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"You believe you are my match? Never! My Ritual has undone the prophecy! The child's energy will be obliterated!"
Bavmorda, during her duel with Fin Raziel, in Willow: A Novel

Bavmorda (formally styled as Her Majesty Bavmorda, Sovereign of Nockmaar, Sorceress Magnific, Primal Priestess of Cults and Covens) is the main antagonist of Willow. She was a female Daikini, Willow's archenemy and a sorceress. At a young age, she managed to marry Mikal Tanthalos, the crown prince of Tir Asleen, and remove her rival, the good enchantress Fin Raziel. After successively eliminating her parents-in-law, her husband, and the citizens of Tir Asleen, she started building her own empire, using purges, secret trials, public executions, and unceasing war to tame her subjects.

There was, however, a prophecy stating that one day, a child would be born who would dethrone her. Knowing of that prophecy, Bavmorda ordered the capture of all pregnant women throughout her domain, and those expectant mothers were penned in the Nockmaar dungeons. However, the prophesied child, Elora Danan, was spirited away as soon as she was born, and Bavmorda tasked her daughter, Sorsha, to find the fugitive midwife and the baby. Thanks to a series of incantations, the Queen planned to exile the child's spirit into oblivion. However, her plans were utimately thwarted by an unlikely hero, a Nelwyn farmer and trainee magician named Willow Ufgood.


Early life and training

"I did not feel like killing it. If I had, you would have smelled its burnt feathers from here. Tell me, Raziel, does your spellbook let you do that?"
Bavmorda, to Fin Raziel, in The Willow Sourcebook

Bavmorda hailed from the mighty kingdom of Tir Asleen.

Bavmorda was born in the Valley of Tir Asleen a few years after Fin Raziel. In the hour of her birth, many nocturnal creatures from the forest, including whippoorwills, owls, night herons and flying squirrels, attended at her mother's chamber, indicating that Bavmorda was destined to become a powerful enchantress. Just like Fin Raziel, Bavmorda received nurturing and tutelage from mighty practitioners of the Great Mystery, including the fairy queen Cherlindrea.[4] A child prodigy, Bavmorda displayed impressive magical talents even as an infant. She knew how to float before she could walk. From the age she learned to talk, she took interest in nothing beyond magic. She grew into an outstanding student who could comprehend the most obscure spells at a glance, which earned her the praise and respect of Cherlindrea.[1]

However, Bavmorda was selfish and dominated by her passions. One day, Bavmorda's presence in the castle library at Tir Asleen provoked the reappearance of the Malatrium, an ancient book of dark magic that had a will of its own. That day, Bavmorda had one of her earliest encounters with Raziel, then in her late teens. Although their conversation started on a cordial basis, the two trainee enchantresses quickly realized the divergences of their views. While Raziel simply used her magic to attract a nearby sparrow before releasing him, Bavmorda transformed a finch into a lifeless glass statuette. Although she returned the bird to its original form, she confessed not to have killed only because she did not feel like it. That event, and the conversation that had taken place before it, caused Raziel to leave the library in shock. After lingering a while, Bavmorda ended up discovering the Malatrium, which had suddenly appeared on a shelf. Having heard of that book and the dark secrets he contained, Bavmorda had been looking for it. Conversely, the Malatrium had long wanted to be found. Later that day, Bavmorda made quick farewells, and she left the castle of Tir Asleen with the Malatrium under the arm.[1]

Making of a queen

"How beauteous the princess, how fluid her movements, how queenly her poise! Now a new star adds luster to Tir Asleen's galaxy. Now a new moon rises to join the sun, our prince, in blissful circadian reign. May the juncture of day's glory and night's quiet beauty herald the dawn of our kingdom's greatest joy."
Durward, court poet of Tir Asleen, in The Willow Sourcebook

One year after her disappearance, Bavmorda returned to Tir Asleen. At the time, the young Prince Mikal Tanthalos, the son of Tir Asleen's sovereigns, was engaged to Fin Raziel. Knowing that she would have either control or battle Tir Asleen, Bavmorda decided to use her powers on the prince. She invited him on a forest trip, and the prince honored her request. During their travels, the sorceress worked slow but effective rituals of obedience on the prince, who eventually resolved to break off his engagement to Raziel. Although that turn of event caused consternation all across the kingdom, no wizard dared intervene in what appeared to be a private matter.[1]

From her fortress of Nockmaar, Bavmorda reigned supreme.

