You want book covers? Here’s one.

Once again, the Orbit preliminary/catalog cover of my next book is getting a lot of attention in parts of the internet. On one level I’m glad; buzz is buzz, and prelim covers generate buzz — thanks, Aidan, for that! But on another level, it spoils a little of my pleasure in being able to debut the final product here when that time comes, since folks will already have an idea by then of what it’s going to look like. Kind of like trying to put the book itself out after people have read the outline — the perfectionist in me cringes in horror at the very idea, especially knowing how wildly different the final product might be. I’ll get over it, tho’, because part of being a writer is learning when to gag your inner editor, and this is one of those times. I’ll assuage the feeling by showing off the final version in all its glory here as soon as Orbit tells me it’s done — I promise. (And if you’re wondering, I love love love the prelim. It can only get better from here.)

But let’s change tack a little. Folks may remember some issues regarding the German editions of the Inheritance Trilogy — namely that the first book’s cover wasn’t representative of Yeine, and for awhile the second book’s cover was also going to have a white female figure too. After some negotiation on my part, and some agitating on the part of German fans, we got a lovely cover for book 2 that looked more accurate, and a promise that Book 3’s cover would hit the nail on the head. The folks at Blanvalet sent me this awhile ago, and I want to stress that it, too, is preliminary; things may change before publication. But I’m very, very, VERY happy with what we’ve got going so far (click to enlarge):

Cover art for book 3, German. Shows Asian man in hood, title

Yum. I love the expression on Sieh’s face, mingling sorrow and hope. (Or so I have decided.) I love the rich redness of the hood. And yeah, he’s paler than I imagine, but still — I love the whole atmosphere of this. ::happysigh:: So, German readers, you’ve got a treat coming! And thanks to all of you for your support so far!

11 thoughts on “You want book covers? Here’s one.”

  1. I’m confused. Book 2’s cover is representative of Oree? Now I know I got Yeine wrong, but…was Oree fair-skinned?

    And what’s up with Blanvalet and all these hoods?

  2. Hi Kermit,

    Yeah, Oree’s still lighter-skinned than she should be (Maroneh are very dark-skinned), but I was just glad to see her black. Unless you’re referring to the preliminary German cover of book 2, which was changed before release? See the “lovely cover for book 2” link in the OP for the cover that was actually released. (FTR, Sieh in the image above is also paler than I describe him in the books. But the face at least looks Asian to my eyes.)

    And the hoods — I don’t mind them, because I don’t expect a totally literal representation. Sends a clear “this is fantasy” message, and it’s better than a guy with Mighty Thews(tm) axing a bear. Not much different from the current obsession with hoods on this side of the pond, IMO.

  3. Yeah the “lovely cover” is what I was referring to. She actually reminds me of my friend’s sister, who is half Black and half German, but I was pretty sure that Oree was dark-skinned.

    I also really don’t like that “symbolism” argument; it sounds like an excuse to me. I mean, really, WTF is the point of putting a random person on the cover, when the book has a ton of people to represent it? And what exactly is the random white person (in the case of THTK) symbolizing, anyway?

    I can think of a few things…

  4. Well, I have seen some truly WTF foreign covers of fantasy novels, and there’s some truth in the fact that in many countries something generically fantastic (or generically science fictional) gets used on the covers. I’ve seen other authors raging about the fact that spaceships get stuck on their sci-fi novels in which no spaceship appears, for example. And I’ve definitely seen a few fantasy covers with random Mighty Thews. So that part of it is part and parcel of the foreign-publication game.

    The fact that the random fantasy image tends to be white is, of course, the root of my initial objection.

  5. Regarding the covers: Using hooded women on fantasy covers is a huge trend here in Germany at the moment. When I go to the fantasy corner of a book store pretty much all I see on covers is hooded women. It’s getting a bit ridiculous actually. If I remember right it all started with Trudi Canavan’s books which covers had this theme going on. I suppose since they were successful enough everyone else wants a slice of the hooded cake, too?

    There’s at least one other big trend going on that is perpetuated by at least 2 publishers: Big sagas about The Elves, The Orcs, The [insert generic fantasy race/species here] with all books having covers that depict one big iconic/clichéd weapon stuck in the ground. The covers are pretty and all but the inflated use of that theme is kinda irritating. The cover theme suggest that those books kinda belong together – but as far as I know the stories about the different races/species aren’t even located in the same fantasy universe. So it’s probably just a marketing trick that suggests “you gotta catch ’em all!” Something similar is probably going on with the hooded women theme.

  6. Very belated, to Sabrina,

    Yeah, I’m a little tired of the hoods, too — but they seem to be a trend in N. American/European stuff in general, because gods know they’re all over covers here in the US, and I saw plenty when I visited the UK last year. Though here, they seem to have become synonymous with/symbolic of “gritty fantasy” a la Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie; I hardly ever see them on stuff with female protags.

    I suspect it’s just that hoods allow a degree of projection — like the way heads get partially cut off on romance novels, or characters’ backs face the viewer on urban fantasy. The reader somehow transfers him/herself into the character, identifies with the image, or something vaguely Freudian like that. I dunno. But I never expect or really want 100% precise representations of my characters on book covers; they’ll never look like the people in my head. I prefer something impressionistic — suggestive of mood and theme, enticing to the eye, not jarring to the mind. A white character on a book with a black protagonist jars, in part because of all the historical baggage associated with such misrepresentations. A middle-toned black woman instead of a dark-skinned black woman? Doesn’t jar me, but I can see why it might jar others. A woman in a hood, when the protag is a woman and actually does wear a hood for like a minute (Oree)? Eh, that’s fine in my book.

    Sieh and Yeine never wear hoods, but in this case I interpret the hoods impressionistically — they’re In the Dark! There’s a Mystery! Etc.

  7. As far as I can see this theme is used here predominantly on fantasy novels with female protagonists – so seeing lots of these floating around in book stores is probably a good sign for the genre. I always loved reading about female protagonists cause every so often the default is still male.

    Overall I find the symbolism kinda… okay, I guess. I mean, there are certainly worse covers out there that depict random stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the book at all. But as an aspiring illustrator I’m not overly impressed by those decisions. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. But I just love well made book covers and I’m always frustrated when they replace the good original covers with some boring overused theme. There are books that I refused to buy cause the covers are just so bad. (No worries, yours where not among them. My mom got them for Christmas/birthday and I hope to read them somewhen this year. ;))

  8. Very exciting :D I am going to buy the book the day it’s available in the nearest store.

    I *am* pretty confused, though. I’ve long known that Nahadoth is super-imposed in the background of the first cover – these are the US ones to which I’m referring – and I’d assumed that the second cover has Itempas. (But since it’s bad to assume, there’s a part of me that allows the possibility it could be Oree.)

    Going along that it’s Itempas on the cover of Broken Kingdoms, I had expected that the cover pattern was the Three. But now I’m all confused with the third cover since it’s obviously not Yeine XD

    Mm, care to clarify?

  9. Emily S,

    Generally the covers have focused on the god who has the most prominence in the story. :)

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