Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Legend of Zelda and Theology Review

I've read plenty of books devoted to video games, but a philosophical one? Well, that's a first for me. But here I find myself, loading up my Kindle and reading The Legend of Zelda and Theology. I'm ready to give my brain a bit of a work-out. 

Comprising of a selection of essays by different writers, and edited by Jonny Walls, The Legend of Zelda and Theology discusses the deeper philosophical or theological meanings behind The Legend of Zelda series. 

I do not follow a religion, so when I started reading the introduction and the discovering that these were going to be Christianity-heavy essays, in all honesty, I sighed. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Personally, I cannot see a connection between Christianity and the Zelda series (but then I am not a Christian), but leave your reservations at the door; the writers are not intending on pushing their Christian theories onto you in an effort to make you believe them. It's merely their theological viewpoint on one of Nintendo's most well loved series which they have decided to compile in a book for anyone interested in checking out their theories. 

Many of the essays make interesting points. You don't have to agree with them if you don't want to, but it's interesting to read someone's personal opinion on the content in the Zelda series. Another positive point is that the book felt nicely organised. Each essay is written by a different person, which keeps it refreshing. Of course, everyone has their own opinions, so it was nice to see this demonstrated throughout the variety of different topics. Essays cover a range of Zelda themes, including death and the afterlife, the game's interpretation of evil, and the necessity of the triforce in the defeat of Ganon. The book spans the Zelda series from the beginning right up until Twilight Princess, so it doesn't matter if you haven't played a particular Zelda game...there's plenty more to read about here. 

Here's the complete essay list:

  • Linking the Landscapes of Twilight Princess Christian Theology.
  • Trouble in the Golden Realm: Ganandorf and Hyrule's Problem of Evil in Ocarina of Time.
  • The Birth of Gaming from the Spirit of Fantasy: Video Games as Secondary Worlds with Special Reference to The Legend of Zelda and J.R.R Tolkien.
  • Freedom Versus Destiny: A Hero's Call.
  • The Mediation of Transcendance within The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
  • Take Your Time, Hurry Up, The Choice is Yours: Death and the Afterlife in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
  • On Hylian Virtues: Aristotle, Aquinas and the Hylian Cosmogenesis.
  • High Rule? Vintage Virtue in The Legend of Zelda.
  • Portals, Prophecy, and Cuccos: Considerations of Power in A Link To The Past.
  • The Necessity of the Triforce in the Defeat of Ganon.

Whilst the book does provide some interesting insights into the Zelda series, particularly for those who are Christian's themselves, unfortunately I found it a little heavy going at times. It's a much more enjoyable read when read in instalments, rather than powering through it (like I tried to...I like my reading too much). If theology and philosophy interests you, well there is definitely a lot of it here to enjoy! It's a well written and edited book, with plenty of content. Zelda fans may appreciate all of the nods to the series, and those looking for a bit of a deeper read may find this satisfying. The Legend of Zelda and Theology's Christian outlook isn't forced on you, which is a good thing. Whether you believe it or not, there are plenty of interesting points touched upon in the book (for example, the Biblical references). The topics are wide and varied, and it's refreshing to have so many different author's views demonstrated. The annotations will help provide some prompts for those wishing to engage in further research, and the ranking system, which lists the essays in terms of difficulty (casual, normal or advanced) allows for those to choose their desired complexity level. 

It's an informative, well written and often engaging book. If you're after something that allows you to think just that little bit more than usual...then perhaps you might be seeking this.


  1. thanks for the recommendation!

  2. This could be a good read. Having already read "The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am", I hope that this, too, makes philosophy much more accessible to the average person... or gamer! (Even if the concepts are a bit overwhelming at times.)

  3. IndieBundleTracker7/15/2012 1:20 pm

    Hey 8-Bit Girl! another great video game related book is Ready Player One if you've never heard of it. if you like games and 80's references/jokes...they you'll love this book.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check it out! :D

  4. Is there a link to the book?

  5. I just heard about this book and I'm already falling in love with it. I've been dreaming about this kind of book for months now. I've been a Zelda fan since OoT came out and I've been a Christian for almost five years now - this book is perfect for me!.


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