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The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

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Dark Horse Books and Nintendo team up to bring you The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, containing an unparalleled collection of historical information on The Legend of Zelda franchise. This handsome hardcover contains never-before-seen concept art, the full history of Hyrule, the official chronology of the games, and much more! Starting with an insightful introduction by the legendary producer and video-game designer of Donkey Kong, Mario, and The Legend of Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto, this book is crammed full of information about the storied history of Link's adventures from the creators themselves! As a bonus, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia includes an exclusive comic by the foremost creator of The Legend of Zelda manga - Akira Himekawa!

274 pages, Hardcover

First published December 21, 2011

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Patrick Thorpe

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 476 reviews
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,275 followers
March 26, 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia invites readers to take an in-depth look at twenty-five years of concept art, character sketches, and lore from one of the most beloved gaming franchises of all time.

The book is divided into three sections. Because it was published shortly after the release of Skyward Sword, the first section explores the characters, locations, and temples from the game with vibrant color illustrations and commentary on where inspiration for the game was derived and what elements of the game pay homage to one of the most popular games in the franchise, Ocarina of Time.


With this talk of controlling time, one can't help but think of Ocarina of Time. The ocarina is the same color as the Timeshift stones. Could they be made of the same material?

Section two, a chronology, introduces the history of Hyrule, weaving together the numerous legends of Zelda. Each page helpfully indicates which game is being discussed and what era it falls under in the timeline.

The chronology begins with the creation of the heaven and earth, immediately followed by the events of Skyward Sword. It splits after Ocarina of Time, with one timeline depicting the events that follow Link's triumph over Ganon, and the other is his defeat. The section of the timeline where Link triumphs is further divided into two separate realities: the Child Era, where Link returns to his original time, and the Adult Era, where the Hero of Time disappears and Ganondorf is free to return unopposed.

Finally, the third section is an exhaustive collection of concept art documenting twenty-five years of art generated while developing The Legend of Zelda games. It offers a broad array of artistic styles and character designs; however, with so many years of artwork to cover, readers may discover their favorite character(s) receive only limited page time.

The Kikwi

As an added bonus, at the back of the book readers will find a manga comic about Link's adventure in Skyward Sword.

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is an expansive compendium brimming with color illustrations of familair favorites that's sure to appease fans.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,921 reviews10.6k followers
January 14, 2016
Hyrule Historia is a book celebrating 25 years of Zelda games.

Confession time: I played a shit ton of video games from the age of 8 until sometime in my late twenties. A lot of that time was spent playing various Zelda games.

Hyrule Historia is packed with info about the various games, fitting them together in a nice chronology and explaining why almost every damn one features Link, Zelda, and Ganon, despite taking place at different points in the timeline. A lot of focus was put on The Skyward Sword, which was the most recent release at the time of this book's publication. It also made me want to buy a Wii on which to play it.

The games other than Skyward Sword were given a few pages each. Did you know Zelda was named after Zelda Fitzgerald? It was interesting to see how the games evolved over time and it made me want to fire up the N64 to play Majora's Mask again, which I did. Since I hadn't played it for almost fifteen years, it's like a whole new game!

The remainder of the book was unused concept art, which was very interesting, and some translated manga, which was kind of meh.

For the Zelda enthusiast, Hyrule Historia is a must have. Now if you'll excuse me, I have masks to collect.
Profile Image for zxvasdf.
537 reviews41 followers
February 14, 2013
So this is the book that knocked 50 Shades of Grey off the numero uno spot on Amazon Bestsellers. Way to go, geeks! This is when a fanbase is like an iceberg; you thought it was big, but you find it was way bigger than you thought.

Hyrule Historia is primarily about Skyward Sword which is presented as the beginning of the Zelda mythos. It sounds like they're trying to boost sales for this latest installment of Zelda, but hey, if it means bringing a fan's wet dream to life, let it be.

Although I never cottoned to the 3D aspect of Link's adventures, I really enjoyed Windwaker. Unfortunately the time to complete the game somehow got away from me. A Link to the Past remains the penultimate Zelda game, and is followed closely by Link's Awakening and the Minish Cap. There's something about pixel art that perfectly conveys the atmosphere of Zelda, at once a serious game yet suffused with childlike joys.

I could never afford the games of the times (I often played many of the Nintendo classics using borrowed cartridges, or when the next generation console got released and public interest and fiscal fluidity transferred to the newest), but was content, for the most part, with browsing through the video game magazines at the local supermarket while sipping twenty-five cent sodas and munching the occasional stolen candy bars. The pictures therein were as pleasurable, if not more, as actually playing the games theselves. My eyes savored the gorgeous pixel art as my imagination filled in the blanks.

