The Dark Thorn by Shawn Speakman

The Dark Thorn by Shawn Speakman

An author's preferred edition of The Dark Thorn, Book One in Shawn Speakman's Annwn Cycle.
$137,686 🎉
of $40,000 (USD) goal
Project Ended
Ended on




Copy Link



Hey, everyone! My name is Shawn Speakman and thank you for stopping by my new crowdfunding project run by Grim Oak Press and Backerkit. I couldn't be doing this without you!

The Dark Thorn is a special book for me. It wasn't my first written work but it feels like it. Upon giving the first draft to bestselling Shannara author Terry Brooks for critique, he told me I had a wonderful story that needed to be told from a different point of view. Grumbling about that fact since he was right, I rewrote it over six months, at which point he shared he thought I had what it took to write SF&F as a career.

Over the last ten years, I've written more novels and two dozen short stories. Yet when I began writing the sequel to The Dark Thorn, I realized the first book's prose was woefully not in line with my craft of writing now. In an effort to bring the two books more in line for an improved reading experience, I hired former Del Rey Books editor in chief Betsy Mitchell to edit The Dark Thorn—leading to this Author's Preferred Edition.

Again, I thank you for joining me on this journey! It's been fun so far but I'm only getting started. Read on!


Beneath the streets of Seattle, a long-forgotten war is about to be renewed…

Richard McAllister, a spiritually destitute homeless man and Knight of the Yn Saith, protects one of seven portals linking his world to that of Annwn, where the Fae of antiquity have been relegated by a long-running religious war.

Unknown to Richard though, powerful forces are aligning against him and all he stands to keep safe. In the wilds of a discarded world, Philip Plantagenet, son of Henry II, moves to claim a birthright nine centuries in the making, one that drives him to eliminate the Fae—at any cost to both worlds.

In the halls of Vatican City, Cardinal Vicar Cormac Pell O’Connor schemes to control the Heliwr—the Unfettered Knight—one who possesses the great power known as the Dark Thorn.

The three men are on a collision course with history and their futures.

For in the wilds of Annwn, death comes as easily as magic.



The Dark Thorn with art by Magali Villeneuve

When Shawn Speakman worked with Skybound Entertainment and published The King-Killing Queen, he wanted a beautiful wrap-around cover with black and white interiors and a new map. Thankfully award-winning artists Magali Villeneuve, Donato Giancola, and Jared Blando answered his call, producing artwork that adds to the overall story told.

Stretch Goal Reached! Map of Annwn by Jared Blando

Now with The Dark Thorn, Speakman has wooed Magali Villeneuve back for the new cover, and Jared has produced a new Map of Annwn. Chesley and Hugo Award-winning artist Don Maitz has already begun tackling the ten black and white interiors (and he's prepared to produce 5 more black and white interiors if we hit that Stretch Goal too). We are excited to have these three wonderful artists bringing The Dark Thorn to life in a new way.








Those people who back any tier level of The Dark Thorn crowdfund will be able to participate in a Choose Your Own Adventure-style story that Shawn will write as the project funds. Every day after the 48 hour mark, Shawn will write 200-400 words and YOU, brave soul, will be able to choose via poll how the story unfolds, where the characters go, even dialog!

So back early! It will let you participate longer in what we hope will be a fun time. The short story that results from this Choose Your Own Adventure will be published later in the forthcoming Grim Oak Press SF&F anthology, Unavowed. 


GRIM OAK PRESS will be fulfilling the pledges. We have over 10 years experience shipping packages to ensure their contents arrive safely and soundly. Shipping rates are calculated in US Dollars, and we will be using USPS Ground Advantage and USPS Priority Mail in the United States, and USPS Priority International Mail and DHL for international shipments.

We will charge shipping after the completion of the campaign. Here are rates:

Grim Oak Press is aiming for delivery in March 2025, though it very well could come before that. We promise to send project status updates often as we go from crowdfund to art acquisition to post-production to printer and bindery file delivery to final shipment.


GRIM OAK PRESS has been producing specialty limited and signed editions of SF&F bestselling favorite novels since 2012 when Shawn Speakman published the award-winning anthology Unfettered. We like to think we know what we are doing more often than not. Ha.

That said, there are bumps on every road and if/when we encounter any problems or delays, we promise to always be forthright about it as well as have a plan to deal with it.

Questions? Email the the support team at [email protected].
If you believe that this project is not in compliance with BackerKit’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, you can file a report by sending a message via this link: Report this project