Category Archives: Prologue to Chaos

Prologue to Chaos is the Introduction to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga, now available from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Prologue to Chaos, 5th ed.

The all-new 5th edition of Prologue to Chaos is now available as an e-book on Amazon and Kobo!

This new release is part of the major edit and restructuring of my first novel, Dawn of Chaos. The first three chapters of Dawn have been heavily edited and moved into Prologue. Along with a new, never-before published second chapter, Prologue to Chaos is now a novella-length introduction to the Sanctum saga.

The next twenty chapters of Dawn will be released this spring as a new novel, titled Hellgate. The last few chapters of Dawn will then be released (along with several new scenes) as the novella Aftermath, which will set up the story to be continued in Wrath of the Peregrine King.

Prologue to Chaos on Amazon

Prologue to Chaos on Kobo

Enter the Black Magus

From Sanctum of the Archmage: Prologue to Chaos, by Tony Donadio. The newly edited and expanded fifth edition will be available as a free download in early 2019. In this scene, we meet the villain of the series: Emil Zomoran, Lord of Westreach — soon to be known as “The Black Magus.”


Gerard shook his head. “It doesn’t have to end like this, Professor.”

“Yes, it does,” Zomoran said. “Because I’m done with you. Done with years of trying to bring wisdom and progress to this intellectually barren kingdom. Done with appealing to fools, aided only by a handful of friends who understood — who saw the kind of brilliant society we could engineer, if only we could order things as they need to be. Done with writing and speaking to classes of empty minds, who lack the inspiration and courage to see and dare the truth.”

His gaze came to rest on Aron, and a strange anger blazed in his eyes.

“Done with puppets of the ruling class, too busy tiptoeing around zealots, and dancing on the strings pulled by an old man behind the scenes. The only other great mind in this entire besotted nation, but without the ambition to guide it into the embrace of history.

“Oddly enough, I may owe Salmanor Hardin a debt for opening my eyes today. I see now that this society is decadent beyond redemption. It is time for it to be purged in fire and rebuilt from the ashes.”

The princes stared at Zomoran in amazement. Aron’s eyes hardened as he returned the magus’s acid glare.

“The people of Carlissa are not toys or machines, Zomoran,” he said, “to be ‘engineered’ to suit your view of the way things should be. They are individuals, with rights and dignity. Too often in the past have we made that mistake. It’s time to try a better way.”

Zomoran shook his head and laughed again.

“So parrots the puppet,” he mocked. “Your grandfather’s ideals are a delusion, boy. A nation of sheep cannot govern itself. It needs to be led, by those with the knowledge and spirit to understand what is best for them. Or do I truly have to lecture a princeling of the realm on the meaning of noblesse oblige?”

His free arm reached behind him. He drew the woman with the bloody hand into a protective embrace.

“Would a great man allow his best minds to be given over to torture and the threat of a heretic’s fire?” he demanded. “For the mere crime of thinking bold thoughts? Or would he lead and protect them? And if others lacked the wisdom to follow of their own accord, would he not shepherd them? By force, if necessary? For their own good?”

“A great man doesn’t concern himself with his own greatness,” Aron replied firmly. “Empty minds, you say? I was more attentive to your lessons, Professor, and to your example, than you realize. You stand there, sheltering a colleague whose devotion feeds your vanity, and you leave a trail of dead and broken bodies in your wake to do it. And you presume to lecture me about the meaning of noblesse oblige? Whose needs do you truly serve, Lord of Westreach?”

Zomoran regarded him icily, but with a look of sudden wariness.

“You are clever, princeling,” he said. “More so than I gave you credit for. You’re stalling, trying to keep me talking and arguing, while you wait for reinforcements from the palace. Yes, I know that the Archmage is there. And as much as I would relish the opportunity to test myself against him, that is not my plan for today.”

Dawn of Chaos: Edit and Re-Release

My first novel, Dawn of Chaos, suffers (especially in the earlier chapters) from the fact that much of it was written while I was still honing my writing skills. It also has an unusually long introduction and denouement relative to the core of the novel’s story. Modern readers, however (and I think with some justification) expect a book to quickly draw them into the story, and have less patience with the level of exposition and “stage setting” that I was used to from many of the classics of the past. In the e-publishing world of readers who use the “look inside” function to decide if they like something enough to buy it, authors really need to put their best, tightest, and most gripping work forward at the outset.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to restructure Dawn of Chaos and to give it a ruthless edit. My current plan is to separate the introduction and denouement into two novella-length works that “sandwich” the main story. The first was easy to do by editing and moving the initial three chapters of the novel into Prologue to Chaos. The revised Prologue still opens with the conflict and action of the saga’s seminal confrontation, but now also includes a much tighter introduction to the novel. Along with an additional new scene, I think it will be a more effective lead-in to the series, especially since I will also be making it available as a free download.

