Niles, Douglas

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Niles, Douglas


Married; wife's name Christine; children: David, Allison. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, bicycling, playing guitar.




Fantasy novelist, game designer, and author of interactive fiction. Taught high school until 1982; TSR, Lake Geneva, WI, game designer, 1982-90; full-time writer, 1990—.




H.G. Wells and Origins Awards for game designs.



Darkwalker on Moonshae, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1987, reprinted, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2004.

Black Wizards, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1988, reprinted, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2004.

Darkwell, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1989, reprinted, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2004.


Ironhelm, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1990.

Viperhand, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1990.

Feathered Dragon, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1991.


Prophet of Moonshae, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1992.

The Coral Kingdom, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1992.

The Druid Queen, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1993.


A Breach in the Watershed, Ace (New York, NY), 1995.

Darkenheight, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1996.

The War of Three Waters, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1997.


Pawn's Prevail, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.

Suitor's Duel, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.

Immortal Game, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1996.


Circle at Center, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2000.

World Fall, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The Goddess Worldweaver, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2003.


The Golden Orb, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2001.

The Messenger, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2002.

Winterheim, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2003.


Lord of the Rose, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2005.

The Crown and the Sword, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2006.

The Measure and the Truth, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2007.


Tarzan and the Well of Slaves ("Tarzan" Series: Endless Quest #26), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1985.

Escape from Castle Quarras ("Super Endless Quest" Adventure Gamebook #3), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1985.

Lords of Doom: A Dragonlance Adventure ("Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" Adventure Gamebook #10), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1986.

Dungeoneer's Survival Guide: A Sourcebook for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Game Adventures in the Unknown Depths of Underdark! (nonfiction), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1986.

(With Mary Kerchoff) Flint, the King ("Dragonlance Preludes," Volume Five), Penguin (New York, NY), 1990.

The Dragonlance Saga: The Kinslayer Wars ("Dragonlance Elven Nations" Trilogy #2), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1991.

Emperor of Ansalon ("Dragonlance Saga Villains," Volume Three), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1993.

The Kagonesti ("Dragonlance: The Lost Histories," Volume One), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.

The Rod of Seven Parts, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1996.

The Dragons ("Dragonlance Lost Histories," Volume Six), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1996.

Fistandantilus Reborn ("Dragonlance Lost Legends," Volume Two), TSR (Renton, WA), 1998.

The Last Thane, TSR (Renton, WA), 1998.

(With Steve Miller) Dragonlance Reader's Companion: The Odyssey of Gilthanas, TSR (Renton, WA), 1999.

The Puppet King, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Michael Dobson) Fox on the Rhine, Forge (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Michael Dobson) Fox at the Front, (sequel to Fox on the Rhine) Forge (New York, NY), 2003.

The Wizards Conclave ("Dragonlance: The Age of Mortals" series) Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2004.

The Kinslayer Wars ("Dragonlance: The Elven Nations" trilogy), Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2004.

War of the Worlds: New Millennium, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Michael Dobson) MacArthur's War: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan, Forge (New York, NY), 2007.

The Secret of Pax Tharkas ("Dwarf Home" series, Volume One), Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2007.

(With Kevin Dockery) Starstrike: Task Force Mars, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2007.

(With Kevin Dockery) Starstrike: Operation Orion, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2008.

Also the author of the fantasy novels The Lord of Lowhill, The First Moonwell, and Firstborn. Contributor to The Players of Gilean: Tales from the World of Krynn, edited by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2003.


Game designer Douglas Niles became a published author in the mid-1980s when he turned his attention to the writing of gamebooks for the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" and "Super Endless Quest" series. Niles was a high school teacher until 1982, when he turned his full attention to designing role-playing and military simulation games. His designs for such firms as the Wisconsin-based TSR, Inc., have earned Niles several accolades, including the H.G. Wells and Origins Awards. In an interview on the Monte Cook Home Page, Niles noted that he was especially proud of his work on Dragonlance, a "Dungeons and Dragons" product. "The whole concept of Dragonlance really changed the nature of gaming," he stated, "and as I am a big fan of epic fantasy, it was a marvelous way to incorporate that flavor into a game."

An early work that established Niles as an authority in the field of fantasy games was Dungeoneer's Survival Guide: A Sourcebook for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Game Adventures in the Unknown Depths of Underdark!, a 1986 hardback supplement to the rules of the popular role-playing game. Reviewer Alaric Fox, in the Voice of Youth Advocates, cautioned that a knowledge of previous volumes of rules for the game was essential to an understanding of this one. He called Niles's work "very well written" and deemed the information conveyed by the book "very useful."

After that nonfiction volume, Niles began writing fantasy novels. These generally came in the form of trilogies, many appearing under the umbrella series title "Forgotten Realms Fantasy Adventure." The "Forgotten Realms" novels take place in a fantasy game world. Niles's first set of books, the "Moonshae Trilogy," consisted of the novels Darkwalker on Moonshae, Black Wizards, and Darkwell. Reviewing Black Wizards in Voice of Youth Advocates, Mary Ann Gilpatrick commented on the novel's slow start, which she ascribed to the introduction of many characters, but she added that the action picked up and that "many different scenes of action are well woven together." The novel, like the rest of the series, is set in a land called "The Isles" and features such creatures as wizards, unicorns, orcs, and ogres, involved in battles between good and evil.

