This article expresses the author’s thoughts and contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Without a doubt, the Triforce, made up of three golden triangles that together represent power, wisdom, and courage, is one of the most prevalent elements in The Legend of Zelda’s franchise. Much of the lore has revolved around this sacred artifact that is said to hold ultimate power. The Triforce is almost as ancient as Hyrule itself, and since then, countless wars have been fought in order to obtain its power.
But what exactly is the Triforce? It is often defined as the essence of the Golden Goddesses; this “essence” may be what has been referred to in the Zelda universe as “Life Force”. Life Force exists in all living things, and it is what constitutes Force Gems, which are Life Force in physical form. It can be speculated that the Triforce is really just a set of powerful Force Gems, a fraction of the Golden Goddesses’ Life Force.
Unlike the Triforce, Force Gems have not been a part of the Zelda franchise since its beginnings. They first appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, and while they were an important part of the gameplay, their presence was not fully explained; only that they are the Four Sword’s power source that the Wind Sorcerer Vaati release from the Four Sword. Force Gems seemed like a small aspect of the series that would come and go, but they returned again in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, in which they are once again important, though in more subtle ways, and they are bound to show up again sometime in the future.
The first parallel between the Triforce and Force Gems is in their names. Force Gems and Life Force, as well the Light Force, a mysterious power that is central to the plot of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, are all distinguished as separate by their different names, but in the Japanese versions of the Zelda titles they appear in, they are all simply referred to by the same name: Force. This is apparent on page 120 of Hyrule Historia, Force Gems are confused as “Light Force,” but maybe it was not a mistranslation. The relation of Force to the Triforce itself must be why Force was given its name.
Similarities of the Triforce and Force Gems go beyond containing “Force” in the names. When looking at the Force Gems, their triangular shape instantly brings to mind the familiar, golden equilaterals. Force Gems themselves vary in color, but they are often seen to be golden as well. While these connections are only aesthetic, they are an important link as the appearance Life Force normally takes is consistent. The Light Force is even depicted as a golden triangle.
The creation of the Triforce and Force Gems seems to differ. The Triforce is said to have been created by the goddesses as they departed from Hyrule, but it is unknown why it was made. Force Gems, as mentioned, come from Life Force, and in Spirit Tracks, it is explained by the Lokomo Carben that when living things express strong feelings of happiness and gratitude, their energy may form a Force Gem. Perhaps the goddesses felt such emotions after they had finished building Hyrule, and then the Triforce was born from those emotions.
The Lokomo crest
Force Gems, in contrast to the Triforce, do not have a limited affiliation with specific gods. In Phantom Hourglass, Oshus reveals that the Sand of Hours contained in the Phantom Hourglass actually is Force Gems made from the Ocean King’s abundant Life Force. Larger Force Gems are found in the Temple of the Ocean King, and they are need to solve a puzzle by arranging them in a Triforce-shaped pattern. In Spirit Tracks, the crest associated with the Lokomo and the so-called Spirits of Good has a Force Gem at its center. After Link completes the first temple, it shown that Force Gems turn out to be what power the Spirit Tracks. It appears that the gods’ power comes from Force.
One comparison can also be seen in the powers of the Triforce and Force. The Triforce holds untold power. Each of the three pieces of the Triforce seems to have its own abilities, but they are strongest when united, powerful enough to grant wishes. Force Gems are said to be the source of all magic. They provide the Four Sword the Power to Repel, fill the Phantom Hourglass, and energize the Spirit Tracks that imprison the Demon King. What is most significant is that the Ocean King has the power to grant wishes when all of his Force Gems are restored to him. It is interesting to note that on page 78 of the Hyrule Historia, the Light Force is described as “a source of infinite power from the heavens that holds the enormous power of the Force, which originally dwelled in all things”. Ezlo, the Minish sage, says it has limitless magical power. It is rumored to grant wishes, and that is exactly what is does when Princess Zelda combines it with Ezlo’s magic cap.
Much like the Triforce, the power of Force can be exploited for evil purposes. Fiends like Demise and the Interlopers struggled with the forces of good to reach it, and it was finally Ganon who claimed the Triforce. Just as Ganon has attempted to use the Triforce to fufill his dark desires, Vaati uses the Light Force to further transform himself into a more powerful being. Bellum attacked the Ocean King because of his tremendous Life Force which Bellum drains from him and creates monsters and the Ghost Ship from his Sand of Hours to collect more Life Force. Wherever the Triforce and Force are, evil will often try to steal them.
With that, there is plenty of evidence supporting the notion that the Triforce is made of Force Gems. This theory is an idea that retroactively explains a part of the series that been around since its release. However, with The Legend of Zelda, it is important to keep an open mind as new lore is being added all the time, changing what we thought we knew about Zelda. As more games are released, the Zelda universe expands, and we learn more, so maybe soon we will know for certain what the Triforce really is.
For my analysis about the first official artwork of A Link Between Worlds, click here.