Unearthing the Past
V! The Life and Times of Vanax the Magnificent
As a young boy, Vanax is instructed by his father on the importance of steel to their people and its relationship with their god, Kord. Soon after, a group of warriors led by Thulsa Doomsystematically destroys Vanax’s village. Thulsa Doom’s lieutenant, Thorgrim, whacks the villagers with his hammer, their dogs kill Vanax’s father and Rexor, another lieutenant of Doom’s, steals the sword of Vanax’s father. Vanax’s mother is beheaded by Thulsa Doom in front of Vanax with the sword Rexor stole. They sell the children into slavery after the village is rampaged.
Having been forced to push The Wheel of Pain for years, a now-adult and extremely muscular Vanax is trained as an arena fighter and then freed by his masters. Vanax meets two allies: A warrior named Jurr; and the beautiful theif Valeria, who becomes his lover. The three break into a fortified temple used by a doomsday cult to steal a large jewel called “The Eye of the Serpent” and Vanax discovers that this cult is associated with the warriors who destroyed his village and their leader, Thulsa Doom.
The three become drunk in celebrating their newfound wealth and are arrested by soldiers of King Osric of Ophir. He offers them a fortune to return his daughter, who has been seduced into joining the cult and, he fears, may be charged with assassinating him. Motivated by his hatred for Doom, Vanax leaves Jurr and Valeria (who wish to decline the offer) to Set’s Mountain of Power.
Arriving at the Mountain of Power, Vanax attempts to disguise himself as a priest, but a suspicious guard instead brings him to Thulsa Doom. Vanax is beaten by Rexor and Thorgrim, and Thulsa Doom demonstrates the power of flesh by making a young girl jump to her death. Doom orders that Vanax be crucified in the desert on the Tree of Woe to contemplate what he has heard. When Valeria and Jurr find him, they take him to a haunted Stonehenge-like cemetery called the Mounds and ask Faust, the wizard who resides there, to revive Vanax. He agrees, but warns that the demons who power the magic involved will “extract a heavy toll”; Valeria declares she will pay them, though Faust does not explain what that price may be.
With Vanax revived, the three enter the Mountain of Power through a gorge that Faust told Jurr about. They witness, among other things, a cannibalistic feast by its members and Thulsa Doom’s transformation into a giant snake. They wreck the harem with brute force and disrupt the cannibalistic orgy. After they grab the princess, Doom shoots Valeria with a poison arrow and she dies in Vanax’s arms. He cremates her at the Mounds after taking the Eye of the Serpent from her corpse. He then prepares for battle with Thulsa Doom’s army.
Thulsa Doom and his lieutenants lead an army of “Vanir” riders to recover Osric’s daughter. Vanax and Jurr however defeat Thulsa Doom’s lieutenants one by one. Thorgrim is defeated by a clever trap and Rexor is defeated by Vanax, who is assisted by Valeria’s spirit. After the battle, Vanax recovers his father’s sword from Rexor, with its blade broken in the battle. Seeing all is lost in battle, Thulsa Doom attempts to kill the princess. However, Jurr blocks the snake arrow and Thulsa Doom flees. The princess finally returns to her senses.
Thulsa Doom is seen at the Mountain of Power to his followers on the gleam of the eye of Set with their torches. The princess helps Vanax infiltrate the mountain. Thulsa Doom attempts to mesmerize Vanax. However Vanax is too strong willed and using his father’s broken sword, beheads Thulsa Doom and tosses the head to the audience and the headless corpse falls down. Vanax then drops the broken remnant of his father’s sword. The audience throw their torches into the water and Vanax throws a torch into the temple, burning it. Vanax then brings the princess back home.
The book’s epilogue shows an aged Vanax sitting upon a throne, crowned as King.