Arturo 1: Sleeping Zelda, Revisited Again

Sleeping Zelda, revisited again

Hi, my name is Arturo and from now on (I hope) I will be writing storyline articles for Zelda Legends. My first article deals with one of the most controversial and old topics of Zelda Storyline: the identity of the AoL Sleeping Zelda. In 1988, the legend worked well with what we knew of the Timeline, but then, when OoT was released in 1998, the creators didn’t seem to even think about the story that explained why all the princesses are named in such an unoriginal way. The timeline grew and grew, and by now, the problem of the Sleeping Zelda became more and more difficult, with more games between the Creation of Hyrule and AoL. In this article, I will try to fight with all these difficulties and determine who this problematic Princess is. Enjoy.

Analyzing the canon on the Sleeping Zelda
Though some people have suggested, using as evidence the Instruction Booklet for Collector’s Edition, that the Sleeping Zelda story is non-canon now, thanks to the AoL re-launch for GBA (where the original back-story is included) , we know that creators still intend the Sleeping Zelda legend to happen, to be canon. Given this fact, Here is the Japanese translation by Johan, Zethar II and Davogones of the AoL Instruction Booklet:
“Long ago, when Hyrule was still one country, a great King was said to have used the Triforce to maintain order in Hyrule. Yet, even the king was a son of man, and passed away when his lifespan was exhausted. Then, the prince of the Kingdom became the next king, and was to inherit everything. However, when it came to the Triforce, he was only able to inherit it incompletely. The prince sought for what he did not have, and searched everywhere, but he couldn't seem to find it. Then, a magician, one of the King's aids, came with some unexpected news. The magician had heard something about the King telling only the Prince's younger sister, the first generation Princess Zelda, about the Triforce before he died. Without delay, the prince questioned princess Zelda. However, the princess was determined not to say anything. The prince was not able to get any information, so the magician tried. He threatened the princess with a magic that would cause her to sleep forever, if she did not talk. Even then, the Princess did not speak. In his anger, the magician tried to cast a spell on the princess. The surprised prince tried to stop him, but the magician fought off the prince and went on chanting the spell. Princess Zelda fell on that spot and entered a sleep from which she would never awake. It is said that at the same time, the magician also fell at that place, dead. The prince let out a great moan of lament, and placed princess Zelda in this room, hoping that she would surely come back to life someday. Then, in order to never forget this tragedy, and to keep the memory alive, coming generations of girls in the royal family were always to be named Zelda.”
Another relevant source of info is the text on the scroll only Link can read:
“To the person that will control the Triforce of the future. You will now be told the secret(s) of the Triforce. There are three kinds of Triforce. Namely "power," "wisdom" and "courage." When these three Triforce are joined together, its maximum power will be shown. Of the three, "power" and "wisdom" remain in this Kingdom and can be received. But the Triforce of "courage" I have hidden for a reason. Not everyone can use the Triforce. It is necessary to have a heart free of evil, and a strong character. However, it is also necessary to have special innate qualities. Unfortunately, during my lifetime, I was not able to find such a person. Thus, I cast a magical spell on all of Hyrule. A crest will appear on a person with those qualities who has been raised correctly, picked up various experiences, and is of a certain age. However, if another person uses the Triforce before that, what will happen? If it is misused, it will produce various evils. The Triforce of "courage" is hidden in the Great Temple at the "Valley of Death" on the biggest island in Hyrule. But, to get there, you must first fight the guardian deities in the six temples in Hyrule to break the "barrier." I have made these guardian deities in order to protect the temples from trespassing by foreign enemies. When you have defeated the guardian deities, and placed the crystals in the statues deep inside the temples, the barrier placed on "Death Valley" will be broken, and you will be able to enter the Great Temple. You can get your hands on the Triforce once you defeat that guardian deity [the one inside Great Temple]. There's nothing to fear. I'm sure that you will be able to gain the Triforce. I pray that you will then become the light of hope for Hyrule.”
From this beautiful story we can deduce a few things about the Sleeping Zelda:
  • She was the very first of the long list of princesses named Zelda.
  • She had one brother and was the daughter to a mighty King.
  • At her time, the Triforce was united, but after the King died, the Triforce of Courage was hidden in the Great Temple.
  • The Triforce is needed to wake up the Princess (“If the Triforce is used, the magic that was put on the founding princess Zelda will surely be disspelled.” Impa, AoL Manual)
Now we have this piece of evidence I will try to determine who this Princess is.

