Author: William Beckford
First published: English translation, 1786; original French edition, 1787 as Vathek
Time: The past
Vathek (VAH-tehk), an Arabian sultan, a man addicted to sensory pleasures who indulges in black magic. The Giaour gives him the key to the dark kingdom in response to human sacrifices. He makes Nouronihar his companion in the pleasures of this world and the world of magic. Vathek finds the secret lair of Eblis, Lord of Darkness, only to have his heart consumed by eternal flames.
Nouronihar (noh-ROHN-ih-hahr), the daughter of Emir Fakreddin. She is stolen from her betrothed by Vathek and becomes the favorite of his harem. She shares Vathek's discovery of the lair of Eblis and also has her heart consumed by eternal flames. She turns from a sweet young woman into an addict of pleasure and depravity.
Carathis (kah-RAH-tihs), Vathek's mother. She is a worshiper of evil and, by her live sacrifices, leads her son to black magic and its discoveries. She arrives at the lair of Eblis shortly after her son, who sees her heart burst into flame.
The Giaour (JAW-ur), a mysterious stranger and an emissary of the powers of evil. He brings sabers with changing inscriptions to Vathek. The inscriptions are the key to the pathway to the kingdom of darkness.
Gulchenrouz (GUHL-kehn-rowts), the betrothed of Nouronihar. He and his sweetheart are drugged and taken to a hidden retreat to save Nouronihar from Vathek.
Emir Fakreddin (fah-kreh-DEEN), the devout Muhammadan father of Nouronihar. He is scandalized by Vathek's violation of the laws of hospitality.