From Proofs to Publication
Before each published volume of The Death Gate Cycle hit bookshelves, the publisher released uncorrected proofs to allow for edits and to give advance reviewers a first look. I'm interested in these changes from both fan and literary standpoints. Most of these listed changes and additions were clarifications, but sometimes material from the proofs was reduced, eliminated, or rearranged in the published version, and sometimes the published version contained new material. The changes you'll see here are ones that I felt made a noticeable difference to the text, rather than small proofreading ones.
The particular proofs in this case are from The Seventh Gate. Published text from the hardcover edition— third edition in this case— is on the left, while text from the uncorrected proofs is on the right.
As for the colors used:
  • This is a deletion prior to publication, found only in the proofs.
  • This is an addition to the published version, not present in the proofs.
  • This is a word/phrase edited between the proofs and the publication. Sometimes this occurs in a phrase/sentence that has changed locations.
  • This is a phrase/sentence that has been rearranged or changed position but keeps basically the same content (further changes are noted).
Because a few large passages of the final chapters were broken up and reordered for publication, I have not fully reproduced them here for comparison. Instead, I have compared the equivalent passages based on the publication chapters, even though they sometimes appeared in different chapters of the proofs, and have summarized what was changed.

  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 16
  • Chapter 21
  • Chapter 27
  • Chapter 29
  • Chapter 30
  • Chapter 31
  • Chapter 32
  • Chapter 33
  • Chapter 36
  • Published Text Proof Text
    Chapter 1
    But Xar had turned his back on them . . . Shaking the wet hair out of her eyes, Marit resolutely put everything out of her mind except the immediate problem. She'd forgotten an important lesson. Never look too far ahead. What you see could be a mirage. Keep your eyes on the trail on the ground. But Xar had turned his back on them . . . "He left us to fend for themselves. He . . . would not do such a thing! No, I can't believe it," Marit said to herself. "He left . . . took Haplo with him . . . to heal him! Yes, that is it. My lord will heal Haplo and then they will both come back to fight with us!" It was logical, now that she considered it. Xar had removed Haplo to a place of safety. Meanwhile, her task was to find Alfred. With all of them there, at the Final Gate, nothing could withstand them! Shaking the wet hair out of her eyes, Marit resolutely put everything out of her mind except the immediate problem. She'd forgotten an important lesson. Never look too far ahead. What you see could be a mirage. Keep your eyes on the trail on the ground.
    Chapter 5
    Marit stared. "I know you! In Abarrach. You're a Sartan, a prisoner of my lord." Marit recalled his rambling, nonsensical conversation in the cells of Abarrach. She had thought him mad. Marit stared. "I know you! In Abarrach. You're a Sartan, a prisoner of my lord." A glance at the sigla on her skin told her the old man wasn't dangerous; a glance at him revealed the same thing. Marit recalled his rambling, nonsensical conversation in the cells of Abarrach. She had thought him mad.
    The gentleman appeared extremely pained at this suggestion. "I'm afraid not, sir." He attempted to extricate himself from the old man's embrace. "Forgive me, sirs, madam," he added. "This is all my fault. I should have been watching him." "I know! You're Zifnab!" cried Alfred. "Bless you," the old man returned politely. "Need a hankie?" The gentleman appeared extremely pained at this suggestion. "I'm afraid not, sir." He attempted to extricate himself from the old man's embrace. "Forgive me, sirs, madam," he added. "This is all my fault. I should have been watching him." "What in the name of the ancestors is going on?" Hugh the Hand whispered to Marit. "Zifnab!" cried Alfred. "Bless you," the old man returned politely. "Need a hankie?"
    "But I just got here!" Zifnab whined. "But I just got here!" Zifnab thundered.
    "Where does the light come from?" she asked, staring all around. "There is no sun in the Labyrinth." "The citadels," Alfred answered. "Where does the light come from?" she asked, staring all around. "The citadels," Alfred answered.