Reading Hyrule Historia hearkens me back to the more carefree times of these days. Granted it has different meaning for myself than it does for others, but this tome has enough for every fan, the biggest thing being the official chronology. Quite personally I always thought that Link was the Nintendo version of Nemo, waking up inside a different dream each night to battle the day's recollections. Miyamoto & Co. puts all speculations to rest in a really interesting way.
Profile Image for Samuel Ch..
177 reviews89 followers
July 22, 2014
Din, Nayru y Farore crearon al mundo, las leyes y los seres que lo habitan.

La trifuerza es la reliquia que representa su legado.
Zelda con su sabiduría la protege.
Ganon con su fuerza la fortalece
Link con su coraje la utiliza.

Ellos están destinados a vivir, luchar y morir eternamente durante todos los siglos y todas sus generaciones y todas sus reencarnaciones.

Ésta es la leyenda de Zelda.

Todos los demás mitos son puras mentiras de tus papás para que te portes bien y no pistees.
Profile Image for __yassbooks__ .
154 reviews9 followers
August 2, 2020
En primer lugar yo pienso que este libro solo gustará a los fans de la saga de videojuegos The leyend of Zelda(si no la conocéis probablemente no os vais a enterar de nada), o como mucho, también a gente interesada en arte y diseño gráfico. Así que como fan que soy a mi me ha encantado.
El libro está dividido en cuatro partes y algunos extras, como dos cartas de los desarrolladores y directores principales de los juegos y un catálogo de estos mismos. La primera parte esta dedicada a todo el arte conceptual del título Skyward Sword. La segunda cuenta la historia completa de todos los juegos de Zelda (hasta 2011) ordenados cronológicamente. La tercera está dedicada a todo el arte conceptual de todos lo videojuegos. Y en cuarto y último lugar el libro trae un manga del origen de la leyenda.
La encuadernación es preciosa, el diseño de las páginas está genial y además son muy gruesas, en definitiva, un libro genial como objeto de colección para el fandom.
Profile Image for rhea.
168 reviews11 followers
July 16, 2013
If you know me even a little bit it is probably beyond obvious that I have a Zelda obsession. This book only fuels that obsession more. Yes, it's Skyward Sword heavy (as of now the newest Zelda out) and some people think that is to sell copies of the game and if so, oh well I bought the game day 1 anyway. I also wonder if that had something to do with what content they had more of, since the games go back as far as 1986 some content may not have made it this far. Also, it's pretty much the beginning of the timeline and origin stories always get a lot of information or whatever other justification you need, if you need one. It also includes the manga for Skyward Sword if you are one of the people who have read the manga by Akira Himekawa. Besides the timeline and the stories behind the timeline, it is an artbook. I love the art, always have, in any version cartoon-y and dark. Read this while listening to the soundtracks! Or don't, if you're like me you'll just start humming the music to yourself regardless. I will probably still reference this book here and there, if not just read it straight through again. I never felt the need to fight the Internet on what the proper timeline was or any of that, I just liked it for what I knew on my own. Everyone has their own way of enjoying something, I suppose, but I certainly like reading about it from the creators and seeing the concept art lead to the art they used. Plus one more book to add to my pretty Zelda book collection! http://instagram.com/p/VF1J9LtxYF/

Profile Image for Andrew.
2,189 reviews
March 22, 2015
First of all I would like to mark for the record that yes I do play video games but not often or to great depth - I am as the profession calls me a "casual gamer" with that in mind and my limited knowledge of games I start this review.

I have know of the Legend of Zelda and the various games across numerous Nintendo platforms for some time and I know from other game concept and design books that there is a HUGE amount of material that goes in to the game that never sees the light of day. That mixed with the fact that Zelda is a massive franchise with numerous titles to its list there must be a mountain of material, from concept work, storylines and finished art available, so to see if all collected in to one book is not really a surprise - after all lesser games have done so. BUT the real surprise is the quality and breadth of material that there is, this book is truly amazing, okay it concentrates on the art and the story line with little or no details on the technicalities or processes of the game design but instead reads more like a who's who or encyclopaedia of the game and for that alone this book is incredible. In fact there is so much here I can see myself having to read it again to see what I have missed.

So for anyone who loves the Zelda games, who loves concept work and who wants a little inspiration then this book is certainly worth it
Profile Image for Brian.
648 reviews79 followers
May 27, 2015
People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually — from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint — it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly... timey-wimey... stuff.
—The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who, "Blink"
My sister got this for me months ago, and it took me awhile to get around to reading it because, honestly, it's kind of intimidating. And once I did get into it, it took me a while to finish it because a huge portion is devoted to Skyward Sword, which is a game that I've played for approximately ten minutes at a friend's house four years ago.

It's one of the issues I have when describing myself as a fan of Nintendo's various series. Am I a Legend of Zelda fan if I've played less than half of the games and I think that their quality is a downward slide the farther they get from A Link to the Past? I beat the original The Legend of Zelda on an NES, but that was over twenty years ago now. I got through half of Twilight Princess and put it down and haven't picked it up since 2008. How much of a fan am I, really?

