The Zonai have been a mysterious group in The Legend of Zelda until now, but they might get a bigger role in Tears of the Kingdom.
Of the many groups in The Legend of Zelda’s history, the Zonai are one of the most mysterious so far. But it looks like they could play a big role in the story of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The trailers shown so far are full of hints that this mysterious tribe may be connected to many of the game’s unanswered questions, so fans can naturally wonder who they are – or who they were.
Unlike factions like the Rito, Sheikah, and Gorons, the Zonai did not appear in Zelda games prior to Breath of the Wild. However, parts of the game world hint at who they were and their role in Hyrule’s history. The long-awaited sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, looks like it will reveal more about the group. This is an exciting prospect for fans who wanted a deeper story from the previous game.
By the time of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Zonians seem to be an extinct tribe. However, their past presence can be seen throughout Hyrule through the ruins, statues, pillars, and other decaying structures they left behind. These are particularly noticeable in the Faron region. Here Link finds the Zona Ruins, the largely collapsed remains of what was probably an essential part of a Zona city. The Zona ruins and nearby areas have distinctive features such as boar, owl and dragon sculptures. Objects of the tribe can be identified both in Faron and elsewhere by the spiral pattern that serves as the crest of the tribe.
The Zona Ruins are connected to a similar complex, the Well of Courage, which contains a statue of Hylia, a goddess from the Zelda story. This means that the Zonians may have held the same religious views as the Hylians. Regardless, the game’s accompanying art book – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Creating a Champion – also mentions that they may have worshipped a dragon, which the shrine’s entrance is modeled after. The source quest requires Farosh’s scales to unlock the Ancient Shrine. Since Farosh is the dragon of the region, there may be a connection to the Zona religion.
In the actual gameplay of Breath of the Wild, Zonians play their most prominent role through the game’s four most memorable shrine quests: Lomei Labyrinth North, Lomei Labyrinth South, Lomei Labyrinth Island, and Thyphlo Ruins. The Labyrinth Shrines reward links to all three parts of the Barbarian Set, an armor set focused on bonus attack power. The inventory describes the set as “coming from an ancient warrior tribe from the Faron region” – a reference to the Zonians. The creation of the champion confirms this again, saying that they were rumored to be a wild tribe.
At the same time, the structures left behind indicate that they were fairly advanced people. The same book also describes that they were famous for their skill in magic. Much of this is canonical speculation, as the current inhabitants of Hyrule know very little about the Zonas. The creation of the champion also suggests that the reason for their disappearance is a mystery, so it probably happened before the Great Crash that formed the basis of Breath of the Wild. But that doesn’t mean their society can’t affect the events of Tears of the Kingdom.