The King's Quest games are stories. Good stories. Stories not about shooting or kung-fuing things up, or hacking monsters to taco-sized bits with the magic sword of Whatchamacallit, but stories about people and their magical adventures. Their heartbreaks and their triumphs. Stories anyone - old, young, in-between, or non-committal - can enjoy. Let us relate to you a story about the games themselves.
The first time we ever heard about King's Quest was in December of 1984 when we were mooching some review software from John Williams of Sierra On-Line.
"Listen, kid! John said. "We've got this revolutionary new game that you gotta see. It's called King's Quest, and it's just like an animated cartoon. Trust me." Understand something, John is not now and, to the best of our knowledge, has never been a snake oil salesman. He doesn't even talk like one. Not in our presence anyway. But hype is often an alternate spelling of "extolling the wonders of the latest computer game." Except in the case of King's Quest, John may have been understating his case.
King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride was released in November 1994, the 10th. anniversary of the release of the original game. Over this period of time, the King's Quest series has become the best-selling computer game series in history. By the time you read this, it will have sold more than 3 million copies, most during times when any game selling even 100,000 units was considered a mega hit. One can also make a good guess that another 15 million more copies have been illegally duplicated and (presumably) played.
Two things made King's Quest revolutionary in the beginning. First, the game was fully animated. King Graham (the hero) actually moved from place to place; a dragon's flames needed to be avoided, a bean stalk needed climbing, and a lake needed to be swum. Watching where Graham stepped became as important as figuring out what to do next and how to do it. No one had ever done this before in a full-blown graphic adventure game. There were plenty of action games on the market, but there were no animated cartoons until King's Quest.
The second revolutionary aspect was that the game was written to run on the IBM PC. King's Quest was the first major game to be written for a computer that most people considered to be a serious business tool. OK, so it briefly came out first in black and white, although there were color versions of other types of "home" computers. But, a the time, color cards were rare on PCs. King's Quest demanded them and, over the years, better and better ones. They were still years away from being called "video" cards.
The King's Quest games are also "interactive multimedia" games from before the term was invented. Over its first 10 years, the King's Quest games (along with other Sierra titles) have ignited the popularity, and now necessity, of color graphics in better and better clarity and resolutions. The series set, and keeps setting, higher standards for animation and graphics. It was the first major product to champion sound cards. Along the way King's Quest V was one of the first major CD-ROM hits. And with King's Quest VII, the series introduces animations as smooth and clean as traditional Hollywood cell animation.
We must also point out that the creator, designer, and writer of that first King's Quest game was a woman named Roberta Williams. Although Roberta had been designing hit adventure games for some years prior to King's Quest, the games' enormous successes played a big part in bringing more and more woman into what was once a heavily male-dominated line of work. This is not a shabby lists of achievements.
We guess John was right when he said, "Trust me!"
This is all interesting stuff, in its way, but what really keeps people coming back by the millions are the stories. They're the real magic of King's Quest. Stories about a family, the royal family of a kingdom known as Daventry. Stories of people you can care about. Stories that make you laugh and cry. Stories of wonders and magical deeds. Stories to make you rush on in excitement and scratch your (preferred body part) in puzzlement. Stories that make you think. It is said that when a preview of King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella was first shown to an invited audience, a person wept when King Graham apparently collapsed and died.
King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride tells the dual stories of Princess Rosella and Queen Valanice as they quest through the land of Etheria. You don't need to know anything at all about what happened in the earlier six adventures in order to enjoy this one. Still, you might be curious about what has been going on in Daventry over the years, so here is the story so far:
King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (1984)Edit
(The original title was plain ol' King's Quest) tells the story of a young knight of Daventry named Graham. He's summoned by his monarch, King Edward, who had no heirs. Graham was tasked to find the three great, and now lost, treasures of the realm before invaders overran the kingdom. He is promised the throne of Daventry as a reward if he is successful.
Suitably motivated, Graham tromped off, defeated a fire-breathing dragon to retrieve the Magic Mirror, fiddled around a bit with some leprechauns to get back the Magic Shield, and climbed to the top of a really big beanstalk to get the ever-full Chest of Gold from a giant. The dragon, broomstick witch, sorcerer, troll, hungry wolf, nasty dwarf, and riddlesome Rumplestiltskin he encountered along the way kept life interesting for him.
