Today is a great day for video game fans in the United States: after over a year, the fervently anticipated and debated The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is at last available in English (and, as of this writing, it’s currently #1 on our bestseller list in all of Books). Originally released in its native language in Japan, the oversized tome—a love letter to Hyrule, the fictional realm where much of the series takes place—was sought after, imported, scanned, and pored over worldwide by fans. At last, here it is in all its translated glory—fret not, Zelda fans. This one is worth all the hype.
In February 1986, The Legend of Zelda video game premiered in Japan, followed by a US port on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Over 68 million units of that adventure game have since sold worldwide—and there were 15 (or so) more games to follow in the franchise.
It’s important to note that most of Hyrule Historia is not a behind-the-scenes look at the making of these individual games, rather it’s a history of the fictional world they inhabit. It opens with an introduction by series creator Shigeru Miyamoto and then immediately gets serious with the chronology, opening to a long look at the “first” game in the series’ in-world history, Skyward Sword. Then it’s off to a 60-page study of “The History of Hyrule.” This section attempts to make sense of 16 games’ worth of cyclical plots, villains, heroes, princesses, and lore. It’s a complex, daunting, and brow-furrowing read, and I loved every page.