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Adin knew that he was the one who must fill the medallions in the belt.

Shadow Lord is in need of more information! Shadow Lord is lacking info in History: the events in the alternative future seen in The Silver Door.

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There is no denying that Deltora can be dangerous for the unwary or ill-informed!

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"I have many plans, Drumm. Plans within plans, and all of them with one aim. Deltora must be mine. I need it for the gems and metals beneath its earth, and for its calm southern harbours, perfect for launching ships of war."
— The Shadow Lord to Drumm.[1]

Shadow Lord
Biographical information
Alternative name(s)

Malverlain (birth name)
Verlain (shortened nickname)
The Lord of Shadows (by Deltorans)
Shadow Lord (by Deltorans)
The Enemy (by Deltorans, and later the people of Dorne)
The Master (by servants)


The Shadowlands
Dorne (formerly)


Alive (immortal)

Physical description

Five-eighths Fellan, three-eighths human



Hair colour


Personal information

Peregrine (father)
Alenan (mother)
Garth (grandfather)
Annoltis (brother)
Eldannen (brother)


Grey Guards, seven Ak-Baba, Thaegan, servants, more...



Weapon of choice

Magic, magic staff

Chronological and political information



Ruler of the Shadowlands Ruler of Deltora (formerly)
Heir apparent for the chieftainship of Dorne (formerly)


Shadow Army

First appearance

The Forests of Silence (mentioned)
Dread Mountain (vision)

Last appearance

The Third Door

Voiced by

Banjou Ginga (Japanese)
Mike Shepard (English)

The Shadow Lord, born as Malverlain,[2] is the ruler of the Shadowlands and has constantly attempted to invade and rule Deltora. He is the son of Chieftain Peregrine and the Fellan woman Alenan, and the brother of Annoltis and Eldannen. Born in Nerra, in Dorne, he was banished and, upon finding the Land of Dragons, set to conquer it. Choosing to take over Pirra, he resided in what has become known as the Shadowlands and constantly made plans to take over Deltora.

After his plans were thwarted and four of his Ak-Baba killed, the Shadow Lord retreated back to the Shadowlands. Although his plans failed, he still poses a threat to Deltora.[3]


Early life

Malverlain was born to Chieftain Peregrine and the Fellan Alenan (shortened to Alena), in Nerra, Dorne. Malverlain saw his older brother, Annoltis as his rival and his younger brother, Eldannen as nothing more. He studied and read many books and was trained in sorcery, however he had a fascination with dark magic. When Annoltis was sixteen, Alena died and was put to rest in Dann's Mirror, in the Fell Zone. Soon after, Peregrine passed away in his sleep and, knowing that Annoltis would be the favourite to become Chieftain, Maverlain challenged his older brother. He believed it was his right to become Chieftain and that Annoltis had stolen the throne from him. Using magic, Malverlain attacked Annoltis and Eldannen sided against him. After a long battle, Malverlain was defeated by his two brothers, for together they were almost invincible, and they decided his fate.[2]

Banishment from Dorne

In secrecy, Annoltis and Eldannen (shortened to Olt and Dann) took Malverlain down to the shore underneath the Fortress. There, standing shoulder to shoulder, they held the banishment spell, pointing out to sea. Sick with rage and bitterness, Malverlain conjured up a boat with a grey sail marked with red and headed out to sea. The power of the banishment spell sped him on his way and as he cursed his two brothers, he vowed he would return and take vengeance. He turned and sailed west, for he knew that other islands lay that way, including the Land of Dragons.[2]

The Isle of the Four Sisters

Malverlain woke the giant beast from its slumber.

In his search, he chanced upon a beautiful island that was home to four sisters: Flora, Viva, Aqua, and Terra. They were beautiful singers, but Malverlain, hating all beautiful things, and furious with what his siblings had done to him, imprisoned each on a separate corner of the island. However, the sisters still sang to one another from a long distance, and Malverlain still was not rid of the singing. Enraged, he hurried to each of the corners and struck them down, one by one.

