Mmm, nice....very nice. The above cover is in-keeping with the style of the covers for the First Law trilogy, but adds a new dimension with the map and sword. All things considered, it's very cool indeed. So it's a huge shame for our American friends that Orbit US thought, "Hmm, not sure whether this is suitable for the market over here. It's missing something. What if we just did this..."
"Result! Secksy chick in leather and wider market appeal 4tw!"
Well, no. Not really. Sure, I understand the reasoning. Urban fantasy is huge right now, so slapping an image that has more in common with a story about some emotionally unstable, leather-clad heroine (who is the offspring of a demon and a werewolf, and is currently dating a vampire in the spare time she has inbetween 'assignments') does make some sort of skewed sense.
But not when you slap it on one side of the cover, leaving half of the original artwork on the other side. The result is a clumsy fusion of two elements that looks about as comfortable as a sober Amy Winehouse. They just don't match. The idea is clearly to try and get Abercrombie's novel to a wider audience, but I can imagine both urban and epic fantasy fans looking at the cover and thinking, "Er, no."
Still, only time will tell as to the success of this cover. I've little doubt that the novel hiding behind that terrible cover will be vastly superior in terms of quality. While we're on the subject, be sure to check out Aidan's article in which he examines Orbit's response to the online uproar (and which includes some of the other covers that were considered).
Crap-o-meter rating: 8/10