James Barclay's Raven novels, not so long ago, were re-issued with a selection of highly impressive covers; a mix of silhouette with bold, single colours. In short, they looked damned cool. See, for example, the cover of Demonstorm:
Nice, isn't it? It's bold and quite sophisticated. More than that, it's mature. Businessmen commuting to work in the morning wouldn't be afraid to read it on the tube. It kind of says "Yeah, I read fantasy and I, like this book cover, am cool."
Which is less than can be said for the covers of the earlier editions of Barclay's novels. Take, as a sample, the cover for Noonshade:
Yes, Noonshade - like all Raven novels - involves liberal use of magic. There are also plenty of battles and adventure. Yet this doesn't mean the novel should have been degraded with this sub-dungeons and dragons cliched imagery that is both hilariously dated and woeful in equal measure. I mean, this looks like a novel that was published in the seventies or eighties, right? Actually, it was published in 2000. Yes, that's right. 2000. So why the publisher used such an eighties genre relic like this picture is anyone's guess.
It's all just so awful; the 'dramatic' pose, the 'epic' vista and the 'adventuring party' combining warrior and mages... It looks like something out of He-Man. If I could have found a decent-sized picture for the original cover of Dawnthief, I would have shown that also. It's even worse.
Let me just make it clear that I really like D&D and owe it for my love of fantasy. Yet much of the associated artwork I'm not so keen on, and that also goes for some artwork influenced by D&D. Such as this piece.
What's depressing about it is that it's this kind of artwork that causes the mainstream to regard fantasy readers as snivelling morons.
In a single word: dire.
Crap-o-meter rating: 9/10