Queen of Demons

Queen of Demons

infobox Book |
name = Queen of Demons
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = David Drake
cover_artist = Donato Giancola
country = United States
language = English
series = Lord of the Isles
genre = Epic fantasy novel
publisher = Saint Martin's Press
release_date = 1 January 1998
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 479 pp
isbn = ISBN 978-0312864682
preceded_by = Lord of the Isles
followed_by = Servant of the Dragon

"Queen of Demons" (1998) is a fantasy novel in the series, Lord of the Isles by author David Drake.

Plot introduction

This book in the series covers approximately 35 days, starting on the second day of the second month (Heron) and ending on the seventh day of the third month (Partridge). For the most part it follows the adventures of two men (Garric and Cashel) and four women (Liane, Ilna, Tenoctris, and Sharina) as they are split up into parallel worlds and slowly reunite, culminating in the defeat of two of their enemies: the Queen and the Beast.

Plot summary

In the introduction, the current King of the Isles, Valence III, and his wizard, Silyon, make a deal with the Beast to regain control of his kingdom from his wife, the Queen. Meanwhile, the main characters are in Erdin where they discover the dead remains of a Scaled Man on the ship "Bird of the Waves"—which Tenoctris sees as a bad omen. With the exception of Ilna, they book passage on the ship "Lady of Mercy", bound for the Isle of Valles, where Garric intends to declare himself King of the Isles. Before they leave, Ilna gives Liane a sash that she has woven which will notify her if Liane is ever in trouble. Before the ship reaches Valles, a lens appears in the sky and swallows the ship, causing it to wreck.

Garric, Liane, and Tenoctris awake, following the shipwreck, in the land of the Ersa, which they call The Gulf. The leader of the humans there, named Rodoard, and his mistress, Lunifra, seek their help in an attack on the Ersa but they refuse. Rodoard sends them to see the Ersa to try to persuade them to aide him in his attempt at eradication. Tenoctris determines that there is an object that she can use to leave The Gulf and return to their own world. They bargain with an Ersa, named Graz, to remove all the humans from The Gulf if the Ersa will take them to the object, which the Ersa call The Hand. However, Rodoard refuses the offer to leave and orders an immediate attack on the Ersa. They kill Lunifra and wound Rodoard before fleeing back to the Ersa. Recognizing that they cannot defeat their human attackers, the Ersa accompany Garric, Liane, and Tenoctris to The Hand. Tenoctris activates The Hand. As they all go through, Garric sees a ghostly woman attack Liane. No one else can see her, but Tenoctris later identifies her as the Temptress. Garric destroys The Hand as he passes through and the ghostly woman disappears. They arrive in a new world, though not their own. Tenoctris says it is a bridge which they can use to get back to their own world. The Ersa decide to stay in the bridge world rather than accompany them to the world of the Isles—a decision which Tenoctris feels is a mistake. They find a temple that matches one in their world and Tenoctris uses it to transport them back into their own world. To do so they must walk down a smooth path. They are again accompanied by the Temptress, but they reach their world unmolested, about a mile away from Valles. They are picked up by a hunting party, led by the noble, Lord Royhas. They were sent to by King Valence III based on a prediction by his wizard, Silyon. Rather than dispose of Garric, as he was ordered to, Royhas takes Garric back into the city and holds a council with several other powerful nobles, including Lord Waldron from the north. They express their loyalty to the King but ask Garric’s help in overthrowing the Queen. Tenoctris uses a mirror to spy on the Queen and discovers that she is a demon. They then bribe Gothelm, one of the Queens servants, into revealing the secrets about the spells that guard her mansion. They then follow him back to the mansion to observe him entering. While he is going in, Tenoctris triggers the spells and they destroy him. Garric plans his attack on the mansion. He leads out the nobles into the streets of Valles where they are joined by the rabble and many of the City Guard. The mob quickly turns against the Queen’s known lackeys. When they reach the mansion, Garric, Liane, and Tenoctris enter the grounds. When they’ve passed all the Queen’s illusions, they are attacked by a cyclops. Liane manages to cut its Achilles tendon and then Garric finishes it off. He then uses iron to destroy the Queen’s gate to another world, but the Queen has already escaped. Following this, Garric appoints himself Prince Regent under King Valence III and demands the allegiance of the Lords who backed him in the revolt. Garric sends a letter to his father, asking him to come help him in Valles. Meanwhile Admiral Nitker, of the Royal Navy, has declared himself the new Lord of the Isles. Garric goes before King Valence III and receives his blessing as Prince Regent. They quiz the King about how to find the Beast and narrowly miss catching Silyon. Tenoctris discovers that the Queen’s mansion was a nexus of portals to many different worlds, one of which led to the Beast. Garric meets with a representative of Admiral Nitkers. Admiral Nitkers offers to relinquish his claim to be Lord of the Isles of King Valence III adopts him as co-regent with Garric. Garric refuses and promises to destroy the rebellious navy if they don’t return to the King’s service.

