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If there’s one thing Nintendo is good at, it’s making money. Whether it’s new games coming out or taking old games and remastering them, they clean up every time. With Link’s Awakening and onward, they’ve shown a willingness to remaster and re-release Zelda titles that haven’t gotten a lot of recent attention, and Skyward Sword is the perfect example of that. Being a Nintendo Wii game, which meant a low-powered (but nifty) console running it as well as adding in motion controls, quite a lot of people skipped it or soured on it. Now, though, with the re-release of the HD edition, people who haven’t played it yet, or want to give it a second chance, will be able to on the Switch with prettier graphics and hopefully better controls.

But enough about video games. We’re here to talk about books, so with that in mind, let’s supposing you’re looking for more books that give you the same sort of feel as Legend of Zelda and its expansive world.

Now, we aren’t just looking for written stories featuring mute protagonists. We’re considering books that capture the same colorful, fantastical energy of a magical, oftentimes delightful world — one full of brilliant characters just going about their lives and monsters whom it’s easy to gain affection for. All of this suffused with magic and myth.

With that in mind, let’s get into some great books:

 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

This is a brilliant and sumptuous fantasy novel, about a witch in the woods named Xan who is given a baby every year as sacrifice to keep her from destroying the village...a thing which she hadn’t intended to do in the first place. Generally, she finds the infants a home, until one very special infant, which she falls for and hopes to raise as her own.

The fantasy is layered densely in this book, and the fascinating thing is that quite a lot of references feel like throwaway remarks, random bits of magical mentions which are there to enhance the world of the story and nothing else...until the book begins to tie itself together toward the end, and you discover that it was so expertly written, nothing was irrelevant or went to waste.

The characters are wonderful and clever. The writing is beautiful. The book is most reminiscent, perhaps, of Howl’s Moving Castle, or of Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books, in their own way. When the book went on to win the Newberry Award, it was a surprise to no one who had read it.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

 

Hilda Comics

Hilda, a comic series by Luke Pearson, is gorgeously drawn and wonderfully plotted, with a strong sense of whimsy and magic coming out of every page. It’s the story of Hilda, a young girl, living in a cabin in a Scandinavia sort of area. The world is full of fantastical, mythical creatures and suffused with magic, but the delight is that all of these creatures and groups have their own lives, personalities, interests, problems, and so forth. Hilda matter-of-factly takes their existence in stride, which makes each story all the more delightful.

Like Legend of Zelda’s world of Hyrule, one gets the sense that these creatures and their magical world continue when we aren’t paying attention to it, and that everyone in it is basically kind and charming.

(Also, it has a Netflix adaption, which is gorgeously animated, incredibly charming, and well worth your time. After reading the books though. Make sure to read all these books first.)

Buy the 1st comic:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

Bone Comics

Of all the stories which seemed right for this list – and there are so very many – Bone was a particular standout. By now, a great number of people have probably heard of or read Bone, the fantasy epic written and drawn by Jeff Smith. It starts out feeling almost like an old-time Sunday comic strip, but by the end of the massive collection of stories, we’re entered into a fantasy world of dragons, (stupid stupid) Rat Tails, and much more. Bone perhaps shares the most with Zelda stories, in that it’s not only the fantasy world which is full of amazing magic and everyday people, but it’s a hero’s quest and a proper saga at that, which all the Zelda games tend to be, on the whole.

Plus, it’s funny and clever in its own right. The art is amazing, the jokes never get old, and the characters are wonderful (Gran’ma Ben, for example). It’s long enough that you could probably start reading it now, and by the time you’re done, Skyward Sword HD will have been released. See, no more waiting problems!

Buy the 1st comic:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Manga

Now, we know what you’re probably thinking right now. “For a story similar to Legend of Zelda you’re recommending more Legend of Zelda?! What gives! What sort of dodgy recommendation algorithm is this anyhow!”

To which we say, first of all, we are not a computer with algorithms, we are frankly confused that anyone thinks that. We are normal regular humans with skeletons, taste buds, and the standard low amount of RAM. Our feelings, which we have as humans, are hurt.

Anyway, the fact is that there’s a great deal of manga out there for practically everything, and while it can seem daunting to get into if you never have, it’s a fantastic world of reading once you’re in, and this is a good place to start. For one thing, if you come to this already knowing something about Zelda games, then the subject matter and story will be familiar to you, which will leave only the process of reading manga to get used to.

But on top of that, Twilight Princess was a sort of odd game, in that it was released during that in-between time between two consoles, the GameCube and the Wii. Of recent Zelda games, this is the one we perhaps hear referenced the least. And since there’s no HD version of it (on the Switch anyway), what better way to enjoy the story then with some gorgeous art? This manga is an excellent place to start, both for reading a Legend of Zelda story, and also discovering the world of manga.

Buy the 1st volume:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

Those are some suggestions to tide you over until there’s more Zelda to play. Will we need to do another list like this when Breath of the Wild 2 finally appears to be happening? Oh, definitely.

And now if you’ll excuse me, we have to go buy monster parts from Beedle. It’s not weird.


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Peter Damien

Peter Damien lives in the Pacific Northwest where he writes quite a lot, reads quite a lot, cooks many things, and tries to keep his cat from escaping outside. He's been published at BookRiot, SF Signal, and a great number of magazines and anthologies. You can find him on twitter @peterdamien , or you can say his name three times in a mirror, but that won't work and you'll feel very silly.