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The Great Way is an epic fantasy trilogy about a supernatural invasion that destroys an empire.

Free Sample Chapters:

Want to read the beginning of the book I'm asking you to back? Chapter One of THE WAY INTO CHAOS is posted right here on my blog.

A Strange Beginning:

If you've watched the video you know this trilogy started as a homeschool project for my son and me. I introduced a language arts unit that had him planning, writing, and revising a fantasy "novel." Because there was no way he would tackle such a big project on his own, I agreed to do one along with him.

For him, the end result was a 10,000-word comic fantasy that I published on my website (and I paid him a penny a word for the privilege). For me, the end result was a planned 120,000-word novel that ballooned into a 350,000-word trilogy.

Epic fantasy, go figure.

This is an adventure fantasy written for adults, full of chases, cliffhangers, fight scenes, weird magic, and the threat of human extinction. At the same time, it's a story I would not hesitate to hand to my own pre-teen son.

An Empire At Its Peak:

One of the long-standing tropes of epic fantasy is the Fallen Empire: a nation that once ruled most of the known world but has since vanished, leaving only scattered ruins (and a common language for the characters to speak). Essentially: Rome. I thought it would be interesting to write about the fall of one of those fantasy empires, especially since it would give me the chance to show just how awful they could be.

The capital is Peradain, a city that controls a very specific trade route: every generation a portal opens and the Peradaini are visited by a delegation from a race of powerful, ageless beings called The Evening People. The royal family puts on a huge festival with feasting and music, theater and acrobatics... anything that might please their guests. In exchange, before the delegation returns home, they teach the humans a single magic spell. 

The Peradaini empire was built with this monopoly on magic. 

The Story Opens:

The first book opens on the morning of the next Festival. Food has been laid out, musicians and other performers await their turn on the stage, and the royal family is dressed in their finest clothes at the front of the dais. Everyone is nervous and excited, hoping they will impress their guests and receive a really powerful spell.

Then the portal opens and, instead of the expected delegation, monsters charge through.

The king and queen are killed in moments. The city falls in a day. As the empire collapses into civil war, the otherworldly invaders spread across the continent, destroying every human they can find.

Were these monsters unleashed on Peradain accidentally or was it a deliberate attack by The Evening People? And how can they be stopped before they wipe out human beings entirely?

What do you get when you pledge?

With all the unlocked stretch goals, there are additional pledge reward that are not listed in the sidebar on the right. Let me run down them quickly:

Everyone who pledges at $12 or higher will get ebook copies of three extra books. Two are novels and one is a short fiction collection. See Stretch Goal: Text and Stretch Goal: Mask for more details.

Everyone who pledges at $30 or higher will get a second FATE Core game supplement, for the urban fantasy novel A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, which is one of the unlocked stretch goal novels.

Everyone who pledged at any level will get desktop wallpaper art mentioned in Stretch Goal: Monitor and the music offered in Stretch Goal: You.

There are other prizes in Stretch Goal: You that have yet to be unlocked. Check them out.

Added: New Reward Levels:

Per your requests, I've added new pledge levels below for people who want to receive the entire trilogy in trade paperback. Now you can get the whole series signed or pristine, depending on your preference.

Stretch Goal: You

That's it! We've unlocked all the stretch goals I can swing. However, maybe there's a stretch goal you would like to create? A piece of art, or music, or fiction that you would like to share with the backers? Check out Update 14 for more details.

Already offered:

  • An expanded Voidcallers (aka Twenty Palaces) role playing game using the FATE system
  • Music (UNLOCKED!)
  • Audio fiction
  • A Voidcallers/Twenty Palaces writeup for a game set during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt
  • Another one set during WWI, w/ possible Pathfinder stats, too!
  • another novel
  • three Twenty Palaces fanfic short stories

There might be even more since I posted this. Check them out and maybe add your own!

Stretch Goal: Image (Unlocked)

Goal reached! We reached the target of $34,000. The books will have Christian McGrath covers! 

I've already managed to convince artist Priscilla Spencer, who has created maps for Jim Butcher, Saladin Ahmed, Kevin Hearne, and Myke Cole, to create a map for this project. So I know the inside of the books will look just as good as the outside. 

There's a little more detail in Update 4.

Stretch Goal: Text (Unlocked)

Goal Reached! Everyone who pledged at the SPEAR level or higher gets the extra books described below!

If we reach 50 new backers counting from Monday morning, September 30th, all backers at the SPEAR OF THE EMPIRE level and above will receive DRM-free ebook copies of:

TWENTY PALACES, the prequel to the series I published with Del Rey

THE TWIN SWORDS OF ZORDAIN, the short, funny comic fantasy that my son wrote for his part of the homeschool project that started this whole thing. I have managed to convince the wonderful fine artist and children's book illustrator Kathleen Kuchera to do the cover.

A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, my pacifist urban fantasy with the working title "The Auntie Mame Files." Artist Duncan Eagleson has agreed to do the cover, but I'll talk more about about the book in a future update.

For more about this stretch goal--and which new backers count toward the total--check Update 5.

Stretch Goal: Key (Unlocked)

Goal reached! Everyone who pledged at $30 and above will receive a second FATE Core supplement!

If we reach 850 backers total, everyone who pledged at $30 level or higher will receive a FATE Core supplement for the setting of A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, the pacifist urban fantasy promised in Stretch Goal: Text.