Cashel uses his quarterstaff to escape the lens that swallowed the ship and rescues Sharina as well. They are rescued by Folquin, King of the nearest Isle, Pandah, and his wizards, Halphemos and Cerix. Folquin seeks to marry Sharina because Halphemos has prophesied that Folquin will marry a princess who comes to him as a result of wizardry. Folquin seeks audience with Cashel, believing him to be a wizard. When Halphemos’ talking ape, Zahag, throws a fit during a chess game with Liane Cashel attempts to settle him down. Halphemos casts a spell to immobilize the ape but the wizardess Silya secretly interferes and sends them to another world. Folquin immediately has Halphemos arrested (for more about Halphemos, Cerix, and Sharina see the next section). Cashel awakes after the transportation on a parallel island of Pandah. Zahag, who has brought him food, asks to be part of his band, to which Cashel agrees. They enter the port city where they are immediately picked up by the palace guard. They bring him to the lady Sosia who asks Cashel to save her daughter, Aria, who is imprisoned in a tower in the middle of the bay by the wizard Ilmed and the Scaled Men who serve him. Cashel agrees. He and Zahag take a boat out to the tower which they are able to enter by the power of Cashel’s quarterstaff. They climb the tower and defeat Ilmed and his Scaled Men, but the princess Aria is less than thrilled about being rescued. They flee through a door Ilmed had created before the tower collapses, trapping them in a desert in that world. Eventually they find their way out of the desert and come to a jungle. In the jungle they find a fortress where they are taken in. During the night the men in the fortress, lead by Captain Koras, fight a grim battle with hordes of malformed monsters from the jungle. The next morning they leave and travel through a swamp. Cashel wakes up in the middle of the night, the following night, and is invited to dance by three strange women. He is unable to wake Aria or Zahag and is caught up in the women’s song. He doesn’t wake up until late the next day. In the location where he dreamed the dance, he finds a temple with three toppled caryatids that match the women from his dream. There is a base for a fourth caryatid, but it is missing. They continue on and as they reach a steep, rocky hill, they are beset by chuckling trolls. On the hillside they find the entrance to a cave blocked by a rock. Cashel uses his staff (and magic) to summon a lizard-like monster of stone and light that attacks the trolls. His staff also opens a portal to where he can see Ilna leaping from a ship full of Scaled Men into another portal towards Cerix and Halphemos. He, Zahag, and Aria fall through the portal into the water as Cashel’s power destroys the ship. They are rescued by Captain Cozro (who acquired a dinghy from "Bird of the Waves" before Cashel destroyed it) and taken to a nearby island. On the island Cozro spends his time fermenting fruit and getting drunk. They discover giant eggs which Cashell decides to use to store water in when they leave the island on a raft he is constructing. Later, a drunken Cozro attacks Aria when Cashel is too far away to help. Giant flightless birds (the source of the giant eggs) see Cozro and devour him, allowing Aria to escape. The birds then turn on Cashel, Aria, and Zahag. Cashel uses his staff again and transports them all back to the Isle of Pandah where Cashel falls unconscious and is picked up by the wizardess Silya. When Cashel awakes, he escapes from Silyas rooms and spurns her attempts to win his allegiance. He finds that Aria has engaged herself to Folquin (fulfilling Halphemos’ prophecy). Silya lures Cashel back down to her chambers and almost charms him, but Zahag rescues him and Cashel destroys Silya by burning her portrait. Princess Aria arranges a boat to help Cashel find Sharina. They arrive in Valles where they run into Ilna, Cerix, and Halphemos and then make their way to the palace where they find Garric, Liane, and Tenoctris.

