The Thief of Dreams: From game writer of Betrayal at Krondor
Brothers Aeris and Turiel must fight in a sorcerous cold war against an elusive enemy bent on destroying the Callendian Kingdoms.
From the writer behind the hit computer games Betrayal at Krondor and Dungeon Siege comes The Thief of Dreams, a new fantasy novel set in a world where magic is forbidden, where sorcerers are spies, and where a force beyond imagination threatens to transform the long simmering cold war between the nine kingdoms into a cataclysmic, world-shattering conflict.
In the misty town of Durande, nobleman Turiel de Juarde nearly dies at the point of an assassin's blade, but his surprising rescue by his spell-hurling younger brother Aeris uncovers a connection to unsuspected world of treachery, deception, and magical intrigue. As the secret society of Owls scour the streets for Turiel's would-be assassins, the King's soldiers hunt the sorcerous Owls on suspicion of treason, and a net of fear and paranoia unravels a hard-fought truce that could tear the kingdom of Eaden apart forever. Dispatched on a mission to ferret out whether the assassins are agents of a foreign power, or a dangerous offshoot of the Owls, Aeris and Turiel will confront powers that could end all life in the Callendian Kingdoms.
Filled with adventure, mystery, and court intrigue, The Thief of Dreams combines a unique blend of magic and espionage in a story that will keep you reading long past midnight, and well into the dawn.
About the Author
NEAL HALLFORD has been writing for the computer gaming industry for over twenty three years, and has been lauded for his work in a number of benchmark fantasy games including Betrayal at Krondor, Dungeon Siege, Might & Magic III: Isles of Terra, Planet's Edge, Champions of Norrath, Lords of Everquest and many others. Over the years his work has been experienced by millions of game players. His game Betrayal at Krondor was novelized into a New York Times best-selling book by Raymond E. Feist, and Dungeon Siege was adapted into the movie In the Name of the King, starring Jason Statham. Hallford now lives in San Diego, California where he's also an independent film producer at Swords & Circuitry Studios which he operates with his wife, Jana.
Praise For Neal's Work On Betrayal At Krondor
“I experienced the same collaboration with Neal that I did working with Janny Wurts…If a character shows up, he doesn’t suddenly get magically wished into place because the game requires something to be there…The reason that the thing is there makes literary sense..”
— Raymond E. Feist
New York Times Best-selling Author of Magician
“The best writing in any computer game to date…It’s difficult to capture this quality outside of quoting long passages from the game, but take my word for it: you will genuinely enjoy the story presented over the course of this game, and that’s due to a superlative job done by Dynamix’s writer, Neal Hallford.”
— Daniel J. Starr
Game Bytes Magazine
Here's a little bit more information about Aeris de Juarde, one of the two main protagonists of the book, detailing his thematic roots in Betrayal at Krondor:
THE THIEF OF DREAMS will be the kind of sprawling fantasy adventure for which my computer gaming fans already know me. The one thing that people have consistently said about whatever I've worked on over the years is that I know how to tell a damned good story. The games I've created have been translated into a dozen different languages, and have won all kinds of awards. BETRAYAL AT KRONDOR was inducted into the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame. I've had over a million people read the stories I've written for games -- which is kind of a strange position to be in for a first-time novelist. I've had my work adapted into a New York Times bestselling novelization, and also a movie starring Jason Statham, which is again, something of an aberration for someone trying to peddle their first book of fiction.
I'm not telling you all this because I'm terribly impressed with
myself -- honestly I'm continually flabbergasted that anyone wants to hear
anything I have to say -- but mainly to let you know that this isn't something
I just woke up yesterday and decided I wanted to try on a whim. I'm good at this. I know
how to do it. I want to write this novel. But in order to make this a possibility, I need to be able to clear off a few months from my calendar so that I can concentrate on this -- and only this -- so that I can do the concept justice, and so that you will get a novel that doesn't read as though it's been bashed out in the author's spare time.