The status of the Triforce as evidence
At the time I am writing this, there have been released twelve Zelda games (thirteen if we include KnS). The way they connect to each other is unclear, and it is not something I think appropriate to discuss here. Instead, I will study which games show (at the end of it) a united Triforce, which ones show a separated Triforce and which ones do not show it at all:

United Triforce Seperated Triforce No Triforce
Creation of the World
*That is, if we accept the Light Force to be the united Triforce
** There is Triforce in TWW, and it is united at the end of the game, but it seems to escape out of Hyrule after its destruction. Because of this, I don’t take it into consideration.
*** If we assume the Light Force and the Triforce to be something completely different.

The canon shows that the Triforce was united from the Creation of Hyrule until Ganondorf touches it in OoT. After that, somehow Ganon gets the Triforce while still sealed in the Sacred Realm, Link gets it in ALttP and somehow it’s separated again until AoL Link unites it for last and definite time. OoX could happen either after ALttP or after AoL, while TMC (if we assume the Light Force to be the same thing as the Triforce) could come before OoT. Since the Sleeping Zelda story could not have happened after AoL, we have two different time periods where the legend could take place: before OoT and after ALttP.

Davogones defended (a long time ago) on his last article on the subject the first possibility. He saw the Sleeping Zelda as a back-story to OoT, showing the consequences of having the Triforce in Hyrule. These events would make the ancient Sages seal it in its original resting place again, where the Triforce would remain until Ganondorf touches it in OoT. Though I think it is a really interesting view, I see an important flaw for this theory: it requires either the Triforce of Courage to remain from pre-OoT times to AoL ones in the Great Temple or the scroll to be written a short time before AoL. While the first option is clearly impossible, the second is arguable.

It’s possible for someone to divide the Triforce after the second unification and put the Triforce of Courage inside of the Great Temple and put the scroll inside of the room no-one could open. This possibility, apart from being too deus ex machine for my taste, has also some flaws that make me consider it to be wrong. The person who wrote the scroll never mentions Princess Zelda and says he put the guardian deities in the temples, this suggests strongly that the writer was the King, the father of the Sleeping Zelda. He doesn’t mention Zelda because she has not been cursed yet, while someone who would write this after the curse would surely mention it. Plus, the King is acknowledged to have put the monsters in the temples (“The enemies in the Palace are those that were made and chosen by the King” AoL Manual), so it’s logical that he would have been the one who created the Guardians. Also, if Princess Zelda has been already cursed around the times of ALttP, why was she not woken? Last, it wouldn’t have much sense to put the scroll inside the room no-one can open if it didn’t have any relation with the Princess.

With this evidence I conclude that the Princess Zelda events must have happened during the second unification time. This conclusion is not beyond question, because it still has a major problem: Sleeping Zelda is the very first Zelda.

Names and reincarnations
Canon changes with time. The account of ALttP of the Seal War was right until OoT appeared, Minish didn’t exist in Hyrule until TMC, there was no Triforce of Courage until AoL… There are many examples of canon changing with the appearance of new games. Back on 1988, Nintendo gave an answer to the question “Why do all the Princesses have the same name?”. The answer was the “Legend of Zelda” contained in the AoL manual. But ten years after, with OoT, the answer was proven to be wrong. Nintendo gave another answer, with TWW: reincarnation. Link is said by Ganondorf to be the Hero of Time, reborn; while Tetra has to TRANSFORM into Zelda to assume her role. Both of them are reincarnated. Zelda is more than a name, it’s a condition. You might be asking yourselves, what does this have to do with Sleeping Zelda? More than it looks like.