Sharina and Cerix obtain Halphemos’ freedom by giving his guards drugged wine. Halphemos uses his art to escape his cell and they flee. Cerix books passage on a boat back to Erdin where they will seek Ilna’s help in recovering Cashel. But a wizard with the appearance and voice of Nonnus, Sharina’s one-time protector, shows up and tricks her into leaving with him. She tells Cerix and Halphemos to continue on their way to find Ilna. After traveling on another ship with the false Nonnus, she eventually discovers the treachery. One night, near an island the false Nonnus has decided not to stop at, she dives overboard. On the island she is helped by a large man named Hanno to escape her captors. They board his canoe, sabotage the false Nonnus’ boat, and paddle away. Hanno takes her to his home on the Isle of Bight, where his partner, Ansule, has been slain by the Hairy Men. Hanno gives Sharina his spear. A phantasm and a group of Hairy Men sent by the Queen attack Hanno and Sharina, but they defeat them. They later discover that the Hairy Men have destroyed Hanno’s boat. Hanno and Sharina make their way Unarc’s (another of Hanno’s friends) hut and encounter a salamander on the way as it gobbles a baby crocodile. Hanno hides Sharina in a baobab and goes to look for Unarc. While he is gone, the false Nonnus and his crew discover her. They try to entice her out, but she doesn’t respond. The spirit of the true Nonnus comes to her, possesses her body temporarily, and destroys her pursuers. Hanno returns with Unarc and they’re amazed at the carnage. They make their way to the volcano at the center of the island and climb up a lava tube to the top. From their they can see that the Hairy Men have felled thousands of trees. They determine that the Hairy Men, lead by phantasms, are floating to Ornifal. They also find the large image of a Hairy Man carved into the basalt of the volcano. One of the phantasms notice them and they flee but it captures Sharina and conveys her to the Queen. The Queen shows Sharina images of her friends (and an image of the Hairy Men on their way to Valles) and implies that she controls their fates through a chess board that she has. The Queen tells Sharina that she intends to use her to find the Throne of Malkar. Sharina watches as the fleet of Hairy Men reaches the Royal Navy and destroys it, but Admiral Nitkers escapes. When the Queen threatens to send a giant ammonite against Cashel, Sharina agrees to help her.

Ilna begins setting up shop in Erdin, but this time with the intent to good rather than evil. Using her craft, and the services of a young boy named Maidus, she begins improving the conditions of the city. But Cerix and Halphemos eventually find her and seek her help in recovering her brother Cashel. Cerix realizes that many of Ilna’s patterns contain writings in the Old Script—even though she can’t read or write. She agrees to go with them and try to rescue Cashel. Before they can leave Erdin, though, they are captured by a band of Scaled Men. They load Ilna onto a ship and travel through a portal into another world. Cerix and Halphemos find her sash, which she dropped during her tussle with the Scaled Men, and discover that when it was torn from her, it revealed a spell, in the stitching, that would help them to find her. Cerix and Halphemos perform the spell and cross into another world into a desert. When Ilna’s captors are attacked by Flyers, Ilna escapes and sets free the captive captain of the ship (which turns out to be the ship "Bird of the Waves"). The Scaled Men perform a spell that moves the ship into another realm. Ilna and the captain, Cozro, set fire to the ship and leap into the ocean. But Ilna instead falls through a portal opened by Cerix and Halphemos and finds herself in the desert with them. The begin traveling to try and escape the desert, which they come to suspect is a dry seabed. Cerix becomes delirious because of the head and dehydration. Just as they seem to be succumbing to the desert, The People of Beauty arrive and rescue them. When Ilna recovers consciousness, she find herself in a paradise which the People of Beauty say is beneath the surface of the desert. As she and Halphemos find Cerix (whose legs have been restored), Ilna expresses her belief that they’re really trapped in Cerix’ hallucinations. Ilna declares her intention to leave and continue her search for Cashel. Halphemos and Cerix reluctantly agree to accompany her. The People of Beauty transport them to the city of Divers on Third Atara—and Cerix’ legs are gone again. They seek out the Baron Robilard. In his palace, Halphemos reveals that he has acquired a pearl with the intent to earn some money. Ilna tells him to avoid the pearl and its owner, but Halphemos refuses to listen. Instead, he uses the pearl to make an amulet for the Lady Tamana to help her win back Baron Robilard’s affections. But instead, Baron Robilard has him arrested. Ilna goes to Robilard to seek Halphemos’ release. Robilard agrees to release Halphemos if Ilna will get his self-reported ancestor and patron of the island, the dead Elder Romi, to attend his party that evening. Ilna agrees. Ilna proceeds to the Elder Romi’s tomb and calls forth his spirit. The Elder Romi denies kinship with Robilard but agrees to attend the party. He arrives, as promised, with an army of ice creatures and immediately begins wreaking havoc on the party. Eventually Ilna convinces him to leave. A humbled Robilard frees Halphemos and offers to personally escort them to Valles. When they get there, Ilna is relieved when she finally finds Cashel. They make their way to the castle where they find Garric, Liane, and Tenoctris.

