I have been discussing and debating Zelda storyline issues for quite some time now. After reading countless posts and e-mails, I have found that certain myths keep popping up over and over again. These misconceptions are usually bred by ignorance, or by using non-canon sources. Some ideas may actually have a little bit of evidence behind them, but are still weak or getting away from the canon. The first section of this article debunks popular ideas that are definitely wrong, as well as common mistakes in vocabulary. The second half deals with more complicated ideas that aren't definitely wrong, but which, in my opinion, aren't really in line with the canon.
Popular, but Wrong, Ideas
These are things that keep popping up over and over, which are obviously wrong. I expose the fallacy of each position, and try to explain where the misconception came from.
In OoT, young Link is 10 years old. I've seen many arguments/time lines start off with the assumption that Link is 10 years old in OoT. Actually, OoT never tells us Link's age. In fact, the only source that tells us Link's age is the AoL manual. In this game, Link "approached his 16th birthday." Where do people get the idea that Link is 10? When I first started my site, I also thought Link was 10, and quoted this as a fact. This is because I read it on ZHQ.com's time line, and I assumed that he was right. But it's invalid to assume Link's age when it's never told to you. Judging from appearances alone, Link could be anywhere from 9 to 14 years of age. But I think it is not right to try to guess Link's age in any game. It's too misleading. All we can know is whether Link is "young" or "old." For example, we know fairly certainly that Link is "young" in LoZ, OoT past, and in Oracle, and that he is "old" in AoL and OoT future. I'm not so certain about ALttP. Link looks rather grown-up, yet he is called a "kid" at several points in the game. The lesson here is to be careful, and to not be too ready to make assumptions based on appearances alone.
Gannon and Gannondorf. The proper name for Hyrule's arch-villain is "Ganondorf," AKA "Ganon." Yet people persist in spelling it "Gannon" and "Gannondorf." This error stems from the original LoZ. Only within the LoZ game is the name "Gannon" given. In every other Zelda source, including the LoZ manual, the name given is Ganon or Ganondorf. ("Gannondorf," in fact, appears in no canon source. Note that typed manuals often aren't faithful reproductions of the original. If you have a typed manual that spells the name as "Gannon," the typist didn't type it correctly. I have all the original manuals, and in every single one Ganon is spelled with only one "n.") The double "n" was a simple mistake on the translators' part. LoZ wasn't translated very well, and names were not consistently transliterated (spelled according to the original sound) in every source. Clearly, the real name has only one "n," since every source besides the poorly translated LoZ spells it with one "n."
Zolas and Zoras are different things. There has long been this idea that "Zolas" are the monsters who live in the water and shoot fireballs at you, and "Zoras" are the friendly, noble, handsome aqautic creatures who help you out. This is a misconception based on another transliteration error in LoZ. In Japanese, the "r" and "l" sound are combined. There is no way to distinguish between the "r" and "l" sound. The standard way to transliterate this sound into Romaji (roman letters that stand for Japanese syllables) is with the "r," not the "l." Thus, names like "Lara" and "Zelda" become "Rara" and "Zeruda." In LoZ, the original Japanese word was clearly "Zora." The translators once again messed up with their transliteration, and put in the nonstandard "l" in place of the "r." The name "Zola" appears in no source other than the LoZ manual.
ALttP, OoT, MM, and OoA help to further to clear up the mystery. A Zora in OoA says that the fair-skinned, noble-looking Zoras are ocean Zoras, while the monster-looking, unfriendly Zoras are river Zoras. There are river Zoras in ALttP, and they are called Zoras, not Zolas. Ocean and river Zoras don't necessarily live in oceans and rivers, respectively. This is just where they are most often found. One can find river Zoras in the ocean, and ocean Zoras can be found in Zora's Domain in OoT. (The "doubles" of these same ocean Zoras live in the ocean in MM.)