Anyway, most of the early part of the book is Skyward Sword concept art, and there were bits that were neat even if I didn't have any other connection to them. I liked the pictures of a flying whale--anything is made better with flying whales, as Christian Riese Lassen taught all children who went to school in the 80s and 90s--and the note that the character designers based the character models on birds due to the prominent place of the loftwings in Hylian society. But since I haven't played the game, most of the subtleties went over my head.

Then we get to the timeline, and everything goes crazy.

Time travel always screws everything up, and Ocarina of Time is no exception. That game apparently split the timeline into three separate timelines, which I just realized is fitting with how important the number three is in Zelda's symbolism, but still. There's some justification later on in the book when Aonuma Eiji writes that the most imporant part of any Zelda game is gameplay, with story coming in after that. And honestly, I think that's a perfectly justifiable design choice, even if it does lead to an incoherent attempt to reconcile the backstories of the various games. Not only does time travel split the timeline depending on whether Link defeats Ganon or not, it causes the adult and child eras ofOcarina of Time to each spawn their own separate timeline. Link, look at all the trouble you've caused.

Although it does explain why Hyrule is sealed and flooded after the adult era, since it's pretty much the Land of Wind and Ghosts at that point.

There's concept art for all the games after this, and it's obviously weighted toward the later games since they were developed when it was obvious that saving the concept art might be worthwhile, but there's still a few pieces from the earlier games that made me wonder what they were planning. There's a picture of a science fiction-esque Zelda in the Link to the Past section that makes me wonder if they were ever planning on expanding on the lost technology themes of some of the ruins, for example. I did wonder how many of the notes on the piece were translations and how many were original inclusions, since there's a note on a picture of Ganon that reads:
Perhaps the 'pig Ganon' caption on this piece of concept art was a nickname given to him by the staff?
Surely that's the kind of thing you could interview people to ask them, isn't it? Isn't that the whole point of this book?

After the huge Skyward Sword love-fest at the beginning, Hyrule Historia ends with a prequel manga that explains why Hyrule is in the sky and what happened on the surface, and after page after page of cutesy, stylized art, it's kind of jarring to see manga Link chained in a dungeon talking about how he can't pick up the Master Sword because of the turmoil in his heart. Link isn't one of those protagonists that I think of as having any inner turmoil, mostly because being a silent protagonist makes you relatively immune to angst except as conveyed by facial expressions.

People who have played more of the later Zelda games, or liked them better than I did, will obviously get more out of this book. But even as a grumpy grognard I found a lot to like here, and the various concept art permutations were more than worth looking at.
Profile Image for David Miller.
308 reviews4 followers
February 25, 2013
The first thing that must be said is that this book is beautiful. It's loaded with beautiful drawings and designs, and it's just a pleasure as a fan to hold it and lose yourself in Hyrule lore for a while.

But I knew very quickly after I started that I wouldn't be giving it five stars.

As an old fan, Zelda means a lot of things to me. It's a seminal influence on my taste. But the bulk of this book is not devoted to the series' most seminal entries. They're almost afterthoughts; the real stars are the most recent games, particularly Skyward Sword. Which, fine, there are a lot of beautiful designs in that game, and it's very new, I can understand a little obsession. I'm less sold on why the section on designs for Spirit Tracks has more pages than the first six games put together. Was Spirit Tracks really popular? It's honestly the only canonical Zelda game I haven't played.

Frankly, I would have been exceedingly pleased to have all those pages go toward a really worthy game, like Majora's Mask. But I think I like Majora's Mask more than most people do.

And of course, there's the matter of chronology. I've been skeptical of the split-timeline viewpoint in the past; I've always preferred to think of the different games as variable and fallible re-tellings of the same small set of legends, not wanting to get too wrapped up in the sci-fi implications of time travel. But the way it's laid out here, I think I can accept.

Still, there are things that just strike me as dumb. For example, it's claimed that the Zora tribe evolved into the Rito tribe after the world was flooded. That makes basically zero sense. The Zora are fish people. A flooded world shouldn't be a problem for them. GAH.

But yes, in spite of my nitpicking and the gross injustice of favoring more recent games, I give this book fully four stars because it's just that pretty. I even love the inside cover designs. The manga in the back is very nicely done. There are brief sections on transliterating Hylian script, which is basically like catnip to me (even if a few of the schemes seem a little half-baked). There's a lot to enjoy here, though I would probably have put it together differently if I'd had my choice.
February 20, 2014

{Feb 20th 2014} THE REVIEW

This review is highly overdue in my opinion. I thought I had reviewed it, but I guess not. Not to mention this was still rated TO READ. [facepalms self]

Regardless, fixing that NOW because...