Creating a good fantasy universe takes a lot of time, and careful consideration. You can't just drop down a dragon into the middle of your world without giving some thought to how the heck humans could have evolved on a world where you've got what would clearly be the ultimate top-tier predator. It's a flying, flame-throwing Abrams tank. How do people even survive long enough to climb up the evolutionary ladder? Building villages actually seems like a pretty stupid idea in that context because it's a really good way of attracting the attention of the things that want to eat you. Flight is metabolically expensive. Birds have to eat anywhere between three and ten times their body weight because they fly. How many cows or people does that require in order to sustain a dragon population? How does that affect the way cows get domesticated? Every change you make to the ordinary world in order to accommodate your fantasy elements will likely have moderate to gigantic changes to the way that the people live their lives. You need to understand how those changes may affect motivations or interpersonal conflicts of your characters before you set them out on an adventure. It's a lot of work that needs to be done, and why I'm asking you to help buy the time I need to do this job in the way it should be done.
For those of you who may be more used to the funding goals of some of the computer games which have been funded of late on Kickstarter, TOD's price tag should look a little more reasonable to you. And, of course, not all the money goes to me. I'll be shaving off a good chunk of change to pay the artist who will be designing the cover, and also losing several thousand dollars to MAKE all the goodies which people expect for their pledge rewards. And Kickstarter isn't allowing me to run the campaign out of the goodness of their hearts either, so roughtly 15% of our final tally will be split between Kickstarter (for hosting), Amazon (for payment processing), and miscellanous other fees associated with running the campaign itself. What I'll end up with will be on par with the advance that any reputable publishing house would pay any just-walked-off-the-street, first-time novelist. I won't be getting rich or flying off to Bermuda, but the money pays the bills and keeps the lights on for a few months while I try to craft the religions, histories, culture, and dramatic conflicts of an entirely new cosmos. It's merely a matter of rolling up my sleeves, digging deep into the details, and setting in for a very long siege.
I hope you'll consider donating to this project, or at least share this with your friends who read fantasy fiction, or who may have enjoyed some of my past games. If this campaign is successful I get to write the fantasy novel I've always wanted to write, you get the best adventure that my twenty three years of professional writing experience can deliver, and in the end we can all take satisfaction that we worked on making this project happen together.
The following video is part of an interview I completed with noted YouTube gaming blogger Matt Barton, talking about the origins of this project.
Neal Hallford has been lucky enough to make a living doing something he loves deeply — telling stories set in fantastical worlds. Best known for his work in the computer gaming industry, he was the writer behind the multi-award winning game Betrayal at Krondor. The universe he developed for Dungeon Siege was later adapted into a Hollywood movie starring Jason Statham. With over thirteen titles to his credit, including seminal fantasy titles like Planet’s Edge, Might & Magic III: Isles of Terra, Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan, and Lords of Everquest, Hallford has become an expert at crafting deep stories set in imaginary worlds. In 2001, Hallford and his wife Jana drew heavily on this experience to co-author Swords & Circuitry: A Designer’s Guide To Computer Role-Playing Games, still among the most highly user-rated game development books on Amazon.com.
It was Neal’s brush with a real-life event, however, that provided him with the topic of his second non-fiction book, The Derailment of the Sunset Limited. On October 9, 1995, Amtrak’s Sunset Limited was travelling from Miami to Los Angeles when it was derailed in the Arizona desert sixty miles southwest of Phoenix. Four notes were left at the site of the wreck indicating the derailment was the work of a terrorist organization calling itself “The Sons of the Gestapo.” Two of the notes were discovered by Hallford, who had been traveling as a passenger aboard the train. Hallford has since appeared in two television specials about the event -- When Trains Crash: Blood on the Tracks and Derail: America’s Worst Train Wrecks -- which were broadcast in the US, UK, and Canada.
In recent years, Neal has branched out into other media. Along with his wife, he’s become an independent film producer and director, and owns the production company Swords & Circuitry Studios. He’s served as a film judge for the Inland Empire 48 Hour Film Project, and is passionately involved with the independent film community of San Diego, California. Neal is also regularly featured as a panelist at conventions across the country, and frequently hosts a panel on writing for computer games at Comic-Con International, the largest popular media convention in the United States.
