Dark Lord: an evil overlord trapped in a kid's body

Dark Lord: The Early Years gets right down to business: an unnamed narrator suffers a million agonies, while calling out for his hellion lieutenants to aid him, and we quickly learn that this is the Dark Lord, feared and tyrannical ruler of a distant kingdom, and that he has been transported to a suburban parking lot in our world.


Jamie Thomson's Dark Lord: The Early Years gets right down to business: an unnamed narrator suffers a million agonies, while calling out for his hellion lieutenants to aid him, and we quickly learn that this is the Dark Lord, feared and tyrannical ruler of a distant kingdom, and that he has been transported to a suburban parking lot in our world. And that he's been put in the body of a child. Before you can ponder this conundrum for too long, he's in the custody of child services, in hospital, and is being treated as a delusional car-accident victim whose fantasy of being a mighty and merciless sorcerer/warrior are the desperate gambit of his amnesiac psyche. The well-meaning child psychologists deliberately mishear his name ("Dark Lord") and dub him "Dirk Lloyd," and place him with a foster family while they sort things out. And we're off to the races.

Dark Lord plays out this scenario with perfect deadpan humor (the book just won the Roald Dahl Humour Award). Dirk's foster brother and schoolmates are at first bemused by his insistence on his true identity and his penchant for tenting his fingers and bellowing mwa-ha-ha, but Dirk is a tactical genius who knows how to humiliate bullies with a few well-chosen words, how to make himself a king among jocks with shrewd assessments of kids' weaknesses; how to break teachers' grip on their classes with cutting remarks. His friends play along with his "Dark Lord" game, let themselves be called his "court in exile," but no one really believes that Dirk is really an interdimensional Darth Vader.

But Dirk is (probably) not delusional. At least, the author is very careful not to collapse the possibility one way or another, until just the right moment. This is wickedly funny, brilliantly told stuff, and you'll never have more fun cheering for evil.

Brits may already be familiar with this book -- it was published more than a year ago in the UK under the slightly different title Dark Lord: The Teenage Years (there's also a UK sequel that came out last March called Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need -- presumably a US publication will follow).

Dark Lord: The Early Years


Jamie Thomson's Dark Lord: The Early Years gets right down to business: an unnamed narrator suffers a million agonies, while calling out for his hellion lieutenants to aid him, and we quickly learn that this is the Dark Lord, feared and tyrannical ruler of a distant kingdom, and that he has been transported to a suburban parking lot in our world. And that he's been put in the body of a child. Before you can ponder this conundrum for too long, he's in the custody of child services, in hospital, and is being treated as a delusional car-accident victim whose fantasy of being a mighty and merciless sorcerer/warrior are the desperate gambit of his amnesiac psyche. The well-meaning child psychologists deliberately mishear his name ("Dark Lord") and dub him "Dirk Lloyd," and place him with a foster family while they sort things out. And we're off to the races.

Dark Lord plays out this scenario with perfect deadpan humor (the book just won the Roald Dahl Humour Award). Dirk's foster brother and schoolmates are at first bemused by his insistence on his true identity and his penchant for tenting his fingers and bellowing mwa-ha-ha, but Dirk is a tactical genius who knows how to humiliate bullies with a few well-chosen words, how to make himself a king among jocks with shrewd assessments of kids' weaknesses; how to break teachers' grip on their classes with cutting remarks. His friends play along with his "Dark Lord" game, let themselves be called his "court in exile," but no one really believes that Dirk is really an interdimensional Darth Vader.

But Dirk is (probably) not delusional. At least, the author is very careful not to collapse the possibility one way or another, until just the right moment. This is wickedly funny, brilliantly told stuff, and you'll never have more fun cheering for evil.

Brits may already be familiar with this book -- it was published more than a year ago in the UK under the slightly different title Dark Lord: The Teenage Years (there's also a UK sequel that came out last March called Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need -- presumably a US publication will follow).

Dark Lord: The Early Years

Published 5:44 am Wed, Dec 12, 2012

About the Author

I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.

11 Responses to “Dark Lord: an evil overlord trapped in a kid's body”

  1. signsofrain says:

    Only $6.66 for the Kindle version on Amazon.com – Seems like this may have drawn some inspiration from Catherine Jinks’ Evil Genius series, which I love, so I’m probably gonna love this too. I’m almost at a 2-week holiday so this’ll make a great read for quiet mornings with coffee and toast… 

  2. Boundegar says:

    Christmas shopping: complete.

  3. You guys are killing me with these book suggestions. This sounds like it could be good. Similar idea to Good Omens?

  4. kdg says:

    Could anyone recommend a general age range?  It sounds hysterical, but maybe to young for my 8th grader? (He reads at an adult level, pretty much)

  5. Jorpho says:

    Dirk is a tactical genius who knows how to humiliate bullies with a few well-chosen words, how to make himself a king among jocks with shrewd assessments of kids’ weaknesses; how to break teachers’ grip on their classes with cutting remarks.

    Ahh, the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy.

  6. Tara Cleveland says:

    Just to let you all know… Dark Lord: The Early Years is known as Dark Lord: The Teenage Years in the UK. Don’t buy the same book twice by mistake! (I know you’re all way too smart for that kind of thing though).

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