Honestly this is a very beautiful book and an absolute MUST have for ALL Zelda fans. It has gorgeous drawings, background inner-workings and details that went into Skyward Sword, like seriously its amazing to see all the concept art and the stuff that didn't actually MAKE into the official game. While its a shame they they didn't appear in the actual game, just seeing them here is a real eye opener. Seriously I knew a lot of work goes into these games, but reading this just granted me a deeper and more awe-inspiring appreciation of their work on these games. And there's even the Skyward Sword prologue to the manga from the famous Legend of Zelda mangaka duo Akira Himekawa (which btw I have pretty much ALL their mangas, they're awesome!). Seriously I love this book SOOOO much. But hey this is coming from a gushing long time fan ever since she was like seven years old despite being 21 (22 now) upon receiving this book for Christmas 2013.

Seriously the Legend of Zelda series has been such a major impact on my life. Even inspiring in terms of storytelling, adventuring, problem-solving, exploring and whatnot. Also the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was THEE first console game that I ever owned and played on the N64. And it still remains one of my all time favourites (I love all the Zelda games though). The series has also been my rock, along with the Harry Potter series, during my hell years--so I owe this series a lot.

I just have a lot of love for this series and I'll defend it to the last slash of my Master Sword.

You've been warned rofl.

Profile Image for Hildred Billings.
Author 119 books231 followers
April 27, 2013
As a huge Legend of Zelda fan, I had to grab a copy of this for myself one day. Sooner rather than later, I found a copy at the local bookstore and treated myself!

Although I had seen many of the scans before, I must admit that they pale to having the real thing. The sheer size of this coffee table book is enough to strike undying admiration in even the most casual Zelda fan. There are pages upon pages of never before seen character and scenery sketches, as well as a full explanation and outline of the confounding timeline. Although I already knew everything about the timeline, it was still a great trip down Nostalgia Street. The biggest surprise for me was the Skyward Sword manga at the back by the notable Akira Himekawa. Somehow this had gone under my radar. LOVED it. As always Himekawa's art is top notch, and the story (which is a backstory to Skyward Sword) was everything a Zelda story should be: poignant, courageous, and hopeful.

I recommend this book to anyone who is even thinking about getting it. You won't regret it!
Profile Image for Arjen.
195 reviews10 followers
January 12, 2019
[ Full review: http://backlogblog.com/index.php/2019... ]

Just to get it out of my system and to make sure it was said: Zelda: Hyrule Historia is a gorgeous book. It's hardcover and just holding it will guarantee by the end you'll have arms like a bodybuilder. Legends say that this was used in ancient times to see if someone was worthy to get the triforce of Power...
Profile Image for Callum Shephard.
324 reviews31 followers
July 11, 2013
The Legend of Zelda is one of those video game genres which is one of the biggest still standing names among franchises. Along with Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Super Mario and many others; it was a pillar of the industry back in the days of the SNES and is one of a handful to remain so today. Not only earning multiple acclaimed sequels and a solid fandom, but remaining loyal to its old ideas without suffocating innovation in the right areas.

However, for all it’s long history the timeline of Zelda and its past is one of the big mysteries of the series. There have been multiple Links, multiple Zeldas and so many contradicting landscapes of Hyrule that any true continuity seems to be impossible. The Hyrule Historia is Nintendo’s answer to the cryptic idea of the series’ development, origins and mythology along with a celebration of its 25 year run.

Going right into this it’s clear that this is something big. It truly does feel within the opening paragraphs and images of just a few pages like it’s a true record of the game’s history. Right from Miyamoto Shigeru’s introduction, covering the history of the game’s development to the 66th page, a full image showing every one of Link’s incarnations united in one painting you are given the impression of its legacy. Every page is crafted from designer images and notes, concept art and details which show how the series has grown both in development and between titles. Moving from the Don Bluth styled cartoonish looks of the early games to the outlandishly animated Wind Waker and Skyward Sword. Though thankfully skipping the CD-i titles in their entirety and pretending they never happened, an attitude all too welcome here.

Relying heavily upon its visuals, words are kept to a minimum with only brief notes no more than a paragraph at the most making up each page. Even the timeline itself is farily minimal, not going into extensive outlines of events or even the specifics of that era. Beyond the intro and outro delivered by Miyamoto and Aonuma Eiji respectively, it allows the reader’s views of the designs to read about the games for themselves. Allowing for a more personal opinion and connection than if there had been an extensive description to every sequence, detail and event. This assists in preventing any single game from overshadowing the others for much of the book, something all too easily done when a series contains Ocarina of time, but it there was likely a second reason.

Many people buying this were doing so out of a personal connection, that they had their own memories of games to call back upon and it seems like the writers understood this. The basic information here is minimal enough those memories to be rekindled in the games readers had played, while remaining extensive enough for anyone who had not button mashed their way through titles.

