The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia – Reviewed

The Legend of Zelda series is 25-years-old this year, and to celebrate, Dark Horse and Nintendo have released the English translation of the book Hyrule Historia by Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of The Legend of Zelda).  Currently, it’s Amazon’s top seller, and it’s no wonder why: The Legend of Zelda has had gamers yearning for a comprehensive look at the Zelda games almost as long as the series has existed!  For years, gamers have been begging for the lineage and extra details that Miyamoto has held  very close to his chest these few decades.  So, what can you expect from this little bundle of joy?  Sit tight and find out as we jump into what you get with your purchase (avoiding spoilers, of course).

For the art lovers in the group, this book does not disappoint.  Visually, everything from the breathtaking, hand-drawn sketches of the characters to the layout and design of the book itself will leave you satisfied in every way.  There are so many different types of artworks, from basic framework, to advanced details on clothing and character concepts – it’s hard to not sit in awe of just how much work and care went into every single detail of the series.

At the very beginning of the book, before you really dive into the heart of it, you get a letter from Miyamoto himself, going into detail about how much the series means to him and how it came to be the legend that it is today, taking on its own life.  This emotional journey is joined with words from Eiji Aonuma (a developer in The Legend of Zelda video games).  The book itself is a 277 page compendium, made up of four sections: The Legend Begins, The History of Hyrule, Creative Footprints, and a Skyward Sword comic!  Keep in mind that this book is a direct translation into English from its Japanese counterpart (released in 2011), so there will be a bit of awkward wording in many of the passages, quips, and quotes along the way.

The Legend Begins section is made up of artwork, profiles, storylines, and more – all entirely about Skyward Sword.  You won’t find anything from the other titles; this section was completely dedicated to the creative development of the specific game.  There are so many little facts and ideas that really give you a sense that people have dedicated their lives to this story – right down to what kind of animals or types of food exist in the game and why.  You also have to keep in mind that a lot of what is included in this book isn’t always what made it into the game.  You’ll even see little quotes from the artists and writers, and inside jokes that make you understand that there really is life built around this universe.  The only disappointing factor is that the book still includes Skyward Sword beyond this first section, and for those of you who did not particularly enjoy this game, almost half of this book will be skippable.

The most anticipated section in the book is The History of Hyrule.  Due to the series’ non-linear releases, gamers have flocked to forums and comic book stores, ever arguing over which games came in what order.  A few years ago, there was a huge buzz over the idea that Nintendo was thinking of releasing the lineage for its fans.  It is the one major item that has been cloaked in mystery for the devoted followers of the Zelda franchise.  I really enjoyed this section, because they do a fantastic job of explaining how the Zelda universe comes from one base reality and then eventually diverges into three.  As diverse as each storyline is, it would be hard to include any spin-offs created, so it is completely understandable that this is left out.  Readers will find themselves studying this section extensively and will have enough material to debate over midnight coffees with their friends for years!

Surprisingly enough, Creative Footprints is the most compelling part of this book.  Straying away from the exclusively Skyward Sword content in the first section, you get to see the artistic process behind developing all The Legend of Zelda games, including such titles as The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and even A Link to the Past!  What’s so incredible about this part is they not only try to include all the main releases, but they also give us never-before-seen concepts – including races and enemies that were rejected in the development process.  If you’re a fan of brand-new ideas and concepts in a world where there is already so much beauty, this is absolutely the section you will be sharing with everyone you know.

For those who are only mildly interested in Zelda, this book may be a little long in the tooth.  You will run into countless examples of the same characters, weapons, and symbols.  You also may have several of your favourite titles left out – as many of the spin-off games are not even mentioned in the book.  Nevertheless, there is a lot of detail here that has never been discussed before, and a quality to the work that cannot be denied its due praise.

Never before has there been so much of an inside look into this series, and it’s no secret that the release of this book has sent Zelda fans all over the world into multi-jumps of joy, squealing like little schoolgirls on their first date.  Hyrule Historia, hands-down, is a must-have for anyone who has a love for The Legend of Zelda.

About This Post

February 3, 2013 - 8:34 am

Books/Novels, Gaming Life