When all except Sharina have been reunited, they set out to find the lair of the Beast. Admiral Nitkers arrives in Valles to warn them of the oncoming invasion of Hairy Men. Garric immediately orders preparations for battle. The Queen forces Sharina to participate in a spell which is meant to reveal the Throne of Malkar. Instead they are shown that Sharina is not a descendent of King Lorcan, but rather was the result of a tryst with a maid, and it was Garric she sought. They also see that the Queen is the result of the rape of a female Hairy Man by the demon Xochial. Tenoctris, Cashel, and Zahag seek out the portal the Queen used to flee. In the castle, the wizard Silyon and Admiral Nitker attempt to kidnap Ilna, intending to offer her to the Beast in order to end the attack by the Hairy Men. She resists and instead they take Liane, but Admiral Nitker is killed in the process. At this point Ilna tears her sash and it reveals how to rescue Liane, by giving the key words (in the Old Script) needed to enter its lair. They find Silyon and kill him, but he has already turned Liane over to the Beast, fifty meters down a well. Garric enters the well and Ilna, Cerix, and Halphemos follow him down. Ilna uses the sash to reveal the spell to leave which Cerix transcribes from the Old Script and Halphemos (who is more powerful) invokes. The Beast attacks them, revealing that the Yellow King had imprisoned it there long ago and that it had lured them there to release it from its prison. It devours Halphemos and a grieving Cerix finishes the incantation so that the Beast can’t escape. Instead it dissolved into fiery lava, unable to die because of its immortality, endlessly burning. Meanwhile, Tenoctris opens up the Queen’s escape portal and Cashel and Zahag travel through it to where she is holding Sharina captive. He uses his staff to destroy that place (and the Queen) and rescue Sharina. They wind up in the lava tube on Bight where they see Hanno and Unarc running for their lives. They help Cashel, who has expended all his energy, to get off the volcano before it erupts. As they run, they pass through another portal and find themselves back in the Queen’s mansion with Tenoctris. A little later, Ilna, Cerix, Garric, and Liane arrive, escaping from the Beast’s lair. After it is all over, Hanno, Unarc, and Zahag leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere in the Isles. Cerix leaves to go back to the Garden of the People of Beauty. Tenoctris and Cashel confiscate the Queen’s chessboard. Tenoctris notes that the Queen herself was a pawn on the board, just like those she tried to manipulate. She and Cashel also notice the appearance of a new piece on the board—representing an island-sized black ammonite that an unknown wizard has just called up from the depths of the ocean.