However, their singing had soothed and sealed a great beast in the centre of the land; by killing them and silencing their singing, Malverlain had enraged and released the beast. Angered, it rose, crushing the beasts, smashing the mountains, and cracking the rock that the island rested on, so that it began to sink. Malverlain, not yet powerful enough to face the beast, fled out in the Silver Sea, conjuring up a small wooden boat with a grey sail, marked with red.[4]

Arrival at the Land of Dragons

The Shadow Lord encountered an Emerald dragon on his arrival at Deltora.

One day, he washed ashore on the Land of Dragons. He landed on the northwest side, in the territory of the Amethyst. The Torans who inhabited that territory conjured a banishing spell against him, and Malverlain, still weak from his ventures at sea, was forced to use his magic to transport himself away. He materialised in the territory of the Emerald, and immediately decided that this was the land that he wanted to rule. However, he was soon approached by an Emerald dragon. Malverlain tried to pursue the dragon to work for him, but the dragon refused and burned him. Malverlain was forced into the mountain range that separated the Land of Dragons from Pirra. He hid there for many years, gathering followers in the many bandits and killers also living in the mountains. He forced them to spy on both the Land of Dragons and Pirra for any weaknesses he could exploit, and steadily worked to grow his powers.[4]

The birth of the Ak-Baba

One day, on a snowy peak, Malverlain found what he thought at the time was a dragon egg.

Finding an Ak-Baba egg on top of a mountain in the Barrier Mountains, the Shadow Lord raised it himself.

He was very pleased with his discovery, thinking that he could raise his own army of dragons to conquer the Land of Dragons. What he did not know was dragon nests are always lined with human hair. When he brought it to his cave and the egg hatched, however, he realised that this was not a dragon; it was a kind of bird, an ak-baba from distant lands across the seas. Though disappointed and furious, he soon realised that this bird could be useful in its own way since he saw the potential for its children to become the cunning, devoted servants he wanted. With his magic, he created seven new birds from the flesh of this ak-baba bird, which he caused to grow even larger than its already huge ancestor, and gave them teeth and spines. The bird had already been a salvager, only eating dead flesh, and had already had a great lifespan of a thousand years. These qualities were retained in the seven new Ak-Baba. He also caused them to have a magical mental link to his mind, so he could always see what they saw and directly order them without having to speak with them.

By this point, his powers had become so vast that he no longer felt the effects of cold or heat, though his body would still suffer from exposure.[4]

The Shadowlands

The shadows of the Shadow Lord creeping in over the land of Pirra, about to be twisted into the Shadowlands.

Through his network of spies, Malverlain learnt of the weaknesses of both the Land of Dragons and Pirra. He decided Pirra would be the easier of the two to invade, since the source of its defences, the Pirran Pipe, needed to be played by a Piper to work. His chance came when the Piper died, and three new candidates were offered. Despite days of voting, the people of Pirra were split between their three choices and would not relent. Malverlain then stepped in and suggested that the Pirrans split the Pipe into three pieces, so that each contestant could hold the honour of being Piper. On the next day, he invaded. He was unable to capture the Pirrans, however, as they used their magic to escape to a series of underground seas.

Malverlain ruled the now-vacant Pirra, which he warped and twisted into the Shadowlands. After a time, his body was consumed by his ever growing powers, but his mind was able to survive. In the Land of Dragons, it was granted the title of first "the Lord of Shadows" and later simply "the Shadow Lord".[4]

The invasion of the Land of Dragons

With the conquest of Pirra, and the further development of its dark powers, the Shadow Lord felt it was time to invade the Land of Dragons. In the Shadowlands, it built a factory, from which it spawned creatures such as Vraal, Green Beasts, and Greers, which became the staple of its Shadow Army. Generals for the army were made of humans who had converted to the Shadow Lord's will. Its air force was made up of the seven Ak-Baba, modified with teeth and spines to make them effective killers.

