10 Sweeping Fantasy Books Like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The Legend of Zelda is one of the biggest, most successful video game franchises in the world. Link, the often-amnesiac, elfish knight, wanders the fallen kingdom of Hyrule trying to save the orphaned princess, Zelda. Since 1986, the simple formula, with its iconic music and characters, has been entertaining audiences through dozens of games. Each game has built upon the last, bringing something fresh and challenging to new generations of fans. The next major entry, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, hits Nintendo Switch on May 12.
Books are no strangers to fantasy, of course. That’s where the genre started, after all. Heroes wandering a lush landscape on an epic and nearly impossible quest? Books. Magical and enigmatic princesses? Books. Legendary weapons, wonderful anthropomorphic races, and towering magical villains? Oh, books definitely have all of those. Maybe the swelling and moving soundtrack is missing, but books have everything else.
While you get your thumbs ready and charge up your Nintendo Switch, here are 10 sweeping fantasy books like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This list includes must-read classics of the epic fantasy genre and new novels from new faces. Manga and Western comics are here, too, because epic fantasy knows no format bounds.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
This book is pretty much the blueprint for cozy fantasy fiction. Sophie thinks her life is pretty miserable until it really becomes so. After angering a witch, Sophie is turned into an old woman. Now she has to seek the Wizard Howl’s constantly moving castle if she wants to return to her life. Peril and adventure await.
Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi
After 15-year-old Kagame falls into a well at her family shrine, she’s transported to the Sengoku period. There, she meets the half-dog demon named Inuyasha. And Kagame is the reincarnation of a dead warrior priestess who once defeated an ancient evil that is rising again. Now Kagame and Inuyasha will have to stop it again.
Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
Kaikeyi is the only daughter of the head of the kingdom of Kekaya. While she’s raised to worship the gods and to believe that only the wise and pious receive blessings, she is trained to think her own value lies in marriage. When her father banishes her mother, things take a dark turn. In desperation, she looks to the books her mother read and discovers a magic that only she can wield. Kaikeyi becomes a warrior, diplomat, and a queen. But the gods do not look kindly on fate snubbed.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Maika is a teen with a terrifying link to a powerful monster. The Arcanics and Federation have been at war for ages within the book’s intricate matriarchal society. Maika is torn between these two factions, as an Arcanic who looks human. Maika’s strange appearance and power are part of a bigger secret that will keep her in the middle of this massive power struggle unless she can force her way out.
Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra
Katyani spent her life becoming the crown prince’s protector and advisor. After a series of assassination attempts, the prince is whisked away into hiding to hone his skills. Katyani, of course, has to go along. Just when they’re settling in, they’re all rushed back just in time for everything to go terribly wrong. Now Katyani is alone, betrayed, and has to fight her way back to the life she loves.
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
Gyen Jebi is a simple painter. They have no taste or talent for war or fighting, but the Ministry of Armor insists they paint magic sigils on the government’s autonomous soldiers to make them fight. Soon, though, Gyen stumbles upon revelation after revelation, realizing the horrors the government is committing, and Gyen can no longer remain a mere painter.
Redwall by Brian Jaques
Brave warriors fighting against an ancient and growing evil. How very The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. In this case, the warriors are mice. The evil is Cluny, the one-eyed villain and his terrible horde. Now one bumbling apprentice is determined to fight, and fight he will.
Sea Serpent’s Heir by Mairghread Scott, Pablo Tunica
Careful what you wish for, right? Aella leads a boring life on a little island. She wishes for more, and then one day, an ancient evil reawakens within her. She’s the reincarnation of Xir, the serpent who almost ended the world. Oh, how she wishes she could go back to the boredom.
Squire by Nadia Shammas, Sara Alfageeh
Alza has only dreamt of one thing: becoming a knight. Not only is it a great honor with great pay, it’s her only path to citizenship as one of the subjugated Ornu. When famine and war rise like a tide, the kingdom is suddenly recruiting, and Alza finally enrolls in the Squire training program. But her dream may not be all she’s hoped for.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
This classic of the fantasy genre sure seems like it was an inspiration for The Legend of Zelda. Ged used to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world. He also used to be worse, pushing the boundaries of magic. This is the story of his rise to power and the many perils that stood in his way.
Maybe you can’t read a book and play the new The Legend of Zelda game at the same time, but balance is good in life. And your Switch needs time to recharge. What great fantasy books will you read to get in the mood for Tears of the Kingdom?