Yes, I know Zelda games don’t involved button mashing, I just don’t get to use that term nearly enough.

While the explanation of the timeline is ultimately what Hyrule Historia will likely be remembered for, it’s the conclusion which feels the most meaningful. For the most part the book keeps away from expanding upon the lore or meddling in details, save for the manga in the final pages. Done by the same duo behind the Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask manga adaptations, it outlines the series’ beginnings. Giving not only a legitimate reason for very similar versions of characters to exist without history, but a direct link between them and the goddesses of Hyrule.

With such an old franchise, reshaping the history to such an extensive degree would be difficult to accomplish to any satisfying degree. In the hands of the wrong person it could easily contradict many fan ideas, upset a segment of the loyal fanbase or betray the ideas behind one of the many games. Despite this the writers handled it competently only going as far as they had to with their ideas and explanations but no further. Leaving room for personal feelings and ideas while displaying the origins of the master sword, Hyrule itself and giving an impression of the demon king’s long standing influence. While by no means perfect due to a limited page number, it nevertheless portrays a satisfactory answer to questions about how everything began.

If there is one real criticism to be held against the book, it’s a slight bias towards Skyward Sword. While not arising to any great degree, it did effect things such as the page order and felt early on like it was giving more attention to the game than it deserve. Putting its art ahead of even the history of Hyrule, making up the pages directly following the introduction no less. The book definitely would have felt much stronger had it been saved until later.

As said before, this is definitely one for the fans. Those with no personal history or connection with the Zelda franchise will feel little need to look this up, but it’s intended more for those who have stuck with the series for so long. It’s definitely more of a coffeetable book than a true expansion of the lore, but one worthy of the anniversary.

If you recognise those symbols on the cover and have memories stirred by the the triforce, buy this without regret.
Profile Image for Travis.
729 reviews9 followers
June 25, 2013
I'm not sure what I expected from this book but I was left wanting so much more.

The bulk of the book is composed of retelling the story from Skyward Sword and stitching together all the games' stories into a single (albeit split) timeline. Since I have no interest in Skyward Sword I skipped that section. There's also a 32 page manga in the back that is another retelling of Skyward Sword; I skimmed this but quickly lost interest. The plot descriptions from the rest of the games did not offer any real insights besides highlighting the multitude of recurring characters. I think the biggest problem with pulling all the stories into one comprehensive whole is summed up by the series' current director (or maybe producer) in his afterward: the games' stories are almost an afterthought and they don't write them with an eye for an overarching history.

The remaining section is about the creative process for each game. Most of this is simply character sketches/designs and concept art, which is nice to look at but not overly interesting to a non-artist like myself. The most intriguing parts of this section (and the entire book) were the actual game design documents scattered throughout. These included such things as boss fight designs, storyboards, and treasure drop tables. I found these tidbits fascinating; then again I'm usually more drawn to the underlying mechanics of a game than its artwork.

I can see this book being a nice coffee table book for any Zelda fan. But when I handed it to one my friends, one of the biggest Zelda fans I know, he simply flipped through it and handed it back.
Profile Image for Erin.
12 reviews
March 5, 2013
I am totally reading this entire book! It's already made me see even more than before how truly amazing Skyward Sword is. It really is a masterpiece. I'm replaying it right now. I'm even breaking my rule where I never write a review. Time to go drool over Zelda some more.

So... I just finished this book and it was amazing. It answered so many questions I always had regarding the different Zelda games. And the concept art pieces were a really awesome addition. It made me appreciate the different Zelda games, especially Skyward Sword, even more than I already did. The amount of detail that goes into these games is just insane. And there are so many little things that are easy to just not notice at all until they are pointed out to you, like the design on the shield with the bird. That seriously went right over my head. While I wish there could have been more little details shared, just so I could enjoy some more revelations, the amount of detail that was explained really made this book worth it. Plus all the explanations given regarding the timeline were awesome. I had read the timeline before I ever got this book but there were a few things that weren't really clear to me. It was really awesome to see how it all fits together, especially for the few games I haven't gotten around to playing. This book was rad and I will always love it. Thank you Nintendo for making Zelda and then making a book about it. The Legend of Zelda will always be my most favorite video game series ever!!
Profile Image for Michael.
724 reviews
December 31, 2017
I absolutely love this book, covering a wide rang of information from the very first Zelda game up until and including Skyward Sword. The artwork is stunning and the accompanying information helps to provide additional depth to not only the games, but the overarching story.

As a bonus, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia includes an exclusive comic by the foremost creator of The Legend of Zelda manga - Akira Himekawa, a special Skyward Sword edition.

