The Search for Zane is a Ninjago chapter book released on February 24, 2015. The seventh installment of the Ninjago Chapter Book series, it takes place during a brief time skip in the episode "Only One Can Remain."
The ninja have received a mysterious message from Master Chen: Zane is alive and hidden somewhere on his secret island! But in order to find Zane, the four ninja must compete in a dangerous tournament against other Elemental Masters.
Determined to rescue their friend, Kai, Cole, Jay, and Lloyd make the treacherous journey. But finding Zane will be more challenging than they know, and Chen's island is filled with deadly traps. They will need to overcome this new enemy, or risk being knocked out of the tournament- permanently.
Kai is congratulated by Master Chen on his victory over Karlof. Karlof, disgruntled, begins to take his leave, only to fall through a trapdoor, to the horror of the Elemental Masters present. Even as Chen warns them not to break any of his rules, he takes his leave, leaving the ninja to recuperate as they discuss their next move later that day in the cafeteria.
Initially making plans to meet in Kai's room that night, Lloyd suggests they use up some of their time searching the island for where Zane might be held captive. Agreeing to the plan, the group temporarily splits up—Kai and Jay, Lloyd, Garmadon, and Cole—to sneak out of Chen's Palace, lest they be caught and kicked off of his island. Kai and Jay sneak into the garden, throwing rocks over their wall and tricking the cultist guards to open the gate to check for any possible intruders outside. Meanwhile, Lloyd, Garmadon, and Cole sneak out by climbing to the top of the palace and climbing down an overhanging tree over the walls.
Regrouping, the ninja overhear a nearby river, and Garmadon recalls a waterfall being nearby. Deciding a waterfall would be a good place to get a view of the island, the Ninja head to the river. They spot some rocks near the center with a mysterious symbol carved on them, Lloyd makes his way across the river to decipher them.
However, he's pulled down by the shockingly powerful river waters, and in their attempts to save him, the rest of the group is pulled in. Heading towards the waterfall at the end, Cole manages to grab onto a nearby vine, leaving the ninja dangling over the edge and with a massive view of Chen's Island. Eventually, the vine snaps, and they fall into the bottom below, swimming to the shore; however, Cole finds a massive snake-skin that had been shed off at the bottom of the pool.
Before they can dwell on it, several cultists begin to arrive, having somehow overheard the commotion despite the distance, forcing the ninja to escape before they can be spotted. Deciding to split up into the same groups as before to cover more distance, Jay offers making a bird's cawing as a signal for help, and he and Kai go off.
During their journey, they notice a bird, and entertaining the notion that it might be a machine programmed by Chen, decided to follow it, going on the unlikely, but still possible, idea that Zane, due to his friendliness with birds, might have sent it out for help. Climbing up the cliff the bird is on, the two of them fall victim to a rock slide. Struggling to hang on, they're saved by Cole, Lloyd, and Garmadon at the top, who reveal that they had mistaken the bird's cawing to be a signal for help.
Garmadon, recalling a garden nearby where he had trained, decides to head there with the others to check it out, in case Zane is there. Arriving at the garden, they recognize the same, serpent-like symbol from the rocks and Kai's bedroom. However, Garmadon is ensnared in a powerful metal trap, even as cultists begin to converge on their position.
The ninja manage to free Garmadon and escape before they're spotted, and fleeing, decide to head back to Chen's Palace, noting the possibility Zane might be inside the building inside. However, on the way back to the palace, they discover the other Elemental Masters training outside in the courtyard, alongside Kabuki performers getting ready to entertain Chen. Realizing they can't be seen, lest the conclusion some that they had left the palace, the ninja dress up as kabuki performers and attempt to sneak inside.
However, they're confronted by Chen and Clouse, who are unaware of their identities. Luckily, Garmadon succeeds in entertaining Chen, prompting the two to leave them alone, and the ninja head back inside, taking off their disguises. Later that night, the ninja, save Garmadon, who is left outside by Clouse, meet up in Kai's room, with Jay narrowly avoiding getting seen by Skylor. As they discuss their next plan, Cole accidentally discovers a trapdoor on Kai's bed, near the serpent symbol they had seen earlier.
Discovering the underground caverns, the ninja come to the conclusion that the symbols they had seen marked trapdoor entrances to the catacombs beneath the island, hence why the cultists managed to ambush them several times that day. Realizing Zane is underground, the ninja ecstatically head forward, in anticipation of finding their friend.
- Jay waves his arms and runs back and forth to see if the bird will follow him with its eyes. This is very similar to when Zane dances to see if the Falcon will copy his movements in "Home."
- Jay refers to Chen's Palace as "the temple of doom", a reference to the Indiana Jones film of the same name.
- A detailed, circular symbol similar appears at the end of the book, picturing the Titanium Dragon in the middle.
- Nya would soon disguise herself as a kabuki to infiltrate Chen's Palace in "Spy for a Spy," unknowingly replicating the ninja's strategy from this story.
- The ninja's vow to stick together toward the end of the book is similar to the sentiment repeated throughout the final few episodes of Tournament of Elements.
- Jay theorizes, "Maybe giant snake is the secret ingredient in Chen's noodles." This possibility would later be mentioned again in the Virtual Tour for "Day of the Departed."
- Chen is referred to twice as the "Master of Dark Arts" even though he himself does not use Dark Magic (outside of the Spell of Transformation later on). As stated by Garmadon in "The Invitation," "Master of Dark Arts" is Clouse's title.
- It's stated that after Karlof fell through the trapdoor, "All the Elemental Masters powered up, ready to fight!" However, this was not shown in the episode.
- Griffin Turner's first name is spelled "Griffen."
- When Jay says "You just had to leave me hanging" to Kai, he doesn't follow this with "huh, Romeo" as he did in the episode.
- Garmadon briefly speaks of his past on the island with Chen, saying he recognizes the scenery, but in "Spellbound," Lloyd says Garmadon hadn't told him anything besides the fact that Chen was his sensei.