The Shadow Lord's Factory in the Shadowlands leading up to the Battle for Deltora

The Shadow Lord commanded its army to attack the Land of Dragons. They swarmed through the northern lands, killing any who resisted them and plundering every settlement they could find. Only the dragons were able to stand against the Shadow Army, but they only ever attacked alone or in small numbers. This made them easy pickings for the seven Ak-Baba, who tore at them like a pack of wolves and fled when the numbers were unfavourable. It was only with the arrival of winter that the Shadow Army was halted, as the Greers who made the bulk of the army froze in their thousands.[4]

During the winter, a blacksmith named Adin dreamt of a belt containing the seven tribal gemstones of the Land of Dragons. He forced it in secrecy, and set off to each of the seven tribes to convince them to add their gem — Diamond, Emerald, Lapis lazuli, Topaz, Opal, and Ruby — to the Belt. Only the Torans refused to hand over their gem, the Amethyst, as they felt no need to concern themselves with the world outside their city.

The Battle for Deltora

Main article: Battle for Deltora

The Shadow Lord's army vastly out numbered Adin's.

When the spring came, the Shadow Lord sent fresh Greers to the Land of Dragons, and commanded them to take Hira, the capital of the Plains territory, and the last place of resistance in the north. However, the army they faced against was made up of Plains, JalisDread GnomesMereDel, and Ralads warriors, who were able to hold out so long that the Shadow Lord was forced to transport new soldiers and the Ak-Baba to the battle. Even with the sudden arrival of an Opal dragon, the battle still seemed lost for the people of the Land of Dragons.

It was at that moment that the Torans finally arrived and added the great Amethyst to the Belt. With all seven together, they created a magic so old and powerful that it forced the Shadow Lord and its armies back to the Shadowlands. Adin was then crowned king of the Land of Dragons, which was named Deltora after the order of the gems.

Setting the plans in motion

Though the Shadow Lord was defeated by Adin, it had not yet been destroyed. It spent many years in the Shadowlands watching Deltora, and learned that, while the Belt offered a powerful defence, it was not invincible. The Belt's power was tied to the people's faith in their king. If they were to lose faith, then the protective magic would weaken enough for the Shadow Lord to invade again.

To accomplish this goal, the Shadow Lord waited several generations, until Adin's descendants began building the Palace of Del. It created shape-shifting beings called Ols, and inserted them as the chief advisors to the royal family. It also created the Crystal, a device that allowed it to keep in contact with its spies. The chief advisors began setting a series of laws that limited the king and queen's contact with the people, and burnt all letters that expressed complaints or pleas for help. They also began limiting the number of times the Belt of Deltora would be worn to the day the King or Queen ascends the throne.

The chief advisors also made sure that the kings and queens of Deltora had only one child each, so as to weaken the strength of Adin's bloodline; the sole known exception was the brothers Elstred and Ballum. What the Shadow Lord did not know or else did not concern itself with, however, was that that Adin himself had five children. This meant that, even if the main bloodline was destroyed, there would still be another branch somewhere in Deltora.

The Shadow Lord also took the time to begin setting other plans in motion. It created the Four Sisters, and had its servants hide them on the four corners of Deltora, like it had done with the sisters it had met on the island. It also sent the Seven Ak-Baba to kill off Deltora's dragons, who posed the only threat to its plans. They killed all but one member of each tribe of dragon, who were convinced to hide themselves by Doran the Dragonlover. When he tried to destroy the Four Sisters, the Shadow Lord cursed him to become the guardian of the Sister of the West.

Once the Four Sisters were in place, the Shadow Lord had its servants create a plague of rats inside the city of Hira to force the people to leave. They set up a new city of Noradz, which was run by the Shadow Lord's servants and kept in a constant state of fear and oppression. Meanwhile, in Hira — now dubbed the City of the Rats — the Shadow Lord placed a device called the grey tide, based off the monster that had destroyed the Isle of the Four Sisters. It also discovered or created the snake Reeah, and granted it control over the City of the Rats in exchange for service.

Also during this time, the sorceress Thaegan came to the Shadowlands after running away from her mother, who was upset with her daughter's fascination with dark magic. When she left, she decided to settle in Deltora's north, now more powerful than ever, and with thirteen monstrous children. The Shadow Lord and Thaegan formed an alliance, with the Shadow Lord increasing her powers and including her in its plans; as early as a hundred years prior to the scattering of the gems of the Belt of Deltora, she informed the people of D'Or of the Shadow Lord's intentions before transforming them into monstrous creatures and their former home into the Lake of Tears.

