This past Tuesday, Dark Horse Comics along with Nintendo released the third book in their own Zelda trilogy with The Legend Of Zelda: Encyclopedia. Those who already own the first two books may be saying to themselves "Wait a minute, I own Hyrule Historia and Art & Artifacts, so what makes this one different?" We took a parachute dive into the contents of this book to determine just that in our review.
The Legend Of Zelda: Encyclopedia is a nearly 330-page tome of information that can put any hardcore Zelda fan to the test in terms of knowledge. The book is divided into three key areas with several sub-chapters underneath them: Historical Records, Database, and Archives. Starting with the Historical Records, the book goes over a series of topics in a precise order so you get the full amount of information on specific areas. An example of this would be Other Lands and Realms, where they talk in-depth about places such as Termina, Lorule, New Hyrule, Koholint Island, The Twilight Realm, and more. The people writing this book went to great lengths to make sure no stone was left unturned when looking over these areas.
The Database serves as a long alphabetical archive of all things Zelda, starting with towns and villages, working into items, dungeons, and finally enemies and monsters. The best I could equate this section to would be the Monster Manual in Dungeons & Dragons where you can look up anything you desire over the course of 110 pages and get a complete history of how that specific thing was created, it's original form, how it's evolved over the series, and where it comes into play today. You can even find complete family trees and power connections between NPC characters in the game to see how everyone connects in one way or another.
The Archives section serves as a sort of written version of Did You Know Gaming. They take every game and give you four to five pages of information that you may or may not have heard before. They go over the plot, the world, the characters and more. You even get information not included in previous books such as sketches of characters and developer documents and notes, straight from the minds who were working on these games at the time. This section is the hidden treat within the book as there are things I found out about my favorite Zelda games I never knew before, like how David Lynch was an inspiration to Link's Awakening. Who knew? You're basically getting as much knowledge as possible to make you an expert from start to finish on each title.
The book comes with a ton of information that isn't readily available to the public. There are promos and art that were only shown in Japan and clearly came from the darkest archives of Nintendo's headquarters. This book feels like a labor of love for Zelda fans as everything they could possibly throw out on the table is here. The one thing that is missing that will probably now divide people on purchasing it is the fact that there's little to nothing in here on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While the game has become immensely popular, it's nowhere to be found in these pages. We personally can let it slide because this book was in the works back when Nintendo wasn't sharing info on the game and it would have been a daunting task to re-edit it with the long approval process this must have gone through. But it is a key factor for people to keep in mind before purchasing in case they wanted more from the most recent game
Overall, The Legend Of Zelda: Encyclopedia is an absolute must own. And not for the simple idea of having it sit on a coffee table or being put on a shelf with the other books to look nice. This is about as good of a reference guide to every game in the series as you're going to get, with the exception of content for Breath of the Wild. If you're going to be a fanboy that cries out about how incomplete this is, there's another book in the way in November focused only on the Nintendo Switch title, meaning you're getting an entire book dedicated to the latest game. As for this Legend of Zelda book, we wholeheartedly approve of it and recommend it to any longtime fan.