Devil May Cry is a prequel novel to the game of the same name written by Shin-ya Goikeda with the assistance of Hideki Kamiya, the series creator, and illustrated by Shirow Miwa (author of DOGS: bullets and Carnage). It was first published in Japan in 2003 by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., LTD. In 2006 it was released in English by Tokyopop and in German by Panini.
It spans from the death of Dante's mother Eva until the beginning of the first Devil May Cry, although as of release of Devil May Cry 3 it was considered mostly non-canon until the release of the novel Devil May Cry 5: Before the Nightmare and Devil May Cry 5 confirmed that the majority of the story is canon. Hideki Kamiya was able to work closely with Goikeda during the development of the novel, stating that his depiction of Dante and Goikeda's depiction are very similar.
A second novel, which takes place after Devil May Cry and before Devil May Cry 2, was also released. It was illustrated by Yuuchi Kosumi. Both novels were translated by Paul Cheng and Gemma Collinge and adapted into English by Ethan Russell. Unlike the first novel, it is possible the entirety of the second novel could be canon as it can sit easily between Devil May Cry: The Animated Series and Devil May Cry 2.
At Bobby's Cellar Enzo Ferino introduces a new mercenary named Gilver, a tall man swathed in bandages who wields a katana. Gilver fights Dante, proving himself equal. Deciding to settle the fight with drinking, Dante wins and Gilver is robbed by the bar patrons. After leaving, Dante is beset by demons and the undead Denvers. Dante awakens in the home of a local woman, who he spurns before leaving. He learns that killing Denvers has led to a bounty being placed on his head by the Oz Club. He leaves to confront the club directly. Entering a bank, he fights the same demons once again. Defeating them he runs into Gilver, who has slaughtered the Oz Club.
Weeks later, Dante and Gilver are now being paired on numerous jobs and Grue is missing. On the way to work, Dante stops by Nell's home, giving him two handguns and warning him about Gilver. Dante runs into Grue, who has been taking assassination jobs. After leaving Dante, Grue kills a heavily in debt thug. This sparks a demonic transformation among the thug's friends and Grue's hiding place is revealed by Gilver. Grue ignites a grenade on his chest, trying to kill Gilver. Dante and Gilver continue as partners, and Enzo reveals that Grue did assassinations because of his daughter Jessica's illness. Dante goes to the hospital and finds it overrun by demons. Dante faces the demon in charge, who is feeding on Jessica's despair. He kills the demon and Jessica, shattering the connection between the human world and demon realm.
Due to the hospital massacre and Grue's disappearance, Dante is publicly scorned by other mercenaries. Gilver converts the patrons of Bobby's Cellar into demons while Dante goes to Nell Goldstein's for rest. Soon after he leaves, an explosion engulfs Goldstein's Shop in flames. Dante charges in, finding Nell working on two handguns made especially for him: Ebony and Ivory. Giving him the handguns, Nell dies. Dante ceases using the Tony Redgrave alias. Dante returns to Bobby's Cellar and confronts Gilver. Amidst a furious sword fight, Gilver shoots Dante with the shotgun purchased at Nell's shop. Fatally shooting Gilver in turn, Dante is horrified to discover that Gilver looks just like his brother Vergil.
Much later, Enzo drops by Bobby's Cellar and helps Dante leave. In the novel's epilogue, Dante sits in his shop as Devil May Cry begins.
Contradictions and Legacy
After the release of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, contradictions between the game and this novel forced much of the story of the novel out of canon. Of particular concern is Gilver's fate and actions. Because of the events of Devil May Cry 3, the community generally accepts that Vergil cannot be Gilver. Thus, the sequences of the novel involving him are non-canon, or Gilver is someone other than Vergil, such as an artificial demon clone of Mundus's a la Trish.
Regardless, parts of the novels still remain within the canon of the games. Dante's alias as "Tony Redgrave" is also mentioned in the Devil May Cry: The Animated Series and engraved on the on all appearances of Luce and Ombra and Ebony and Ivory. Also, the novel provides the only explanation as to where engraving ".45 Art Warks" comes from. Nico from Devil May Cry 5 Is stated to be the Granddaughter of Nell Goldstein. Devil May Cry 5: Before the Nightmare as well as Devil May Cry 5 reveals that the events of the novel did occur within canon, though with certain details retconned such as the character Gilver being an Angelo prototype created by Mundus based on Vergil and Dante's battle data instead of being Vergil himself.