King's Quest Omnipedia

The bones of 'the wanderer'

The wanderer is the title given to the unnamed barbarian hero from the future that defeated Harlin the Malevolent to save the lovely Princess Priscilla, due to paradox of time travel she was rescued. The hero rescued Priscilla, and she later went on to marry Kenneth the Huge after the wanderer refused. Harlin being evil rose to power again, and found an individual to send back through time to the period before his defeat, to 'repeat' the actions but expecting a different outcome. Due to obvious paradox that was created by this situation, he sent back the one who had defeated him in the first place. Priscilla states that the future individual is the one who had been ('and would become') the wanderer.

'The wanderer' was apparently of nobility as his kiss was able to turn the frog princess back into a human.


Eons into the future, a wandering barbarian was discovered by the Wizard Harlin, who had slowly regained his powers over time (after having been defeated long ago). He explained to the barbarian the nature of his defeat, and that he hoped to change history, by turning back the sands of time, and setting up the situation again. But this time he planned to win. The barbarian was transported back in time.

The wanderer had been transported into a desert, Priscilla appeared to the wandering barbarian in a vision, confirmed that he was the one destined to become the legendary wanderer, and offered him words of encouragement, a few supplies; a flask of water, a small knife, a loaf of bread, and a blanket and a computer (an Eye Between the Worlds) to take on a great journey. He was pointed in a direction of a nearby town.

The wandering barbarian then passed through the village in the land of Serenia when he noticed a large crowd had formed. He sauntered over to see what was going on. From the middle of the chaos he heard a bell ringing, as he got closer, he saw the town cryer with a proclamation from King George IV, the King of Serenia. The happy wanderer heard that the king had suffered a terrible loss, his fair daughter had been kidnapped by the great and dreadful wizard, Harlin. Harlin had taken her to his castle beyond the Great Mountains. With crowd now hushed, waiting to hear more, the crier shouted that the king offered half his kingdom to anyone who could bring the princess back safely. That was all the crier had to say, but it left him shaking. The wandering barbarian decided, or rather was convinced by the king, that not only was he a happy wanderer, he also had an adventure to go on, and half the kingdom was a great reward. He decided to find her.

But he wasn't sure where the Great Mountains were located. As he looked around he saw no mountains; just a vast desert that seemed never to end. He asked a villager where the Great Mountains were located, and the man pointed to the north and told him, that he would encounter many great dangers on the way to the Great Mountains, and that the Wizard Harlin was very powerful and bad. He thanked the villager for his information and started off to the north. He entered the desert, and checked his belongings, what he had, had to do, for he had no money, and so he was on his way. Through logic and luck, he overcame his magical obstacles. He plotted his path meticulously, leaving no avenue unturned, no setting unexamined. He learned the passwords that magically opened paths where none existed. Although Harlin had conjured up all the evil and dangerous creatures within his powers to block his way, the wanderer still he pressed onward. His possessions were few to begin, but he learned quickly to use what he found along his way - sticks and stones, apples and crackers - to defeat Harlin's beasts of diversion.

He crossed the Endless Desert, freed the King of the Snakes. Passed a chasm into the woods north of the desert, and encountered a thieving gnome, which stole many of his items, and forcing him to use magic to find them. While in the woods the wanderer helped a parrot, who gave him a magic vial of liquid in return. Later the wanderer got past a lion to reach the Northern Sea. On the beach he was able to patch a boat, and make it to the Island in the sea.

While on the island he found a pirate's treasure, although the pirate escaped with the treasure hiding it in a cave. The hero rediscovered it, and through the use of magic found there, was able to fly across the sea to the continent north of the island where Harlin's Castle was located. On the continent the hero encountered, a peasant woman, an angry giant, and a peddler in the mountains.

After crossing the mountains he finally reached Harlin's Castle. Finally, Harlin took shelter behind his magic. The evil wizard teleported the wanderer around the castle trying to capture and kill him. First the hero was teleported into a courtyard where he had to defeat a dangerous boar. Then he was teleported into a locked room on the edge of the wizard's maze. At last, he believed, the wanderer was defeated. He rested too easily. For the wanderer was able to pick his way out of the room with his pocket knife. In the final hours of his search, the wanderer made his way through the corridors of Harlin's castle and solved its magical mysteries and discovered the wizard in the top of the highest tower. The wizard had transformed himself into bird, believing he could trick the wanderer, but the hero saw through the ruse, using a magic ring turning himself into a cat, and then gobbled down the wizard. Harlin never had the chance to learn identity of his assassin before his death.