Main Characters

* Garric or-Reise—a direct descendant of the last Kind of the Isles, King Carus, and a descendant of King Lorcan who hid the evil Throne of Malkar. His ancestor, King Carus, has taken up residence in his head and aids him in matters of sword and state.
* Sharina os-Reise—Garric’s half-sister. Many malevolent powers, including the Queen, seek to use her to find the Throne of Malkar.
* Cashel or-Kenset—a large, simple shepherd who left his home on the Isle of Haft to seek his fortune due to his unrequited love for Sharina. He is half human, half sprite. His power is manifest through his use of a quarterstaff.
* Ilna os-Kenset—Cashel’s sister who is attempting to mend the wrongs she perpetrated in the previous book due to her unrequited love for Garric. She is half human, half sprite. Her power is manifest through her use of thread and fabric.
* Liane bos-Benliman—a noble born woman who has some magical abilities and is romantically involved with Garric.
* Tenoctris—a wizardess from the past who mysteriously transported herself in the future to avoid the downfall of the Isles. Her powers are limited, but her temperament is determined.

econdary Characters

* Admiral Nitker—Admiral of the Royal Navy who declares himself the Lord of the Isles
* Aria—a princess rescued by Cashel from the wizard who held her captive
* Ansule—Hanno’s business partner who is killed by the Hairy Men
* The Beast—a demon-god, worshiped by the Scaled Men, which was imprisoned eons ago by the Yellow King
* Captain Koras—leader of a fortress where they nightly fight the malformed monsters of the jungle
* Cerix—an older wizard, Halphemos’ mentor, who lost his legs when trying to cross into another world
* Gothelm—a servant of the Queen who reveals the way into her mansion past her protective spells
* Graz—a member of the Ersa race who helps Garric to escape their world
* Halphemos—formerly Alos or-Noman, a young, talented wizard who believes he has caused Cashel misfortune and is trying to correct his mistake
* Hanno—a large man who helps Sharina escape her captors
* Ilmed—a sorcerer who keeps the princess Aria captive in a tower
* King Carus—Garric’s distant ancestor, former King of the Isles, who shares Garric’s mind
* King Folquin—King of the Isle of Pandah
* King Valence III—the current King of the Isle of Valles and King of the Isles
* Lady Tamana—the one-time mistress of Lord Robilard
* Lord Royhas—a nobleman of the Isle of Valles who helps Garric to overthrow the Queen
* Lord Waldron—a powerful nobleman of the Isle of Valles who helps Garric to overthrow the Queen
* Lunifra—a malevolent sorceress who has aligned herself with Rodoard
* Maidus—a young boy who helps Ilna by delivering her tapestries and gathering information for her
* Nimet or-Konya—a wizard who disguises himself as Nonnus in order to fool Sharina
* Nonnus—a hermit who died protecting Sharina
* The Queen—a half demon, half Hairy Man sorceress who married King Valence III and seeks to find the Throne of Malkar
* Robilard—Baron of Third Atara
* Rodoard—Leader of a band of miscreants in a parallel world
* Silya—a wizardess who seeks to subvert her brother Silyon
* Silyon—a wizard aligned with King Valence III who seeks to release the Beast
* Sosia—the Lady of Pandah, who entreats Cashel to save her daughter, Aria
* Tayuta—the wizardess who predicted that Cashel would save the princess Aria
* The Yellow King—a mysterious wizard who imprisoned the Beast in the distant past
* Unarc—a bald hunter who is a friend of Hanno
* Xochial—the demon who fathered the Queen
* Zahag—an ape, from the Isle of Sandrakkan, given the ability to talk (by Halphemos) who accompanies Cashel


* Hairy Men—the inhabitants of Bight which seem to be based on Neanderthals
* Scaled Men—a variety of reptilian humanoids
* Ersa—vaguely humanoid creatures which communicate using the outer membranes of their ears
* Flyers—winged humanoid creatures
* Brontotheria
* Ammonites
* Sea wolves—reptilian sea creatures whose description resembles that of a Mosasaur
* Trolls
* Salamanders
* Cyclopses
* Liches
* Demons


There may be some relationship to the writings of Robert William Chambers and the Cthulhu Mythos as there are frequent mentions of the Yellow King (p. 31, 590, 607, etc.) as well giving the appellation “the Old Ones” (p. 533) to the island-sized ammonites.


* [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0812564936 editorial reviews]
* [http://www.sfsite.com/09a/qeen40.htm SFSite featured review by Victoria Strauss]
* [http://www.webscription.net/chapters/Tor/0812564936.htm?blurb Free chapters at Webscription]
* [http://www.tor-forge.com/queenofdemons Official Tor Site]
* [http://david-drake.com/ The Author’s website]

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