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Influences on KQ/Books like it?

posted by ATMachine on - last edited - Viewed by 905 users
I cross-posted this from my thread on the Phoenix Online forums, because I thought it deserved a mention here too. I hope that's okay! :D


So I was reading through the issues of InterAction scanned at SierraGamers, and noticed an article which reveals the favorite literature of various Sierra game characters. Graham's is said to be Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (which kick-started the modern interest in the Robin Hood legend), and Rosella's is CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia.

It took a few days for the significance of that last bit to sink in.

Get this: Volume 5 of the Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy, is basically a blueprint for the life story of Alexander of Daventry.

Prince Cor of Archenland, heir to the throne of King Lune, is stolen as a baby by agents of the Tisroc of Calormen (for which read Caliph of Baghdad; Lewis wasn't exactly subtle in drawing on traditional Christian European anti-Muslim prejudice). But the Calormene agents are pursued by the King's men, and eventually a lone Calormene knight sets out with the infant Cor in a boat; the knight dies.

The boat comes to land by the house of a Calormene fisherman, Arsheesh, who takes in the boy and names him Shasta. Raising Shasta as his own child, Arsheesh trains him as a servant, to do all the cleaning and cooking. Moreover, Arsheesh frequently gets drunk and beats Shasta. Shasta, a curious child, often wonders about the lush green lands visible to the north, but Arsheesh will not talk about them.

One day a Calormene noble stops overnight at the fisherman's hut. During the night, he offers to buy Shasta as a slave from Arsheesh. In the course of their conversation, which Shasta overhears, Arsheesh confesses that Shasta is not really his son (he'd always told Shasta that he was in fact his father). While the two Calormenes haggle over a price, Shasta runs away and escapes on the nobleman's horse.

During his flight Shasta falls in with Aravis, a Calormene noblewoman who is running away from a wicked stepmother and an engagement to a repulsive Calormene lord. After several adventures, Shasta returns to his homeland of Archenland, where he is recognized as the long-lost Prince Cor, the rightful heir to the throne. At the end of the novel, Shasta and Aravis help King Lune repel a Calormene invasion. Later, Shasta marries Aravis, and they go on to become King and Queen of Archenland.

To say that KQ3 and KQ6 took a LOT from this novel is an understatement.

Like Cor, Alex is a prince and heir to the royal throne, who is stolen as a baby from his cradle. Alex and Cor are both raised by indifferent father figures: in Alex's case, the evil wizard Mannanan, who trains Alex as a servant and punishes him severely for disobedience, much like Arsheesh does with Shasta. Plus, Alexander is renamed Gwydion, just as Cor gets the new name of Shasta.

Alex is intensely curious about the land that spreads out beneath Mannanan's mountain, but he cannot leave the house because the wizard forbids it. Shasta also is curious about the green lands he can see on the horizon, but Arsheesh will not let him explore them, or even discuss them. Also, Gwydion/Alex escapes only when his master begins plotting his imminent demise, just as Shasta/Cor leaves when he learns that his "father" will sell him to a nobleman as a slave.

Of course, Alex eventually returns home and is feted by his family, just as Cor does. But the similarities don't stop there! A few games later, Alex falls in love with Cassima, a dark-haired girl from the Land of the Green Isles. The people of the Isle of the Crown dress in Arab-style turbans and loose robes, and the royal castle is of "Moorish" architecture. Alex eventually triumphs over a scheming Vizier and weds Cassima, and they become the rulers of the Land of the Green Isles. Similarly, Cor weds Aravis, a dark-haired Calormene (Arab analogue) princess from an Arabian Nights-esque kingdom, and they become monarchs of Archenland.

Funny how shameless Roberta could be sometimes. ;) Of course, given the whole KQ6/Prince of Thieves costume resemblance, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that Sierra liked its "homages." :D
19 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Somebody pointed out on the POS forums, and I forgot to mention it entirely: Cor/Shasta has a twin brother, Prince Corin, who has been raised in Archenland. Now, Rosella is a girl, but she and Alex are twins just the same.
  • Very interesting, thanks for the info :)
  • Hey--

    Two things:

    One, I was wondering what some influences were on KQ's story and tone


    Two, what are some good medieval fantasy stories that have a similar feel to KQ?
  • I've mentioned this elsewhere when you asked this question, but I'll go ahead and restate it. :)

    If you haven't yet read the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, they are about the closest thing to King's Quest that well known fantasy novels get. Minus the fairytale elements, of course.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain are indeed one of the important influences on King's Quest. The series particularly supplied a lot of the names used in KQ3.

