| Princess Gwenevere
and the Jewel Riders
|Created by||Allen J. Bohbot, Joseph Cohen, Robert Mandell, Ralph Sorrentino|
|Years on Air||1995-1996|
American Title: Starla & the Jewel Riders
Spanish Title: La Princesa Starla
Italian Title: Starla e le sette gemme del mistero
French Title: Princesse Starla et les Joyaux magiques
German Title: Starla und die Kristallretter
The series takes place after a thousand years passed since Merlin's initial victory over Morgana. Mentored by the ageless Merlin, the Jewel Riders are the young female champions of goodness and magical guardians of New Camelot, who uphold the laws of the peaceful kingdom of Avalon and defend its people for generations. But with Merlin suddenly gone, the current trio of Jewel Riders, aided by their animal friends, get tasked with recover the enchanted jewels that are essential for controlling the magic and saving Avalon from evil.
The story is set up during the two-part pilot episode "Jewel Quest". Princess Gwenevere, the young daughter of the rulers of Avalon, Queen Anya and King Jared, is being prepared by grand wizard Merlin for the day when she would meet a bonded animal friend to share their own themed Enchanted Jewels with them. Gwenevere is yet to be given the magic of the royal Sun Stone in the sacred Circle of Friendship Ceremony, while her best friends Tamara and Fallon already wield the magic of the Moon Stone and the Heart Stone; their jewels, besides their own different powers, are allowing them to "ride" the hidden realm of Wild Magic, as well as to communicate with their Special Friends - the magic animals of which each shares with them a similar gemstone as part of their neck collars. The 16-year-old Gwen needs first to search for herself such an animal and thus to fulfill her destiny and become the new leader of the Jewel Riders.
However, a disaster strikes when the wicked sister of Queen Anya, Lady Kale, attempts to tune the magic of all Crown Jewels of the Kingdom to herself so she can take over and rule Avalon. With the help of her Dweasel sidekicks and Grimm the Dragon, Kale discovers a powerful new jewel, the menacing Dark Stone. Kale uses it overpower Merlin and sends him into the perilous dimension of Wild Magic, thinking it is enough to destroy him. But before she can take hold on the Crown Jewels, Merlin, although lost in the limbo of Wild Magic, manages to thwart her by breaking the jewels' setting and returning all seven to the lands from where they had come, scattering them wide across Avalon. However, once the bond of them is broken, the Wild Magic is no longer stable and flows out of control, causing destructive outbreaks until they are brought back together. Retrieving them is also the only way the Jewel Riders can free Merlin from his prison of Wild Magic, and thus their quest begins. Along the way, the protagonists must contend with ruthless efforts of Kale, who has vowed to master all the magic of Avalon no matter the consequences. Standing between Kale and this ambition are the girls, often assisted by the Pack, a young male trio of brave wolf-riding Knights of Avalon wielding the Forest Stones. Using the magic of the Enchanted Jewels and their friendship, those adventurous teens team up to prevent the constantly scheming Kale from gaining more power, reclaim the Crown Jewels and save Merlin and the kingdom.
Avalon's fate rests with the Jewel Riders, the latest incarnation of which consists of the princess and her two best friends. Gwenevere succeeds in getting her Special Friend, which turns out to be Sunstar, a brave winged unicorn who has been just rescued by her from Kale's castle. Each of the Jewel Riders has her own Enchanted Jewel, which enables them to wear a Jewel Armor and travel safely through Wild Magic and reach various locations. Along their odyssey they are guided by the talking Travel Trees that act as transport stations through the invisible Wild Magic tunnels. For most of the episodes, the primary storyline is the Jewel Riders' quest of locating and securing the Crown Jewels before Kale can find them first, or to win them back if she does. The Crown Jewels include the Jewel of the North Woods ("Travel Trees Can’t Dance"), the Jewel of the Burning Ice found in the Tower of Glog at the Wizard's Peak in the snow-covered mountains ("Wizard’s Peak"), the Rainbow Jewel found inside the Rainbow Falls ("Song of the Rainbow"), the Misty Rose Jewel found in the Misty Moors ("For Whom the Bell Trolls"), the Desert Star Jewel of the Great Desert found in the magical realm of Faeryland ("The Faery Princess"), Jewel of the Dreamfields ("Dreamfields"), and the Jewel of the Jungle found in the hidden lair of the legendary witch queen Morgana ("Revenge of the Dark Stone").