The stolen gems

By the time of King Alton, the people's faith in the king was hanging by a thread. Most of the population was in poverty, and thanks to the Four Sisters, food had become very scarce. The Shadow Lord also placed a fog over the palace, which caused anyone who looked outside to see a happy land and people, further blinding the ruling family of the suffering of their kingdom.

On the Shadow Lord's orders, chief advisor Prandine ordered the destruction of the Deltora Annals, which left the royal family ignorant to their country's past. Prandine then poisoned the king, which forced his young son Endon to take the throne. He also forced out Endon's best friend, Jarred, which removed any voice of opposition left in the palace.

By the time Endon reached adulthood, the last respect the people of Deltora had for their king was gone. The Shadow Lord sprung at once, sending the seven Ak-Baba to attack the palace. They destroyed the tower where the Belt of Deltora was kept and shattered the Belt. Each Ak-Baba then took one of the gems and scattered them across Deltora in seven of the most dangerous places in the land: the Forests of Silence; the Lake of Tears; City of the Rats; the Shifting Sands; Dread Mountain; the Maze of the Beast and the Valley of the Lost. However, Endon and his pregnant wife were able to escape thanks to Jarred and his wife Anna.

The mark of the Shadow Lord.

With the Belt gone, the Shadow Lord took over Deltora and kept it in a state of oppression. Its new soldiers, the Grey Guards, patrolled the streets of every town, and abducted people to be brought back to the Shadowlands for experimentation. They were supplied with venom from an Ooze Toad named Gellick, who ruled over the Dread Gnomes. James Gant, another servant of the Shadow Lord, transformed the keeper of the Bone Point Lighthouse into a horse, thus robbing Deltora of trade partners from the west. It also sent its armies to the lands of the Jalis, killing all who stood against them and taking the rest as prisoners.

The Shadow Lord also made sure people would lose faith in their king coming back to save them by having Fardeep, a former games master from Rithmere, pretend to be Endon and guard the Diamond in the Valley of the Lost. The Shadow Lord had also seized control of the The Champion Inn in Rithmere from Fardeep and set up the brutal Rithmere Games as a means of identifying fit slaves for combat in the Shadow Arena. It also created the Grade 3 Ol, Dain, to infiltrate the Resistance and act as a false heir to the Belt, should the need arise.

Second banishment from Deltora

Unbeknownst to the Shadow Lord. Endon and queen Sharn were able to hide themselves and their child by taking the identities of Jarred and Anna. They lived in Del for sixteen years, raising their son, Lief, among the people so that he could grow into a better king than those before him. On his sixteenth birthday, he set out with Barda, a surviving palace guard, and later Jasmine, the daughter of Jarred and Anna, to collect the gems for the reforged Belt of Deltora.

One by one, the companions were able to gather the gems, destroy many of the Shadow Lord's minions, including Thaegan, Reeah, Gellick, and free Fardeep from his cursed state. The Shadow Lord had Fallow — Prandine's replacement after his death — capture Lief's parents in an attempt to interrogate them, but both proved to have a stronger will then anticipated.

Fortunately for the Shadow Lord, Dain was able to fool Lief into thinking he was the heir to Deltora. With the help of Ichabod, the strongest of Thaegan's children, Dain tricked the resistance into thinking he had been captured, which led to them staging a rescue operation into the city of Del. One by one, they fell into the Shadow Lord's traps, until only Lief was left.

As Fallow prepared to publically execute the resistance members, the Shadow Lord itself appeared to watch the event with its Ak-Baba. However, Lief was able to figure out the secret of the Belt, and rearranged the gems into their correct order. When he put it on, the Belt recognied him as the heir to Deltora, and banished the Shadow Lord back to the Shadowlands.

