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James D. Macdonald (1954–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

(Nicholas Adams, a joint pseudonym, Victor Appleton, a joint pseudonym, Martin Delrio, a joint pseudonym, Douglas Morgan, a joint pseudonym, Robyn Tallis, a joint pseudonym)


Born 1954, in White Plains, NY; Education: Attended University of Rochester; University of the State of New York, B.A. (English literature). Hobbies and other interests: Science fiction, cats, computers, cryptography, fencing.


Agent—Valerie Smith, 1746 Route 44-55, Modena, NY 12548.


Journalist and science-fiction/fantasy author. Military service: U.S. Navy; served fifteen-year tour of duty; attained rank of officer.

Honors Awards

Mythopoetic Aslan Fantasy Award for Young-Adult literature, 1992, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list, 1993, both for Knight's Wyrd; Best Young-Adult Science Fiction Award, Science Fiction Chronicle, 1997, for Groogleman.



The Apocalypse Door, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.


(Under pseudonym Robyn Tallis) Night of Ghosts and Lightning ("Planet Builders" series), Ivy, 1989.

(Under pseudonym Robyn Tallis) Zero-Sum Games ("Planet Builders" series), Ivy, 1989.

(Under pseudonym Nicholas Adams) Pep Rally ("Horror High" series), Harper (New York, NY), 1991.

(Under pseudonym Victor Appleton) Monster Machine ("Tom Swift" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.

(Under pseudonym Victor Appleton) Aquatech Warriors ("Tom Swift" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Timecrime, Inc. ("Robert Silverberg's 'Time Tours'" series), Harper (New York, NY), 1991.

Night of the Living Rat ("Daniel Pinkwater's 'Melvinge of the Megaverse'" series), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Knight's Wyrd, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1992.

Groogleman, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1996.

Requiem for Boone (based on the television series Gene Roddenberry's Earth—Final Conflict), Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

(As Douglas Morgan) Tiger Cruise, Forge (New York, NY), 2001.

(As Douglas Morgan) What Do You with a Drunken Sailor? (nonfiction), Swordsmith, 2002.


School of Wizardry, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

Tournament and Tower, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

City by the Sea, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

The Prince's Players, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

The Prisoners of Bell Castle, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

The High King's Daughter, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.


The Price of the Stars, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Starpilot's Grave, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.

By Honor Betray'd, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

The Gathering Flame, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.

The Long Hunt, Tor (New York, NY) 1996.

The Stars Asunder, Tor (New York, NY) 1999.

A Working of Stars, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.


Bad Blood, Berkley (New York, NY), 1993.

Hunters' Moon, Berkley (New York, NY), 1994.

Judgment Night, Berkley (New York, NY), 1995.


Mortal Kombat (movie novelization), Tor (New York, NY), 1995.

Midnight Justice ("Spider-Man Super-Thriller" series), Byron Preiss (New York, NY), 1996.

Global War ("Spider-Man Super-Thriller" series), Byron Preiss (New York, NY), 1996.

Harold R. Foster's Prince Valiant (movie novelization), Avon (New York, NY), 1998.

The Loch Ness Monster (nonfiction), Rosen Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.

Truth and Shadows (novel; "MechWarrior: Dark Age" series), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.


Contributor (with Debra Doyle) of short stories to anthologies, including Werewolves, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin Greenberg, Harper Junior Books, 1988; Vampires, edited by Yolen and Greenberg, HarperCollins, 1991; Newer York, edited by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Roc, 1991; Alternate Kennedys, edited by Mike Resnick and Greenberg, Tor, 1992; Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters, edited by Bruce Coville, Scholastic, 1993; Swashbuckling Editor Stories, edited by John Betancourt, Wildside Press, 1993; Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts, edited by Coville, Scholastic, 1994; A Wizard's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt, Brace, 1995; A Starfarer's Dozen, edited by Stearns, Harcourt, Brace, 1995; Witch Fantastic, edited by Mike Resnick and Greenberg, DAW Books, 1995; Camelot, edited by Yolen, Philomel, 1995; The Book of Kings, edited by Richard Gilliam and Greenberg, Roc, 1995; Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Katherine Kurtz, Warner, 1995; Otherwere, edited by Laura Anne Gilman and Keith R. A. DeCandido, Berkley/Ace, 1996; A Nightmare's Dozen, edited by Stearns, Harcourt, Brace, 1996; Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers, edited by Coville, Scholastic, 1996; High-Tech Wars #2, edited by Jerry Pournelle and John H. Carr; On Crusade: More Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Kurz, Warner, 1998; and Not of Woman Born, edited by Constance Ash, Roc, 1999. Contributor to Timewalker comic-book series, Valiant Comics, 1995.


In close collaboration with his wife, Debra Doyle, James D. Macdonald writes science fiction and fantasy for children, young adults, and adults. Acknowledging both sides of their productive collaboration, Macdonald explained: "I have final say on the plot and characters, she has final say on the words and descriptions." This division of creative duties has produced dozens of novels, including the award-winning young-adult titles Knight's Wyrd and Groogleman as well as the popular "Mageworld" fantasy/sci-fi series.