Searching further in the castle, the hero found that the princess had been turned into a frog. He kissed the frog, restoring her to her true form.. The wanderer kissed her again, she found it delicious. The wanderer then used some magic shoes to return them to the village of Serenia when he started. The hero was declared a junior-master adventurer for his outstanding feat. It does not seem to appear in the files for Adventure in Serenia at least.

He then was offered half her father's kingdom. The man accomplished the quest, but since he had more brawn than brain, he walked away from the offered marriage and kingdom. He walked off into the endless desert with a bloody broadsword in one hand, and a few gold coins in the other. He neglected to carry any water. He died where an Oasis once had been, and was marked on maps, but had long since dried up. The poor traveler discovered too late that the oasis no longer existed[1] Caravan drivers who travel that deadly desert say that the warrior is there still, his bones bleached white, with only one lone boot and a few scorpions for company.[2] Following her rejection by the wanderer, Priscilla married Kenneth the Huge, and they went on to become the new king and queen of Serenia. Several years later, King Graham came across the picked-clean and sun-bleached skeleton of the man while traveling through the Endless Desert. He wondered what happened? But who could say, it made Graham uneasy nevertheless. An old shoe lay, forgotten, near the poor man's skeleton.[3] He decided the lone boot could be of use, uneasily, Graham reached down and removed the old shoe from the desert sand.

Although the princess had been rescued; and Harlin was beaten, he did not accept defeat forever! His magical powers remained intact - just as strong, just as evil. When he regained his form, and the time was right, he made plans with the hope to change his original fate. But to up the stakes, and hopefully prevent his own defeat, he summoned the wandering barbarian to challenge him (he thought he was incapable of defeating him). The adventurer accepted the challenge, and the wizard gave him but a few supplies (including the flask of water, the small loaf of bread, the knife and the blanket) before sending him back in time into the desert. In the end the history had already been written (and could not change) and Harlin became the agent of his own destruction.


Harlin remembers from a time beyond history that a 'wanderer' traveled through Serenia to his Castle to rescue the princess. However he never knew the identity of that nameless wanderer. What little he knew, after Harlin began to regain his power, he decided that he could perhaps change history, if he assured that his counterpart in the past was challenged to a new adventure; he looked for a hero, he hoped was less skilled than the one that defeated him. If he could assure that his past counterpart could defeat the new hero, he could perhaps prevent his own destruction. To do this he summoned someone that seemingly fit the bill; someone all brawn and no brains, the barbarian.

Harlin, the Wanderer, and Priscilla were destined to be stuck in a paradoxical loop in time. Harlin had become the means of his own destruction, he sent the same barbarian, whom had defeated him into the past (giving the barbarian the chance to defeat him as the legends had recorded). The barbarian was destined to live out his final days in the past, dying in the desert (and to be born in the distant future). The princess (perhaps then a spirit of the Princess) seemed to have been the only one truly aware of the barbarian's identity, as she states that he had become 'the wanderer'.

Behind the scenes[]

The wanderer was the title of the main character in The Wizard and the Princess. There are two prologues for Wizard and the Princess, one that appears in manual of later editions of the game including the SierraVenture versions of Apple II, Atari, and the C64 versions, and another that appears on the back of the box of most editions of the game (Apple II and Atari 400/800 versions). These prologues are linked together and apply to the same game, and the same character 'you'.

The introduction for Adventure in Serenia contains a paraphrase of these prologues, explaining that "you" have been magically transported to 'Serenia', see Adventure in Serenia Manual.

In both versions of the prologue to the game, this character is said to be "you" the player, you are described as "a happy wanderer' or 'the wanderer'. He is defined to be a 'barbarian' in The King's Quest Companion.

Some have misinterpreted from the manual in later re-releases for Wizard and the Princess including the Apple II and Atari versions (including c64 and some of the later Sierra collections), that there are two separate individuals that go by the title of the wanderer, but this is a misleading interpretation that ignores the information from the back of the boxes of Apple II and Atari versions (which also include the manual). In the manual prologue of the re-releases, Harlin refers to previous wanderer in the past tense (mentioning that he existed in "a time beyond history"), and uses terms that treat him as a separate individual from character he is speaking too ("you"). It is implied that he is challenging the new hero, to a new adventure ("you") from the present who is sent back in time to repeat the actions of 'the wanderer'. He always refers to the previous wanderer who challenged and defeated him as "he", or the "one", and the new hero he is challenging as "you" rather than saying that "you" have challenged him before, and he doesn't realize he is talking to the one who was destined to become the wanderer.