    Alexander's name comes from author Lloyd Alexander; his alias Gwydion is taken from the name of a major character in Prydain; and the name of the land of Llewdor comes from that of Fflewddur, another character from the novels. (It's also a slight nod to the Castle of Llyr, which is both a place and the title of the third book in the series.)

    I've already detailed how The Horse and His Boy, one of the books in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series, was a major, major influence on the plot of KQ3 in this thread. If you're interested in what literature influenced KQ, the Narnia series is also pretty important.

    As for movies, King Graham's costume is basically inspired by Robin Hood movies from the first half of the 20th century (such as 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn), while Alexander's outfit in KQ6 is lifted almost directly from Kevin Costner's wardrobe in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

    The 1955 film The Court Jester also seems to have had some influence on KQ, although I've never seen it myself so I can't say for sure. I think this is where the idea for Alexander's royal birthmark (in a sensitive location) comes from, though.
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    puzzlebox Telltale Staff
    ATMachine, I merged up your thread here for everyone to see - that was a pretty informative post. I've loved The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe since I was small, seems it's high time I read the rest of the Narnia series too.
  • Ah, yes, Narnia. The books were brilliant! I never got to finish "Voyage on the Dawntreader"...or what was it's name?

    Anyway, nice memories of my childhood :)
  • ATMachine;472425 said:

    Alexander's name comes from author Lloyd Alexander
    Hmm. And I thought it came from Alexander Graham Bell. I was pretty disappointed to see that Graham's father was called Sir Hereward.
  • *obligatory "All modern fantasy is influenced by Tolkien" post*

    Okay, so there's not a whole lot of major explicit Tolkien influence throughout the series...but there is an elvish ring that turns you invisible, so...
  • Mostly reposted from the KQ Companion Encyclopedia thread, with some additions for context:

    I believe the KQ Omnipedia has already noted this, but the Magic Fruit which Rosella seeks out in order to save Graham's life in KQ4 is taken in part from the Tale of the Three Princes in the 1001 Arabian Nights, wherein a prince, one of three brothers, saves the life of a dying princess with a magic fruit.

    (Funny thing: there was a TV miniseries version of the Arabian Nights about a decade ago, which featured this story... but in the TV version, the prince must save his own father's life, instead of saving a princess.)

    Looking back at the Narnia books, in The Magician's Nephew there's a magical tree in a walled garden, on which grow silver apples. The tree is guarded by a phoenix nesting in its branches. The book's hero, Digory, gains a fruit from the tree and gives it to his seriously ill mother, who is healed by eating it. CS Lewis probably got the idea from the Arabian Nights story.

    There's also a Golden Apple from the Tree of Life in The White Snake, a story in The Green Fairy Book (the same tale, in fact, which provided the magical white snake, the talking-to-animals motif, and even the helpful Ant King seen in KQ5). The hero of The White Snake is told by a princess that he must bring her such an apple if he hopes to win her hand; with the help of animals he befriended earlier, he succeeds in the quest, wins the princess's heart, and becomes king.


    The Green Fairy Book is a collection of fairy tales put together by Andrew Lang in 1892, and in fact is one part of a 12-volume set of Lang's color-coded fairy tale books. It's very interesting, in fact, and seems to have provided a LOT of inspiration for KQ.

    For instance, the tale of Rosanella features a princess named Rosanella, daughter of Queen Balanice. Hmmmm!

    In the book's tale Heart of Ice, the queen of the fairies is named Genesta, and it is she who guides the hero, Mannikin, through many perilous obstacles. Double hmmmm!

    Also, in Prince Narcissus and the Princess Potentilla the hero uses a magic ring, which when worn grants invisibility, to court a princess without being observed by an evil enchanter, who also covets her hand. This may well have inspired the magic ring of invisibility in KQ1. (As in KQ1, and most unlike the One Ring in Lord of the Rings, this ring is not malevolent in any way.)

    There's also Prince Featherhead and the Princess Celandine, whose heroine hails from the Summer Islands. Possibly this was an inspiration for the Green Isles, home of Princess Cassima, first mentioned in KQ5.

    (Cassima's name is probably taken from the story of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, from the Arabian Nights--Ali Baba's brother is named Cassim.)
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