This is a must have if you are a Zelda fan.
Profile Image for Arturo Rojas.
62 reviews17 followers
April 20, 2016
This book is perfect. It's got incredibly cool concept art and sketches, in-depth explanations of lore, beautiful illustrations and a manga at the end. Based.
35 reviews
May 2, 2016
The highlight of the book is the middle section that (for the first time) chronologically lays out the stories of all the games. This alone should justify the purchase to any Legend of Zelda fan.
Profile Image for Dimitris Hall.
368 reviews54 followers
December 23, 2013
When I first heard of the existence of Hyrule Historia and its inevitable translation and release in Western markets I was as ecstatic as any fan could be. To give you an idea, scanlations from the original Japanese edition were unleashed to the thirsty hordes of Zelda enthusiasts within a matter of hours after release in Nipponia. Finally! A Zelda tribute to end Zelda tributes; a book strictly for the fans; an official behind-the-scenes, anthology, retrospective, together with the manga prelude to Skyward Sword, all presented with high quality illustrations, colour and printing and, perhaps most importantly, THE TIMELINE!

Now that eyebrows have had the time to be lowered and discussion on the three timeline theory, which like it or not is now obviously canon, has subsided, it's time for the admission part: the part where I look into the cold, hard facts of being a maturing Zelda fan. I hope you're ready.

In the last pages of the book there's a Thank You note from Eiji Aonuma, director and designer of many of the most recent additions to the series and to many the visionary and overseer of the Zelda franchise as a whole ever since Majora's Mask was released. This is part of what he had to say:

"The History of Hyrule" allows players to determine where each Zelda game is positioned in the chronology of the series. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that the question the developers of the Legend of Zelda series asked themselves before starting on a game was, "What kind of game play should we focus on?" rather than "What kind of story should we write?" For example, the theme of Ocarina of Time , the first Zelda game I was involved with, was, "What kind of responsive game play will we be able to create in a 3-D environment? [...]

"Because the games were developed in such a manner, it could be said that Zelda's story lines were afterthoughts. As a result, I feel that even the story of "The Legend Begins" in Skyward Sword was something that simply came about by chance.

"Flipping through the pages of "The History of Hyrule", you may even find a few inconsistencies. However, peoples such as the Mogma tribe and items such as the Beetle that appear in Skyward Sword may show up again in other eras. Thus, it is my hope that the fans will be broad minded enough to take into consideration that this is simply how Zelda is made."

I remember reading years ago that the official timeline of the series was a confidential document kept deep inside the Nintendo headquarters in Kyoto... As the years passed and new titles that made little sense when put in the big picture were added to the chronology, such as Twilight Princess, the connecting story started looking like either a lie too disappointing to reveal, or if it really was there, just a little bit too simplistic, i.e. is the great overarching story of the Legend of Zelda just a tale of many Links, many Zeldas, many Ganons and a terribly uninteresting tale of a prophecy never fulfilled? I slowly joined the disappointed doubters, those that questioned the relevancy of the timeline or even the very existence of it.

This confirmation by Aonuma sealed the deal: it was Nintendo's way of saying "you wanted it so badly, so here it is, but you're looking too much into it; go out more would you, you buncha nerds!" and I think it would indeed be sound advice for people still arguing on forums whether the official timeline is in fact real or not, suggesting that their own version of the timeline makes a lot more sense! The denial there is in the world...

I must admit that expecting a big closure from Skyward Sword, the "aha!" moment that would put every little piece of the puzzle in its place and it never really coming but instead getting the much-advertised prelude to Ocarina of Time with more unresolved new directions, brand new deities (as if there weren't enough already), characters and hint-dropping, left me with a sour taste in my mouth. It is obvious that if you really want to enjoy Zelda and avoid such disappointments it would be a good idea to be "broad-minded enough" as Aonuma-san suggested, to turn your thinking brain off and take it as Nintendo delivers it. Willing as I am, I just can't do that. I can't create connection between the stories when the connective links (get it?) are so vague, each time raise more questions than they answer --for sequels' sake-- and often feel as arbitrary as Star Wars Episode III.

As Zelda games are changing to cater for new audience and are at least trying to get with the times, I feel more and more that they're just not for me, that Nintendo has long stopped trying to cater for my ilk and that in reality they can't even do it anymore. I can already see with my mind's eye Nintendo fanboys who never broke away listing the "hardcore" games Nintendo has released in recent years that would supposedly dispute my argument. What they don't realise themselves is that Nintendo of old, the Nintendo that dominated my childhood, was revolutionary, it wasn't just the franchises and the games. It was innovative, it created demand, it didn't just respond to fans. Now it's like Fidel Castro or Chavez - only the blind and misled still see revolution where there's nothing left but allusion and revering of the good ole days.

