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Influences on KQ/Books like it?

posted by ATMachine on - last edited - Viewed by 309 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

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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
  • 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.

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    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.)

  • Trawling further through Lang's Green Fairy Book, the story of Prince Vivien and the Princess Placida includes a good fairy named Lolotte. Triple hmmm!

    The same tale also includes the Kingdom of the Green Lands--combine this with the Summer Islands and you get the Green Isles.

  • Interestingly, the original black-and-white illustrations in The Green Fairy Book, by H. J. Ford, all show the heroes in Renaissance-era clothing. Perhaps this was what the artists of KQ6 had in mind when they drew a character portrait sketch of Valanice in an Elizabethan-style dress, and when they modified Kevin Costner's Prince of Thieves costume into the slightly more Tudor-esque garment worn by Alex in KQ6.

  • OK, I've now gotten into The Three Dogs, a tale in The Green Fairy Book in which a shepherd (with the help of his pet dogs) slays a dragon. Said dragon is in the habit of demanding a yearly maiden sacrifice, and this year the allotted victim is the King's daughter. The shepherd ultimately marries the Princess and becomes the new King of the realm.

    At this rate the Hmmm! factor is becoming exponential.

    Also, many of the original illustrations for the book, by H.J. Ford, depict the heroes of the tales with mustaches. This may be why Graham appears to have a mustache in the drawings found in the original KQ1 and KQ2 manuals.

  • I mentioned this in another thread;

    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.

    This actually was likely inspired directly from the Biblical Tree of Life, C.S. Lewis was known for inserting a large amount of Biblical allegory into his stories. The walled off garden is inspired by Eden. Infact, much of the Magician's Nephew is inspired from the story of Creation!

    In KQ4 AGI version, the tree in the game is even called the 'Tree of Life', like the biblical tree of the same name! Any reference by that name in fairy tales tends to originates out of the bible.
    For instance, in its tale 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.)

    Magic Rings are a dime a dozen in fairy tales actually.

    Tolkien's one ring, originally wasn't 'malevolent' that's a retcon made in LOTR Trilogy. Originally it was inspired by many of the traditional invisible rings of legend. In the original edition of the Hobbit, there was nothing malevolent about it (and how Bilbo obtained the ring was different), and the story was intended to be a children's fairy tale..

    LOTR then drew inspiration from the Ring of Nibelung, which presented one such ring as a ring of world domination.

    Peter Spear suggests that the inspiration behind the invisible ring in KQ is a fairy tale in which a ring is given to Rosimond by a fairy he encountered in the woods and talked to (not unlike Graham encountering an elf, and receiving a ring after talking to him).

    "Rosimond was given an enchanted ring by a fairy. This ring was gold with a diamond in its center, if the diamond were turned, it would render the ring's wearer invisible. The ring also had the power to give its wearer the shape of the king's son. At first the ring seemed a great gift, but grief and sorrow followed it everywhere. In the end, Rosimond returned the ring to the fairy, saying that it is dangerous to have more power than the rest of the world."

    Note that Rosimond's ring is also one of the rings that suggest to have world powerful connotations, but also negative aspects (brings grief and sorrow). Albeit its not near as negative as the one in LOTR.

    Rosimond also originates from the Green Book, the story is, 'The Enchanted Ring'! Other titles of the story include 'Rosimond and Braminte'.
    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

    I think there may also be inspiration from island hopping tales like Gulliver's Travels and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in which each island visited includes progressively interesting cultures, and themes.

    Obviously each island also is drawn upon various fairy tales and myth as well.

  • OK, so for whatever reason I got it into my head today to look up Zoroastrianism on Wikipedia. It led me to the concept of asha, the religion's core concept of goodness, which is usually translated with some variant of the phrase "truth, right(eousness), and order."

    This is, it seems, where the three cardinal virtues "truth, light, and order" in Mask of Eternity come from. In interviews about Mask, Roberta Williams said she intended spirituality to be the core theme explored in the game.

    A further Google search led me to discover that the phrase "Masks of Eternity" was used by scholar Joseph Campbell in his TV miniseries The Power of Myth (later largely transcribed in a book of the same name) as another name for "the Masks of God," his term for the varying interpretations of universal truth that are unique to each culture.

    So... I guess Roberta took this metaphorical mask and made it into a literal mask. Interesting.

    Roberta Williams has also said that she wanted Mask to be more inspired by the works of JRR Tolkien than were her previous games, which had frequently drawn on Walt Disney's movies for inspiration. Funny, given the general fan consensus (which I agree with) that KQ and Tolkien are two entirely different flavors of fantasy!

  • There's lots of books that could be good reading for a KQ fan. Someone already mentioned the Pyrdain series (which was also the inspiration for the movie Black Cauldron) and there's also the Earthsea series of books. Of course, I was mostly a fan of the the more lighthearted entries in the series (V, VII) so I would also recommend the Discworld and MYTH Inc series as they both have fun messing around with mythology.

  • Actually both Gwydion and Manannan, and possibly some of the other name are based on earlier Irish, Welsh, and Celtic myths. In fact the Prydain chronicles are largely inspired by or a retelling of Welsh myth.

    The Companion actually goes into more detail concerning the original myths that inspired the characters. This is not to say that Prydain chronicles didn't serve as an additional inspiration in addition to the original legends.

    In the original legends Manannan and Gwydion were connected in the myths.

  • Nice discussion!

    I also discovered a fairly cool and obscure reference that inspired one of the elements in KQ6;

    It turns out that the Night Mare actually goes back to some rather early versions of Greek Myth. Pre-Pegasus even.
    http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/Night_Mare

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    harrisonpink Telltale Staff

    Don't want to hijack this thread and turn it into a "you know what fantasy series is great?" thread, but if you haven't read the Chronicles of Amber, I can't recommend it highly enough. The writing style and story are so unique, I was extremely surprised how quickly it drew me in.

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