    Chapter 6
    "The Councillor has been gone well past the time he himself set. We can no longer function leaderless. I urge you, Ramu, to accept your father's position of Head of the Council of Seven." Ramu glanced around at each of the other six members. "Is this what you all think? Are you all of one mind?" "We are." They spoke in nods and words. Ramu had been carved from the same cold stone as Samah, his father. Not much could warm either man. Hard and unyielding, Ramu would shatter before he would bend. It was never twilight in Ramu's vision—it was day or night. The sun shone brightly or darkness engulfed his world. And even when the sun shone, it cast shadows. "Ramu, Samah has been gone well past the time he himself set. We can no longer function leaderless. I urge you now to accept the position of Head of the Council of Seven." Ramu glanced around at each of the other six members. "Is this what you all think? Are you all of one mind?" "We are." They spoke in nods and words. Ramu had been carved from granite—the same stone as Samah, his father. Not much could warm either man. Hard and unyielding, Ramu would shatter before he would bend. It was never twilight in Ramu's vision—it was day or night. The sun shone brightly or darkness engulfed his world. And even when the sun shone, it cast shadows.
    "Yes, of course," Ramu muttered, not giving the matter further thought. "And you say that this Lord Xar is also living on Abarrach. This can only mean one thing." James nodded gravely. "The Patryns are attempting to break out of the Labyrinth—such are the evil tidings I bear. They have launched an assault on the Final Gate." Ramu was appalled. "But there must be thousands of them . . ." "At least," James replied complacently. "It will take all your people, plus the Sartan of Abarrach—" "—to stop this evil!" Ramu concluded, fist clenched. "To stop this evil," James repeated, adding solemnly, "You must go at once to the Labyrinth. It's what your father would have wanted, I think." "Yes, of course," Ramu muttered, not giving the matter further thought. "And you say that this Lord Xar and his Patryns are also living on Abarrach. This can only mean one thing." James nodded gravely. "I fear so. A few of the Patryns have broken out of the Labyrinth—such are the evil tidings I bear. And more will follow. Even as we speak, the Patryns still trapped inside are attempting to escape. They have launched an assault on the Final Gate." Ramu was appalled. "But there must be thousands of them . . ." "At least," James replied complacently. "It will take all your people, plus the Sartan of Abarrach—" "—to stop this evil!" Ramu concluded, fist clenched. "To stop this evil," James repeated, adding solemnly, "It's what your father would have wanted, I think."
    Chapter 7
    "There aren't that many of us left to fight them." Marit wavered in her decision to leave, looking at her people, thinking of the vast numbers of the enemy. "There aren't that many of us left to fight them." Marit wavered, looking at her people, thinking of the vast numbers of the enemy.
    Chapter 11
    Hugh the Hand had been staring in awe and disbelief at the new and terrifying world into which they'd flown. He leapt off the ship, landed on the dock. But almost immediately he stumbled to his knees. His hand clutched his throat. He began to choke, gasp for air. Hugh the Hand came onto the deck. He had been inside, staring in awe and disbelief at the new and terrifying world into which they'd flown. Shaking his head, he leapt off the ship, landed on the deck. But almost immediately he stumbled to his knees. His hand clutched his throat. He began to choke, gasp for air.
    At that moment, Hugh pitched forward onto the dock, writhing in agony, his hands clutching at his throat. Hugh the Hand shook his head, but at that moment, he pitched forward onto the dock, writhing in agony, his hands clutching at his throat.
    Marit was keeping an eye on her fellow Patryns, who seemed to be near reaching some consensus. "Your people once fought mine!" she said coldly. "I'm not asking you to kill anyone! Surely there's some type of spell you can use that will incapacitate these guards long enough for us to—" Marit was keeping an eye on her fellow Patryns, who seemed to be near reaching some consensus. "Your people once fought mine!" she said coldly. "Surely there's some type of spell you can use that will incapacitate these guards long enough for us to—"
    Chapter 12
    I'm not asking you to kill! The realization struck Alfred. Incapacitate. Of course. That's what she'd said. Incapacitate. You don't have to kill them! The realization struck Alfred. Incapacitate. Of course. That's what she'd said. Incapacitate.