Macdonald and Doyle's first series, the six-novel "Circle of Magic," is intended for an elementary and middle-school audience. The series focuses on Randal, an apprentice wizard whom readers meet as he begins wizard school at age twelve in the aptly titled School of Wizardry. In Tournament and Tower Randal graduates from the School of Wizardry although he must refrain from using his magic until Master Wizard Balpesh forgives him for breaking a pledge not to use a weapon. While working as a squire for his cousin Walter, Walter becomes seriously hurt, and Randal must seek out Balpesh and regain his magical powers in order to heal the injured man. Randall reaches age fifteen in City by the Sea, and as a journeyman wizard embarks on a hazardous journey as a result of a deathbed promise. The Prince's Players finds Randal and friend Lys visiting the court of Prince Vespian, where they encounter a corrupt master wizard and a dangerous adversary who seeks to overthrow the prince. Randal confronts an old enemy in The Prisoner of Bell Castle, while The High King's Daughter follows Randal and company as they journey into Elfland to rescue the High King's daughter, and restore her to her rightful throne. Praising the first volume of the series, School Library Journal reviewer Paul M. Kienlen dubbed the "Circle of Magic" series "masterfully rendered."

Geared for slightly older readers, the fantasy novel Knight's Wyrd combines a realistic story of knighthood with fantasy elements such as magic, dragons, and wizards. Just as young Will Odosson is about to be knighted, the castle wizard predicts his wyrd, or fate: Will is not destined to inherit his father's title and lands and will soon meet death. Although the wizard's prophecy comes to pass, it does not occur in the manner the boy expects. A young man of strong character, Will ignores his fate and becomes a knight. Leaving home to seek adventure, he rescues Isobel, his betrothed, is double-crossed by a duke, and becomes entangled in high magic as his destiny is fulfilled. A Kirkus Reviews critic praised Knight's Wyrd for its "strong sense of time, place, and code of honor." A Horn Book reviewer called Knight's Wyrd "a lively story," and a School Library Journal critic recommended it as "suspenseful" with a lively tempo.

Groogleman centers around thirteen-year-old Dan Henchard, a student healer who must save his teacher, Leezie, a natural healer, from her abductor. Dan, believing the kidnapper is the Groogleman, travels to the Dead Lands in search of Leezie, knowing that failure means certain death for him. Along the way he receives help from a hunter named Joshua and in the process learns much more about himself. Selections from "historical documents" introduce each chapter and provide clues to the secret purpose of the Groogleman. A reviewer for Realms of Fantasy magazine wrote that Groogleman is "filled with adventure and action—a must read," and a Science Fiction Chronicle writer praised it as "an old fashioned post-collapse adventure."

In Bad Blood, the first installment of the spine-tingling series that shares its name, Macdonald and Doyle focus on a group of friends sharing hair-raising tales around a campfire. Valerie Sherwood and her friends do not for a minute believe any of the stories they hear are based in fact; after all, Jay's strange tale of moonlight and were-wolves is just make believe. Right? But that night, when they hear a large creature prowling around the campsite, they remember Jay's words: "By morning, you'll all be dead." In Hunters' Moon Valerie attempts to live like a normal teen despite the fact that she is now a werewolf, but when her town is threatened by a group of vampires, she harnesses her new powers to protect her home town. Judgement Night finds the teen were-wolf haunted by the Wendigo, an ancient force that calls to her from the nearby mountains and thrives on her fear.

Macdonald and Doyle's most popular series, "Mageworld," was begun in 1992 and features a mix of science fiction and high fantasy. The long-running saga focuses on a five-centuries-long conflict between the human population of Entibor, a planet in the Republic galaxy, and the residents of the mysterious Mageworld in the Eraasian system, civilizations that share a common ancestry but have long been separated by a vast insterstellar gap. In series opener The Price of the Stars Beka Rosselin-Metadi is tired of constantly hearing about her parents' heroic roles in the Republic' history. When her mother is murdered on the Senate floor, however, the brave young woman experiences a newfound pride in her heritage and vows to bring the assassin to justice. Her father offers her Warhammer, his cherished ship, for her use in capturing the murderer. As the plot develops, Beka plans her own demise so that she can, with a new identity, do battle with the dangerous enemies plotting to harm her world.

As Beka continues the search for the man who arranged her mother's murder in Starpilot's Grave, it is revealed that a group of Magelords have breached the Republic's stronghold. Beka infiltrates the Magezone and learns that the Republic is far more vulnerable than she ever imagined. Despite her efforts, the Magelords have triumphed over the Republic by the third book of the series, By Honor Betray'd. Confronted with betrayal and surrounded by enemies, Beka now strives to reclaim what she can from the wreckage of her formal world.

