Lost kingdoms and hidden cities are a staple of pulp adventure fiction — and SFF! — as are their rulers, which, most of the time, are gorgeous, powerful, scantily clad women. Often they serve as foils for the male adventurers and, occasionally, romantic interests. The magazine cover above illustrates Phorenice, the ruler of Atlantis. With her hypnotic Claudette Colbert stare and Tamara Lempick curls, she’s a worthy opponent for the characters of Cutcliffe Hyne’s “The Lost Continent.”
(Fantasy writer Richard Adams paid homage to this character by naming the evil, sexually deviant Priestess-Queen of the Beklan Empire Fornis after her.)
Other powerful ladies include Ayesha, of H. Rider Haggard’s She, Queen La of Opar from the Tarzan books, and Princess Yazmela and Queen Tamaris, creations of Conan writer Robert Howard. Even C. S. Lewis played with the trope in The Magician’s Nephew, where Mage-Queen Jadis of the dead world of Charn emerges amusingly into Edwardian London, charming and dominating the old Magician of the title. (Later, she winds up as the White Witch in the original Narnia tale, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.) Fantasy art abounds with these ladies because of their dramatic and photogenic qualities, for which I’ll do a later post.
For now, I’ll include a list of suitable savage names for these characters, which are at once exotic and a little unpleasant, full of sibilant S’s, soft J’s, hard T’s, K’s, and V’s, and open-mouthed Ays.