHQO4nEU— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) August 3, 2020
Some commentators took the mistake as an opportunity to criticize Boyne, insinuating that he had done lazy research and would soon be receiving notice from Nintendo’s lawyers. Some shared an Irish Times review of the book which had caught the out-of-place recipe and called Boyne’s narrative “lively but long-winded.” Others used the Zelda mistake as an opportunity to highlight Boyne’s perceived transphobia stemming from his portrayal of a transgender character in his 2019 novel “My Brother’s Name is Jessica,” which is told from the perspective of a boy learning more about his transgender sister’s identity.
What's so bad about this is not just that he did lazy research. It's that he has no mental image of what he's writing. He just copied down a list of words without knowing or caring what they mean. That would be bad writing even if the ingredients were correct.— Gwen C. Katz (@gwenckatz) August 3, 2020
This isn't even the only humiliatingly obvious historical error he made in the book, although it may be the MOST humiliatingly obvious historical error pic.twitter.com/Uz6OCquH70— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) August 3, 2020
Nintendo is famously litigious, and dollars to donuts says "lizfalos," "keese," "octorok" and "Hylian" are all under copyright— Nightling Bug 🗝️ (@NightlingBug) August 3, 2020
I repeat— Calvin Wong Tze Loon 黃子倫 🇲🇾 (@ithayla) August 3, 2020
he googled 'red dye recipe'
and the first result was the one from the video game zelda breath of the wild
and he fucking put it in his historical novel
and it made it to print
I never want your impostor syndrome to stop you from doing anything ever again
On his own Twitter account, however, Boyne appeared to take the mistake in stride, admitting that he found his hasty Googling “actually kinda hilarious” and would have to put The Legend of Zelda into the acknowledgments page of the book’s paperback edition.
LOL that is actually kinda hilarious. I'm totally willing to own it. 😂🤣Something tells me I'll be telling this anecdote on stage for many years to come... 😂— John Boyne 📚 (@john_boyne) August 3, 2020
Yeah, I'll leave it as it is. I actually think it's quite funny and you're totally right. I don't remember but I must have just googled it. Hey, sometimes you just gotta throw your hands up and say "yup! My bad!" 😂— John Boyne 📚 (@john_boyne) August 3, 2020
Someone remind me to add Zelda to the acknowledgements page when the paperback of TRAVELLER is published... oh lord...😂😳 pic.twitter.com/CDUR9pQK5w— John Boyne 📚 (@john_boyne) August 3, 2020
Hey Twitter, does anyone know how one would go about dying a dress red?— John Boyne 📚 (@john_boyne) August 3, 2020
Asking for a friend. pic.twitter.com/G5yLr51tkM
Ironically, in a Sunday opinion piece for the Irish Independent titled “‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ would be difficult to publish today,” Boyne argued that the modern world was filled with far too many “agitators” who were “weaned on a diet of video games” and who criticize novelists for daring to write on challenging topics.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.