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Belt of Deltora300
Adin knew that he was the one who must fill the medallions in the belt.

Shifting Sands (location) is in need of more information! Shifting Sands (location) is lacking information from the anime

"Death swarms within its rocky wall, Where all are one, one will rules all. Below the dead the living strive, With mindless will to serve the Hive."
— Lief deciphers Rigane's warning.[1]

Shifting Sands
General information

Location of the Lapis Lazuli
Deltora's only desert

Physical information

Mid northwest


Lapis Lazuli territory



Chronological information
First appearance

The Shifting Sands

Last appearance

Secrets of Deltora

Location on map
Map of Lapis Lazuli territory
Shifting Sands (location)

The Shifting Sands is a large desert located in Lapis Lazuli territory. It served as both the hiding place and guardian of the Lapis Lazuli.[1]

The Shifting Sands is located in the upper right corner of Lapis Lazuli territory, to the left of Rithmere Road, though it cannot be seen from the road. Outside the Shifting Sands stands a faded stone with a cryptic message on it. It warns readers that the Sands are dangerous and describes the location's true nature.[1]

The Sands themselves are red dunes, constantly shifting and changing and plagued by violent, frequent sandstorms. A low humming sound drones through the whole desert, somehow hypnotizing people who enter the Sands and compelling them to move toward the Centre, where the Hive lives. Because its landscape is constantly changing, travellers through the Sands are likely to become lost easily. Befitting of a desert, the Shifting Sands are devoid of water and constantly under the scorching sun during the day, but are freezing at night.[2]


Shifting sands sign

The warning stone.

The Mere tribe, in the distant past, threw criminals and prisoners of war sentenced to death into the Sands, though now they regard the desert as forbidden ground. The Shifting Sands have only been fully explored by one person, a woman named Rigane "the Mad".[2] Rigane placed the warning stone outside the Sands, and she was the originator of the term "the Hive" to refer to the desert's true nature.[3]

As time passed, the Mere began to regard the slowly expanding Sands as a threat, and built a huge wall around the Sands to keep them from spreading any farther.[2]

The Time of Adin[]

When Adin came to Rithmere in hopes of obtaining the Lapis Lazuli for the Belt of Deltora, the leaders of the Mere made a deal with him: if he could venture into the Shifting Sands and bring back the head of a Sand Beast, their gem would be his. Adin agreed, despite knowing nothing of the Sands or the Sand Beasts. The Mere did not believe Adin would survive his task, and many gathered on the Sands wall to watch him in the attempt. Adin entered the Sands, and as he encountered a Sand Beast, he quickly understood how hopeless his task was. Before the beast could attack, a Lapis Lazuli dragon snatched it up for a meal, inadvertently rescuing Adin. It landed in the Sands to enjoy the meal, and let Adin approach and take the head of the Sand Beast. To the astonishment of the Mere, Adin walked safely out of the Sands with the Sand Beast's head, his side of the bargain complete.[4]

Secrets of Deltora[]

Doran made note of the Sands in Secrets of Deltora, and described their history and dangers. He advised travellers to avoid the Sands, for they are an unpleasant place filled with a strange feeling of being drawn to the Centre. He spent time on the Sands wall, waiting for a dragon to come and observing what creatures of the Sands he could see. After some time, the dragon Fortuna came to the Sands to hunt. She spoke to Doran after finishing her meal. A few days prior, Fortuna had found her mate dead in the Sands. His bones had since been claimed by the Hive.[2]

The Rule of the Shadow Lord[]

After the Shadow Lord's invasion of Deltora, one of the seven Ak-Baba dropped the Lapis Lazuli into the Sands.[5] The Hive took the gem and added it to the cone at the Centre.[1]

The Shifting Sands[]

Lief was surprised to hear a traveller on the Rithmere Road mention the Shifting Sands, but he realised the Sands were just a part of ordinary life to the people in Rithmere and the surrounding area. When Lief, Barda and Jasmine were captured by Grey Guards after the Rithmere Games, they were taken past the Sands. Once they were freed, the companions had to backtrack to reach the Sands. They arrived at the Sands after several hours of walking, and tried to decipher the faded warning stone.[1]

Imprint of medal and coins

The coin circles.

