Because one of the three LTUE contests is for illustrators, I'm blogging about what draws me to a great SFF illustration.
Now, I'm not an illustrator, and my stick figures tend to look more like ants than people, but even I can appreciate the covers of Brandon Sanderson's newest epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archives.
The Way of Kings came out in 2010 and I immediately loved the cover art.
The thing that's so great about this is that, in one picture, you get a sense of adventure, heroism, war, and that the landscape and the weather will be very important in the book. I'm sure someone with a better knowledge of illustration could tell you why it works so well, but, for me, I can't ever concentrate long enough on one spot to really take it in. My eyes want to keep wandering from the swirling clouds to the flag, soldier, spear, landscape, lightning, and back up to the clouds. The intriguing figure on the distant peak is shrouded in mystery, but not quite as fascinating as the rest.
The cover for the second book, Words of Radiance, was released at the end of July and it is just as awesome. Do yourself a favor and read the article by artist Michael Whalen, on Tor.com. This cover shows something interesting happening in the skies which will excite anyone waiting eagerly for the book to come out, but the most interesting elements are the characters. Kaladin, of course, is on the front cover, holding his spear and looking poised for action. Then, ominously, we have Szeth in the background on his pile o'bodies, looking very threateningly at Kaladin. If you've read Way of Kings, this scene can't help but excite the same feelings we experienced when we put the first book down: terror, pity, giddy glee at the thought of the coming battle, and a sense that something much, much bigger than either of these two is going to crash down on them both.
Do you judge books by their covers? Do you think that's fair or just to be expected?
Also see my blog post about what I like in a short story on the brand-spanking new Sibyl's Scriptorium blog.