Prior to entering game development, Neal worked in radio as both a disc-jockey and audio engineer for KTOW, a small country and western radio station in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was while working at KTOW as a teenager that Hallford, along with his best friend Ron Bolinger, developed a weird tales radio drama series called Uncharted Regions. Hallford credits the scripts that he wrote for Uncharted as “the ticket that got me in the door as a professional writer.”
Hallford holds a degree in radio/television/film production from the University of Oklahoma.
The following links cover a few of Hallford's interviews that can be found around the net:
About Dungeon Siege
About Swords & Circuitry (with co-author Jana Hallford)
About the Derailment of the Sunset Limited
Shawn Sharp is an insanely talented artist who has collaborated with Neal on a number of private projects, most notably providing interior artwork for Swords & Circuitry: A Designer's Guide to Computer Role-Playing Games. They first met while both were working at Dynamix in Eugene, Oregon. Shawn was slated to be the lead artist for the sequel to Betrayal at Krondor, but unfortunately the project's cancellation prevented any of Shawn's amazing work on the Krondor project ever to be seen by anyone outside of Dynamix.
After thirteen years of art directing computer games, Shawn took a position at a company that he truly loves -- ArenaNet, makers of the highly popular GuildWars role-playing games. The position evolved into the role of directing the art development, and now he spends most of his time jumping back and forth between macro and micro levels of art development, liaising between departments, mediating and translating needs and priorities between the design and art departments, managing work flow as well as working with ArenaNet's out of house contract studios.
You can view some of Shawn's amazing artwork here.
If we only reach our campaign goal, I can guarantee that the book gets written, it has a great cover from Shawn Sharp, and we'll be able to deliver it in a wide variety of different formats. If you're able to help us reach the following stretch goals, however, we've got a few additional perks that might be of interest to you.
GOAL 1 - $30,000 - Neal gets an ADDITIONAL month of dedicated time on the book. You unlock the $80 QUARTERMASTER bump perk which entitles you to a Thief of Dreams t-shirt if you upgrade any pledge by 80 dollars.
GOAL 2 - $35,000 - Neal gets another month of dedicated time to work on the novel, and we're able to launch significant ad campaigns on Facebook, Google, and elsewhere. You unlock the $120 INQUISITOR bump perk which entitles you to a set of four 7” collectible figurines based on characters from THE THIEF OF DREAMS.
TRACK OUR PROGRESS
You can trackthe hourly progress of this campaign on Kicktraq. We've consistently rated in the top 5 projects in the Fiction Publishing sub-category of Kicktraq's Hot-List!
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges of this project aren't particularly unique. I could get hit by a bus. I could get eaten by a rabid antelope. I could be abducted by lecherous Amazons (wait, is that a risk?). There are a plethora of things that could happen which would prevent me from getting this book completed, but the greatest threat is honestly just me not getting enough uninterrupted time. Ideally it would be best if I could clear my slate for six or seven months, but it's not very realistic to expect that Kickstarter is going to buy me a half year of pure writing time. Instead, my goal is to get three or four months of time covered, and that should provide me with enough of a headway that I should have this done in 10-12 months.
If something truly dreadful happens, like me having a fatal heart attack, I will be leaving behind notes so that my wife Jana can find someone else to complete the work for me. (I am very lucky that I have among my friends a number of excellent writers who already have well established fantasy readerships.)
And as far as pledge fulfillment goes, the biggest risk would be if the price of printing suddenly and precipitously rose, or some other unforeseen circumstance which made it difficult to get the things we need from vendors. With that said, we have a modest amount of cushion built into our pledge levels so that we should be able to adapt to any reasonable amount of change. None of the items we have to offer is anything radically new in terms of production requirements, so there's little risk in vendors being unable to figure out how to make what we hire them to do. Books, posters, t-shirts and so forth are all well understood products.
All the funds for the pledge gifts will be held in a separate account until it's time to have the items produced, and we will ship those items as quickly as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)