The companions scaled the surrounding wall and entered the Shifting Sands. Seeing the vast Sands, Jasmine and Barda were disconcerted at the prospect of finding the gem in such a daunting place. Lief knew they would not have to search the Sands, for the gem's guardian was already aware of their presence. Unbeknownst to the companions, a pair of Grey Guards had followed them, tracking their footprints easily in the sand. The companions heard the Guards approaching, laid a false trail, and hid behind a sand dune. The Guards, seeing the trail end, searched for their quarry and fell prey to a Sand Beast. The Sand Beast ate them as the companions watched in disgust, and the Hive claimed the gold coins that the Guards carried. When the beast had gone, Jasmine looked through the Guards' possessions scattered about the sand and took what she found useful, but could not find the gold. Lief saw the circles the Hive had left in place of the coins and kicked them away, causing the Hive to retaliate with a sandstorm. The Hive claimed Jasmine's dagger when it fell in the commotion and then it ceased the sandstorm, appeased by the 'offering'. The imprint the Hive left of the dagger made the companions realise that the Sands themselves were alive and had taken the coins and the dagger.[1]

Imprint of Jasmine's dagger

The imprint of Jasmine's dagger.

The companions travelled on through the Sands, tied together with a rope to avoid being separated. When night fell, they untied themselves to light a fire and sleep, but the fire enraged the Hive. It whipped up another sandstorm, successfully separating the companions. Lief wandered the Sands alone for hours before he collapsed in a dune and nearly passed out. Kree found Lief and woke him with a call, alerting him that his companions were near. Lief was happy to see his friends alive, but failed to notice the Sand Beast in the dune behind him. Jasmine helped him escape the beast as Barda threw blisters at the Sand Beast, causing it to retreat. Reunited, the companions resumed their trek through the Sands, searching for the gem and its guardian.[1]

Eventually, the three reached the unavoidable Centre and climbed the Hive's mountain. Barda lowered Lief, armed with a smoking torch, down on a rope into the cone full of furious Hive creatures. Lief freed the Lapis Lazuli from the Hive pyramid and replaced it with the wooden bird Jasmine had picked up in Rithmere. As he was pulled out of the Hive, Lief took Jasmine's dagger from the top of the pyramid. With the gem recovered and added to the Belt, the companions left the Sands safely, protected by the Lapis Lazuli.[1]


After she woke, Fortuna made a stop in the Shifting Sands to find a Sand Beast to eat before taking Lief, Barda, and Jasmine to Shadowgate.[6]

The Hive[]

Main article: The Hive

The Hive.

In reality, the Shifting Sands is a massive sentient organism known as the Hive. They Hive creatures behave somewhat like bees, all sharing a hive mind and being calmed by smoke, but angered by fire. The grains of sand that make up the desert are the carcasses of the dead Hive members. The living workers reside below the sands. The entrance to the Hive is a massive, cone-shaped peak, called "the Centre", in the middle of the desert. It is large enough that Barda mistook it for a volcano. The entrance to the Hive is located at its top. The buzzing noise that is present throughout the Shifting Sands grows louder the closer to the Centre one is.[1]

The Hive gathers the treasures all that fall in the sands to the Centre. Regardless of where they land in the desert, everything eventually makes its way to the Centre. It then arranges its collection into a gigantic pyramid. It only collects inanimate objects and anything that will either not decay at all or will decay only after centuries. The most recent objects collected are placed closer to the top. Lief speculates that the pyramid is built around the Hive Queen and her young, which are fed objects that decay too fast to be of use in the pyramid.[1]


The most notable inhabitants of the Shifting Sands, outside of the Hive, are the Terreocti, or Sand Beasts. These creatures are found exclusively in the Shifting Sands and are the favourite food of Lapis Lazuli dragons. Scorpion Lizards are also exclusive to the Shifting Sands and are, in turn, the preferred food of Sand Beasts. Stinging insects known as Dune Flies are also common in the Sands, and scavenge dead creatures. The Hive allows these creatures to live and hide in the Sands in a form of facultative symbiosis. The animals prey on anything that enters the Sands, and the Hive takes the trespassers' treasure and their bones to add to its collection.[1][2]


Shifting Sands (anime)

The Shifting Sands as seen in the anime.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Rodda, Emily. The Shifting Sands. Scholastic Australia. July 1, 2000.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Rodda, Emily. Secrets of Deltora. Scholastic Australia. 2008.
  3. Rodda, Emily. The Deltora Book of Monsters. Scholastic Australia. 2001.
  4. Rodda, Emily. Tales of Deltora. Scholastic Australia. 2005.
  5. Rodda, Emily. The Forests of Silence. Scholastic Australia. May 1, 2000.
  6. Rodda, Emily. Shadowgate. Scholastic Australia. February 1, 2004.

See also[]