Diablo III: The Order - Nate Kenyon Interview
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Diablo III isn't the only big Blizzard release set for May 15, 2012. That same day, Simon & Schuster will be releasing the official Diablo III prequel novel, Diablo III: The Order. Written by Nate Kenyon, this official tie-in novel fills in the gaps between Diablo II and Diablo III and focuses on series favorite Deckard Cain. We asked Nate Kenyon a few questions about The Order to see if this is one novel that Diablo fans can't miss.

For those who may not be familiar with the book, could you give us a brief overview about "The Order" please?
Nate Kenyon: Sure. The Order takes place a few years after the events of Diablo II. Although most of those who fought the great battle on Mt. Arreat believe the danger has passed, Deckard Cain has continued to wander Sanctuary, obsessed with a growing number of signs that indicate a new invasion from the Burning Hells is coming--one that will dwarf all that have come before. Cain believes that the destruction of the Worldstone has upset the natural order of Sanctuary, and he is determined to follow the signs that might help him stop the demon uprising--and to find out, once and for all, whether there are any Horadrim left, or whether he is the last of a proud line. He is also haunted by events of his past, things he has kept long buried, hidden so deep even he barely remembers them. But soon, they will return to the surface in ways he cannot predict.

Cain travels to Caldeum and finds Adria's daughter Leah, who has been living in hiding with Gillian the barmaid. Leah has her own terrible secrets to battle. After a terrible tragedy befalls them in the city, Leah and Cain go on the road to seek out what might be a secret order of the Horadrim, rumored to be living somewhere beyond Kurast. On the way there they encounter an Ivgorod monk who has a quest of his own. Meanwhile, a new leader has arisen in league with the Burning Hells, a man with his own twisted past known only as The Dark One. Soon, Cain and Leah's path will intersect with his, and the consequences will be catastrophic--and may mean the end of Sanctuary as we know it.

"Diablo III: The Order" takes place in between Diablo II and Diablo III. How does this book bridge the gap between two games?
NK: The Order is an attempt to reboot the franchise, in a way, by providing the back story from the first two games and giving a lead-in to the third. Cain was the perfect protagonist for this, because he's been through it, he's a storyteller and a scholar, he knows what's happened and what is to come. I retell some of the more important events from earlier games through memory and flashback. So the novel is very accessible for those who don't know as much about the games, and a nostalgia trip for those die-hard fans who want a different angle on existing lore.

The Order shows Diablo fans what Deckard Cain has been doing leading up to Diablo III, and how he and Leah end up together--and why. It lays some very important groundwork for the events of D3. We wanted to set the stage, foreshadow those events in a number of ways, while telling our own, epic quest novel that finally gives Deckard Cain his own story, rather than using him as a supporting character. I think readers will recognize a lot of clues to future events, as well as new lore that explains a lot of what happened in the past in ways that might be surprising.

The last Diablo game came out 12 years ago, how do you account for readers new to the franchise or fans who may have forgotten previous events?
NK: This was really an attempt to refresh the Diablo novel line, introduce new players to the lore while making sure we kept the novel itself compelling. I did that with brief, very action-packed flashbacks to parts of the earlier lore that were essential to the plot of The Order, and that explain the decisions Cain has made in his life. I also put a new twist on those events that people probably won't see coming--and they explain a lot.

How vital is this book to the Diablo canon or to the experience of Diablo III? How will reading "The Order" make the narrative of Diablo III much richer and more meaningful?
NK: I think it's absolutely vital. There are major clues to some of the most important parts of the game, and this novel will give gamers a new perspective on D3 that they wouldn't have without it. I think players who read the novel will go into D3 with a deeper understanding of why these events happen, why certain characters behave the way they do, and it will make their experience that much richer and more complex. Hey, we all want to hack and slash our way through D3 (can't wait for it myself), but it'll be even more fun with this novel in your back pocket.

