I'm looking for the title of a book (part of a trilogy, I'm almost 100%) where a powerful demon makes a "computer" out of lesser demons where:

  • thousands of demons that had their tongue in/out for binary data
  • "firefly" demons in a grid to create a monochromatic "screen"

... in the books, they never refer to it as a "computer", after all it's a fantasy novel with magic where aside from maybe alchemy, there was no modern/electrical technology. But it was essentially a "Minecraft redstone" computer before Minecraft existed.

I believe the protagonist's strength was that he was not "great" at any specific discipline, but instead he was "good" at almost everything. (And I think he eventually mastered all the disciplines? One might have been Alchemy, and another maybe Sorcery?)

The era in which I read the book could be anywhere from probably 1986 through maybe 1996?

  • 1
    This reminds me of the video game Ultima III: Exodus.
    – Buzz
    Dec 19, 2018 at 5:08
  • @Buzz maybe that's where they got it from, or vice versa, or developed independently ... but I know what I'm thinking of was from a novel (esp as I've never played Ultima III.) Dec 19, 2018 at 5:12
  • 1
    see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/129127/… (about the first book in the series)
    – Otis
    Dec 21, 2018 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


This is a conflation of Lyndon Hardy's trilogy "Master of the Five Magics", "Secret of the Sixth Magic" and "Riddle of the Seven Realms".

The protagonist who masters all five disciplines, Thaumaturgy, Alchemy, Magic, Sorcery, and Wizardry, is in the first book.

If I recall correctly, the demon computer is in book number 3.

  • 2
    Apparently they've come out with a fourth book, since we've both read it :: The Archimage's Fourth Daughter (Magic by the Numbers Book 4) (Dec 15, 2017) Dec 19, 2018 at 5:39

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