Well, here we are at the end of the countdown to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. How has the wait been for you? Excruciating? Manageable? Do you not give a damn about anything related to the franchise? Well, if you answered yes to that last question, you may want to stop reading.
For everyone else, we’re ending this series of articles at the beginning. That’s right: We’re pulling a Tarantino on this Zelda retrospective and diving into the lore that keeps us coming back time and again. Let’s talk about the Master Sword and the Triforce, shall we?
Gameplay-wise, Zelda is about interacting with the world around you. It’s about solving puzzles. It’s about running through a sunny field in the middle of summer or sailing a great sea while you wonder if the island you see in the distance is worth exploring. An enormous part of what makes all of this possible and fulfilling is the history of the land you traverse.
“The Power of the Gods”
If there’s one constant in Link, Zelda and Ganondorf’s world it’s the presence of that all-powerful golden power, the Triforce. But what is it, exactly? In order to answer that loaded question, we can start by taking a gander at this video, in which Princess Zelda tells Link the origins of the Golden Power.
But what do you get when you own a piece of the Triforce, exactly? By the looks of it, your abilities are amplified by whatever your piece represents. Take Zelda in Wind Waker, for example. As Tetra, she doesn’t recall the knowledge of her bloodline until the pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom are reunited in her presence. Suddenly, everything comes flooding back.
The sages in Twilight Princess theorize the influence of the Triforce of Power is what allows Ganondorf to live through his execution. And, from the sounds of it, the Triforce of Courage allows its bearer strength sufficient enough to accomplish the tasks worthy of his valor.
In Wind Waker, the King of Red Lions tells Jabun just as much when they speak before Link earns Nayru’s Pearl.
“The one I have brought you has no connection to the legendary hero,” he says “And yet I sense great promise in the courage that this one possesses.”
Once the two salvage all eight shards of the Triforce of Courage, Link is able to break the barrier around Ganon’s Tower in order to incite the final confrontation.
This means war
The Sacred Realm, where the Golden Power rests, differs in character from game to game. In Ocarina of Time, Link only sets foot in the Temple of Light, the last stronghold against Ganon’s forces where he meets with each sage before earning their medallions.
The only title in the series where Link travels through the Sacred Realm is A Link to the Past. By the time the events of this game transpire, the land is transformed into a twisted version of the Light World, aptly dubbed the Dark World. It’s Ganon’s influence and his desire to wreak havoc that creates this warped realm.
One of the more exciting events detailed in A Link to the Past is the Imprisoning War, in which the Knights of Hyrule and Seven Wise Men Sages pushed Ganon into the Sacred Realm and sealed him away for what they thought was eternity.
While this could allude to Ganon’s condemnation to the void between worlds in Ocarina of Time or his banishment to the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, there’s one problem with either scenario: There are not Knights of Hyrule in either game. Sure, there are castle guards in both titles, but they never march into battle during the events of either game. Nor are they seen very far from Hyrule Castle.
While Ocarina character designer Satoru Takizawa and script director Toru Osawa have said the seven sages in the game are, indeed the wise men sages in A Link to the Past, you can’t help but feel a little ripped off at the prospect of missing out on a war of epic proportions. Sure, the Knights of Hyrule may have fought against Ganon while Link was sealed away by the Master Sword, but why can’t we be a part of it?
Just imagine a Zelda game that details the Imprisoning War and so many possibilities spring up. What hasn’t the series done yet? Maybe a Real Time Strategy title is in order. Or perhaps a Risk-type board game may be commissioned. Regardless, a Zelda game set in the midst of an epic war between good and evil may be an enticing proposition for Nintendo’s developers.
Of course, the reason why attempts to seal Ganondorf away without Link are futile is because there’s really only one way to get rid of the guy.
The Blade of Evil’s Bane
Skyward Sword details the creation of the Master Sword, the legendary blade needed in every installment of the Zelda series since A Link to the Past to defeat Ganon and his minions. The sword has remained largely unchanged through the series, with its only major design overhaul occurring between Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time and that was simply a color swap.
Much like King Arthur’s Excalibur, only one worth of the blade’s ownership is allowed to pull it from its pedestal. In each installment of the Zelda series, Link collects “three symbols of virtue,” be they pendants, pearls or gems, to do so. This proof usually rests in the grasp of a monster in early dungeons.
Once the right to wield the blade is earned, it triggers a catastrophic event that moves the story forward: either Zelda is captured, Ganondorf gains entry to the Sacred Realm or the monsters in Hyrule awaken after a century of slumber. Recently, merely pulling the sword from its pedestal isn’t enough. In Wind Waker the power to repel evil must be restored to the sword by awakening two sages. Twilight Princess’ Master Sword is imbibed with light power in the Palace of Twilight.
As far as in-game lore goes, not much is revealed about the Master Sword. At the time of its release, Ocarina of Time was to be the first game in the official timeline, an honor that has since been bestowed on Skyward Sword. But even in the series’ Nintendo 64 debut, Navi the fairy had heard of the Master Sword, even though Ganondorf had not yet obtained the Triforce of Power or turned into the evil the blade is usually pitted against.
From what we know of Skyward Sword, the weapon begins as the Goddess Sword. During the course of the game, the Goddess Sword turns into the Master Sword. However, Link’s latest adventure isn’t the first time a legendary blade was forged in a Zelda game. In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Link must collect four elemental metals in order to repair the Four Sword. Maybe Skyward Sword takes a cue from the title.
And the connection is?
Ever since the revelation that the next Zelda game was titled Skyward Sword, I’ve speculated that it would be an origin story for the Master Sword (then again, who didn’t?) But I’ve also believed —and, remember, this is before ever playing the game, which I’ll be reviewing — that it will also give us a bit more detail about Link’s and Zelda’s connections to their respective pieces of the Triforce.
Ocarina of Time served as a sort of origin story for Ganondorf, as we’ve discussed in his character profile. But the connection between Link, Zelda and the Triforce has never been expanded upon outside of them being the two people who best exemplify courage and wisdom, respectively, when Ganondorf lays hands on it. I think there’s potential for a really good story there.
In fact, it’s often hinted that Link’s connection to the Triforce of Courage is a major reason he’s able to wield the Master Sword. It’s definitely the case in Twilight Princess, where we can see the mark of the Triforce on Link’s hand since the game’s outset.
A Link to the Past mentions that Link is the last of the bloodline of the Knights of Hyrule. It’s that and his acquisition of the three pendants that allow him to pull the sword from its pedestal.
I guess we’ll just have to wait until we’re fully through The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in order to answer some of the speculation we’ve made through our retrospective.
Thank you for sticking with us throughout this week-long celebration of all things Zelda. In case you missed them, here are the other five parts of the series:
Part I – Who Dat Princess? (A Zelda profile)
Part II – The Face of Evil (A Ganondorf profile)
Part III – Motivations of a Hero in Training (A Link profile)
Part IV – Fairy Boy Fashion: A Look at Link’s Livery (An analysis of Link’s TP and OoT costumes)
Part V – Funky Hylian Beats to Move Yo Feets (A look back at the series’ music)
Enjoy your copy of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and make sure to keep an eye out for my review of the game!