When Graham, quests completed, finally returned to Castle Daventry with the treasures, good King Edward was true to his word and gave Graham his crown. Then the ex-monarch dropped dead on the spot, immediately eliminating any of the inconveniences that are possible when an ex-king is hanging around while the new kid on the throne is trying to rule.
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne (1985)Edit
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne begins a year or two later. Graham has become comfortable in the king business except for one tiny detail. He needs a queen. That decision made, he checks out the magic mirror and, Lo!, he sees a beautiful maiden held captive in a Crystal Tower. She has been kidnapped by a wicked witch named Hagatha, and is crying out for rescue.
If you were a young king - and a single one at that - what would you do?
Graham decided to stop kinging it for a bit and try his hand at the rescuing-fair-maidens business. He travels to the land of Kolyma where he finds the wicked witch in question. The princess, however, is somewhere else. To free her, Graham needs to find three keys, each opening a magical doorway that is on the far side of a bottomless chasm. The bridge between is a killer.
To find the three keys, Graham needs to visit King Neptune beneath the waves, duck out on Hagatha's cuisine, pay his respects to Riding Hood, fly a magic carpet, and accompany Death to Count Dracula's castle so he can stake out a certain coffin. The mermaid, genie, jewels, and occasional grandma along the way help take his mind off of another mean dwarf and the big, bad wolf.
Through the final door and across a lavender ocean, Graham at last finds the object of his quest. It's love at first sight, of course. A simple kiss later, King Graham and Valanice are married.
King's Quest III: To Heir is Human (1986)Edit
King's Quest III: To Heir is Human jumps ahead nearly 20 years after Graham and Valanice's wedding. They are nowhere to be seen.
In the land of Llewdor, there lives an evil magician named Manannan. How evil is he? Instead of employing servants to cater to his peculiar needs, he keeps a slave, just one, a young boy whom he kidnaps and then raises from infancy. When the slave reaches his 18th birthday, there is no party - Manannan kills him and starts over with another boy. Now that's evil!
Gwydion is Manannan's current slave. He's three days shy of 18 and needs to escape. His plan is simple and dangerous. Each time his master either naps or poofs off someplace, he explores. First he breaks into the wizard's secret laboratory and discovers a spell book. In Manannan's study, he discovers the magic wand needed to create the spells. From then on, whenever possible, he will rush down from the mountain top, where the house sits, to gather ingredients for the magic spells.
One spell lets Gwydion understand what the small animals chatter between themselves. From them and a neighborhood oracle, he learns that he is really a kidnapped prince. He also finds out that he has a sister, a twin. Oh, by the way, she's soon to be sacrificed to a three-headed fire-breathing dragon. Happy birthday.
Surviving close calls with Medusa, some nasty bandits and the Three Bears, Gwydion is finally able to turn Manannan into a cat and escape. Free at last, he goes into town and is kidnapped by a band of pirates who could recognize a country bumpkin when they saw one.
The brigands transport Gwydion across the sea, but just before they reach land, he is able to dive overboard and escape. From there he travels over the mountains, past an abominable snowman, down cliffs of sudden death and arrives in, of all places, Daventry.
The kingdom is in ruins; a dragon has been wreaking havoc for years. Gwydion meets Rumplestiltskin (or a close relative) and discovers that he is Prince Alexander of Daventry. His sister, Rosella, is a that very moment being sacrificed to the dragon. She had been sent there by her - their! - father, King Graham.
Alexander isn't about to let any little old monster disturb the family reunion. He defeats the dragon, rescues his sister, and arrives in Castle Daventry in triumph. Upon meeting his son, King Graham passes the torch of adventuring to his children by throwing his adventuring cap to them. The story ends with the cap still in flight.
King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (1988)Edit
King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella picks up at the very moment the prior game ended.
Before Graham's adventurer's cap touches the floor, he collapses as if dead. The good fairy, Genesta, appears to inform Rosella that the only way to save her father's life is to travel to the land of Tamir and bring back a magical fruit she will find there. Rosella agrees, Genesta poofs them to Tamir, and then tells the princess that she won't be able to take the fruit home unless she first recovers the fairy's magic Talisman from the evil (surprised?) Lolotte. And you thought used-bridge salespeople are a tad liberal with the entire truth.
Undaunted, but perhaps a bit miffed, Rosella quests on and finds the magic fruit. In the great tradition of both her mother and brother, however, she gets herself kidnapped by Lolotte, a wicked witch down to the green of her skin. Her son Edgar leers, drooling, over her shoulder. Lolotte demands Rosella bring her a unicorn in order to escape death.