An additional detail that should be noted from the prologue printed on the back of the box in most editions of the game (Apple II and Atari 400/800 versions), the character ("you" ) was known as "a happy wanderer" even before 'you' chose to go on the adventure, thus he didn't necessarily have to "become the wanderer", like a second adventurer would have, but rather "you" had already become a 'wanderer' shortly before the events of the manual which actually supports the time travel story in the second manual. Priscilla, confirms this by stating that the individual, "you" are the one who became "the wanderer", and would save her (thus confirming they are one and the same).

The King's Quest Companion, 2nd Edition, details the journey and death of the wanderer. According to his backstory, he was a barbarian with great brawn but little brains, who would later die after turning down the Princess' reward. He became the skeleton that Graham found in the desert. It confirms that Priscilla's would later marry Kenneth the Huge.

However, as is learned from Harlin, he was only defeated the one time (by someone whose identity he did not know), and thus sends back an individual of his choosing back to the period before his defeat.

The only situation that allows all sources to fit (including both the story in the manual and the story on the box), is that the wandering barbarian (King's Quest Companion) was actually sent from the future to the village (manual, 2nd version). He was born and raised a barbarian in the future, challenged by Harlin, given some advice from Priscilla vision, and then sent to the past, then entered the village met the town crier and went on the journey (as stated on the box). He was ultimately fated to die in the past after turning the princess down. Since the king's quest companion states the barbarian's story as the only reality, and because Priscilla states that the hero was the one who became the 'the wanderer', it confirms that the latter is the true situation. This order of events is supported by the Adventure in Serenia manual as well.

Extended portions of the Atari re-release manual confirms that 'you' the wanderer have been sent back eons in time to the kingdom of Serenia, and makes a reference to Priscilla's father from the back of the box.[4] Further linking the two prologues together.

While all of manuals in every version of the game mentions that a 'computer' was given or used by the Wanderer ("you").[5] This is not an actual item in the character's inventory in any version of the game. It is instead a reference to the 'computer' used by the player "you" to communicate and control with during adventure. The manuals and inlay cards also go onto say that this computer is sort of like a 'puppet' or 'companion' used by the adventurer "you" to explore, pick up items, and also protect the player from being hurt by the wizard's spells directly.

Interestingly enough the story of the wanderer is not the only one to contain elements of time travel and time paradoxes. Time travel is also suggested as an explanation for how Graham met Rumplestiltskin both during KQ1 and KQ5.

Although its mentioned in the backstory, most versions of the game do not end with the wanderer winning half the kingdom. Though the text for the ending can be found in the files of at least some versions of the Apple II and the C64 versions, its unknown if the alternate ending is accessible in the released game (if anyone knows how let us know?).[6]

Other Wanderers[]

In early drafts of Guidebook to the Land of the Green Isles the author of the guidebook was to be named, "John the Wanderer", instead of Derek Karlavaegen. If there originally was an intended connection to the hero that saved Priscilla, it is unknown. If so, it might mean that the first Wanderer's name was John. In the published Guidebook, Derek describes himself as "...not a hero, I am a wanderer...". In KQ6 Amiga, Hassan mentions how he remembers a 'wanderer' (Derek) coming to the islands when he was just a boy, perhaps the only direct reference to Derek Karlavaegen made in the games.[7]

Graham is described as a wanderer in one line of KQ1AGI, and called a wanderer in the KQ1 novel in the KQ Companion.

In KQ5CD both Graham and Cedric are described as wanderers in a modified line.

Connor is also called a 'wanderer' by individuals in the Barren Region.

A line in the Shakespeare book speaks of a 'merry wanderer'.

See Also[]


  1. TOBOKQ3E, pg 158, 175
  2. KQC, 2nd Edition, pg
  3. Narrator (KQ5)
  4. Eons will slip by and you'll travel to my father's kingdom of Serenia."
  5. ...the evil wizard is heartless but has kept his spells in the computer thus far."-From the Wizard and the Princess manual
  7. Ferryman (KQ6 Amiga):"The island's currents keep us pretty isolated. I can only recall three visitors in my lifetime. When I was a boy a wanderer came, Alhazred himself arrived many years ago, and now you. We have almost no contact with the outside world, but we're content with our little kingdom. At least, we always were in the past."