    He tried to catch hold of her, but she broke free, ran past him. Hastily, Alfred removed the cell bars with a spoken word of magic or Marit would have torn right through them. She stood a moment over the stone bier, then—with a sob—she sank onto her knees. Lifting Haplo's cold and lifeless hand, she started to chafe it, as if she could warm it. The runes tattooed on his body glimmered faintly, but there was no life in the chill flesh. She ran past him. He tried to catch hold of her, but she broke free. Hastily, Alfred removed the cell bars with a spoken word of magic or Marit would have torn right through them. She stood a moment over the stone bier, then—with a sob—she sank onto her knees. Lifting Haplo's cold and lifeless hand, she started to chafe it, as if she could warm it. The runes tattooed on his body glimmered faintly, but there was no life in the chill flesh.
    Chapter 13
    Kleitus understood the forgotten rune-language enough to realize what Alfred was doing. Reaching out its wasted hand, the lazar caught hold of Marit. She tried to break free, tried to stab the lazar with her sword. But the dead know no physical limitations. With inhuman strength, Kleitus wrested the sword from Marit's grasp. The lazar wrapped its bloodstained hand around her throat. Kleitus understood the forgotten rune-language enough to realize what Alfred was doing. Reaching out its wasted hand, the lazar caught hold of Marit. "Sing one more rune," Kleitus warned Alfred, "and I will turn her into the undead." She tried to break free, tried to stab the lazar with her sword. But the dead know no physical limitations. With inhuman strength, Kleitus wrested the sword from Marit's grasp. The lazar wrapped its bloodstained hand around her throat.
    Chapter 16
    Lowering his head into his hand, he sought vainly to hide his tears. The dog pattered forward, willing to forgive the earlier misunderstanding. It placed its paw on the necromancer's knee, gazed up at him with sympathetic eyes. "We fled inland to escape the lazar." Lowering his head into his hand, he sought vainly to hide his tears. The dog pattered forward, willing to forgive the earlier misunderstanding. It placed its paw on the necromancer's knee, gazed up at him with sympathetic eyes. When he had recovered himself sufficiently to return to the conversation, the necromancer told of his people's current desperate situation. "We fled inland to escape the lazar."
    Balthazar also stood up. He leaned near Alfred. "We will escape!" he said softly. "No one will stop us this time." Alfred gulped, backed up a pace. Balthazar also stood up. He leaned near Alfred. "We will escape!" he said softly. "No one will stop us this time." Especially not you, came the unspoken words. Alfred gulped, backed up a pace.
    Chapter 17
    Suddenly, Alfred knew the answer. "Kleitus!" Suddenly, Alfred knew the answer. "Who?" he quavered, hoping he was wrong. He wasn't. "Kleitus."
    Chapter 21
    Alfred tried to stop her, but he wasn't watching where he was going and fell headlong over the dog. The animal, yelping painfully, bristled and barked at everyone on general principle. Alfred tried to stop her, but he wasn't watching where he was going and fell headlong over the dog. Alfred ended up lying sprawled on the deck. The animal, yelping painfully, bristled and barked at everyone on general principle.
    The blade had merely summoned the dead to its aid; it had no control over them. Control was not the blade's purpose. Having fulfilled its creator's intent, it changed back to its original form, fell to the deck beside a groaning Hugh the Hand. The blade itself would not attack the Sartan. But the blade had merely summoned the dead to its aid; it had no control over them. Control was not the blade's purpose. Having fulfilled its creator's intent, it changed back to its original form, fell to the deck beside a groaning Hugh the Hand.
    Ramu snorted. "What happened here the Patryn brought on herself. She and her kind will continue to cause disruption unless they are finally halted. We sail for the Labyrinth, as planned. You had best prepare for departure." Ramu snorted. "I don't know what you're talking about. What happened here the Patryn brought on herself. She and her kind will continue to cause disruption unless they are finally halted. We sail for the Labyrinth, as planned. You had best prepare for departure."
    Chapter 27
    Marit could not hear what the scouts reported, but she could guess. The scouts would see whatever it was the serpents wanted the scouts to see. Marit could not hear what the scouts reported, but she could guess.