After escaping from the belly of a whale in order to satisfy Lolotte's demand, Rosella returns with a unicorn.
The ungrateful witch demands a second gift, the hen that lays golden eggs. For this Rosella needs to escape a princess-eating ogre. A hungry princess-eating ogre. And his wife.
Mission accomplished, Lolotte is still not finished with Rosella. This time she wants Pandora's Box.
Rosella is not pleased, of course, but three deadly crones, one mummy, a couple of ghosts, and a graveyard filled with hungry zombies later,she staggers back with the required item. Lolotte is ecstatic. But instead of freedom, her reward is to be marriage to Edgar - a fate worse than death. She is imprisoned in Edgar's bedroom.
A small noise is heard at the door, and a rose is slipped under it. It's a rose concealing the key to her prison. Rosella escapes the room and finds her way to Lolotte's bedroom. She opens the door and is able to shoot an Arrow of Love through Lolotte's black heart. The witch melts, and Rosella is able to recover Genesta's Talisman.
Rosella makes her away back to Genesta's castle with the Talisman and magic fruit. There she discovers that the rose had been slipped to her by Edgar, who really wasn't as bad as he was set up to be. Genesta rewards Edgar by transforming him into a beautiful prince. Rosella is returned in a flash to Castle Daventry where the magic fruit restores King Graham to full health and provides a happy ending to the game.
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder (1990)Edit
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder takes place some unspecified time after The Perils of Rosella. King Graham returns home after a morning's stroll to find a hole where Castle Daventry once stood.
From a near tree comes the voice of an owl named Cedric. Familiar to the wizard Crispinophur, Cedric explains that the castle was whirled away by an evil wizard, Mordack. Graham's family had been taken along for the ride, kidnapped together this time.
Cedric flies Graham to his master in Serenia to seek answers and help. Help means giving the king a magic wand in need of a charge and Cedric for company.
Graham adventured through Serenia, gathering and trading the supplies they would need for the journey eastward to Mordack's island. By the time they were provisioned, they had escaped the endless desert and its blood-thirsty bandits, given aid to the kingdoms of both the ants and the bees, defeated the obligatory evil witch and found the needle in a haystack.
Across the mountains they ventured. Captured and threatened by the Ice Queen, Graham bests a Yeti in its lair so as to save Cedric's life. Reunited, the two make their way to the sea and sail still farther east in quest of Graham's family and Mordack's castle. Then, tragedy struck. On the first island they come to they are attacked by harpies. Cedric is left for dead.
Graham finds aid for the near-lifeless owl, but he must continue onward alone to the castle. Once there, he emerges from Mordack's basement maze (doesn't everybody have one?) and befriends the captured Princess Cassima, kidnapped by Mordack from the Green Isles for refusing to marry him. Graham finally confronts Mordack in his laboratory. As all seems lost for the monarch, Cedric arrives in the nick of time and saves Graham from sure death. The king is able to use Crispinophur's recharged magic wand to defeat Mordack in a duel of magical spells.
As the smoke clears in Mordack's laboratory, Crispinophur arrives to restore Graham's family to their normal size and Castle Daventry to its home. Prince Alexander and Cassima meet and fall in love at first sight. She invites the prince back to her place in the Green Isles. Crispinophur wraps things up by teleporting everybody home. Arm in arm, the Royal Family of Daventry returns to their castle.
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (1992)Edit
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow continues the story of Alexander and Princess Cassima.
The prince is moping about the throne room one day when the image of Cassima appears in the trusty old magic mirror. She is staring out a tower window, looking troubled. Alex immediately hires a ship and heads off for the land of the Green Isles. The trouble is, nobody is quite sure where they are. No matter, the prince had read the star pattern in the sky above Cassima and is sure he can navigate to them. After a long voyage, the expedition is wrecked on rocks. Alexander is the only survivor. But he had made it to the Green Isles.
At the palace of Cassima's parents, King Caliphim and Queen Allaria, he meets the vizier Alhazred and learns that they have died. Cassima, he is told, is in mourning and cannot see him. Anyway, she's going to marry Alhazred soon. Alex is shown the door and told to leave the isles.
The trouble is, there is no way off the islands and no ferry between them. And the rulers of the different islands have grudges against each other; war seems inevitable. As Alexander is learning this, and throughout this adventure, he is followed by Alhazred's personal genie, who keeps attempting to lure him to his death.
