Today is the 12th of May 2023 and to many of you that might not mean anything at all or it might be important for a different reason. For me however, it’s a date that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time because it’s the release date of a highly anticipated game… The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. To mark this exciting day, I’m combining my love for books and my love for video games and recommending a book for every mainline game in The Legend of Zelda franchise.
Firstly, a bit of context. The Legend of Zelda is an action-adventure game franchise by Nintendo that has been captivating its players for many years with its exciting gameplay that combines an interesting story and characters with exploration, combat and puzzle solving— all with stunning soundtracks in the background. If you’ve seen the books I usually review I definitely lean more towards the fantasy genre and one of the reasons I love The Legend of Zelda so much is because it makes me feel like I’m inside a fantasy novel. The games are linked by one massive timeline but each one is a complete story and always features various incarnations of a hero named Link who has to defeat a great evil usually with the help of Princess Zelda.
Here, I will be featuring every mainline Legend of Zelda game so I won’t be including any of the spinoffs like Hyrule Warriors. Also, I have to say that I have not played every game myself (I would like to eventually though if possible) and the games that I have played are Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and The Minish Cap (and I will be starting Tears of the Kingdom now that it has been released). For the games I haven’t played I have done some research about the plot and gameplay in order to match a book.
The Legend of Zelda is special to me because it always evokes this almost nostalgic feeling and a sense of awe… I’m still not quite sure how they pull it off every time it’s like some sort of sorcery. Therefore, the books I recommend are ones that brought out similar feelings in me, with a lot of action and adventure in a sprawling, magical world.
(1) The Legend of Zelda (1986) ~ Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
We’re starting off with the beginning of the legend, the first ever game in the franchise. This game is very special because without it we wouldn’t have all the amazing games that came after it. I recommend Sorcery of Thorns because it is an extremely charming book that almost has the feel of a classic fantasy. With magical grimoires that can turn into monsters and loveable characters it definitely reminds me of the whimsy of this gaming franchise.
—> Read my review of Sorcery of Thorns
(2) Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987) ~ Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee
As its name suggests this game was a direct sequel to the first. I recommend Forest of Souls because again, it has the feel of an older fantasy novel even though it only came out a few years ago. It takes the classic fantasy tropes that we all know and love and weaves them into a story that feels fresh and exciting. One of the main locations in the book is the atmospheric and spooky Dead Wood ruled by the Spider King… that’s the sort of thing that would be right at home in a Legend of Zelda game.
—> Read my review of Forest of Souls
(3) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991) ~ The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
The plot of this games features a Light World and a Dark World and for that reason I recommend The Never Tilting World. This is a climate fiction fantasy novel set in a world split between permanent day and permanent night and rife with dangerous magical creatures. The main characters are twin goddesses called Odessa and Haidee who live separately in the night side and day side respectively and this also reminds me of the three sister goddesses of power, wisdom and courage that feature heavily in The Legend of Zelda games. It’s an extremely exciting and imaginative book that I highly recommend!
—> Read my review of The Never Tilting World
(4) The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) ~ Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Link’s Awakening was originally released in 1993 but it got an adorable remake in 2019 in case anyone is confused why it’s placed here in the list. What this game and book have in common is that they are both very much themed around dreams. In fact, one of the characters in Strange the Dreamer can actually enter and manipulate dreams. This book is truly an enchanting read in every way and I highly recommend it.
—> Read my review of Strange the Dreamer
(5) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) ~ The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Ocarina of Time is one of the absolute classics in this franchise and it was the first game in the series with 3D graphics. It was my first Legend of Zelda game and it made me fall in love with this franchise. There’s something about the story of this game that just hits me so hard, I could probably talk for hours about the tragedy of the Hero of Time. Sacrificing your past, present and future to save everyone from destruction only for your heroic acts to never even be remembered.
So I’m recommending one of my all time favourite books- The Fifth Season- for one of my all time favourite games. This book is groundbreaking in every way. The word building, the plot and the characters, every aspect of this book is crafted to perfection to tell a sweeping and immersive story. One of the reasons I chose this book is because you simultaneously follow the same character through different stages of their life which in a way reminds me of how you can switch between Child Link and Adult Link in Ocarina of Time
(6) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000) ~ Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz
This is another game on this list that I’ve played. Majora’s Mask is a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time and all I can say is the tragedy continues. In many ways this game is much darker than its prequel and it genuinely has quite sinister, spine crawling vibes. It just gets under your skin. The main feature of this game is a 3 day time loop that you keep repeating in order to stop the moon from crashing down and destroying everything. This makes the game a lot more stressful to play and also (in my opinion) a lot more fun.
I’m recommending Midnight Strikes because it is a fantasy book that features a time loop. The protagonist gets trapped in a time loop where she repeats the hours before a massive explosion in the palace, unless she can stop it from ever happening.
Bonus recommendation: The Six Deaths of the Saint by Alix E. Harrow
I also have a bonus recommendation! The Six Deaths of the Saint is a short story and I never would have thought only 30 pages could make me feel so many emotions. I can’t say much about it because of spoilers but I will say it reminds me of Majora’s Mask in the way it uses time and also the sheer scope and tragedy of it. It’s an amazing read- everyone should read this short story.
