Gwydion is the name of several individuals with ties to Manannan. In KQ3, it was the name Manannan gave to Prince Alexander, whom he had made slave boy on top of his mountain in Llewdor. There are even stories that link Manannan with a Welsh hero by the name of Gwydion.[1]


There are many tales told of Gwydion, a great magician and maker of illusions. He is said to have had a way with words, and the name Gwydion even means "to speak poetry". Many of the tales of Gwydion are of his youth as a magician and warrior. Unlike the Gwydion of Daventry, the Welsh youth Gwydion was head-strong. He became embroiled in a number of dubious, if not evil, incidents. In one, he and his brother stole a pair of animals from King Arawn of the underworld. In the ensuing battle of Cad Goddeu, Gwydion transformed a forest into an army of sentient trees.

At another time, Gwydion cast his illusions to start a war in order that his brother might obtain a woman he desired. That act led to massacre, murder, and worse. The punishment Gwydion and his brother suffered for their acts was to be turned each year into beasts that must mate with each other. Their offspring were to be their reminders of how they had offended nature.

In later life, Gwydion redeemed himself and became known as a giver and restorer of life, working with the natural world for good purposes.[2]

Slave Gwydion

The slave Gwydion was kidnapped soon after his birth by the wizard Manannan himself, near the shores of Lake Maylie (or from his royal nursery).

Manannan renamed him Gwydion. Manannan had a cat (a previous rival of Manannan's that got the cat cookie treatment) who didn't like Gwydion. Gwydion was forced to work for Manannan as a slave. He was nearing his 18th birthday and he knew that he was soon going to die, so he prepared his plan of escape.

He knew that Manannan was extremely punctual and his life ran like clockwork. So he knew he could sneak around at certain times and learn things around the country of Llewdor and within Manannan's home. Eventually, he learned different spells during his secret travels around the land of Llewdor, and turned Manannan into a cat (using the aforementioned cat cookie recipe) and escaped.

He met the Oracle of Llewdor who gave him some information about his past, and he learned about his sister, and the danger she was in. He was able to learn more about his past from animals in Llewdor including his name, Alexander, and the names of his family.

He booked passage on a ship bound for Daventry, but the crew turned out to be pirates, and he was captured by them, but was able to escape them also, through the use of one of his learned spells.

Eventually he made it to Daventry where he learned many more interesting pieces about his past. Including more about himself, and his name finally being confirmed. He fought the Three-headed Dragon killing it with a spell and saving his sister. He showed her his birthmark to prove who he was[3].

He still thought of himself as Gwydion many years after his return to Daventry, and treated the name Alexander as if it was just another identity that he wears much like a cloak. His full name became Alexander-Gwydion[4]

Behind the scenes

Gwydion fab Dôn in Welsh mythology was the name of a son of the goddess Don. In the mythology he has connections to Manannan Mac Lir.

Gwydion is a character in The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. This may be another connection between the names Gwydion and Alexander.

The idea of a powerful wizard keeping slaves or young child apprentices/servants (with no intention of teaching magic) is also not an original idea. In many stories old Wizards (or powerful old nobleman) often take on female slaves/brides, with the possible intent of killing them when they grow tired of them (sometimes to go on to replace them with someone else), see Bluebeard.

But it appears in a form that more closely resembles the events of KQ3, in stories such as 'The Thief and His Master' (a german fairy tale) (in which a father sells his son to a Master-Thief/Magician, and the story involves the child's various attempts to escape from both his Dad and his magician master).  Another story Master and Pupil (a danish fairy tale) has a boy who becomes a servant for a wizard, and learns spells under his nose, and escapes back to his parents. When the wizard finds out he goes back to his father and buys the boy from him to enslave him, and prevent him from using magic. The boy uses magic to escape the wizard, after a chase and magic duel, the wizard turns into a hen, and then boy turns into a polecat, and bites the bird's head off. In an Italian story, Maestro Lattantio and His Apprentice Dionigi, a wizard-tailor takes on a boy as his tailor apprentice/servant, but the boy is more interested in learning about magic than being a tailor, and spies on his master to learn magic. The boy is lazy, and often punished by his master (but the boy bore it, if only to secretly learn magic). The story ends with the wizard turning into a rooster, and the boy a fox cutting off the wizard's head. A similar story appears in the story Farmer Weathersky from the Red Fairy Book from the Andrew Lang's Fairy Books series (which was a huge influence on Roberta Williams). In the story, the wizard Weathersky kidnaps the boy on his magic flying slay, forcing the father to come to his rescue. Later the boy having to defend himself from the wizard, who is trying to kill him by using the wizards own spells against him (ending with the wizard turning into a cock, and having its head bitten off by the boy in Fox form).These stories likely influenced the ending of Wizard and the Princess and the wanderer changing into a cat, to eat wizard Harlin who was in bird form. Most of these stories have in common is the wizard chase/duel, which is a theme that appears in KQ5, and Wizard and the Princess.

Another story which could have been a possible influence is the story 'The Magic Book' from the Orange Fairy Book from Andrew Lang's Fairy Books. In the story a boy becomes a magicians servant, boy disobeys magician's rules to stay out of a forbidden room, inside he finds magic book to learn forbidden magic/shapeshifting, the boy runs away from wizard. This story may also have any number of influences on both KQ3 see Gwydion's story, and The Sorcery of Old, and in KQ5, see Iconomancy.

The fact that there has been more than one Gwydion, according to the King's Quest Companion, 2nd Edition, may imply that Gwydion is a name that Manannan has given to all his slaves; in memory of the Welsh hero he once knew when he lived in the Other World. This however, is not confirmed, and neither has the names of any previous slave in official material. Perhaps Manannan just has a habit of naming his slaves after people of his past, and they could be named after any number of characters from the Welsh legends.


  1. King's Quest Companion, 2nd Edition, pg 485
  2. KQC, 2nd Edition, pg 473, 474
  3. Narrator (KQ3):"Bashfully, you introduce yourself to your long-lost sister. \"How can I be sure you're really my brother?\" Princess Rosella wonders. \"I know! My mother always said that Alexander had a cute birthmark on his bottom. Let me see if you have it.\" Embarrassed, you reveal your cute birthmark. \"Oh Alexander!\" she cries,\"You really ARE back! Mum and Dad will be SOOOOO happy!"
  4. King's Quest Companion, 3rd Edition, 238
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