Maybe it's the gaming culture I've grown out of, or even a gaming culture I can't grow into anymore. Maybe it's just the simple fact that people change, or, as I've observed time and time again, that people heavily tend to single out the Zelda title they first played as the pinnacle of the series that can never be bested, and what of course follows is unrealistic expectations of newer games that they will finally be the ones that emulate the feelings they had when they played their first Zelda when they were 9. Is it possible that when a game becomes an enduring legend, the greatest enemy it has to face is its own legacy? Newer players seem to love games such as Spirit Tracks or the new Link Between Worlds, games I really can't see myself getting into for the simple reason that I just grew up differently. It's a pity, but so is the nature of the world: as series reach their maturity and endure for more than 25 years in a field which is barely older than that itself, so do players. Funny how people don't have similar expectations from other media, such as fairytales or children's animation movies.

Nevertheless, Hyrule Historia is safe from all the above because it's made for my own personal nostalgia, it only exists in the past. It's like a photo album with pictures from your childhood: it remains valuable no matter what. Apart from the older ones like me, I can also see the young ones taking an interest in it, those who love Spirit Tracks and Wind Waker HD and who never had the chance to grow up with the older games (same as me and the original NES Zelda) but are still interested in the series as a whole and think I'm a snob hipster 20-something gamer elitist, the very same feelings I had for those who thought Ocarina of Time was crap because according to them Link to the Past was the best. Don't worry kids, you're up next.

November 12, 2014
Best Book 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Profile Image for Charles.
65 reviews1 follower
October 28, 2022
Okay when I finished reading this I had no idea what to think, I liked a lot of parts but somethings just made zero sense too me. I guess I should start with the things I liked, so here it goes.
The Legend of Zelda Walkthrough - Zelda Dungeon
I loved the classic illustrations (like the one above these words), them with the descriptions of the games plots during the time line part really took me back to when I was playing these games, I know this might sound like a Cliche but I could almost hear the music. This book goes into everything including the answer to why Link sleeping at the beginning of the games. I enjoyed the section about concept art, it was really cool seeing what the characters would of looked like in a alternate world. The book had stuff that surprised even me, a guy whose played most of the games, with out this book I would have never had seen this photo of Link:
Ricky - Zelda Wiki
(Maybe it is because I haven't played a lot of the handheld ones.)

Oh and the manga at the back was okay. I am not really the biggest comic/manga guy so I cant judge it on other things like it, but I will say the art was beautiful.

Now on to the things I disliked, the timeline just confused me. I couldn't get the hang of it, I'm sorry but the only few choices that made sense to me where:

Zelda 1 -----------------------------> Zelda 2

Windwaker -----------------> Phantom Hourglass

I also felt this book contradict it self way too many times, especially if you start too think hard about the timeline this book presents (even Eiji Aonuma pointed this out). If I had another opinion is that I really wish I didn't read this through eBook, it felt tiring to zoom into everything, now this is my fault not the books, but I just wanted to point that out. This was written in 2011 (and got translated in 2015) so there are no games after that time here for obvious reasons, which makes the book kinda feel a little irrelevant today with out "Breath of the wild" thankfully there have been other new Zelda books published.
The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time Ending

I liked it enough to give it 4 stars instead of 3, if I had to make a slogan for this book I would say "good art, good interviews, good story summaries, eh everything else."

Edit 10/28/2022: Gonna just give it three now that I think of it. Its good book, but I'm more close to three than four.
October 24, 2014
The Hyrule Historia answered all of the questions I have ever asked about the game. This book had a synopsis of every game ever created along with a detailed storyline of how every story fits in the others. The intricate visuals and detailed descriptions of characters really brought me a new image of many of the characters I knew nearly nothing about. All stories follow a routine idea, but all go in vastly different directions. The stories start by meeting Link, the main protagonist of all the games. Then you take him to multiple temples/worlds and destroy evil whilst upgrading your weapons, abilities, and armor. The games all prove themselves timeless and distinguished.

This book mostly talked about Link, the main protagonist to the story. I found it very interesting how over time, every age he lived in, his personality never really changed. He was always that ideal hero, with many characteristics such as being: courageous, intelligent, strong, tactical, humble, and cunning. There’s a reason this gaming series has gone so far, and one reason is Link being an iconic hero everyone loves.

The story of many of the games takes place in the land of Hyrule. the game is set in more a medieval times, with very minimal machines and gadgets being invented yet. This affects how Link has to get around, and the tools he must use to continue further on his journey. In this time period, Enlightenment was sculpting our world with culture, and religion had a very important part of people’s everyday lives. This book takes you back to the purpose of the Triforce, and how the three Goddesses formed the universe.

The biggest theme in this book is certainly how good will triumph over evil. Time and time again, eventually, good will always come out on top. There is one split in the timeline where if Link Loses to Ganondorf, an Evil Thief attempting to collect the Triforce and control the world, he succeeds for what’s known as the “Dark Ages”. That only lasts for a short time, however until Link is reborn and once again fights Ganondorf and defeats him.