Alex is sure that something is wrong with Alhazred's version of events. Using a convenient magic map, he travels between all of the islands and sets things right.
The winged rulers of the Isle of the Sacred Mountain are sure that the Isle of Wonder has stolen its greatest treasure, the Golden Fleece. Alexander is sent into the catacombs there, but he earns Lord Azure and Lady Aerial's eternal gratitude by defeating the minotaur that lived there and rescuing their daughter.
The inhabitants of The Isle of Wonder, which is full of visual puns and nonsense, are sure that their great treasure, the Singing Stone, has been made away with by the ruler of the Isle of the Beast. Alex brings peace between its two rulers, the Red and White Queens, by ensuring they both have identical lumps of coal to give as wedding presents to Cassima.
The beast who ruled over the self-named Isle is angry at those from the Isle of the Mists, blaming them for the loss of his jeweled coat of arms. The Beast lived under a curse that would not be lifted until a bride would come to him of her own will, despite his animal exterior. Alexander earns the Beast's friendship by bringing Beauty to him, thus restoring him to manhood.
The druids of the Isle of Mists are convinced that their Sacred Oak is in the possession of the winged folk of the Sacred Mountain. By casting a spell to bring rain and fertility to their island, the druids point the prince to the Isle of the Dead where, they think, it might be possible to restore Cassima's parents to life.
Beyond the gates of death, Alexander challenges the Lord of Death himself, making him cry. Caliphim and Allaria are released to again join the ranks of the living. They head off to assemble the other rulers of the Green Isles, and Alexander dashes off to free Cassima from what he now knows is imprisonment.
Back at the castle, Alex is able to sneak inside. In one room he discovers all of the stolen treasure of the islands - Alhazred had been the true thief. In the vizier's study was written proof that not only had Alhazred killed the king and queen, but he intended to kill Cassima after marrying her. Alexander stops the ceremony, discovering that the genie is impersonating Cassima. He chases the fleeing Alhazred to the top of the highest tower and barely prevents him from killing her. In the climactic sword fight, Cassima's bravery allows Alex the opportunity to prevail.
Alexander and Cassima lock eyes. He proposes. She accepts. Her parents relinquish their titles so that Alexander and Cassima marry and become king and queen of the Green Isles. They throw a great wedding reception.
Behind the scenesEdit
This source contains a couple of timeline related notes, it points out that KQ2 takes place a year (KQ2 Manual/King's Quest Companion) or two (KQ5 Hintbook?) after KQ1. It mentions that KQ3 is set nearly twenty years after KQ2; a reference to About KQV, and reference in the companion to the series taking place: 'over the course of 20 or 25 years. A similar reference is mentioned in the Synopsis in KQ8 manual (although that discusses KQ6 in relation to KQ1 as being approximately twenty years apart) but also follows more the OT timeline (rather than the Anniversary timeline). In another chapter of the KQ7AG, it also mentions that events of the 'first six games of the series' takes place: '...the first 20 years or so of the reign of King Graham  which appears to relate to these references.
In addition The Stories So Far states that Alexander was about three days short of eighteen which is about as specific a date given in any source (compared to the novels this would suggest that the birthdate is on the first few days of fall). On the other hand some of the other sources suggest he was weeks from the birthday instead.
The synopsis for KQ5 states that the game takes place an 'unspecified' amount of time after KQ4. However as noted in other articles the various KQ5 manuals, and KQ8 Synopsis state that it occurs about a year after KQ4.
Finally its worth noting that another 'prologue'-type section in the book called: The Story Begins makes reference to the fact that Rosella is almost 20 years old, which is another date important to understanding the authorized guides and Companion's dating.
- 1 GC
- 2 GC or 3 GC
- 3 GC
- Twins birth
- 21 GC
The eighteen year date and the 20 year date put together places the twins birth at about 2 GC. This would place it either in the same year as the wedding or the year after (depending on which date for KQ2 given is used). The birthdate 2 GC more or less corresponds with the Anniversary timeline (the novel timeline and manuals for the first three games) spot on. Technically that would place 19 years between KQ2 and KQ3 just shy of twenty (except if the twins birth occurs within the same year as KQ2).
However, as noted that the exact date of the twins birth after KQ2 is not given. If it was within the same year as KQ2 (assuming KQ2 take place near the beginning of the year) or the following year changes the context.
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