With The Gathering Flame, the fourth installment in the "Mageworld" series, readers begin to cycle back through time. The Gathering Flame describes Beka's parents' contributions to the Republic's ongoing struggle against the Magelords, and also chronicles the attempts by these powerful Eraasian wizards to ravage the rival Repubic galaxy, planet by planet. However, the Magelords must take on several individuals to succeed in their plans: Perada Rosselin, Domina of Entibor; Jos Metadi, a notorious privateer who prefers to battle Mage ships one on one; and Errec Ransome, a man acquainted with the customs of the Magelords but with confidences he will not reveal. When the Magelords attack Entibor, the three are forced to unite and work together. The Long Hunt, which takes place after the second Magewar, finds Entibor facing a renewed attack by the Magelords. Meanwhile, on planet Khesat, a crisis unfolds and suddenly all depends on young Jens Metadi-Jessan D'Rosselin, the unwilling heir to the Khesat. Warring factions and criminal guilds know that control of the heir means control of Khesat and the galaxy, but young Jens avoids intrigue and instead sets off with his cousin Faral in search of off-planet adventure elsewhere.

Moving back to the beginning of the "Magewar" history, The Stars Asunder explores the root of the five-century conflict by introducing apprentice mage Arekhon Khreseio sus Khalgath and Garrod, a wizard who gathers together a mage circle in order to fuel his transport to the other side of the interstellar void. Before others can follow, the mage circle is shattered by the villainous Kief Diasul, and as Arekhon moves into a leadership role the die is cast: two parallel mage-run civilizations now begin their separate paths toward ultimate future conflict. A Working of Stars continues the saga, as Arekhon is haunted by prophecies that push him to attempt to reform the mage circle and locate Garrad. Now living quietly on Entibor, Arekhon learns that if he does not return to the Eraasian galaxy and join the efforts to close the great gap and reunite the two galaxies, the consequences will be tragic.

Reviews of the "Mageworld" novels have been positive, many reviewers noting the "swashbuckling space opera" quality of the series, as Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassasa termed it. While writing that "high technologies such as spaceships and robots interact seamlessly with what appear to be magical powers," SFSite.com reviewer Rich Horton added in a review of The Stars Asunder that Macdonald and Doyle's "rigorous approach to the use of the magical system, as well as … the space-going setting," makes the series more science fiction than fantasy. Reviewing The Long Hunt for Locus, Carolyn Cushman called the "Mageworld" series "a space opera with unusual depth, and some wonderful characters," while Booklist critic Roland Green described Macdonald and Doyle's books as "imaginative, intelligent, [and] fast-paced."

In addition to collaborating with his wife, Macdonald is also the author of The Apocalypse Door, which features what Library Journal contributor Cassada described as a "bare-bones style." Macdonald's "fast-paced tale" mixes supernatural powers, modern military intrigue, and a rivalry between two medieval orders: the Knights Templar and the Teutonic Knights. One of the thirty-three priests of the Knights' Templar, Peter Crossman works with fellow Templars Maggie and Simon to track down a U.N. peacekeeping force that has mysteriously disappeared from its assignment in Jerusalem. When the trio stumble on a barrel of demonic fungi, they find themselves embroiled in a Satanist plot that threatens to bring on the end of days. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Macdonald's solo outing, describing The Apocalypse Door as an "inventive melange of hard-boiled thriller and speculative fantasy," while in Kirkus Reviews a critic deemed the work a "breezy spy spoof" in which the author "sweetens his farce with puns, comic asides, references to The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and … wonderfully bad Hemingway." Noting that other novels "have blended mysticism, mystery, and fantasy," the Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that "few have done it as smartly or succinctly as this one."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Macdonald, James D., and Debra Doyle, Bad Blood, Berkley (New York, NY), 1993.


Analog Science Fiction and Fact, February, 1999, Tom Easton, review of The Stars Asunder, p. 132; October, 2002, Tom Easton, review of A Working of Stars, p. 311; April, 2003, Tom Easton, review of The Apocalypse Door, p. 134.

Booklist, November 15, 1992, pp. 589-590; August, 2000, Roland Green, review of Requiem for Boone, p. 2124; April 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of A Working of Stars, p. 1387.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1993, pp. 173-174; December, 1996, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Groogleman, p. 132.

Horn Book, January-February, 1993, review of Knight's Wyrd, pp. 89-90; March-April, 1996, p. 202.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1992, review of Knight's Wyrd, p. 1253; March 1, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 297; October 1, 2002, review of The Apocalypse Door, p. 1434.

Library Journal, November 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of The Apocalypse Door, p. 105.

Locus, August, 1995.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2000, review of The Stars Asunder, p. 72; August 7, 2000, review of Requiem for Boone, p. 80; March 11, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 56; October 14, 2002, review of The Apocalypse Door, p. 68.

Realms of Fantasy, April, 1997, review of Groogleman.

School Library Journal, November, 1992, p. 90; December, 1996, Susan L. Rogers, review of Groogleman, pp. 120, 122; April 2002, Paul M. Kienlen, review of School of Wizardry, p. 63; November, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 194.

Science Fiction Chronicle, April-May, 1997, review of Groogleman.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1993, Jennifer A. Long, review of Knight's Wyrd, p. 102; June, 2001, review of Requiem of Boone, p. 132.


BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (October 20, 2005), Wesley Williamson, review of A Working of Stars.

Doyle and Macdonald Web site, http://www.sff.net/people/ doylemacdonald (October 20, 2005).

SFSite.com, http://www.sfsite.com/ (October 20, 2005), Rich Horton, review of The Stars Asunder.

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