The most important years of a young adults life is the teen years. Outgrowing the fantasies of childhood and accepting the true wonders of the world is an essential part of human experience. But there are those who don’t get to enjoy the transition. They are forced to focus on other, more important things. Through circumstances out of their control, they grow up too fast, and end up sacrificing their own childhoods for the sake of others. Such is the story of Sheik; born of exile, and raise in secrecy. Sheik’s mission in life was simple: to save the land she endangered. To right her wrong. Music and friends and self discovery were going to have to wait.
Every story has to start with a birth, right? The circumstances surrounding Sheik’s birth are anything but original. To put it into three simple words: She messed up. Princess Zelda, the woman behind the mask, tried desperately to protect her kingdom. In her infantile wisdom she was able to discern the evil intentions of the man pledging allegiance to her father, but she was too inexperienced to deal with the situation. The plan she hatched, to have the fairy boy open the Sacred Realm and obtain the Triforce, was destined to backfire in the most horrible of ways. And it was this failure that helped birth Sheik.
Ganondorf takes notice. Zelda makes a dismissive comment of “He doesn’t know what we are planning!” and goes about her scheme with Link. She lets her status override better judgement, and she doesn’t take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of her plan. Her downfall is coming, but it is this downfall that allows Zelda’s true abilities to shine.
Before you take to the comments section with “Sheik is a man!” let me defend just as to why she is in this list of incredible women. As stated by Nintendo themselves, Sheik is a female disguised as a male. In fact, I will argue that it is her feminine qualities that enable her to be able to hide within another gender identity so well. Zelda is able to cast off her role of regal and take on the life of a servant, a task many would never be able to accomplish. It takes great humility to admit you screwed up, and even greater courage to right said wrong.
Seven years. Seven years. To those of us who played Ocarina of Time seven years is an instant followed by a landscape change. But for those who didn’t get to sleep in the sacred realm, seven years was a lifetime. And for Sheik, seven years was meant for exile, training, scouting, and recusing. It is unknown where Sheik and Impa spent the seven year exile, but my theory is they went north to the area that would later be settled in Twilight Princess. In this time the area would be barren, and they could plan in peace. The reason I say plan instead of live is because Impa spent this time training Sheik. They didn’t just sit around waiting for someone to come rescue them. Sure, they new that Link would be back someday, but that day was not today and this day could not be wasted waiting. Time was of the essence and Sheik spent her time wisely. She learned who the seven sages were, and did her best to keep them safe until the Hero returned.
Wisdom chose Zelda, but I do not believe it chose Sheik. I believe Sheik embodied the courage that was missing from the world for the seven years Link spent sleeping. Zelda took on a dual role in order to keep Hyrule balanced. But since her courage wasn’t of the triforce, it wasn’t enough to keep Ganondorf at bay. But it was enough to keep some order within Hyrule until the day the Hero of Time could right the world. She is my personal favorite Woman of Legend, and if Nintendo ever published a game about her time in Hyrule I wouldn’t hesitate to spend all my rupees!