For the diehard Diablo lore fans out there, how much of a recommended read is "The Order" before diving into Diablo III? Would they be OK reading it mid-game or after completing it? Any spoilers?
NK: I think I handled this pretty well, and the Blizzard team really helped too. We were very intent on making sure that while we laid the groundwork for what was to come, and layered clues to some of D3 into The Order, we didn't give away any spoilers that would ruin the game. This is going to be one of those experiences where players who have read the novel beforehand go "oh, ok, now I get it" once they play the game, but they won't feel cheated having known too much. Likewise, those who go back and read the novel after they play should be rewarded with a much richer and deeper understanding of why certain things happened. The novel itself is a really fun read, full of monsters and demons and battles, and it's action-packed and very dark and creepy. So I think readers will have a great time with it no matter when they read it.

"The Order" is referred to as a quest novel, and you have a lot of experience writing horror novels, how did that perspective help in writing this book?
NK: Blizzard wanted The Order to be more of a horror novel than some they had done in the past. I wanted to put my stamp on it too. I think my experience in the horror field was perfect for this book. There were many opportunities for me to dig into the horror that is very present in the Diablo franchise, and using the quest novel format allowed me to put Cain and Leah into situations where I could twist the rope, so to speak. I also gave them back stories that nobody has ever heard before, which enriches the book in ways that will be clear to those who read it. There are surprises here, and a lot of them are very dark and horrific.

Does a quest novel in the dark, demon-filled world of Diablo take on a different tone than your standard fantasy adventure novel?
NK: Yes, absolutely. This is a quest novel in a number of ways--both physically, in that Cain and Leah are on the road, searching for something--but also mentally, as Cain must chase and finally confront things from his past that he might have preferred to leave alone. All of it is horrific in ways that push the boundaries of this style of novel. I think readers are going to be surprised by how it turns out.

Did you have a lot of creative freedom to shape your vision of this piece of the Diablo universe? How did you go about familiarizing yourself with this world and putting your own spin on it?
NK: My working relationship with Blizzard is great. They are really good at coming up with an exciting idea they want to explore, and then allowing me to expand upon that and put my own stamp on it, while still guiding me in the direction they'd like to go. They're very open to my ideas, and a lot of them--particularly Cain's back story--became a part of The Order. It's a thrill for me to be a part of creating such important pieces of iconic characters like Cain. The most important thing for Blizzard is making sure that any details I include fit with Diablo lore, and that the novel leads the story in the direction they want to take the franchise. It's exciting to collaborate like this, where the ideas are flying back and forth and everyone is energized by the process.

I put in a lot of time getting more familiar with the Diablo universe. I really, really wanted to get this right, so I read every piece written on Diablo, I read the wikis, the game manuals and all the content Blizzard shared with me. I sat down with the Blizzard lore team and went through the entire history of Sanctuary with them. I played the old games and even got to play an early D3 beta, before anyone else even saw it! That was a thrill.

That all took a few months. Once I felt comfortable with the history, then I could begin to work on putting my own spin on it, and take The Order in the right direction for us.

"Diablo III: Book of Cain" is called the bible for all things Diablo. Does "The Order" tie in at all with "Book of Cain?"
NK: Sure. Book of Cain is a journal of Cain's personal insights, in his own words, putting down on paper everything he had learned--a bible of sorts that shares his vast trove of knowledge. The Order is the story of one particular adventure in Cain's life, and a turning point for him. It also gives up vital pieces of his history and mindset. I think readers of The Order will understand why he felt compelled to write Book of Cain once they finish it. The Order, in a way, explains the origins of that book. Blizzard was developing it at the same time we were working on The Order, so they go hand in hand in that way. Blizzard is very good at managing all this content and making sure that everything fits together.

Nate Kenyon RPGamer would like to thank Nate Kenyon for taking the time to discuss his upcoming novel with us. You can get Diablo III: The Order on May 15, 2012. You can also visit Nate Kenyon's official site here.

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