    Ramu went deathly pale. He turned to look at Marit. "I didn't laugh," she said through trembling lips. She remembered Samah's screams. Burning tears stung her eyelids. "I didn't laugh." Ramu went deathly pale. He turned to look at Marit. "Is that true?" "I didn't laugh," she said through trembling lips. She remembered Samah's screams. Burning tears stung her eyelids. "I didn't laugh."
    The Cursed Blade in Ramu's hand was wriggling, starting to come to life. Marit drew a magical circle of blue and red sigla. Its fire shone brightly. Speaking the name "Vasu," she stepped through the rune-circle and was gone. Ramu thrust the Cursed Blade back into its sheath. Cold with anger, he turned on the necromancer. "You helped her escape. An act of treason! When this is ended, you will be brought up on charges before the Council!" "Don't be a fool, Ramu!" Balthazar returned. "Marit was right." The Cursed Blade in Ramu's hand was wriggling, starting to come to life. Marit drew a magical circle of blue and red sigla. Its fire shone brightly. Ramu, seeing his prisoner about to attack, lunged forward. He was stopped by Balthazar. The necromancer was not strong enough to hold Ramu long, but Marit only needed a short time. Speaking the name "Vasu," she stepped through the rune-circle and was gone. Ramu thrust the Cursed Blade back into its sheath. Cold with anger, he turned on the necromancer. "You helped her escape. An act of treason! When this is ended, you will be brought up on charges before the Council!" "Don't be a fool, Ramu!" Balthazar returned. He slowly, weakly regained his feet. "Marit was right."
    Chapter 29
    Xar was running out of time. "Forgive my callous attitude, my son. I spoke hastily, without thought. You know that I will do what I can to save as many of the mensch as possible. We will need them to help us rebuild. Tell me the names of those mensch you particularly want protected and I will arrange for them to be transported to the Nexus. You yourself can watch over them. You will be the guarantor of their safety—something you cannot do if Death's Gate is shut. I will not be able to rescue them then. Go to Death's Gate. Take this opportunity. I will send you back to Marit, to your child—" Xar was running out of time. "Forgive my callous attitude, my son. I spoke hastily, without thought. You know that I will do what I can to save as many of the mensch as possible. We will need them to help us rebuild. Tell me the names of those mensch you particularly want protected and I will arrange for them to be transported to the Nexus. You yourself can watch over them. You will be the guarantor of their safety. "Something you cannot do," Xar added, with a shrewd look, "if Death's Gate is shut. I will not be able to rescue them then. Go to Death's Gate. Take this opportunity. I will send you back to Marit, to your child—"
    Chapter 30
    One of the serpents caught sight of sudden movement, reared its head. It looked up, through the chaos, and saw Alfred. Death's Gate stood wide open, visible to anyone who knew where to find it. The snake's red eyes flared in alarm. It saw the danger: forever trapped in the Labyrinth. The way to the lush mensch worlds closed off. Shrieking a warning, the serpent uncoiled its huge body. Red eyes caught Alfred in their lurid gaze. The serpent screeched hideous threats, conjured up terrifying images of pain-racked torment. Toothless maw gaping wide, the dragon-snake surged toward the open door, moving with the speed and force of a cyclone. Alfred's hand closed over the silver handle. Shutting out the serpent's hideous voice, the Sartan fought to pull the door shut. Catching sight of the sudden movement, one of the serpents reared its head. It looked up, through the chaos, and Alfred realized that it could see him. Death's Gate stood wide open, visible to anyone who knew where to find it. The snake's red eyes glared in alarm. It saw the danger: forever trapped in the Labyrinth. The way to the lush mensch worlds closed off. Shrieking a warning, the serpent uncoiled its huge body and flew straight for him. Red eyes caught Alfred in their lurid gaze. The serpent screeched hideous threats, conjured up terrifying images of pain-racked torment. Toothless maw gaping wide, the dragon-snake surged toward the open door, moving with the speed and force of a cyclone. Alfred's hand closed over the silver handle. Shutting out the serpent's hideous voice, the Sartan fought to pull the door closed. But he might have tried to wrestle it in the teeth of a howling gale.
