Monday, 23 November 2009

Cover art and blurb for 'The Sword of Albion'

As I think I've mentioned before, I enjoyed Mark Chadbourn's alternative-Elizabethan short story, Who Slays The Gyant, Wounds the Beast, that appeared in the Solaris Book of Fantasy back in 2007. I was intrigued by the setting and hoped that Chadbourn would follow the story with a full-blown novel, which thankfully he has. The novel is called The Sword of Albion, and here's the artwork:

Before the clamour starts, yes it's another 'hooded figure' cover, but to my mind this is entirely justified - the book is about a spy and subterfuge in general, so at least it's got a reason to use the over-familiar feature. Of course, it helps that it's a very nice cover indeed. While I like the little duel detail at the bottom, the two combatants do look rather static, as if they're both standing still - who stands still during a swordfight? But otherwise, very good indeed.

As for the blurb, it sounds very promising (please note this is only a blurb-in-progress, the final version may differ):

1588: The London of Elizabeth I is rocked by news of a daring raid on the Tower. The truth is known only to a select few: that, for twenty years, a legendary doomsday device, its power fabled for millennia, has been kept secret and, until now, safe in the Tower. But it has been stolen and Walsingham's spies believe it has been taken by the Enemy. This Enemy is not who we usually think of as our traditional opponent. No, this Enemy has waged a brutal war against mankind since time began, and with such a weapon they might take terrible toll upon England's green and pleasant land...And so it falls to Will Swyfte - swordsman, adventurer, scholar, rake, and the greatest of Walsingham's new breed of spy - to follow a trail of murder and devilry that leads deep into the dark, venomous world of the Faerie. As Philip of Spain prepares a naval assault on England, Will is caught up in a race against time in pursuit of this fiendish device...

Sounds exciting, looking forward to this one - release date is 1 April 2010, publisher is Bantam Press.

Interestingly, the novel has a different name and artwork in the States. Over there, it's called The Silver Skull, and the artwork is below:

So, the inevitable question - which cover do you prefer? Personally, I like both but think the UK version edges it.

Release date for The Silver Skull is 23 November 2009, which obviously is far earlier than the UK release date - I would urge UK readers not to import the US version, and instead wait for the UK edition to be released. Why? Because otherwise we run the risk of harming the UK version's sales and threatening the likelihood of future instalments being published over here. Chadbourn has advised that future instalments will be released simultaneously, so this problem hopefully won't arise again.


The Mad Hatter said...

I'll have to agree with you. The UK cover stands out better and I like the setup quite a bit.

ediFanoB said...

First of all I feel like living between to worlds. Why? Because I live in Germany, read books in English and most of the time offers UK and US editions.
That means I normally by the edition which is available first.

In case of Mark Chadbourn I bought THE SILVER SKULL. I read 60pages so far and really like it.
Concerning the cover I prefer the US one. But as always this is a matter of taste.

Anyway I find it really annoying to get the same novel with different title. I always have to set a mark in my book list which edition I bought. And it is also confusing when you read reviews.

I know that Mark Chadbourn is not responsible for this.
Le me qoute the following post by Mark Chadbourn from November 5th which explains what has happened:
"It’s worth noting for US readers of this blog that the first Swords of Albion book is now available at the usual outlets across America. Elizabethan spies vs Faerie, in a line.

UK readers have to wait a few weeks – and I hope they do wait. If everyone rushes to import the US edition, my UK publisher (Bantam) isn’t going to be very happy. It’ll be worth the wait – for once, the UK and US versions may be quite different.

For one, the UK version probably won’t be called The Silver Skull (although that’s not yet definite). Secondly, the books have two different editors with different tastes and suggestions.

Often a book is edited and published in one territory first and then re-published in a new territory with minimal changes. But the Swords of Albion books were sold to the US and the UK simultaneously, and instantly went into the relevant publishing schedules with editors attached. The US one just ran through the process quicker. Once I’ve seen the editor’s notes on the UK version I’ll know how different the two editions are.

I have had an advance look at the cover for the UK edition and it’s excellent. Apologies to UK readers for the wait, but I promise for future books in the series the publication dates will be perfectly aligned." [Source].

Benjamin said...

While I like both covers equally, I have to say that I like the UK title more. The Silver Skull? Really? Sounds like an Indiana Jones knock-off.

Lou Anders said...

The Silver Skull is Mark's original title, the title under which the "Swords of Albion" series was offered to me via his agent. We had already created the cover (art by Chris McGrath) and solicited orders from the chains before Mark told me that his UK publishers had requested a title change.

Incidentally, in cases where our edition follows a UK or Australian publication, I always insist on minimal changes between our version and the "originally published version," (just reversing the quotations and the like), unless the author himself/herself requests specific alterations. (I hate variant editions as a reader.)