(7) The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages (2001) ~ A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are interlinked games. Seasons focuses more on action and Ages focuses more on puzzles but the two games can interact and even have a linked ending. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is inspired by West African Folklore and alternates between the POVs of the two main characters Malik and Karina who I feel complement each other in many ways (just like these two interlinked games). It’s also the first book in a duology so I’m recommending a pair of books for a pair of games. It is a wonderful book (I especially loved Malik) and the mental illness rep is done really well.
(8) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002) ~ The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
This game has Link sailing between islands in a little boat (and I want to play it so bad… Nintendo please port it to the Switch I am begging). I am recommending another one of my favourites: The Bone Shard Daughter. In this book people live on floating islands that drift around in the Endless Sea- a sea that no one can reach the bottom of. The world building in this book is absolutely captivating and I love the concept of bone shard magic. It also features a really interesting cast of characters, the story constantly switching between their POVs. It’s just an amazing book please go and read it.
(9) The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004) ~ The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green
Most of the games on this list are single player games, however this one is a multiplayer game where you play with four Links instead of one. For that reason I recommend The Smoke Thieves, a story told between five POVs. The reason I like this book is that I think it handles the multiple points of view really well and it is very satisfying when they start coming together.
—> Read my review of The Smoke Thieves
(10) The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004) ~ Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama
I have played The Minish Cap and it’s such an adorable, charming and aesthetically pleasing game. I love it so much. Now I know this is supposed to be a recommendation list for novels and I’m recommending a manga but Witch Hat Atelier was just a perfect fit so I had to include it. I really adore Witch Hat Atelier it is also an incredibly charming story with a gorgeous art style and loveable characters. I really love the world building as well, Kamome Shirahama has created such a beautiful world with an interesting magic system. This game and manga both start with someone being turned to stone as well… I just thought that was an interesting similarity.
(11) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006) ~ The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
Twilight Princess is one of the darker installments in The Legend of Zelda series in both plot and its distinctive art style and I want to play it so badly (again, Nintendo, please port it to the Switch so I can play it… please). I recommend The Merciful Crow because I just think it has a similar vibe to Twilight Princess and I also love the world building and magic system in this book so much.
—> Read my review of The Merciful Crow
(12) The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007) ~ The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S. A. Chakraborty
This game is the direct sequel to Wind Waker so it’s also a seafaring adventure. Therefore, I recommend The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi which is also a seafaring adventure with pirates, magic and mayhem. S. A. Chakraborty is an amazing author and I also love her Daevabad trilogy.
(13) The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009) ~ The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
This game is a direct sequel to the previous one on the list, Phantom Hourglass. I recommend The Stardust Thief because it’s one of those books that would be absolutely perfect if it had a video game adaptation. Someone really needs to make an RPG with Legend of Zelda influences based on this book I would play it for sure. It’s a story full of jinn and magical relics with the most loveable characters and I really enjoyed reading it.
—> Read my review of The Stardust Thief
(14) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011) ~ Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
I really need to play this game. I will get around to it eventually. Skyward Sword features a floating island called Skyloft and you can fly through the skies on huge birds called Loftwings. I recommend Crown of Feathers because it’s about phoenix riders and I just think it’s an incredibly cool concept. I would also love to ride a phoenix or a Loftwing but I fear the closest I will ever come is playing Skyward Sword.
—> Read my review of Crown of Feathers
(15) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013) ~ Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
This game is set in a land called Hyrule (that features in a lot of Legend of Zelda games) as well as a land that serves as its dark mirror counterpart called Lorule. I am recommending Where Dreams Descend a story about a magical competition that ends up being just as dangerous as it is dazzling. Without going into details, this book and its sequel does have the concept of a world accessed through a mirror. It’s a flashy, exciting and enjoyable read!
—> Read my review of Where Dreams Descend
(16) The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (2015) ~ The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Tri Force Heroes is basically just about three heroes dealing with a massive fashion crisis. I recommend The Belles because it is a book that explores society’s obsession with setting arbitrary beauty standards and how twisted our ideals of physical perfection have become, all in a dazzling and extravagant fantasy world with very sinister undercurrents running underneath.
—> Read my review of The Belles
(17) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) ~ Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Breath of the Wild is just a masterpiece in every way. I think I’ve spent 110 hours playing this game and even that is nothing compared to the amount of hours I’ve seen other people racking up. It is a very different entry to The Legend of Zelda series with its non linear storyline and gameplay and open world exploration. I love the story of this game so much and the exploration is extremely fun, there’s always something new to find or try out.
I am recommending Raybearer because firstly the world building is absolutely incredible. Also, if you liked the concept of champions in Breath of the Wild, in this book the main character gets chosen to join the Crown Prince’s Council of 11 where all the members get joined by a deep bond called the Ray. It’s an amazing book you have to go and read it right now!
(18) The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023) ~ I’ll tell you once I’ve played it!
I will recommend a book for this game once I have played it myself 😉
And on that note… my recommendations are over. Whether or not you’re a Legend of Zelda fan I hope you find some good books to read from this list!
Until next time! *runs off to play Tears of the Kingdom*