A question that newer Fire Emblem players might ask is how does each game relate to one another? Does each setting exist in the same world but at different times, like The Legend of Zelda? Or does Fire Emblem share more in common with Final Fantasy, where most games only share non-essential elements, like a person named Cid?
The answer is a little of both, actually.
A Continental Overview
First of all, Fire Emblem 1-5 takes place in the same world, spread across three separate continents.
By far, the Akaneia continent is most visited, being the setting of the original game, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (hereby shortened to Blade of Light). The remake/sequel Mystery of the Emblem and Akaneia Saga (for Super Famicom’s Satellaview add-on) also take place in Akaneia, as does the DS remakes Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem. Aside from Akaneia Saga, each of these games stars Marth.
The events of these games take place within reasonably close time-frame to each other. Awakening, the most recent game set in Akaneia, occurs roughly 2,000 years later, explaining why none of the countries from the older games exist any longer. With Marth long dead but remembered as the Hero-King of legend, Awakening stars his ancestor Chrom.
Genealogy of the Holy War introduced Jugdral, a continent that shares some history with Akaneia thanks to the Divine Dragon Naga, an Earth Dragon, and a bishop from Jugdral who previously visited Akaneia. The Deadlord, undead warriors from Jugdral, reappear in Awakening; while some of Awakening’s Deadlords carry Jugdral holy weapons, it’s unknown if these Deadlords are the same as Genealogy’s Deadlords.
(Those who played the Awakening DLC Infinite Regalia may remember that 36 Deadlords appear, but dialogue from the children point towards those Deadlords being different from Awakening and Genealogy’s Deadlords.)
The next game, Thracia 776, stays in Jugdral and takes place roughly halfway through Genealogy of the Holy War. Some of the Deadlords appear, but being a side-story to Genealogy, Thracia 776 shares the same history.
Up through Thracia 776, these three continents existed on a single planet, but the sixth game makes a clean break. After Fire Emblem creator Shouzou Kaga left Intelligent Systems, the developer went on to create Binding Blade for Game Boy Advance. The continent of Elibe shares no known connection to any previous game in the series. Still, theories do exist thanks to the Dragon’s Gate, introduced in the seventh Fire Emblem.
Fire Emblem 7 takes place two decades before Binding Blade. In fact, many of the characters in FE7 become parents of characters who appear in Binding Blade, including the main heroes Eliwood and Roy, father and son.
With The Sacred Stones, Intelligent Systems created Magvel. As with Elibe, Magvel is disconnected from the rest of the series. The lack of a direct sequel means that Magvel has the distinction of being the only continent confined to a single game, so that’s something.
Meanwhile, Path of Radiance established Tellius, a continent and peninsula that beorc (regular ol’ humans) and the shape-shifting laguz call home. Once more, Tellius stands independent from the rest of the series, but at least players returned to the continent in the sequel, Radiant Dawn. The fate of hero Ike may suggest a possible connection to Akaneia, but I’ll cover that in the next section.
It’s possible that Tellius almost appeared for a third time: the recent Making of Fire Emblem book unveiled the “Illusive Wii Title,” a canceled Fire Emblem project for Wii. Of the little information this book includes, we see screens of two (possibly three) characters characters from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn. Still, since the info doesn’t directly mention Tellius, it’s possible that the characters were only placeholders.
After Shadow Dragon, New Mystery of the Emblem, and Awakening brought us back to Akaneia, Fire Emblem Fates sent us to a new land, this one lacking a name. (To avoid confusion, I’m calling this world Fatesland. Marvel at the originality.)
Since I’m only halfway through Fates: Conquest (with Birthright and Revelation still to go), I’m still in the dark if Fatesland connects to any previous Fire Emblem game outside of the existence of three characters. Laslow, Odin, and Selena originally appeared in Awakening as Inigo, Owain, and Severa. How they reached Fatesland is covered in the upcoming Hidden Truths DLC.
A Separate Time?
So we have seven continents spread across at least four worlds. There’s no way to connect each of these worlds together, right?
Theories already exist attempting to explain how each game is connected, but the first thing we must do is consider whether these are separate worlds at all. Just because The Sacred Stones doesn’t reference something from Genealogy of the Holy War doesn’t prove that they don’t exist on the same planet, right?
Sure, but that’s not exactly a stable foundation to discuss timeline theories. So let’s relegate this discussion to what we can use as evidence. Deal? Deal.
On a few suggested timelines that I’ve encountered, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn are often included as the earlier event in part because the backstory includes a goddess along with creatures that eventually evolved into beorc (humans) and laguz (beast-people). That gives a clear start for humanity and those capable of transforming into animals.
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/