During the two-part dramatic finale of the first season ("Revenge of the Dark Stone" and "Full Circle"), Kale succeeds in seizing control of the Jewel Keep at the Crystal Palace, along with the gathered Crown Jewels, and becomes nearly all-powerful. She then overthrows Anya, time-freezes everyone in the New Camelot, unleashes the dark magic onto Avalon, strips the Jewel Riders of their own magic and makes herself a new queen of the kingdom. However, when Kale tries to destroy Merlin so she can steal his magic and reign forever, he pulls her in into Wild Magic and holds her there for long enough for the Jewel Riders to release the good magic of the Crystal Palace. Not aware of this, Kale is then disintegrated and sucked into the Wild Magic when she tries to absorb the power of the Crown Jewels. Avalon is restored from her magic meddling, but the girls discover that they have entuned the Crown Jewels to their own personal jewels. In doing so, they also squandered a chance of solving the Wild Magic crisis for good, as well as a chance of freeing Merlin, who he has sacrificed his own staff jewel.
In the second season, the threat of evil is not over yet as Lady Kale unexpectedly reappears along with a new and even more dangerous adversary for the Jewel Riders to best. Instead of Crown Jewels, Gwenevere and her friends seek out another cache of magical gems, the Wizard Jewels that once belonged to the Ancient Wizards, while still fighting against the forces of darkness over the control of them, and trying to contain the growing chaos in the magic.
Inside the Wild Magic, Kale's dispersed essence is summoned towards a floating palace, where she materializes and meets her accidental rescuer, who turns out be none other than the sorceress Morgana, one of the legendary Grand Wizards and the creator of the Dark Stone. A millennium ago, Morgana had led a failed conspiracy conceived many by her and the other Grand Wizards, but they have been vanquished by Merlin and banished to the Wild Magic. Without her jewel, she has remained trapped by the Wild Magic ever since then. But when Morgana realizes that the Dark Stone now belongs to Kale and she cannot command it, the two make an uneasy alliance to work together against Merlin, and Morgana sends Kale back to Avalon so she can look for the other Wizard Jewels. Meanwhile, the Jewel Riders realize that the Crown Jewels have given them a set of new "Level Two" armor and magic seven times more powerful than before and so they have now at their disposal far greater magic than they ever dreamed possible, but which they find difficult to use. The girls need learn to master their enhanced powers while they continue their quest to bring Merlin home and protect Avalon, and soon they come face-to-face with the mighty Morgana and realize that they are facing a formidable new enemy.
The seven Wizard Jewels are the Unicorn Jewel ("Vale of the Unicorns"), the Jewel of Arden ("Prince of the Forest"), the Garden Jewel ("The Wizard of Gardenia"), the Jewel of the Sea ("The Jewel of the Sea"), the Time Stone ("Mystery Island"), the Fortune Jewel ("The Fortune Jewel") and the Dark Stone itself. They are just as difficult to find as the Crown Jewels were. The Riders are now trying to capture the jewels before they may fall into the hands of Morgana, who wants to use their magic to complete her conquest of Avalon. During one her adventures, Gwenevere meets a handsome but mysterious young man called Ian (a werewolf who later comes to her rescue her during the final battle), falling in love with him, and Tamara finds a magical animal for herself, which turns out to be a striped unicorn named Shadowsong. At the same time, Kale also seeks the Wizard Jewels for herself while supposedly working for/with Morgana.
During the series' two-part conclusion ("Lady of the Lake" and "The One Jewel"), set in the Heart of Avalon, Princess Gwenevere is given the magic Staff of Avalon by the Lady of the Lake (the Spirit of Avalon) and uses it and the collected Wizard Jewels to save the other Jewel Riders who have been petrified and Kale herself is cast into stone in turn. In the final episode, the Riders and their various friends band together to battle Morgana in a test of skills and wits over the Wizard Jewels. It seems that Morgana has prevailed, but she forgets about her own Dark Stone, which has become untuned again after Kale is gone and was picked up by Gwenevere. In the final showdown taking place in the center of Wild Magic, the princess is aided by their friends to fuse the Dark Stone with the Sun Stone and captures the ultimate One Jewel that Morgana forged from the Wizard Jewels. Merlin then uses it against Morgana and the evil Ancient Wizards, ridding the world of them, and the peace and the balance to the magic are restored at last.