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Kings are historically the male rulers of monarchies, often hereditary, or the sovereign of any unspecified vaguely medieval land in fairytales and folklore. Kings are frequent supporting players in Jim Henson's The Storyteller, figuring in six out of nine episodes. Of the remaining three, "The Soldier and Death" compensates by including a Tzar.
The kings in The StoryTeller, none of whom are ever named, often appear to typify the phrase "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." As a class, these monarchs suffer an endless array of calamity; they might be compelled to wed their daughters to a beast ("Hans My Hedgehog"), find their reign threatened by an unusually lucky foundling ("The Luck Child"), their kingdom ravaged by a giant ("The Heartless Giant"), or even forced by an obscure law to marry their own daughter ("Sapsorrow"). The few who live to the end of their story without being doomed by some curse are fortunate indeed.
|David Swift||"Hans My Hedgehog"||The first in the line of unlucky kings, this monarch becomes lost in the forest, and stumbles upon the palace of the Grovelhog. He finds refuge as the creature's guest, but in exchange, promises to give his host the first thing to greet him upon his return. The king assumes his faithful dog will rush to greet him, but his daughter does so instead. The king has no choice but to allow the wedding to occur, but not before he jails The Storyteller for publicizing the disgrace in his card reading.|
|Richard Vernon||"A Story Short"||The king of this tale is remarkably free from calamity, but finds the Storyteller brought before him by an angry royal cook. After the Storyteller explains his trade in a most diverting manner, the king heartily decides to punish the prisoner by having him tell the royal family a story every night for a year, with payment of one gold crown per tale. Should he run out, the king will naturally hand him over to the cook, to be boiled in oil.|
|Philip Jackson||"The Luck Child"||One of the more dynamic monarchs in the series, this king is a cruel and heartless tyrant who casts a shadow over the land. Unnerved by a prophesy that a child would usurp him, the cruel king sets out with his evil chancellor to capture and kill the child. As the chancellor prepares to toss the baby over the cliffs, the king throws him down as well. However, the child, Lucky, survives, and the king enacts various plots to kill him, all of which backfire. At last, with Lucky married to his daughter and having retrieved treasures from the island of the Griffin, the greedy king determines to seek the island himself. He is tricked by the cursed ferryman, however, and becomes doomed to punt across the shores forever.|
|Nicholas Selby||"The Heartless Giant"||The king of this tale once captured a giant in a trap and had him fettered in the castle dungeon. His gullible son Leo finds the prisoner, and sets him free. The king believes that only a madman could have set the giant free. When his eldest sons go off to re-capture the giant and never return, the monarch feels that he too must enter the fray, although he is now too old and too ill.|
|Geoffrey Bayldon||"Sapsorrow"||The king has long been a widower, content to be the proud father of three daughters. But with his children growing up, he decides to find a wife. In keeping with tradition, whomever the ring fits will be his bride. By accident, his good daughter Sapsorrow tries on the ring, and the king finds himself decreed to enact an incestuous marriage with his own offspring. Saddened, the king is heartened when his daughter unleashes an endless list of demands for the wedding. In the end, when the day can be put off no longer, Sapsorrow flees. A few years later, the king dies.|
|Jonathan Pryce||"The Three Ravens"||Another dynamic sovereign, this king is also perhaps the most tragic of the lot. No sooner is he grieving over the death of his wife than a witch casts her eye on him, or rather on the throne. She bewitches the king by appearing to him as his late wife, and thus becomes queen. When the king begins to catch certain glances, however, he fears for the lives of his daughter and three sons. Thus the king uses a roll of thread to mark a pathway to a hidden cottage, where the children can live in secret. The witch finds the pathway, though, and confounds the ball so the king remains lost. With his children gone, the king is inconsolable, now fully aware of his new wife's treachery. He dies soon after, poisoned by his bride.|
|Richard Butler||"The Three Ravens"||The second king is father of a prince whom the runaway princess meets. Also a widower, he too takes a second wife, the same witch, who had developed a taste for royal living.|