King's Quest Omnipedia

Alexander before Samhain

Lord Samhain is the legendary ruler of the Underworld who reigns over the Realm of the Dead.


Thousands of years ago, even long before the beginning of time, Samhain was once a mortal man, but he insulted the gods and was sentenced to rule the Underworld for all eternity.

He was left mateless, robbed of sleep, robbed of movement, and robbed of companionship. Bound to a throne near the Sea of Souls. He became an evil, wicked being without emotion who judges all souls who come before him, and it is a job he is to hold until the end of time.

He had seen horror beyond imagining, cruelty the mere retelling of which would strike one dead, terror and injustice and unkindness that would make the very rocks weep tears of shame. He has seen tragedies that ended empires, injustices that defy reason, love that would light the very stars turn cold and hard. He has seen torments that cannot possibly be borne and yet must be--for centuries.

But though stones might weep, he never had. Over that time he had never once shed a single tear. Even at the times when Cleopatra and Helen of Troy stood before him with their tales of love, they moved him not. From those that came before him, he witnessed pain and suffering, murder and torture and betrayal, but had never once reacted to them.

Samhain judges the spirits that come to his realm[1], deciding what next stage of the afterlife will be for each one.

Once a knight came to the Land of the Green Isles from a distant land seeking to spare the soul of his dead lover. He apparently failed, as Alexander finds the knight's remains and retrieves his gauntlet, with which he challenges Samhain. He succeeds in making him cry in order to save the souls of King Caliphim and Queen Allaria.

Alexander made Samhain cry by showing him the Mirror of Truth given to him by Beast. Samhain saw in the mirror all of those centuries of his pitiable existence, bound, motionless and emotionless, and for the first time felt pity for himself, shedding a single tear for all that he had lost.

Personality and traits[]

Samhain is bound to his throne by iron chains and shackles so old they have rusted into a single solid mass of metal. An iron crown circles his pale brow, and his expression is grim and unutterably weary. Yet his face seems almost young and fair, and the combination evokes the curse of eternal tragedy. He is harsh and quick with his judgments, and he is not to be dallied with. One must be sure and stalwart to defeat him.[2] Only one living man has ever entered the presence of Samhain, and lived to tell the tale; before Alexander, no mortal man had yet ever succeeded in his long history. The Lord tolerates no living flesh in his kingdom of eternal sleep.[3]

While Abdul Alhazred is wicked indeed, next to Samhain he is but a mere child.[4] His enslavement to this throne while still a man; the years of watching misery and horror and growing ever more numb to it; the seep of his own humanity; the slow growth of a new thing altogether which became that which he is now. His is an existence that has no possibility of redemption, no end.

He is not moved by love, and is cold to it, common desires mean nothing to him.

The Lord of the Dead is a huge, grotesque figure. He and his throne are one--grown together over the centuries till he can no longer move. Chains, shackles, and a mantle around his neck further bind him, pinning him to his endless, weighty task. He has merciless, fathomless eyes. His legs have rotted away, leaving only bones. He had worn his mantle for so long, he had forgotten its dreadful weight.

While he cannot move he is still able to tilt his hand to pound his chair arm with his fist and can reach out to grab the living individuals who enter before him (there is no backing away from this as Samhain's black-cloaked guards stand behind preventing any escape).

Over the centuries, he has become virtually emotionless and has no sympathy for the mortal souls whom he judges and presides over. He hates mortals for the mortality that he lost.[5]


  • Lord Samhain
  • Death
  • Lord of the Dead
  • He Who Reigns Beneath the Sod
  • Lord of Death
  • Lord of Coldness and Despair
  • Ruler of Underworld[6]
  • Dead Head[7]

See also[]

Behind the scenes[]

Samhain ("summer's end") is a Celtic feast for the dead and the word signifies the month of November.

