Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Crap fantasy book covers #16

Not for one minute did I ever expect a Joe Abercrombie book cover to feature in one of these posts. Joe's first three novels have excellent covers that were widely praised. Indeed, the UK artwork for his new novel, Best Served Cold, had many of us drooling like a beggar in a bakery. Here it is, in case you've somehow not seen it yet:

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


T.D. Newton said...

Ack, lame. I agree with the article; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Very uncool, Orbit, very uncool indeed.

Anonymous said...

ewww Diva Longoria got her grunge on.

RobB said...

I think I'm one of the few people on the FSF blogospher to actually like this cover.

T.D. Newton said...

I don't hate it, I just much prefer the original version and I'm sick of the US market getting totally screwed (especially after learning that my beloved silhouette Raven covers are being ditched for some lame swords and shields). It's like the whole marketing plan is based on the premise that we're dumb and require our cover art to have Swordy Heroguy (or Busty Herogal) on it, lest we somehow miss that it's a fantasy novel.

Yet another thing that makes GRRM's covers shine like gold on the shelf.

Graeme Flory said...

It makes my eyeballs go all funny... :o(

Mock said...


Woodge said...

I like the US one better. And hell, I've seen a LOT worse (check out the US versions of Steven Erikson's Malazan series, esp. #3).