Before Shadowgate is a prequel book published by Scholastic Corporation in 1991 as part of the Worlds of Power series of Video Game Novelizations. It is written under the pen name 'F.X. Nine'. It is the preqel of the Shadowgate series of games.
The story and the videogames take place on the world of Tyragon, a planet orbited by several moons, the fifth of which is the crescent-shaped Traal. Jairen is introduced as a 15-year old orphan from the town of Wooddale, who is bullied by other children. He bears a crescent birthmark on his cheek and for this he is called "Traal-faced". Jairen was cared by his aunt Delma, until went to apprentice under the smith Thurl. As he runs away from a bunch of bullies, Thurl shows up from the smithy and drives them away, then takes Thurl inside to finish a job. As Jairen works the bellows, he ponders on his past.
One day, while Thurl was absent to the town, an old man shows up on a lame mare, and requests from him to make a shoehorse. Jairen is at first reluctant as he had never shoed a horse alone before. The stranger insists as he is in hurry to the Western Forest. Jairen does the job and the stranger pays him with a half-darius, said to be valued enough to be fed for weeks. Jairen is then sent to bring back his staff.
As he touches it, he teleports into a castle. He enters a hall with hundreds of statues, each one bearing the face and name of a past King. The last one however has no features and the name is blank. Jairen finds the view unsettling and tries to leave. An iron gate opens in front of him and looks at a tall distant mountain. His thought is lost and understands that he must go there to find the king. On this thought, he is brought back to the smithy, holding the stranger's staff. As the stranger leaves into the night, he says that they will meet again. For some obscure reason, Jairen packs his stuff and leaves the town, in order to find the mountain Gatekeeper.
Jairen continues his journey, thinking about Thurl and the life he lives behind. He passes through the village of Brookmead and reaches a forest. He stops at a grove of "dindin" trees and decides to climb one for its fruits. He hears a voice below who "thanks" him for the fruit he dropped. It is a fenling, a 3-foot tall person. Suddenly the fenling hides, as a band of angry men approach: they are looking for a thief who stole a hen from a red-bearded man. Jairen wishes them luck and the fenling reappears as they leave. The fenling, Fezlyn Quickfoot, is a thief, and he stole the hen to feed a poor family.
Jairen is woken up in terror as he hears the voice of the red-bearded man, threatening him for hiding the thief; only to see that Fez, who can mimic voices, makes a prank to him.
Following the road they leave the woods and reach the Farming Plains. They grow hungry and steal some "pentabeans" (fruits with five "fingers" with vivid purple color, streaked with red) and start to look for fruits in an orchard of "tikka" trees. There, thirty dwarves dressed in armor of leather and steel and carrying small axes, come toward the orchard. As dwarves and fenlings don't go well along, Fez responds hostile to them but the fight is averted by Jairen. The leader of the dwarves say that they come from the great council in the city of Rivlyn.
As the dwarves finish their snack, the leader, who introduces himself as Avadale, leader of his tribe, lights his pipe and tells about the council. Evil threatens the peaceful existence of the people, as goblins, orcs and changelings have alerted them. The council hosted representatives of Tyens, druids, and all of the races. Jairens's questions make Avadale to narrate to them the whole history of Tyragon, something that Fez comment the dwarves love doing: