One question that newer Fire Emblem players might have is how do these games relate to each other? Does each country exist in the same world, yet at different times, comparable to the Legend of Zelda? Or do most games share only non-essential elements, like Final Fantasy? Do any theories exist to unify the franchise?
The answer is complicated, so let’s begin.
A Continental Overview
To start, the first Fire Emblem through the fifth exists in the same world, as does the eleventh through thirteenth games. They’re spread across three continents and, in a few cases, separated by thousands of years.
The continent of Archanea has appeared in the most games. It’s the setting of the first game, subtitled Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (hereby shortened to Blade of Light), along with Mystery of the Emblem (the third game) and Archanea Saga (for the Satellaview add-on). Naturally, the Nintendo DS remakes of Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem, subtitled Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem respectively, also occur in Archanea. Excluding Archanea Saga, each of these games stars Prince Marth.
Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second game, takes place on the nearby continent of Valentia during the year-long gap between Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem. The connective tissue is four units that appear in the three titles. This also applies to the recent Nintendo 3DS remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, but it was Fire Emblem Awakening that revealed how closely Valentia is to Archanea.
Awakening takes place roughly two centuries after Mystery of the Emblem. In the time since, Archanea was renamed Ylisse and Valentia became Valm. Marth is dead, but is remembered as the Hero-King. His ancestor Chrom and his daughter Lucina lead Ylisse across both continents against the Fell Dragon Grima. Speaking of which (SPOILERS FOR FE ECHOES), the last chapter of Shadows of Valentia is connected to Awakening, although I haven’t yet reached that point myself.
Moving away from those locations, Genealogy of the Holy War introduced Jugdral, a continent connected to Archanea primarily through the Divine Dragon Naga. Awakening enforced the link by reviving a group of undead warriors called the Deadlords, who made the first appearance in Genealogy. Furthermore, some of Awakening’s Deadlords carry Jugdral holy weapons, although it’s unknown if these warriors are the same as the ones that appear in Genealogy or new Deadlords.
Anyone who played the Awakening downloadable content titled Infinite Regalia may remember that 36 Deadlords appear here, but dialogue from child units heavily suggests that these are different from Genealogy’s Deadlords.
Lastly, Thracia 776 is a sequel that actually occurs halfway through Genealogy of the Holy War, and therefore stays in Jugdral. The Deadlords reappear, as do certain characters (including the protagonist). This ends the games with settings in Archanea, Valentia, and Jugdral.
For the sixth game, Intelligent Systems made a clean break. Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade exists on the continent of Elibe, which shares no official connection to the rest of the franchise. Meanwhile, The Blazing Blade, initially released outside Japan as simply Fire Emblem, is a prequel to The Binding Blade, with two decades seperating the titles. The Blazing Blade stars Eliwood, while The Binding Blade follows his son (and Smash Bros. fighter) Roy. Despite the lack of connection to other games, theories exist thanks to an entrance to other worlds known as the Dragon’s Gate.
Meanwhile, The Sacred Stones, the eighth game, has the distinction of being the only Fire Emblem disconnected from any other title. The setting of this game is Magvel, and features the twin siblings Eirika and Ephraim as protagonists.
Intelligent Systems once again created a new setting for Path of Radiance. Tellius is a peninsula where beorc (regular ol’ humans) and shape-shifting laguz call home, supposedly protected by the goddess Ashera. There is again no connection to the rest of the franchise, but at least players returned to Tellius in Radiant Dawn, a direct sequel set not long after Path of Radiance. Curiously, Fire Emblem Awakening introduced a possible connection between Archanea and Tellius, but I will talk about that in the next section.
Tellius was possibly set for a third appearance. 2015’s “The Making of Fire Emblem” book unveiled “Illusive Wii Title,” a canceled Fire Emblem project for Wii. The book doesn’t include a bunch of information, but does feature a handful of images with characters from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn. Tellius isn’t directly mentioned, so it’s possible that the characters were only placeholders.
Following Radiant Dawn, we jump a few years to land on Fire Emblem Fates. Strangely, Intelligent Systems didn’t name the new world that the game takes place on. To avoid confusion, I hereby proclaim this world Fatesland. Marvel at the originality.
Although Fates takes place elsewhere, the game does connect to Awakening via the existence of Laslow, Odin, and Selena, who originally appeared during Chrom’s adventures as Inigo, Owain, and Severa. Their journey to Fatesland is covered in the Hidden Truths DLC. The DLC Before Awakening has Corrin, Fates’ lead, enter Ylisse for a mission. Still, I haven’t finished the Revelation route, so I can’t conclusively say what connections Fates has with other games outside of what I already mentioned.
A Separate Time?
That’s seven continents spread across a possible four worlds. There’s surely no way to link each of these worlds together, right?
Unsurprisingly, the internet already has plenty of theories explaining how the entire Fire Emblem franchise is connected. Some work on the assumption that these aren’t separate worlds at all. Just because The Sacred Stones doesn’t directly reference anything from Genealogy of the Holy War doesn’t mean they can’t exist on the same planet, right?
On a few possible timelines that I have encountered, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn are often listed as the earliest chronological points because the backstory reveals that beorc (humans) and laguz (beast-people) evolved from the same species. This gives a clear starting point for humanity and humanoids capable of transforming into animals. Furthermore, laguz are the only beast-people able to transform without a unique item, while the history for Archanea claims using items to transform is something that dragons were forced into at some point. It makes a bit more sense for laguz to transform naturally, but be forced to rely on dragonstones many centuries later.
Binding Blade and Fire Emblem 7 often get mentioned next, as the backstory for those games involves a war between humanity and dragons that ended with the latter retreating through the Dragon’s Gate into another world. It’s been suggested that this other world is Akaneia, setting up the backstory to Blade of Light.
To bring the topic back to Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn for a second, it’s also been argued that the Manakete (those capable of turning into dragons, appearing in most Fire Emblem games) are descendants of the laguz dragon tribes.
And the other laguz tribes? Awakening introduced the taguel, humanoid creatures similar to the Manakete, except they use beaststones to transform. The only taguel we see are Panne and her son Yarne, the last of their species, but Panne mentions meeting cat and bird taguel. Cats and birds are types of laguz, too.
Now, dragons used the Dragon’s Gate in Fire Emblem 7 to reach another world. Years later, Intelligent System introduced another gate capable of taking people to other worlds. In Awakening, the Outrealm Gate is a location on the map where downloadable maps are accessed, bringing Chrom and his Shepherds to difference places and timelines. Sound familiar?
So the theory so far is that everything started in Tellius, where humanity and laguz formed. At some point, humans moved to what became Elibe (from Binding Blade and FE7), and the dragon laguz co-existed with them until the war drove the dragon laguz through the Dragon’s Gate. At some point, humans and other laguz traveled through that gate or another one.
After the dragons enter the gate, they flourish into a great civilization. Unfortunately, as the backstory for Blade of Light explains, the dragons go into decline as the birthrate drops and those who don’t take human form devolve into mindless animals. Along the way, humanity comes back. The Divine Dragons fight the Earth Dragons to defend humans, ending with the Earth Dragons being sealed away.
That theory covers every game except The Sacred Stones and Fates. Again, I haven’t come anywhere close to finishing Fates: Conquest, much less Birthright and Revelation, so it’s unclear to me how Fates connects. Still, thanks to the three aforementioned characters introduced in Awakening who returned in Fates, there’s obviously something that binds Fatesland and Akaneia.
As for The Sacred Stones, I don’t recall much that I can draw upon in building a connection. In fact, other timelines often toss Magvel aside. Alternate world, I’ve read, disconnected. The single world that can’t be strung to the rest of the franchise.
But that’s okay because this is just for a bit of fun. Maybe Intelligent Systems has an official timeline that encompass the entire series, but I doubt it. Besides, it’s fun to speculate, just like the Legend of Zelda fanbase did before Nintendo dropped a timeline for that series.
Serenes Forest (n.d.). Playing Guide. Retrieved from http://serenesforest.net/general/designers-notes/holy-war/playing-guide/
VincentASM (2015). Making of Fire Emblem: The Illusive Wii Fire Emblem. Retrieved from http://serenesforest.net/2015/12/27/making-of-fire-emblem-the-illusive-wii-fire-emblem/
XKAN (2015). Toru Narihiro – Interview on Fire Emblem for Wii Translation – FE 25th Anniversary. Retrieved from https://kantopia.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/toru-narihiro-interview-on-fire-emblem-for-wii-translation-fe-25th-anniversary/
July 9, 2017: Rewrote text and updated certain terms.