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New Zelda art book from Nintendo reconciles timeline?

2:00 AM on 12.22.2011 // Tony Ponce

This is embarrassing. I've been covering all these little Zelda nuggets, from music and pins to comics and beyond, all to celebrate the series' 25th anniversary, and I completely missed perhaps the coolest item of them all. Allow me to play catch-up.

Hyrule Historia, released in Japan yesterday for 3255 yen (about $42), is a massive 274-page tome filled with tons of lovely nuggets and concept art from the Zelda series' illustrious history. A good chunk of the book is dedicated to Skyward Sword, and there is even a sneak preview of the upcoming Akira Himekawa Skyward Sword manga. I wish there was more equal representation of the various games, but I'm a sucker for all this behind-the-scenes stuff and will definitely try to get my hands on a copy.

A solid quarter of the book is dedicated to the history of Hyrule and all its secrets. Allegedly, the infamous Zelda timeline is revealed once and for all. Now, actual scans of the pages in question haven't appeared, so all we have to go on is the word of a fan who bought the thing. One of Kotaku's readers has translated the purchaser's post and shared the info with the site's editors, who then whipped up a quick-and-dirty timeline graphic. Fan of the split timeline theory? You probably think there are only two branches, huh? Hit the jump and be surprised.

The first four games in chronological order are Skyward Sword, The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Ocarina of Time. Once we hit Ocarina, it's 88-mph time and we start to see some serious shit.

There's the split that we are familiar with based on the ending to Ocarina. When Link returns to the child era, the subsequent games are Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventure. The adult era that Link leaves then follows with The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks.

Now -- and here's where it gets ridiculous -- there is a third branch that assumes Link was actually defeated by Ganon during the events of Ocarina. How is that possible? In any case, this is followed by A Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages / Seasons, Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda, and The Adventure of Link.

This could all be a hoax, but as more people get their hands on the book, the truth will definitely come to light. In the meantime, what do you think of all this? Does this put you at ease, or does it just raise even more questions?

(Thanks to everyone who brought this to our attention!)

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