    Chapter 31
    Xar was wary. He knew enough about the serpents now not to trust them. He also knew they were powerful in magic. This one might very well disrupt his spell, although it had not done so yet. "Who are you?" Xar demanded. "What do you want?" Xar was wary. He knew enough about the serpents now not to trust them. He also knew they were powerful in magic. This one might very well disrupt his spell, although it had not done so yet. He had to find out what it was doing here. "Who are you?" Xar demanded. "What do you want?"
    The moment Xar's back was turned, Sang-drax examined Haplo's body. The Patryn appeared to be dead. The sigla on his skin did not glow in the serpent's presence. Sang-drax, glancing back at Xar, surreptitiously kicked the fallen Patryn with a toe of his boot. Therefore, Xar did not see Sang-drax examine Haplo's body. He appeared to be dead. The sigla on his skin did not glow in the serpent's presence. Sang-drax, glancing back at Xar, surreptitiously kicked the fallen Patryn with a toe of his boot.
    Chapter 32
    Sang-drax struck Haplo again and again—savage, vicious blows that cracked open the rune-magic, began to bruise and batter flesh and bone. Haplo's face was smeared with blood. He was half-blind, stunned, could do little to halt the brutal attack. Blow after blow drove Haplo to his knees. A vicious kick in the face sent him reeling backward. He fell, lay unconscious. On the floor near him was the snake-shaped dagger. Sang-drax turned to face Xar. The Lord of the Nexus tensed. The serpent stood between Xar and the magical rune-construct. Sang-drax pointed at the fallen Haplo. "This treacherous servant of yours tried to murder you, Lord of the Nexus! Fortunately, I was able to stop him. Say the word and I will end his life." Haplo rolled over, lay face first on the blood-spattered floor. "You needn't waste your time," Xar said, drawing closer to Haplo, to the serpent, to the magic. "I will deal with him. Stand aside." The serpent's red eyes gleamed with a bright, suspicious light. Swiftly, Sang-drax hooded his emotion, lowering the eyelids. "I am only too pleased to obey you, Lord. First"—the serpent swooped down—"allow me to retrieve the traitor's dagger. He might be shamming again." Sang-drax's hand closed over empty air. Xar—quite by inadvertence—had placed his foot on the blood-covered blade. He knelt beside Haplo, all the while keeping an eye on Sang-drax. The lord grasped hold—not gently—of Haplo's chin, turned his face to the light. A savage cut had split open Haplo's forehead, practically to the bone. Haplo fell, overpowered. Sang-drax turned to face Xar. The Lord of the Nexus tensed. The serpent stood between Xar and the magic. Shaking his head groggily, Haplo struggled to rise. Blood covered his hands and arms. On the floor near him was the snake-shaped dagger. Sang-drax had blood on his hands as well. "This treacherous servant of yours tried to murder you, Lord of the Nexus!" the serpent repeated. "Fortunately, I was able to stop him. Say the word and I will end his life." Haplo collapsed, falling face first on the blood spattered floor. "You needn't waste your time," Xar said, drawing closer to Haplo, to the serpent, to the magic. "I will deal with him. Stand aside." The serpent's red eyes gleamed with a bright, suspicious light. Swiftly, Sang-drax hooded his emotion, lowering the eyelids. "I am only too pleased to obey you, Lord. First"—the serpent swooped down—"allow me to retrieve the traitor's dagger. He might be shamming again." Sang-drax's hand closed over empty air. Xar—quite by inadvertence—had placed his foot on the blood-covered blade. He knelt beside Haplo, all the while keeping an eye on Sang-drax. The lord grasped hold—not gently—of Haplo's chin, turned his face to the light. A savage cut had split open Haplo's forehead, practically to the bone, a wound that might have been caused by the blade of a dagger.

    In the published edition, the chapter ends with "Snapping jaws closed over the Lord of the Nexus." Chapter 33 first picks up with Alfred's narrative, then returns to this scene with the rest of Xar's death as Sang-drax flings the body aside and proclaims Xar dead.

    In proofs, Chapter 32 presents Xar's death and Sang-drax's proclamation as one continuous scene, and finishes on "The serpent's red eyes turned on Haplo." Chapter 33 then begins with Alfred, and returns to the scene with Haplo facing Sang-drax.