I would recommend this book to someone with a stronger interest in gaming, particularly those who love intricate back stories and a platform game series. You wouldn’t have a tough time understanding this book even if you have never touched a morsel of the Zelda franchise. The book covers absolutely every aspect Zelda ever created by Nintendo. I was captivated from beginning to end, and anyone who has even the slightest interest in the Zelda franchise would be too.
Profile Image for Parka.
796 reviews448 followers
August 14, 2013
( More pictures on my blog )

Publisher Dark Horse did a wonderful job with this translation of the Japanese edition ハイラル・ヒストリア ゼルダの伝説 大全: 任天堂公式ガイドブック.

The cover design is different from the Japanese one but the book here is bigger, which is great because some of the annotated text are quite small to read. It has a nice thick hardcover with 280 thick pages. The production quality is top notch.

I remember the Japanese edition going out of stock quickly when it first came out — it's still out of stock now. Same thing happened with the English edition, but it's still in stock. At one time, it was even the #1 best selling book on Amazon across all categories! It now has over 800 favourable reviews on Amazon. The fan base is enormous and incredible.

The book is split roughly into four parts. The first looks at the concept art for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, then the history of Hyrule, next the concept art for all the Zelda series and finally a 32-page Skyward Sword comic by Akira Himekawa.

There are lots of character designs and accompanying notes. There are so many that you really have to have played through all the games to recognise them. Also included are discarded characters, dungeon design sketches, creatures and other props. There aren't much background art. The newer games have more content while the old Nintendo ones much less. It will take a while to go through them all and peruse all the little details.

The middle section on the history of Hyrule should be quite enlightening for Zelda fans. You'll see how the stories come together when each game features a different era. The timeline is chronological order and sometimes even splits. This history is probably what the fans have been waiting for.

This is an amazing book for all Zelda fans.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Justin.
453 reviews42 followers
August 9, 2013
I didn't know this special book meant to coincide with Zelda's 25th anniversary and the release of Skyward Sword existed, until I found it by chance while rummaging through a bookstore. I don't typically care about concept art, but this is a wonderful book.

The first third of the book is dedicated to Skyward Sword, the most recent (as of this writing) Zelda game. Concept art for characters, monsters, and settings are splashed across each page, with little blurbs of extra detail or lore. The middle of the book is the big payoff: a detailed chronology of the Legend of Zelda universe, placing each game in proper mythological order, including alternate timelines that spring from Ocarina of Time. After the chronology is laid out, each game gets its own section of concept art. The last section of the book is a special manga prequel story, detailing the events that set up Skyward Sword.

For all that I don't particularly get excited about concept art, some of this stuff is fascinating, especially the designs that never made their way into the games. The extra trivia is a good read, and of course, the canonical chronology is the reason to own the book. Honestly, though, I could have done without the manga. It was pretty, but hard to follow. I would have rather seen more explicit in-game lore. You know, more "historia."

This one's a bit esoteric for the general reader or casual fan, but it's a must-have for the kind of person that hand-bleaches a Hylian Crest into a plain t-shirt. Not that I'm that kind of person, or anything.

Okay, yes, I'm that kind of person.
Profile Image for Jenny GB.
841 reviews3 followers
June 2, 2013
Not bad! The art in this book is beautiful and probably the best thing about it. There are numerous version of concept art for all kinds of characters and bosses from the games as well as versions of certain locations in the games. There's also a short comic at the back that relates the events immediately before Skyward Sword. The reason why I won't give this five stars, even though I love the games, is because of it's overwhelming focus on Skyward Sword when I feel the spotlight should be shared equally by all the games. I also found the forced chronology of the games awkward. I understand that some games do fit together, but I'm comfortable with the story being different yet similar each time without trying to pretend that the sequence of the games was actually planned out (which the afterward basically said they weren't because they focus on gameplay and the story is secondary). The one thing this book glaringly points out to me is that maybe I should get some of the handheld gaming systems and play the other titles!
Profile Image for Lauren.
199 reviews8 followers
June 18, 2015
I enjoyed my pretty dork book a whole lot.

Yeah there's a huge bias towards the Skyward Sword game, but I actually liked that game quite a bit so it didn't bother me so much. Other games getting the shaft as a result though is a bit sad. The concept art section was probably the highlight for me, and so seeing my favourite games like Majora's Mask only get two pages or so of it is criminal, I tell you.
I was surprised to see the little manga section at the back. The art seemed pretty uninspired though, especially for Hylia, so I basically ignored it.
Still, it was a nice book overall. Very nostalgia-inducing of course (10 year old me would have coveted this book). If you're not a fan of Skyward Sword and don't care about the convoluted timeline of the games however, you might want to give it a miss, as you might find less to like than dislike.

3.5 stars.
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