The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse)

Part artbook, part chronology, and all any fan of The Legend of Zelda video game franchise could ever ask for.

 

 

280 pgs. full color; $34.99
(W / A: Various; Edited by Patrick Thorpe)
 
When it comes to modern myths, The Legend of Zelda is a saga that has truly lived up to its name. Spanning for over twenty-five years, The Legend of Zelda series has captured the minds of countless video game enthusiasts with its ever-evolving gameplay, character designs, and storytelling. However, unlike most series (save for the infamous Final Fantasy franchise), there has always been a question in the fans’ minds as to how the various dots in the saga of Link and Zelda connect. Is Zelda the same Zelda in every game? Is Link the same Link? Is there a logical chronological order that these games go in? Well, never fear, for Nintendo (via Dark Horse Books) has come up with the perfect solution to provide the answer the fans have been clamoring for in The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia.
 
Like all game art books, Hyrule Historia contains all the bells and whistles the average fan would expect: beautifully detailed character profiles, stunning early conceptual artwork, and breathtaking renderings of dozens of different landscapes and backdrops. However, what the Historia has that most art books don’t is something that Zelda creators and developers have long hinted at but never before revealed, and that is a comprehensive chronology of the history of Hyrule, which not only ties together every Zelda game to date, but does so in a way that puts the characters and their backgrounds in an entirely new light.
 
Although I am not the most knowledgeable Zelda fan, you don’t have to be to be impressed by the skill with which they’ve taken these fifteen fairly disparate games and linked (no pun intended) them in a way that not only follows a cohesive path, but does so in a way that looks more like it was a grand design than an afterthought. Without going into spoiler-inducing detail, it takes some interesting twists and turns, invokes a few temporal paradoxes, and births more than one parallel dimension, but in adventures featuring goddesses, elves, demonic warthogs and golden triangles of unfathomable power, it’s really all par for the course.
 
In terms of artwork the book is, as I said before, stunning. The Zelda series has always been at the cutting edge of visual world building in a way that few fantasy games can match. Every character, every city and village, and even every minion is beautifully portrayed in a collage of mixed media ranging from screenshots to digital drawings to pencil sketches straight from the artists’ table.
 
I’ve paged through quite a few video game art books in my time, and this is the first one I’ve come across that is as much about the story of the game as it is about the art. Hyrule Historia is a book that is a must read for any Zelda fan, and represents a beautiful stained-glass window into one of the great video game legacies of our generation. | Brent Mueller
 

For our own Lovefool’s take on Hyrule Historia and a brief preview of the book, visit http://www.playbackstl.com/lovefool/12119-lovefool-020413–hyrule-historia-dark-horses-valentine-to-zelda

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