After the "Moonshae Trilogy," which sold more than 600,000 copies, came a second "Forgotten Realms" fantasy series, the "Maztica Trilogy," consisting of Iron-helm, Viperhand, and Feathered Dragon. The third trilogy in Niles's sequence, the "Druidhome" novels, began with Prophet of Moonshae in 1992. The plot of Prophet of Moonshae involves a conflict between the Northmen and the Folk, who have coexisted peacefully for twenty-five years in their fantasy game world before the god of chaos, Talos, attempts to usurp the Moonshae domain. A beautiful evil princess and a beautiful good princess enliven the action. Stacey Conrad, writing in Kliatt, declared: "I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy series." She also noted that readers of this novel would probably be drawn into reading future volumes in the series as well.

In 1995, Niles issued the first volume in a popular new series, the "Watershed Trilogy." The first book in the series, A Breach in the Watershed, is a fantasy that takes place among three imaginary lands which are protected by a supposedly invulnerable Watershed. The central conflict involves a breach made in the Watershed by a being named Sleepstealer. The task of saving the world is left to a small group of humans and magical folk, including a mountain climber named Rudy the Iceman and a woman marked by three prophecies. A burning tower, enchanted swamps, magic ice, and disappearing cliffs play roles in the action of the story. A Library Journal critic praised the book, saying it "bears the trademarks of classic fantasy." Voice of Youth Advocates placed the novel on its list of "Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror" for the year 1995.

One of Niles's later series, titled the "Seven Circles Trilogy," began with Circle at Center, which was followed by World Fall. Both books are set in the realm of the Seven Circles, which is populated by typical fantasy beings such as elves, griffons, centaurs, trolls, and dragons. Both books also feature a Druid priestess named Mirandel. In Circle at Center, the peace of the Seven Circles is threatened when an evil dwarf named Delver leads a rebellion. Mirandel uses her power as an enchantress to teleport a number of human warriors from Earth's past, hoping they can train her people to fend off Delver's evil forces. A contributor to Publishers Weekly appreciated the author's ability to create intriguing settings in the first book. "Niles has again conceived a fantasy setting of great richness and scope," the reviewer wrote.

World Fall picks up after Mirandel's actions save the Seven Circles, though she is exiled to live for a time among the barbaric humans for breaking her order's sacred laws. When Mirandel finally returns to her home city, she is forced to take even more drastic measures to protect the entire realm from the evil Karlath-Fayd, who attempts to conquer the Seven Circles with his army of dead soldiers from Earth's past. Several reviewers recommended the work to fantasy readers. Jackie Cassada, who reviewed the book for Library Journal, called it "a fast-paced tale of epic adventure." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews believed "unjaded fans" would find the book "awesomely cool."

With his 2000 effort Fox on the Rhine, Niles utilized his experience designing military games. Cowritten by fellow game designer Michael Dobson, the book offers a theoretical and fictional account of what would have happened during World War II had a 1944 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler's life succeeded. In Hitler's absence, figures such as Heinrich Himmler and Erwin Rommel rise to prominence, help make peace with the Soviet Union, and plan an offensive against the other Allies near the city of Antwerp. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt the book had "several notable problems," while still believing the authors had "crafted a vividly realistic study of a memorable time." In the sequel, Fox on the Rhine, a disillusioned Rommel joins forces with the Allies and leads the army of the German Republic into battle against Himmler's Third Reich and a newly aggressive Soviet threat. "Character-centered alternate history is not that common, and this is an eminently successful example of it," noted Booklist critic Roland Green.

In MacArthur's War: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan, another work coauthored by Niles and Dobson, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur prepares to launch an attack against Japan after the United States suffers a devastating defeat at Midway. "Fans of alternative history will enjoy this imaginative but plausible what-if account of World War II," a critic in Publishers Weekly remarked.



Reginald, Robert, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.


Booklist, June 1, 2000, Roland Green, review of Fox on the Rhine, p. 1860; October 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of Fox at the Front, p. 300.

Chronicle, June, 2005, review of War of the Worlds: New Millennium, p. 5; September, 2005, Don D'Ammassa, review of War of the Worlds, p. 29.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of World Fall, p. 1076.

Kliatt, September, 1992, Stacey Conrad, review of Prophet of Moonshae, p. 22; July, 1995, review of The Kagonesti, p. 16.

Library Journal, August, 1995, review of A Breach in the Watershed, p. 122; September 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of World Fall, p. 116; May 15, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of MacArthur's War: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan, p. 82.

Publishers Weekly, February 10, 1992, review of Prophet of Moonshae, p. 78; December 11, 1995, review of The Rod of Seven Parts, p. 61; May 15, 2000, review of Circle at Center, pp. 89, 94; August 13, 2001, review of World Fall, p. 292; February 10, 2003, review of The Goddess Worldweaver, p. 167; March 26, 2007, review of MacArthur's War, p. 66.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1987, review of Dungeoneer's Survival Guide: A Sourcebook for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Game Adventures in the Unknown Depths of Underdark!, p. 301; February, 1989, review of Black Wizards, p. 295; April, 1996, review of A Breach in the Watershed, p. 17; April, 1998, review of Darkenheight, p. 14; June, 1998, review of The War of Three Waters, p. 132.


Alliterates, (September 1, 2007), "Douglas Niles."

Monte Cook Home Page, (September 1, 2007), "A Talk with Douglas Niles."

Wizards of the Coast, (September 1, 2007), "Douglas Niles."

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