As a Zelda fan, I have long wanted to know the official timeline for the Zelda Universe, and this book definitely provides that and so much more. Before I bought this book, I had been uncertain if it would live up to my expectations, but I finally decided to buy it in late...
As a Zelda fan, I have long wanted to know the official timeline for the Zelda Universe, and this book definitely provides that and so much more. Before I bought this book, I had been uncertain if it would live up to my expectations, but I finally decided to buy it in late 2013; I''ve now had it for more than two years, and I am still looking at this book all of the time -- needless to say it was far better than anything I had hoped for. I realize that the review I am about to give may be quite long, but it is also extremely detailed and covers a lot more of the book''s content than most reviews tend to discuss. I hope you will take the time to read it so that you know exactly what to expect when you purchase this product. Here is a list of the main sections in the book, where I will explain what may be expected in each and review it:
The Legend Begins: The World of Skyward Sword
This is the first major section in the book, where you will find a great deal of interesting concept art and also small notes on each character/location written by some of the game''s creators, which are actually very insightful, and sometimes quite amusing. Yes, this section does take up a large part of the book, and rightfully so; this book was released as a celebration of the 25th Anniversary, and, by extent, the release of Skyward Sword, which was, at the time, the newest Zelda game. This may annoy some fans, but it should be kept in mind that Skyward Sword is not just another new Zelda game, but also the "origin story" of the Zelda universe. Naturally this wonderful game would get a lot of love and attention, and any true Zelda fan should be able to understand that to celebrate Skyward Sword is to celebrate the origin of the beloved series and every other game in it. I find it terribly sad that people claim to care so much about what''s canon and what''s not, but then choose to ignore a game that is canonically at the start of everything on the timeline, and as a result, needlessly bash this book for respecting that. This is not a huge advertisement, but a celebration that Zelda has made it this many years and is finally able to reward fans with an origin story. As a fan of the game, I can definitely say that this section is very satisfying and does not miss a single aspect of it. As a bonus, there is also a panel of additional facts, hints, and interesting theories about the things in Skyward Sword and their possible relation to the other games on the bottom of most pages in this section.
The History of Hyrule: A Chronology
This is probably the thing that people purchasing the book will be the most interested in, as it is an actual list on the official chronological order of the different Zelda games, according to Hyrule''s historical events. All of the core games in the series up until Skyward Sword are included here; however, all of the spin-offs (e.g., Link''s Crossbow Training), the two Satellaview games, Soulcalibur 2, and, thankfully, the awful CDi games, are not listed here. It is very well written, with a few mysteries that leave the reader with some very interesting questions, but not so many that the games seem out of place in the chronology. The timeline splits off in three directions after Ocarina of Time, but this should be no problem for anyone who is even just beginning to understand the concept of alternate universes, also called multiverse. In short, it is listing a set of three universes that occurr as a result of different possible outcomes at the ending of Ocarina of Time. It may sound difficult, but it is actually quite simple; this topic is covered in many different games, books, and TV shows nowadays, so I''m sure a great deal of people out there will be able to grasp this without any trouble. Furthermore, it gives some details about the first legend of Zelda game and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link that the original games could not provide, such as the story of what happened just before the game began that set Link on his adventures. In addition to this, many of the pages detailing each era also include a small chart at the bottom of the page showing the Hylian writing of that particular time, along with a way to translate it into either Japanese or English. This is very important to those who have always wanted to read the writing placed on many signs and objects throughout the different games, so fans are sure to be pleased that these official translating guides are finally available. The Skyward Sword writing, however, was left out because Nintendo had intended for fans to try and figure it out (many already have).
Creative Footprints: Documenting 25 Years of Artwork
As the name would suggest, this section is full of artwork from the other core games in the Zelda series. It is definitely true that there is more artwork for the newer games like Twilight Princess and the Wind Waker, but I do not feel that this means they are ignoring the older games; I realize that the other artwork is simply more easy to find and publish because it is newer. As they said, for the older games, they had to dig through stacks of old documents to find the concept art, whereas the newer art would be more accessible. Also, it is unlikely that there would be much art for some of the older games, since the game systems were extremely limited in graphics, and as a result, not much detail could be put into designs that would be visible within the games themselves. Overall, this is a pretty large section, so they certainly were generous with the amount of art put in it.
Special Comic: The Skyward Sword Manga by Akira Himekawa
This was a very special manga requested by Eiji Aonuma for the 25th anniversary. As is stated by Akira Himekawa in the back of the Hyrule Historia book, this was also to celebrate the release of Skyward Sword and tell a story connected to the game that would complete the "very first Zelda tale" (Skyward Sword). As with most manga, it is read in the traditional Japanese right to left, back to front reading format. Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a preview for a longer Skyward Sword manga; this is just a very short, very special story. There will not be a bigger manga released later, as is evident now that well over three years have passed since Hyrule Historia''s initial release.
The story starts out in beautiful full-color, then goes to black and white after a few pages. Some people find this disappointing, but I for one am quite happy with it as it is. The art style is beautiful and perfectly suited to the Zelda style. The story is top-notch and extremely touching, describing the tale of the war between the goddess Hylia and the Demon King Demise, the ascension of Skyloft, and the true origin of the Zelda/Link reincarnation cycle, along with introducing the very first Link, Hylia''s Chosen Hero, and explaining his bond with the Crimson lofting. Now, some people claim that some things contradict the games and therefore cannot be true; however, in my opinion, this is incorrect. The Master Sword could have existed previously, been forged by Link and his comrades who would later be called the Seven Sages, and then devolved after the Triforce left its blade and entered the Silent Realm, just for example. In any event, I simply wanted to point out that while other reviewers claimed it non-canon, this was actually never said, and since I realize that many will skip over it if they feel it isn''t canon, I wanted to clear that up, so hopefully more people will give it a read and enjoy this book to its fullest. In fact, since it was requested by Zelda''s creators and placed in this official book, I think it''s pretty safe to say that it is canon. Definitely worth a read, and in my opinion, worthy of its own separate game. I have to say this is my favorite part of the book, as it truly made sense of everything that I still had questions about in regards to Link and Zelda. If you are worried that this story may disappoint you, don''t be; I am a huge Zelda fan and adore all of the core games in the series, but this story still holds an extremely special place in my heart, perhaps even slightly above any Zelda game I have ever played (and I''ve played them all); it''s that good. Akira Himekawa''s love and respect for the series truly shows in every aspect of this tale, and the final lines in the story really sum up the Zelda series beautifully; "a story that weaves destinies and spans eternity".
At the start of the book and just before the manga are two small sections in which Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, respectively, say a few words about their love for the Zelda series and thank the fans for their continued support, nicely wrapping up the book in a very nostalgic way.
The name Hyrule Historia is not intended to imply that the book is mostly about the development of past games, or the history of the series as it has evolved over the years, although it does provide some of that; the name refers to the chronological history of Hyrule that is shown in the book, with all of the events talked about and shown in Skyward Sword being at the beginning of that timeline. Anyone who buys this book would do well to remember that, as it is unfair to expect the book to be about the official chronology, and still not have any focus on Skyward Sword over the rest. As a whole, the book is beautiful and interesting, the price is extremely amazing compared to the usual price in-store, and though it took a while to arrive from overseas, it was well worth the wait. I know that some reviewers complained that their book did not arrive with enough protective packaging, and as a result, was damaged, but this was not the case for me; it arrived in a very large box filled with protective bubble pack, and was in perfect condition, as I bought it new. I highly recommend this book to any and all Zelda fans, and I sincerely hope that if you are undecided about whether or not to buy it, like I had been, this review will have convinced you to give it a shot. You will never regret it.