Subsequently, Bavmorda married Mikal, though the event aroused little enthusiasm, and there was only token attendance at the banquet.[4] Begrudgingly, the court poet Durward still delivered a customary homily. At the beginning, though, Bavmorda remained polite and courtly to most.[1] She and Mikal had a daughter, Sorsha, who had the red hair and gentle disposition of her father. However, the little princess was bent to her mother's will from infancy.[4] Not long after the birth of Sorsha, Bavmorda used her magic to get rid of the old King Tantholos the Eighth and his wife. At the time, few dared to think that the new Queen Bavmorda might have been responsible for the untimely death of Mikal's parents. The poet Durward, however, could not hold his tongue, and he became the first victim of Queen Bavmorda, consort of now King Tanthalos the Ninth.[1]

In the years that followed the death of Mikal's parents, Bavmorda started the rise of her own conquering empire. The citizens of Tir Asleen, who were exploited or abused in various ways, came to call that new era the "Time of Whispers." Eventually, the Queen trapped Mikal and the city's other inhabitants in blocks of quartz, summoned trolls to guard the city, and surrounded it with an intricate canyon maze. In desperation, Fin Raziel confronted Bavmorda, challenging her to single combat. The disgraced enchantress, however, could not get the upper hand. Since Raziel was too powerful to be killed, Bavmorda chose to transform her into a possum and imprisoned her on a lonely island in the center of a great lake in the north.[1]

The prophecy of the child

"You're a fool! I shall destroy you and the child with you."
Bavmorda, to Willow Ufgood, in Willow

Eventually, Bavmorda was hoisted by her own petard.

When a prophecy foretold a baby named Elora Danan would cause her downfall, she decided to have all pregnant women imprisoned in her dungeon, so that she could eliminate the prophesied child at birth.[4] But when the good-hearted midwife Ethna succeeded in escaping with the baby Elora, Queen Bavmorda needed to change her plans. She sent her daughter Sorsha and General Kael to pursue the baby and eliminate her.[2]

The evil queen prepared the Ritual of Oblivion in order to banish Elora Danan's spirit to the Netherworld and avert her prophesied fate. But the intervention of Fin Raziel and Willow, along with the Galladoorn army, prevented the completion of the Ritual of Oblivion. Willow used his Disappearing Pig Trick to trick her into thinking that he'd caused Elora to disappear, and as Bavmorda advanced toward him, she accidentally spilled her dark potion on herself. Upon her physical form being destroyed, the Demon Queen incandesced, turning white hot like metal, before completely vanishing in the thin air as her spirit, taking the form of a blood red vapour disappeared into the Netherworld.[2] The ritual not only destroyed her, but also expunged her magic from all the kingdoms.[1]


"Your Majesty, it is only because the world is jealous of your power. Soon our rites will wipe away that jealousy, and Your Majesty shall have peace thereafter."
One of the Queen's druids, in Willow: A Novel

Bavmorda's dark magic allowed her to animate immobile objects, throw fireballs and hurl people in the air. She had incredible polymorphic skills, able to transform others into animals, including entire armies and the Sorceress Fin Raziel whose power approached her own. Her powers of transmutation also enabled her to turn living things into lifeless inanimate objects and back into their original forms with minimal effort. She was also capable of performing dark magic rituals of frightening power. In addition to her natural talent for magic, Bavmorda apparently had a prodigious intellect from an early age, able to quickly and comprehensively understand complex spells with ease. She also apparently had a good understanding of politics and military tactics, presiding over the government of a kingdom for many years and commanding a vast army which she controlled effortlessly. Bavmorda also seems to have above average physical strength, overpowering Fin Raziel in a fist-fight.[2] The Demon Queen was also able to spawn various abominations, like albino toads.[4]

Behind the scenes

"I'm going to be hated by children all over the world."
Jean Marsh, in the Willow Official Poster Magazine

The Witch-Queen Bavmorda was created for Willow, a 1988 fantasy film directed by Ron Howard, produced and with a story by George Lucas.[2] She was portrayed by veteran actress Jean Marsh, who had already portrayed the witch-like character of Princess Mombi in Disney's Return to Oz in 1985.

Bavmorda's backstory in the 1989 video game adaptation of the movie for the Nintendo Entertainment System differs greatly from the one established in other sources. According to that game, Bavmorda was originally the messengers of the Spirit of the Skies, while Fin Raziel represented the Spirit of the Earth. When Bavmorda conceded to evil, Raziel tried to convince her to return to the skies, but the corrupted messenger refused to see reason. As a result, Bavmorda sealed Raziel's magic and turned her into an opossum.[5]



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Notes and references