The novel itself (after a short synopsis of Prologue) will lead right into the action with the start of the invasion, ending shortly after the climax in the chapter The Last Stand. I’m currently planning to release it as a new book under a new name and with a new cover, titled Hellgate. The last several chapters (along with an added scene or two to help further introduce the next novel, Wrath of the Peregrine King) will then be released as another novella, titled Aftermath. After that, all three books will be collected into a single compilation volume and re-published (as both e-book and paperback) under the original title, Dawn of Chaos.

Going Wide

After careful consideration, I’ve also decided to end my participation in Amazon’s KDP Select program. What that means is that although my books will no longer be available in Kindle Unlimited, I will also no longer be required to publish them exclusively on Amazon. That will let me release them on other online bookstores such as iBooks and Kobo, and even sell them from my own website. (In the indie publishing world, we call this “going wide.”) Setting all of that up will take a bit of time, but I’m very excited at the prospect of making Sanctum of the Archmage available in all of those new venues in the coming months.

Prologue to Chaos – Free on the First

Until the beginning of next year, Sanctum of the Archmage: Prologue to Chaos can be downloaded for free on the first of every month. The next (and final) “Free on the First” promotion(s) will be:

  • Sunday and Monday, January 1st and 2nd

Amazon also gives me a couple of extra days each quarter to make Prologue to Chaos a free download, in addition to my regular “Free on the First” promotions. The next of these promotions will be on:

  • Sunday, January 8th

If you have an old copy of the prologue, this is a great opportunity to download the new and re-titled third edition. Just go to the “Manage your content and devices” link in Amazon under “Your Account,” and select “Actions… Delete” on your pre-3rd edition copy. (This should have the old title “Dawn of Chaos,” and the book’s old B&W cover with red borders.) Then visit the link below to download the 3rd edition, which features a new title and cover, as well as a full stylistic re-edit. 🙂

Work on Sanctum 2 Resumed

I’m pleased to announce that after a three year break to focus on my career and on writing my novels, I am returning to work on completing the remake of my NWN adventure module, Sanctum of the Archmage 2: The Quest.

Formerly released under the name Sanctum of the Archmage 2: The Miracle Worker, Act I, the second chapter of my adventure module series has been unavailable for the last two years since IGN’s Neverwinter Nights Vault went off-line in the spring of 2014. The most recent version, v3.4, was also incompatible with the v4 remake of Chapter 1 that I released in 2013. I had wanted to release a remake of Chapter 2 as well, but was forced to put that work on the shelf to focus on re-booting my career, and on writing the saga’s novels.

I have worked sporadically on the remake over the last three years, though. And there is still some additional re-work that I want to do, particularly in re-making the “flying areas” at the end using the wonderful “Sanctum Flying Skyscape Tileset” that Estelindis built for the series. But I’ve decided that can wait for a future update. And without those changes, I think that another month or so worth of work would bring it close to a releasable (or at least beta-testable) state. So I’ve decided to move forward with that as a plan.

With that said, my work on the series over the next months should be as follows. In June I expect to be finishing work on The Quest, and completing my full edit of Dawn of Chaos. In July and August I hope to get the novel out for a professional edit and to finish production, and to set up a beta test for the module remake. In September I’m hoping to be able to release both to the public.

After that, I’ll work on remaking the flying areas for The Quest, and getting started on my next projects: producing an audiobook version of Prologue to Chaos, and starting work on my second novel: Wrath of the Peregrine King.

I’m thinking that should keep me busy for a while. 🙂

Climax Complete

The climax to Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos is now complete.

I just finished writing Chapter 22 – The Last Stand – which is the last chapter of the the climax. Only a three more relatively short chapters of the denouement remain, and then the first draft of the novel will finally be done.

Fall 2015 Update

It’s been a while since my last post about the status of my writing projects, so I thought it was time to offer a quick update.

As of this morning the word count on Dawn of Chaos, the first full-length novel in the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga, stands at eighty-eight thousand, six hundred and seventy one (88,671) words. After some chapter and scene restructuring that I realized was needed to not rush the climax, that puts me in the middle of Chapter 17 out of 24, with fifteen out of a planned total of sixty-one scenes left to write. Since the chapters and scenes tend to shorten as the story moves into the climax, I’m estimating that this will probably involve another twenty to twenty five thousand words, with the final manuscript ending up somewhere in the range of a hundred and twelve thousand.

Another item of good news is that some of the unfortunate work-related distractions that were taking my focus away from writing are continuing on a path toward… well, not doing that quite so much anymore. I finally managed to complete a career change this summer into a position working in Data Science. As I settle in to that, I expect to be able to devote more of my spare time once again to my writing projects.

As for when Dawn of Chaos should be ready for publication: I think it’s likely now to be sometime early next year. On the one hand I’ve gotten much better at writing quickly and well, and can probably turn out at least a scene a week going forward. On the other I’m recognizing a need as the story evolves not to rush the climax, and I still have to figure out how to provide for a final editing of the book. I’ve gotten very good at being my own editor, but I’m not certain I should trust myself to do the full job on my own.

As for my modding work: I’m still planning to finish the v4 remake of The Quest (formerly The Miracle Worker, part I) after Dawn of Chaos is complete. Sadly, though, I think that will have to be my last foray into modding the story, at least for some time.