One of my favorite things to do while in the book store is to simply gawk at book covers. There are typically two very polarized feelings I have when viewing book cover art; reverence and disgust. And as sad as it is, books truly are sometimes judged by the cover. Even book nerds like myself appreciate pretty things, and if a book has a rotten cover it can poison the mind of the book buyer into never even picking the book up to learn about what's inside.
On this particular excursion to Barnes and Noble, brief though it was, I found myself looking at the covers of the most recent sci-fi and fantasy arrivals. Two particular volumes caught my eye for their cover art.
Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov is the first volume in a trilogy of epic fantasy blah, blah, blah. Within seconds of reading the below synopsis I found myself remembering why I have such a hard time with epic fantasy: clichés.
(Edited 02/22/2010) And thanks to the diverse readership here at The Sound and Fury, keen eyed artist Kim Kincaid from The Twirling Dragon pointed out the absurd fact that I had left out the names of both of these cover artists. Here, thanks to Kim, I shall remedy that problem.
One thing I've noticed, though, in my search for the names of these artists is that many genre bloggers (including some of the ones I regularly read--not naming names) like to post cover art for new fantasy and sci-fi books, but rarely do these bloggers ever include the names of the artists (including me apparently). It takes a bit of Googling around to discover the names, but I think that it's a point worth mentioning and a habit worth trying to change. Thanks, Kim.
The artwork for Shadow Prowler was apparently rendered by artist Kekai Kotaki. I love this cover. In fact, I'd have to say that it may be the best fantasy cover I've seen in a long, long time. You can check out Kotaki's blog Cake Mix or see more of his art at his website here. I must say that the painting of an impending mountainside snow battle displayed prominently on Kekai's entry page for his website took my breath away. I am bookmarking this guy, and will be keeping track of his stuff.
After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.
An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one, black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.
Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.
Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala. Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort, and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).
Reminiscent of Moorcock's Elric series, Shadow Prowler is the first work to be published in English by the bestselling Russian fantasy author Alexey Pehov. The book was translated by Andrew Bromfield, best known for his work on the highly successful Night Watch series.
The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, despite its smart sounding title and beautifully illustrated cover, looks to be more of the same I’m afraid. This is Deas first novel, and once again is a part of a trilogy. I’m afraid that I won’t be adding this to my list of books to read any time soon.
(Edited 2/22/2010) Once again, it took only a minute of searching to discover the name of the artist that illustrated this cover. Stephen Youll's website can be found here. I love the pop of color on the dragon's wings in an otherwise cold and colorless backdrop. And I think that the artist's ability to create scope despite the narrowly cropped focus on the dragon and rider is brilliant. One cannot help but assume that this world is vast and peopled by strange and interesting things. Well done all around.
The power of the Realms depends on its dragons. With their terrifying natures, they are ridden by the aristocracy and bred for hunting and war. But as dangerous political maneuverings threaten the complacency of the empire, a single dragon has gone missing. And even that one dragon-returned to its full intelligence and fury-could spell disaster for the Realms...
What to make of these? Just pretty covers, or something that you'd seriously consider reading?
Until next time, Kirk out.