Stretch Goal: Monitor (Unlocked)

Goal reached! We passed 925 backers so everyone is getting desktop wallpaper of the cover and map art!

If we reach 925 backers, everyone who pledges at the $12 level or higher will receive the Chris McGrath cover art for all three books as desktop wallpaper, and also the map that Priscilla Spencer is creating (here's a map she created for Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series) and also the cover art created for my son's novella by fine artist and children's book illustrator Kathleen Kuchera.

Stretch Goal: Mask (Unlocked)

Goal reached! We passed 1,000 backers with 33 hours left to go, so everyone who pledged at $12 or above will get an ebook copy of my upcoming short fiction collection.

If we reach 1,000 backers, everyone who pledges at the $12 level or higher will receive an ebook copy of my upcoming short story collection, which will include the Twenty Palaces short story "The Homemade Mask" (along with other unreleased fiction).

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Stretch Goal Art:

This project started as a homeschool unit and it continues to be one. My son made this artwork to show the progress of the stretch goals.

Chris McGrath covers unlocked!
Chris McGrath covers unlocked!
Everyone gets an extra book!
Everyone gets an extra book!

Your Support:

Your support will help bring this project to life. Your pledges will pay for cover art, interior art (an epic fantasy needs a map!), copy editing, typesetting, ISBNs, and more. That will make the difference between a book created by a guy who only real skill is telling stories and a book that has clearly been prepared by a team of professionals.

Plus, you get to read my new book before anyone else.

Thank you very much.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As I mentioned in the video, the first draft of the entire trilogy is written. I need to do a revision of my own, then turn it over to an editor and designer. Short of an EMP event near my home or a bus fender with my name on it, I can't foresee anything that would prevent the delivery of the books.

The real challenge here is the timing. Three-hundred and fifty thousand words is a lot to revise, and it's not something that can be rushed. I've selected a generous delivery date with the expectation that I'll deliver early, but this work takes time. Also, this is my first Kickstarter so I may come up against unexpected difficulties.

However! As I mentioned, the trilogy is already complete. All that's left is honing the story and making it pretty. As soon as it's ready, I'll share it with you.

FAQ

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  • Pledge $2 or more
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    12 backers

    COMMONER: Support the project and keep track of our progress through the Kickstarter updates. You'll also be signed up for my incredibly infrequent newsletter.

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    2 backers

    BOW OF THE EMPIRE: Everything at the Commoner level and your name will appear in the dedications in the books.

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    83 backers

    SPEAR OF THE EMPIRE: Everything at the Bow level, plus you get a DRM-free ebook copy (.pdf, .epub, Kindle-ready .mobi, or all three together) of The Way Into Chaos, the first book in the series.

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    567 backers

    SCHOLAR OF THE TOWER: Everything at the Commoner level, plus DRM-free ebook copies (.pdf, .epub, Kindle-ready .mobi) of all three books in the series.

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    265 backers

    TYR OF THE EMPIRE: Everything at the Scholar level, plus a special (relatively brief) FATE Core supplement to allow people to game in the world of the novels.

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    26 backers

    SHIELD BEARER: Everything at the Tyr level, plus a trade paperback copy of The Way Into Chaos.

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    21 backers

    TYRANT: Everything at the Shield Bearer level, but the trade paperback will be signed and inscribed however you like (within reason: don't ask me to write something gross or defamatory).

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    46 backers

    CHIEFTAIN OF THE WILDS: Everything at the Shield Bearer level, but you'll receive the entire trilogy in trade paperback form.

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    17 backers

    WARDEN OF THE RIVERBANK: Everything at the Tyrant level, but you'll receive the entire trilogy in trade paperback form, signed and inscribed as you like (within reason, as above).

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    KING: Everything at the Tyr level, plus a signed and inscribed (within reason) hardback omnibus edition containing all three novels in one volume.

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    45 backers

    QUEEN: Everything at the Tyr level, plus a signed and inscribed (within reason) hardback omnibus edition containing all three novels in one volume.

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    3 backers

    SONG: Everything at the CHIEFTAIN OF THE WILDS level, plus a signed and inscribed copy of the hardcover omnibus edition.

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    8 backers

    MONUMENT: Everything at the WARDEN OF THE RIVERBANK level, plus a signed and inscribed copy of the hardcover omnibus edition.

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    6 backers All gone!

    THE BLESSING: Everything at the King level, plus a book club-style meeting for up to two hours. We can do it in-person in the Seattle metro area, or via Google Hangout/Skype.

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    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    FIRE AND FURY: Everything at the King level, plus I'll critique up to 5k words of your fiction (or someone else's if you want to give this as a gift and they consent). I won't be cruel but I will be honest. I'll also be bringing my own particular perspective.

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    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    EVENING PERSON: Everything at the King level, plus I'll bake you a batch of homemade cookies. I'll deliver it in person if you're within two bus rides of downtown Seattle, otherwise I'll ship them overnight. I make great cookies, you guys, even the gluten-free kind. (Let's be honest, this is a pure patronage level.)

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    FACE-PUNCHER: Everything in the Evening Person level, plus I will write a Twenty Palaces short story with your name (or the name of another consenting person) as the name of the point of view character. We can talk over how you want the story to go (ie whether Ray or Annalise kills your namesake) and you'll get to read it before anyone else.

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Funding period

- (30 days)