The Pirran Pipe

After the newly crowned King Lief's victory, the Shadow Lord took thousands of Deltorans back to the Shadowlands. It used them in various experiments, including the Conversion Project, a new, stealth based way for it to invade Deltora. Among them was Tira, a girl who had helped Lief, Barda, and Jasmine in Noradz. She was among the first batch of the perfected Conversion Project, which the Shadow Lord intended to use as a replacement for Ols, who had failed it on multiple occasions now. Members of the imperfected Conversion Project were sent back to Deltora to attempt assassinations of Lief, with none succeeding.

After a time, the Shadow Lord realised that to kill Lief, it would need him to come to it. During Lief's attempts to destroy the Crystal, the Shadow Lord was able to go into his mind, where it learnt of his love of Jasmine. Using this, it created an illusion for itself named Faith. As Faith, the Shadow Lord contacted Jasmine through the Crystal, calling herself Jasmine's younger sister, and prompting Jasmine to set off to the Shadowlands. Lief and Barda followed after her, and during their travels in the underground sea, they reformed the Pirran Pipe after meeting each of the Pirran tribes, who gave them their parts of the Pipe.

Lief played the Pipe at the unveiling of the Conversion Project, and later handed it over to the Keron, Emlis. While the Pipe could not defeat the Shadow Lord in its own land, the magic weakened it long enough for the Pirrans to hear the music and teleport all the captive Deltorans into their underground sea.

The Four Sisters

Despite freeing his countrymen from the Shadowlands, Lief was still plagued by the voice of the Shadow Lord through the Crystal. It tormented Lief relentlessly, and explained that soon it would be expanding to other, weaker willed Deltorans.

On the night of the Full Moon Meeting, Lief finally thought of a way to destroy the Crystal: by burning it in the fires of Adin's forge. As it burned, the Crystal replayed past conversations, including the one about the Four Sisters. This prompted Lief, Barda, and Jasmine to set out again to destroy them.[1]

With them gone, the Shadow Lord had its servant, Paff, begin to sow dissent in the capital. She turned Lief's allies against one another, and inserted a magic glass bead into Kree, Jasmine's raven, so that the Shadow Lord could watch them constantly. This allowed it to try and kill Lief when he arrived on Bone Point, by sending a hurricane wind to blow him out of Deltora's borders, where the gems would kill him. Paff also began to spread rumours of a plague sent by the Torans. This way, if Lief died, the people of Del would not accept his heir, Marilen, as their queen.

Despite all these plans, Lief was still able to destroy the sisters with the aid of the last dragons of Deltora. With them gone, the grey tide awoke and began to cover the land in poisonous slime. The Shadow Lord even used its powers to allow the seven Ak-Baba to defy the Belt and do battle with the dragons. But they were outmatched by all seven aided by the Belt, and four Ak-Baba were slain before the dragons destroyed the grey tide.

And so the Shadow Lord's plans were ended, and Lief married Jasmine, who became queen of Deltora. But knowing that the Shadow Lord was still a threat, and plotting its next attack on Deltora, Lief never removed the Belt.[3]

Attack on Dorne

After its failure in Deltora, the Shadow Lord set its sights back to its homeland of Dorne. It sent a spy to advise the Chieftain there to attack the Fellan, for the Fellan protected the island from the Shadow Lord. Luckily for the people of Dorne, five heroes from Weld exposed the Shadow Lord's plan.

In an alternate future where the Shadow Lord succeeded, it discovered the Skimmers and bred them to be able to survive in daylight. This way it could use them to attack Deltora.[5]

Physical appearance

The Shadow Lord, as he appears in the anime.

On arrival at Deltora, Malverlain wore a large cloak of shadows and carried a magic staff.[4] [nb 1] Though once dark-skinned with red hair, over the years, anger and hatred completely consumed his physical body. Towards the end of Lief's journey to find the lost gems, the Shadow Lord appeared floating in the air, surrounded by dark grey clouds edged with scarlet and appearing as nothing more than a hooded figure.[6]


In the anime, the Shadow Lord is depicted as a massive, demonic entity with glowing red eyes, a body made out of darkness and as having a deep sinister voice.