Hylian is another word for Hyrulian. The word "Hylian" is not a synonym for the word "Hyrulian." A Hyrulian (also spelled "Hyrulean" in Oracle) is simply anybody who lives in the world or kingdom of Hyrule. A Hylian is somebody who belongs to the Hylian race. This is a very specific term. (In proper usage, "Hylian" is singular, and "Hylia" is plural. But you will find some people in OoT who refer to themselves as "Hylians.") The Hylia are the chosen people of the goddesses. According to the ALttP manual, "with their magic infused blood, the Hylian people were endowed with psychic powers and skill in wizardry. It was also said that their long, pointed ears enabled them to hear special messages from the gods, so they were held in high esteem by many people in Hyrule. Their descendants settled in various parts of the world and passed on their knowledge and magical lore to all people." The Royal Family of Hyrule is traditionally Hylian. By the time of OoT, the power and majesty of the Hylia was already waning, and by ALttP the blood of the Hylia was growing thin. To be perfectly clear, not all humans are Hylian. Hylians are fair-skinned, pointy-eared people with strong magical powers. People with normal ears, who can't use magic, are not Hylian, but normal humans. This means that Talon, who in OoT had long ears, is Hylian; but his descendant in Oracle, who has normal ears, no longer has Hylian blood in him.
The creation myth only mentions the creation of five races: the Hylians, Zoras, Gorons, Kokiri, and Gerudo. This is a myth spread by the storyline given on zelda.com (originally zelda64.com). One part of the story reads: "They populated their new creation with five different humanoid races." I was also fooled by this thinking once, before I decided to stick with canon sources. In all three creation accounts in canon sources, no tale is told of what races the goddesses created. They merely say that Farore created life forms that would uphold the laws. It should be obvious to anybody that there are more races in Hyrule than than just the five listed above. That list leaves out normal humans, Deku Scrubs, and Tokay (the lizard-men from OoA). And there are probably many other races that Nintendo hasn't revealed to us yet.
Rauru built the Temples of Light and Time himself. This is a silly mistake for people to make, but I keep seeing people say that Rauru built the Temples of Light and Time all by himself. This misconception stems from the storyline given on zelda.com (originally zelda64.com), which says: "To protect the Triforce from falling into the wrong hands, a great Sage named Rauru planned and built the Temple of Light to guard the entrance to the Sacred Realm." However, in OoT Zelda tells Link that "the ancient Sages built the Temple of Time to protect the Triforce from evil ones." Rauru says himself that "ages ago, we ancient Sages built the Temple of Time to protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm." So, at the very least, the ancient Sages helped Rauru build the Temple of Time. No tale tells how the Temple of Light came to be built, so Rauru may have built it by himself. This would explain why he is the only one there. But there really isn't any evidence, so don't be so hasty to conclude that Rauru built it himself, or that he had help.
Miyamoto said there is only one Link. I have no idea where this misconception came from. I've never seen Miyamoto claim that there is only one Link. In fact, all he has ever said in regards to the storyline is that the order is OoT, LoZ, AoL, ALttP, with LA going anywhere. Please, don't put words into Miyamoto-san's mouth!
Shiek. This one is kind of nitpicky, but I see this a lot. The proper spelling is "Sheik" and "Sheikah," not "Shiek" and "Shiekah."
The following ideas aren't as clearly wrong as the ones above. However, I have been studying the canon for quite some time now, and the following concepts just don't sit well with me. They seem to me to be misled, or to take scant evidence too far, or to take too much inspiration from non-canon sources. I tend to be conservative, resisting radical theories, so you can take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to believe me. But I think my opinions have a good backing in the canon. I've restricted my study to only the canon, and I think I have a good feeling for the flow of ideas within it, the "spirit" of the canon, if you will.
Master Sword in LoZ. Somehow, it seems to be common "knowledge" that the Master Sword appears in LoZ. People believe that the White Sword is the Master Sword, because (1) it looks like the Master Sword, with its white blade and blue hilt, and (2) like the Master Sword, it is neither the weakest nor the strongest sword Link gets. Some people might also back up their opinion with the official ALttP guide, which shows Link using the Master Sword in LoZ. But the official guide isn't canon, and is contradictory to the canon. It shows Link being the same age in LoZ and AoL, and shows Link using the Master Sword in the entirety of LoZ and AoL (this isn't right: Link used several swords in LoZ, and used the Magic Sword in AoL).
