ISBN: 0-7869-2962-6
Released: August 2003

She didn’t want to steal it.
She didn’t want to kill a Zhentarim agent.
She didn’t want to double-cross the thieves guild.
She didn’t want to owe a debt to the Red Wizards of Thay.
She didn’t want to anger the followers of the dragon god Tiamat.
She didn’t want to tie her fate to the dreaded Staff of the Necromancer.
But she did.

The Alabaster Staff takes place in the city of Messemprar over the course of seven harrowing days in winter. A city threatened by an impending siege, Messemprar is bloated with refugees and suffers chronic shortages of food and fuel. In the midst of this chaos, several power groups seek control of an artifact of great power, recently recovered by an expedition. Kehrsyn, a young street performer, gets caught up in their silent wars in this tale of stealth and betrayal.

Author’s Notes and Spoilers Below!

My Cameo

I admit it; I made an appearance in the novel. What can I say? I needed a minor character, and I fit the bill.

At the time I wrote it, Rachel, my first born, was but two years old and the love of my life. I had been laid off from Wizards of the Coast when she was four months old, and again lost my job at Interactive Imagination around the time I was writing this book. Yes, my life seemed unstable, but I knew (writing about such an eventuality) that it could be much worse. Perhaps including myself was a way for me to deal with the problems I was going through.

So the guy on page 75 is me. And now you know who the child is.

There. I’ve come clean.

Why Messemprar?

Let’s face it; Forgotten Realms fiction is an arena with a lot of competition, and the fan base is devoted. I needed a place where I could play around without fear of getting stepped on by any of the top-tier authors in the Realms, and where their continuity wouldn’t wreak havoc with my plans.

In short, I wanted my own sandbox. I didn’t care if it was small; I just wanted it to be mine.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t read the entire FR fiction library, so I had no real idea which places had been covered elsewhere and which had not. Well, okay, a few I knew had been covered thoroughly—Sembia and the like—but overall my knowledge was nonexistent.

But I knew what sort of area I wanted. I wanted an unstable situation, where the power and politics was dynamic and unpredictable, and the societal structure was neither orderly nor ossified. I wanted a place of danger and uncertainty. So I carefully read through the entire FRCS, making notes on every place where I thought I could put together something interesting. I passed along that list to my editor (the ever patient Phil Athens) along with my commentary. He crossed out all the places that had been adequately covered, plus those places where he did not want me to go.

That left three places. Messemprar was not my first choice, but I think in the end it was the best, and it worked out well.

The Theme of the Book

The theme is simple: nothing is what it seems. The idea came from the movie Pitch Black, where it was used in virtually very aspect of the script. The abandoned planet wasn’t empty. The eternal sunshine wasn’t eternal. The cowardly pilot was brave. The criminal was a hero. The lawman wasn’t affiliated with the law. Running from danger is dangerous.

It seemed like a good theme for a rogue’s series, since, in theory, a rogue should never seem like a rogue, otherwise everyone would be on guard, right? So the main character isn’t really a rogue. The evil dragon priestess isn’t really evil. And… other stuff that I don’t want to spoil.