While there doesn't seem to be any known examples of people criticizing KQ6 over it, the concept of Samhain as a god of the dead appears to have originated from the 1700's but is not part of any actual legends see [8]. This idea is often considered offensive by modern Neo-Pagans, Wiccans and Druids who blame it on 'Christian fundamentalism' propaganda.[9][10][11] In fact there are no references to the "Samhain" god idea on Wikipedia, likely for this reason. While there are claims that the idea originated in the 18th century, others suggest that it may have originated from a 1973 Ray Bradbury story called 'The Holloween Tree'[12][13][14] However it maybe more complicated than that in Irish mythology (which had influences from early Christian tradition) the Dindsenchas and the Annals of the Four Masters—which were written by Christian monks—Samhain in ancient Ireland was associated with a god or idol called Crom Cruach. The texts claim that a first-born child would be sacrificed at the stone idol of Crom Cruach in Magh Slécht. They say that King Tigernmas, and three-fourths of his people, died while worshiping Crom Cruach there one Samhain.[15] Perhaps it is possible that Crom Cruach and ideas Samhain, as well as the Irish god Donn (god of the dead) were merged over time[16], so that in romantic period peole started referring to Crom Cruach as Samhain. There is little else included on Wikipedia concerning the topic of a god associated with Samhain.

The concept of a lover who enters the Underworld in order to find his beloved one and bring her back to life, like what the knight did for his beloved, is common in myths. In Greek mythology Orpheus went to Hades to ask Eurydice back.

While there are some elements of Samhain's realm that resemble aspects of Greek and Roman mythology such as Hades (or Charon & the river Styx), in Greek and Roman legends, Pluto (aka Hades) ruled the underworld, but he was not the personification of Death; that was the role of Thanatos, a kind of angel of death. The judges of the dead were Minos, Aeacus, and/or Rhadamanthus depending on the legend. These were several separate characters, where as Samhain appears to be a judge of souls, the ruler of an Underworld and a personification of Death, all in one. A similar role is shared by Lord Azriel in the Dimension of Death.

Samhain and Azriel's roles are somewhat like that of King Minos in Dante's Inferno in the Divine Comedy, who was the judge at the edge of Limbo and decided where souls went to in the nine circles of Hell. Azriel is a bit closer to Anubis however as the one who brings the dead over the threshold and judges their heart against the Scales of Truth (Ma'at)

In KQ lore Charon also takes the form of the traditional medieval personification of Death, aka the grim reaper (making him the first character to be called "Death" to appear the series as he originally appeared in KQ2, and mentioned as Father Death in KQ4, though the latter may also be a more direct reference to the 'grim reaper' character). Samhain was the second personification of Death to appear.

Samhain's appearance and that of his realm seems to be influenced by the works of H.R.Giger and cenobites of Hellraiser.

During the development of KQ8 Roberta had thought of using Lord of Dead (KQVI) as the main antagonist: the Lord of Darkness. Who later developed into Lucreto.

The Druids pronounce his name as "Sam-ayn". In Gaelic it is actually pronounced SOW-in. In Manx Gaelic it is spelled Sauin.

The lithograph artwork for Samhain has a few more details added including a holes in his head that allow views of his exposed brains.


  1. KQ6HB,54
  2. KQ6 Hintbook, pg 54
  3. KQ6 Hintbook, pg 53, 54
  4. "Alhazred is wicked indeed-he murdered us both in our beds. I fear so for Cassima in his hands, but next to the Lord of the Dead, Alhazred is the merest child."KQC, 4th, 295
  5. Arch Druid (KQ6):"To the Druids, he is Samhain, Lord of Coldness and Despair. Samhain was once a man like you or I, but he insulted the gods and was sentenced to rule the Underworld. Immortal he is, and mateless. Robbed of sleep, robbed of movement, robbed of companionship."
  6. TOBOKQ3E, pg 242
  7. TOBOKQ3E, 223
  8. Samhain
  15. Annals of the Four Masters: Part 6 at Corpus of Electronic Texts.