    Chapter 33
    He faced an old man seated on a dragon's back. The old man was dressed in mouse-colored robes, his white hair flew out wildly behind. "Red Leader to Red One!" the old man howled. "Come in, Red One!" The serpents were spreading out, sending some to deal with Alfred. The rest were massing to enter Death's Gate. "Break off the attack, Red One," the old man shouted and waved a hand. "Go rescue the princess! My squadron'll take over!" Behind the old man, legions of dragons of Pryan flew out of the smoke of the burning Nexus. "How do you like my ship?" The old man patted the dragon's neck. "Made the Kessel run in six parsecs!" The dragon dropped suddenly from the skies, diving for one of the serpents. The old man gave Alfred a salute before he disappeared from view. The other Pryan dragons followed, soaring into the battle against their enemies. Alfred no longer had to deal with his enemies alone. He could return to the Chamber of the Damned. He flew inside Death's Gate. Once there, he altered his form, was again the tall and gangling, balding, velvet-coated Sartan. He stood for a moment watching the fight. He faced an old man, dressed in mouse-colored robes, white hair flying out wildly behind, seated on a dragon's back. "Red Leader to Red One!" the old man howled. "Come in, Red One!" Zifnab! Alfred recognized the crazy Sartan but had no idea what he was talking about. Nor did he have time to find out. The serpents were spreading out, sending some to deal with him. The rest were massing to enter Death's Gate. "Break off the attack, Red One," the old man shouted and waved a hand behind him. "Go help Haplo! My squadron'll take over! How do you like my ship?" He patted the dragon's neck. "Made the Kessel run in six parsecs!" Behind the old man, legions of the dragons of Pryan flew out of the smoke of the burning Nexus. By this time, some of the serpents had seen them, were altering course. Alfred still had no idea what Zifnab meant, but he could see for himself that he no longer had to deal with the enemy alone. He could go back . . . The dragon dropped suddenly from the skies, diving for one of the serpents. The old man gave Alfred a salute before he disappeared from view. The other Pryan dragons followed, soaring into the battle against their enemies. Alfred flew inside Death's Gate. Once there, he altered his form, was again the tall and gangling, balding, velvet-coated Sartan. He stood for a moment watching the fight.
    Sang-drax looked toward the four doors; the red eyes glinted eagerly, hungrily. "Cast the spell, the one your lord was weaving. You can do it, Haplo. You are as powerful as Xar. And I will be glad to offer my poor help—" Haplo smiled grimly, shook his head. "Surely you don't refuse?" Sang-drax was pained, sadly astonished. Sang-drax looked toward the four doors; the red eyes glinted eagerly, hungrily. "Cast the spell, the one your lord was weaving. You can do it, Haplo. You are as powerful as Xar. And I will be glad to offer my poor help—" "And take over when I'd finished." Haplo smiled grimly. "Then you'd murder me." "Surely you don't refuse?" Sang-drax was pained, sadly astonished.
    The Chamber of the Damned—the Seventh Gate— was crumbling. And there was only one way out—Death's Gate. Haplo took a step. The serpent's tail thrashed out. Even in its agony, it was intent on killing him. The only door remaining open was Death's Gate—it was their only route to escape. Haplo ran across the Chamber, heading for Alfred, lying dazed and bleeding on top of the white table. The serpent's tail thrashed out. Even in its agony, it was intent on killing him.
    Chapter 36
    "He understood ... at the end," came a voice, very near them. "Do not grieve for him." Jonathon stood behind them. "He understood ... at the end," came a voice, very near them. "Do not grieve for him." Alfred, a prey to nervousness, turned so fast he lost his balance, stumbled into Haplo. Marit drew her sword, then—staring in amazement—lowered it again. Jonathon stood behind them.
    Headman Vasu, accompanied by Balthazar, entered the glade. "We bring good news." Headman Vasu, accompanied by Balthazar, entered the glade. Alfred looked somewhat dubious, not entirely pleased to see the two together. "I believe we can trust him," Marit said softly. "His people have been through their own Labyrinth." Balthazar bowed to her. "I hope your faith in me will be justified, Sister. We bring good news."