One question that new Fire Emblem players might ask is how do these games relate to one another? Does every continent exist on the same planet, perhaps at different times, comparable to The Legend of Zelda? Or is this more comparable to Final Fantasy, where the majority of games are disconnected, yet share non-essential elements? What theories exist to unify the franchise?
The answer is complicated, so let’s begin.
A Continental Overview
Let’s begin by establishing the official relationships between games. The original Fire Emblem through the fifth installment exist in the same world, as do the eleventh through the thirteenth games. That being said, they’re spread across three continents and separated by thousands of years.
The continent of Archanea was established in the very first Fire Emblem, subtitled Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (hereby shortened to Blade of Light), and returned for Mystery of the Emblem, the third game, and Archanea Saga (often simplified as BS Fire Emblem) for the Satellaview add-on. Of course, the Nintendo DS remakes Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem don’t deviate from this setting. Excluding BS Fire Emblem, every one of these games stars Marth.
Neighboring Archanea is the continent of Valentia, the setting of Fire Emblem Gaiden and its recent Nintendo 3DS remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. The story of Alm and Celica occurs between Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem, and are connected to those games through the Pegasus knights Palla, Catria, and Est, along with the minor antagonist Zeke. These four characters appear in each of these games.
Fire Emblem Awakening reveals exactly how closely these two neighbors are situated. In the two centuries after Mystery of the Emblem, Archanea and Valentia were renamed, respectively, Ylisse and Valm. Marth became a legendary figure known as the Hero-King, while the Divine Dragon Naga becomes worshiped as a god. Marth’s ancestor Chrom, along with his daughter Lucina, wage conflicts across both continents to stop the Fell Dragon Grima, whose origins are explored in the final chapter of Shadows of Valentia.
Next is Jugdral, a continent introduced in Genealogy of the Holy War and the setting of Genealogy and Thracia 776. The aforementioned Divine Dragon Naga is the connective tissue linking Jugdral to Archanea and Valentia, while Awakening enforced that connection via a group of undead warriors called the Deadlords. Although it’s uncertain if the Deadlords that appear in Awakening are the same from the Jugdral games, it’s worth noting that they wield Jugdral holy weapons.
At this point, I should mention that the Awakening downloadable content Infinite Regalia contains 36 Deadlords, but dialogue all but confirms that these warriors are distinct 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.
Intelligent Systems made a clean break for the sixth game. The Binding Blade established the continent of Elibe, which shares no official connection to any of the games already discussed. Elibe returned in the next game, The Blazing Blade. Initially released outside Japan as simply Fire Emblem, The Blazing Blade is a prequel that stars younger versions of characters introduced in The Binding Blade, including the leads Eliwood and Hector. More importantly, the Dragon’s Gate because the birthing place for numerous theories about a connected universe, but more on that shortly.
The eighth game, The Sacred Stones, has the distinction of being the only Fire Emblem title disconnected from the rest of the franchise. It’s the rare game to receive no sequels or get referenced outside of downloadable content or Fire Emblem Heroes. The setting is named Magvel, and features twin siblings Eirika and Ephraim as protagonists.
Path of Radiance, the first Fire Emblem on a home console since Thracia 776, introduced the peninsula of Tellius, a location where beorc (regular ol’ humans) and shape-shifting laguz exist under the protection of the goddess Ashera. Radiant Dawn is a direct sequel set during the post-war rebuilding process, and sees racial tensions between beorc and laguz explode into a massive war. Curiously, while a handful of characters from this duology were included in “Illusive Wii Title,” an unreleased Fire Emblem project, it’s uncertain if Tellius was set to make a return or if the characters were simply placeholder.
Jumping ahead a few games, we arrive at the unnamed world from Fire Emblem Fates. Or should I say two worlds? The main setting features the kindoms of Hoshido and Nohr, while a third country named Valla is secretly tucked away in another world. The DLC Before Awakening reveals that a portal to Ylisse (from Awakening) exists, while the characters Laslow, Ordin, and Selena originally appeared in Awakening as Inigo, Owain, and Severa. Curiously, Chrom calls Hoshido and Nohr “mythical” in the aforementioned DLC, but this is never elaborated on.
A Separate Time?
That’s seven continents spread across a possible four different worlds. There’s no way to connect these together, right?
Obviously, there’s no shortage of theories spread across the internet explaining how the entire franchise is united. More than a few involve the assumption that these aren’t separate worlds. For instance, just because Magvel (from The Sacred Stones) isn’t referenced in other games doesn’t mean they’re not on the same planet. Of course, using the lack of information is hardly convincing.
Among timelines that I witnessed, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn are listed as the earliest chronological points for a few reasons. The backstory claims that beorc (humans) and laguz (beast-people) evolved from the same species, giving a clear starting point for both humanity and the handful of humanoids capable of transforming into animals. Furthermore, laguz are the only beast-people in the franchise able to transform without a unique item, while the history for Archanea claims that using items to transform is something that dragons were forced into at some point. It’s not crazy to believe that laguz were gradually forced to rely on dragonstones in later centuries.
Next on this fictional timeline is The Binding Blade and The Blazing Blade, as their backstory involves a war between humanity and dagons that ended with the later retreating through the Dragon’s Gate to another world. What if, fans suggested, that this other world is Archanea? The backstory for Shadow Dragon reveals that humanity grew around the same time that dragons were forced to contain their power in dragonstones to keep from becoming feral. Eventually, humanity followed the dragons through the Dragon’s Gate into Archanea, setting up the original game.
At this point, we should discuss gates. The Dragon’s Gate isn’t unique. Awakening introduced the Outrealm Gate, a location on the map where the player accesses downloadable content, bringing Chrom and company to different worlds. Fates includes its own Dragon’s Gate, and alternate worlds is used to explain the children characters and the player’s castle. (Fire Emblem Heroes involves many Outrealm Gates, but we’ll touch on that game separately.)
Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776 are confirmed to exist in the same world as Archanea, so I don’t need to explain those. The same goes for Fire Emblem Gaiden and Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.
That leads The Sacred Stones and Fates. To discuss the former, we should also move the spotlight onto downloadable content, specifically those for Fire Emblem Awakening. Many packs involve fighting alongside and against characters from previous games, although it’s explained that they’re nothing more than phantoms. TO BE CONTINUED
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.