The Shadow Lord was always proud and stiff, thinking that it was his right to rule Dorne. After fleeing from Dorne, the Shadow Lord became very bitter and sick with greed. Desperate to rule, the Shadow Lord became a megalomaniac, willing to do anything to get his way. Hating everything good and beautiful, its soul is dark and filled with jealousy. Over the years, its hatred has grown and, to it, a thousand years is like the blink of an eye.[4]

Deriving pleasure from mentally tormenting Lief, it appears to be very sadistic and cruel, going by the policy that if it can not have something, it will simply destroy it, evident from its deciding to destroy Deltora with the grey tide. The Shadow Lord cares nothing about its subordinates, viewing them as simple pawns. An exception to this may be the Ak-Baba, if for their strength and loyalty if no other reason.


Studying and reading into sorcery at a young age, Malverlain was a very powerful sorcerer. Strengthened by Fellan blood, he could perform killing spells and conjure objects. He is also able to burn the minds of people.[4]

By the time of the series, the Shadow Lord's power had extended to being able to kill miles away from itself, and could share its power with others. It also possessed power over the weather, and was able to send a powerful wind to blow Lief and the Belt away from Deltora in Isle of the Dead.

In The Sister of the South, the Shadow Lord used its power to defy the Belt of Deltora and sent the Ak-Baba to attack the dragons. This is an impressive feat itself, as the Belt is the very object preventing the Shadow Lord's invasion.

The Shadow Lord is also a master engineer and biologist. Inside its Shadow Factory, it creates all forms of monsters and servants for its army. Many captured slaves are also experimented on, usually ending up as mindless and misshapen beasts. In the alternate future seen beyond the silver Door, it was able to breed Skimmers that could survive in daylight by using jell.


Main article: Malverlain's relationships


Unnamed half-Fellan


Deltora Quest

Deltora Quest

Deltora Quest 2

Dragons Quest 3

The Three Doors

Supplementary books


The Shadow Lord's true name, Malverlain, uses the prefix "mal-", which comes from Latin mal- from the Latin adverb male, from malus, meaning "evil", "malicious" or "unpleasant". It may also have been derived directly from the English word "malicious", meaning "evil", "evil intent" or "something intended to be evil".

  • Because Rosalyn is from Deltora the Shadow Lord has Deltoran blood in him. He even has ancestors from the city of Del, the capital of Deltora.
  • The Shadow Lord is the main antagonist throughout all three Deltora Quest series.
  • The Shadow Lord's most loyal servants are the seven Ak-Baba.
  • Various similarities exist between the Shadow Lord and other "Dark Lord" characters from various works of fiction:
    • Like Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, he has various servants capable of flight or magical ability that travel to do his bidding while he usually remains within his domain, a country utterly ruined by his machinations. He also possessed a magical means of communicating with said servants and later his enemies, similar to the Palantíri of The Lord of the Rings
    • Like The Sword of Shannara antagonist the Warlock Lord, he was once a human who dabbled in dark arts only to eventually get consumed to the point that none of his humanity remained. However, unlike the Warlock Lord, the Shadow Lord has no known weaknesses by which he may be destroyed, with various magical defences serving only to weaken or repel him.
    • Like Makuta Teridax from BIONICLE franchise (specifically Generation 1), he is a brilliant schemer and manipulator with "schemes within schemes", where, if one failed, another would succeed. And like Teridax, the Shadow Lord is depicted as a megalomaniacal, sadistic and arrogant psychopath desiring nothing more than to rule all of creation.


  1. The Shadow Lord's staff resembles the staff of Maia Gandalf in film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rodda, Emily. Dragon's Nest. Scholastic Australia. 2004.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rodda, Emily. The Golden Door. Scholastic Australia. 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rodda, Emily. The Sister of the South. Scholastic Australia. 2004.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Rodda, Emily. Tales of Deltora. Scholastic Australia. 2005.
  5. Rodda, Emily. The Silver Door. Scholastic Australia. 2012.
  6. Rodda, Emily. Return to Del. Scholastic Australia. 2002.

See also