Retro Reads: Zelda: Hyrule Historia
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is a hardcover art book/history guide for the Legend of Zelda games. The book was released by Dark Horse in January and is 279 pages. It retails for less than $40 in stores, and around $25 online.
There is a Limited Collector's Edition version of the book as well that's fairly hard to come by. It has a nicer, brown cover and retails for over $100. Likely more now that it's hard to find. The Limited Edition is really just for bragging rights, the regular edition is so nicely done in terms of it's print that it's a fine enough version for even hardcore collectors.
These are the kinds of gaming books I love the most. They aren’t just art books, though they contain a ton of concept art and insight into the designs, they’re also filled with tons of information about the series. Each game is covered and contains detailed information on the plot as well as interesting connections between the titles.
For any series to get an overview book like this is a pretty big deal, there are many out there that have gotten this official treatment and Zelda is definitely one of the most deserving.
The book is broken up into 3 main sections with a couple of extras.
The introduction is 2 pages by Shigeru Miyamoto about how he has approached the series over the years.
Section 1: The Legend Begins (60 pages)
The first section focuses completely on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Being the most recent Zelda game produced and also being considered the first game in the series timeline, it makes sense that they would dedicate so much of the book to this game.
The section contains art and design comments on characters and places in the world. There’s a lot of interesting information here about why certain design choices were made and how the design of the game developed during production.
Section 2: History of Hyrule (68 pages)
For years fans speculated on which order the games fit into the series chronology. Some games were very obvious sequels to past titles with the same characters present and a similar world presented, but because the games take place generations apart it was difficult to place the order of many. Section 2 is dedicated to answering these questions once and for all.
The section begins with a timeline showing all the ways the story splits based on different endings to certain games.
The following pages are broken up into 5 subsections which expand on each segment of the timeline.
Section 3: Creative Footprints (100 pages)
The third section is the pure artbook portion of the book. It’s broken up into multiple subsections. The subsections cover 13 games in the series with concept art. This is followed by character designs showing how Link, Zelda, and Ganon have evolved over the years and a list of all the games in the series with information and box art for each one.
The outro is a 2 page wrap-up by current series producer Eiji Aonuma.
A page showing the commemorative merchandise released for the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda.
A new exclusive 32 page comic by Akira Himekawa who has done all of the Legend of Zelda manga. The first couple pages are in color, then the comic switches to traditional manga black and white. The story is a prequel to Skyward Sword making it the earliest material in the Zelda universe. It tells the story of Link who is approached by a goddess of Hyrule in order to move everyone up to the clouds and escape the demon king.
This book is must buy for fans of the series. The book is considered by some to be the Zelda bible and contains much material not covered in the games. It’s one of the few cases where, outside of the games, fans of the series should own it.