I'm not out to completely destroy this viewpoint, but I want to put it into perspective. First of all, consider that LoZ never calls the White Sword the Master Sword. The man who gives it to you says "MASTER USING IT AND YOU CAN HAVE THIS," which probably means "you can have this sword if you master the use of your current one." This may hint toward the White Sword being the Master Sword. However, in every other Zelda game the Master Sword is hidden away in a complex seal or maze, and is stuck into a stone. In OoT, the Master Sword is sealed away in the Temple of Time, and stuck in the Pedestal of Time. In ALttP, the Master Sword is hidden in the Lost Woods on a pedestal, and can only be used by somebody with the three Pendants. In Oracle, the Noble Sword (which is later revealed in its full power as the Master Sword) is hidden in another Lost Woods, and is stuck into a pedestal once again. LoZ goes against this tradition, because an old man in a cave gives Link the sword, and it is never revealed to be THE Master Sword.
It's also no good arguing that Link needs the Master Sword to destroy Ganon. In LoZ, Link uses the Magic Sword to destroy Ganon, not the White Sword. In ALttP, Link uses the Golden Sword to destroy Ganon (the Golden Sword could be possibly be a stronger version of the Master Sword). There is simply no proof that the White Sword is the Master Sword, and there's nothing we can do about it. Go ahead and believe what you want, but there is simply not enough evidence.
Romance between Zelda and Link. I wouldn't exactly call this a misconception, but it's a popular idea that I think needs to be put into perspective. The most popular interpretation people give to the ending of the Zelda games is: "Link and Zelda became lovers and lived happily ever after." Yes, it is true that Zelda does kiss Link at the end of AoL and Oracle. And the two do seem to be awfully good friends. But things like this don't necessarily come with romance attached. The two have similar destinies, and it is thus not surprising that they should be close confidants. And Link is pretty brave to save Hyrule, so why shouldn't he deserve a little kiss? Romance isn't the only possible interpretation. Link and Zelda only get romantic in comics, cartoons, manga, etc., i.e. all the non-canon sources. Non-canon sources may have good interpretations of the facts sometimes, but they are not to be confused for the facts themselves.
The canon gives me the impression that Link's destiny is to wander Hyrule alone. His destiny lies apart from Zelda's. After all, Link leaves Hyrule after OoT. He is done with his adventures, and he goes to search for a friend, apparently one more dear than Zelda. And in Oracle, Link once again leaves on a journey once his adventuring is complete. Zelda seems to bewoe his leaving, but Link leaves nonetheless. Link, as the legendary hero, is not bound to any one place or people. He is free to wander, since no family or lover makes him long for home. He is ever the lonely wanderer, saving the world from evil and then moving on. He helps others to rekindle their love in MM, but in the end he is only a legend, and he moves on. I don't see wife and family as Link's destiny; rather, his heart is ever consumed by a flame of justice, and he devotes his life to bringing Hyrule to an age of peace and prosperity.
Each Triforce piece is equally powerful. Thus, if two people each have a piece they should be equally powerful. Somebody with more pieces should be more powerful than somebody with less pieces. There is this idea floating around that a Triforce piece automatically makes somebody more powerful. Thus, if Ganon had the Triforce of Power, and Link had Courage, they would be equally matched and wouldn't be able to defeat each other. If, however, Ganon had Power and Wisdom, Link wouldn't stand a chance against him.
I don't think this idea is in line with the majority of the canon that deals with how the Triforce works. I can't explain my full thoughts on the Triforce in this brief article (I will save that for a later article). But in the little space I have, I will try to point out how my concept of the Triforce contrasts with the above idea. In no case does having a Triforce piece automatically make somebody as powerful as another Triforce piece holder. Zelda, in OoT, stood no chance against Ganondorf, even though she had the Triforce of Wisdom. Even Ganondorf and Link in OoT were not evenly matched: Link was never able to defeat Ganon; he only weakened him enough so that the Sages could seal him in the Dark World.
Furthermore, Ganon had the united Triforce in his grasp in ALttP. Yet Link, who had none, defeated him. Clearly, the Triforce doesn't automatically grant omnipotent power. And one piece doesn't automatically "balance out" another one. The Triforce pieces grant different powers. Wisdom alone can be useful, but not in open battle with somebody a lot stronger than you. Courage gives one the ability to act, but it doesn't make one any more powerful. Bravery is folly if you don't have the power or wisdom to back it up. Clearly, somebody with two Triforce pieces can't automatically kick-butt somebody with only one Triforce piece.
An Italian translation of this article is available at The Lost Woods.