Jumbie suggested me an idea on this topic: Sleeping Zelda might not be the very first Zelda, but this doesn’t make the sentence “Then, in order to never forget this tragedy, and to keep the memory alive, coming generations of girls in the royal family were always to be named Zelda” meaningless. The Reincarnation theory gives these words a new sense: Since Sleeping Zelda is still alive for a long time (though sleeping), she cannot reincarnate, so there would not be any reason to name the next princesses Zelda. However, the Prince decides the girls born in the Royal Family to be named Zelda, although they wouldn’t be the same Zelda. In conclusion, AoL Zelda is not the very first Zelda, but the princesses that came after that tragedy are named after her.

Specifying the time period of the legend
I have already shown that the Sleeping Zelda events happen during the second unification of the Triforce, i. e. after ALttP. But I think the exact time period can be specified. There is another game that might come after ALttP and still shows the Triforce. Actually they are two games: the Oracles series. Since the Triforce is untouched during the games, the Sleeping Zelda events can’t have happened between ALttP and OoX, so the AoL Zelda must be either the OoX princess or one of her descendants.

There are almost no arguments to think OoX Zelda is the same as the Sleeping Zelda. Though they both live in a time when the Triforce is controlled by Hyrule, their “familial context” is quite different. OoX Zelda is independent: when she has visions it’s not like in OoT, where she tells her father and he doesn’t believe her; she sends Impa to look for the Oracles. On the other hand, AoL Zelda lives under the authority of her father and her brother. From this I conclude that Sleeping Zelda must be a descendant of OoX Zelda.

There is another idea I found really interesting on Davogones’ articles on the topic. The concept of having the whole Triforce hidden because of this tragedy can be applied here, though in a different way. There is a whole series of games where the Triforce is absent, the Four Swords Series. Except for the nice little cameo at the end of FSA and the whole Light Force debate, it’s evident that the Triforce has been forgotten, its memory has faded so much that even Ganon doesn’t try to get it, almost certainly because he doesn’t know where it is, or how to get it. Sleeping Zelda would provide a good explanation for this situation: after the King has the Triforce of Courage hidden, he dies; the Prince tries to get the missing part, Zelda is cursed; and SO THAT THIS TRAGEDY MIGHT NEVER REPEAT, he decides to hide (possibly in Hyrule Castle, as hinted by FSA Ending) the other parts, until sometime before LoZ, the hidden Triforce parts are re-discovered.

The identity of Sleeping Zelda is possibly the oldest unsolved Storyline mystery. A long time has passed since 1988, and it’s extremely unlikely we will be given an official answer about this. Unless TP Zelda is the Sleeping Zelda, something I hope will never happen, I don’t think we will ever hear more about this. With no official explanation, all we fans can do is to speculate.

In this article I have shown that Sleeping Zelda events happened after OoX and probably before FS and FSA. This placing doesn’t provoke the time paradoxes of an earlier one and doesn’t contradict much of what we are told in AoL. In my opinion we should clearly reject the idea of this Zelda being the first one, because of its absolute incompatibility with what we know from other games. Something I have learnt in storyline theorizing is that, in the end, we always have to make sacrifices, to dismiss a tiny part of the canon, to get a logical way of how the rest of the canon could work. In this article I have done this, renounce to an early placing of the legend, that I see completely disproved, to get to a logical conclusion, i.e. an ALttP>OoX>Sleeping Zelda>(TMC)>FS>FSA placing, since during the post-OoX period the Triforce is in the same situation as in the legend. As the scroll seems to have been written by the King, thus before the Princess was cursed, between the Sleeping Zelda time and the AoL one, the Triforce of Courage must have been left untouched, something possible just with this placing.