#InspirationBoardSunday on Monday!

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One of My Favorite Fantasy Covers
(And don’t get me started on how much I love the Farseer Trilogy!)

Those of you who have followed The Write Stuff for some time know that I have a cork wall surrounding my computer area, and that I keep it filled with photos of people, places, animals, and other things I find inspiring. Generally, the photos change with the book I’m working on, but some things stay on the board pretty much all the time. Or at least, somewhere close by, so I can enjoy them, and be inspired by them.

It’s also no secret that I adore good cover art. I’ve often bought books because I couldn’t pass up the covers, and wanted to see them on my shelves. Happily, most books with covers that intriguing or beautiful turn out to be intriguing or beautiful stories, as well. But as a bonus, I have to say I find great covers extremely inspirational as art, in and of themselves.

Oh, sure, sometimes, they give me an idea for a story I’d like to tell, but often, it’s just the sheer beauty, the shivery touch of horror, or the intriguing glimpses of mystery that inspires me. I don’t get ideas for an actual book from all of the great covers I’ve found, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t inspirational. They are very much so, in a big way, and often inspire me to aim higher with each book I write.

Today, I’m going to share a few fantasy covers that have caught my eye in the last year or so. I’ve come very late to the fantasy genre, but find the covers to be some of the most beautiful, dynamic, and, often, positively shivery cover art out there. Let’s look at some of my favorites. Maybe some of them will inspire you, too.

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This cover pulled me from two shelves away at my local bookstore, and I knew I wasn’t leaving the place without it. I mean, look at it. This is obviously a very young man, almost a boy, standing with his hands on the hilt of his sword, surrounded by bodies. Right away you have to wonder if he’s, indeed, responsible for all those lives lost. But truthfully, what caught my eye was the wonderful graphic element of his cape, whirling through the air like the wings of a some deadly bird of prey. I love everything about the cover, and I loved the book, too, though it is dark and disturbing. (This was my introduction to the “grimdark” sub-genre of fantasy. It was grim. And dark.) It is still one of my all time favorite covers.

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When I first saw this clever and beautiful cover for Leigh Bardugo’s fantastic Six of Crows, I thought it might be the most  brilliantly conceived cover design I’d ever seen.

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Then the sequel came out, and really blew me away. I would love to have prints of the original art for both of these books, hanging on my library walls. I look at the cities hidden within, and my imagination takes flight with the crows. Both of these books are favorite reads of mine, as well, especially Crooked Kingdom.

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Moving into the realm  Urban Fantasy, no one writes it better than Jim Butcher, and Harry Dresden is probably my all-time favorite character, across all genres. Chris McGrath is, hands down, my favorite cover artist, and every single one of his Dresden Files book covers is a work of art. This is one of the best. How can your mind not marvel at the image of the world’s greatest (grown-up) wizard kneeling beside his own grave? (The tombstone is completely legible on the book, honest.) The pale, neutral tones are very different from the dark color schemes of the other books in the series, and they set this one apart as the work of genius that it is.

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While I’m thinking of Urban Fantasy, here’s another Chris McGrath cover, from the Leandros brothers series, which I was once a huge fan of. The cover depicts the two brothers, braced for trouble which tends to find them at every turn. But you wouldn’t have to know that to see it in the stance of Niko, sword ready for whatever’s coming, and in the wary expression on Cal’s face, gun at his side. Every line of their bodies indicates tension, and you wonder immediately what it is they’re watching for.

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If the covers of the first two books in Rachel Caine’s Great Library series don’t inspire you, I can’t imagine what would. The rich detail and vibrant colors are so striking, I put mine on easels on my library shelves, so I’d see them every day. Just looking at them makes me happy. (And I love this YA series, too. The premise that the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed is done up in a surprising way, and the characters are wonderfully well drawn. But it’s when I study the covers that my imagination really soars.

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I’ve just realized that sharing my favorite and most inspirational fantasy covers is an impossible task. For every one I upload, 100 more are crying out to be displayed as well. So I’m going to have to rein in my enthusiasm for fantasy covers, and I think I’ll stop on this one. I’m not going to say it’s my one of my very favorites, though it was dramatic enough to convince me to give this series a try, while awaiting Butcher’s next Dresden Files book. I’m just going to say it was the very first real fantasy I ever read, and I enjoyed it enough to read the entire Codex Alera series. I was hooked, and all because I wanted to know why these lightning creatures were after this young man. So, while it might not appeal to my artistic side as much as some of the ones above, it did the job it was meant to do, and I bought the book. The rest is history.

Hope this post will encourage you to take a look around your library with new eyes. Maybe a cover will give you an idea for something you’d never considered before. Or maybe, like me, you’ll find yourself realizing what great works of art they can be. Go forth, now, and BE INSPIRED!! 😀 And let me know what fantasy covers you love. I’m always adding to my collection.

6 thoughts on “#InspirationBoardSunday on Monday!

  1. I’m a sucker for a good book cover and you’ve chosen some really fantastic ones here. And I had no idea Jim Butcher had another series out. I’m going to go look that one up (although I am woefully behind on Harry). The original artwork for the fantasy novel Black Sun Rising has to be one of my favorite covers of all time. They’ve now made the art smaller and added a large box for the title, but the series still rocks. Next to LoTR it’s probably my favorite fantasy series of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll be looking up Black Sun Rising. Not familiar with it. I’ve tried reading LoTR several times, and gave up, but that was before I was really into the fantasy mindset. Might have to give it another go. 🙂

      Jim Butcher has 2 other series. The Codex Alera fantasy is completed, which is lovely, because I read them back to back. They were pretty good, though not on a par with The Dresden Files, to my mind. Which, btw, I’m SO up to date on, I’ve been champing at the bit for almost two years for the next book!! Grrrrr. His newest series is partly to blame for that. He started a steampunk sort of series called The Cinder Spires. Book 1, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, was pretty good. Very promising. But Harry still rules!

      I’m going to post a short follow up on this #InspirationBoardSunday post later today. Just a little something I want to share, to show how serious I am about cover art. And, next week, I may post some of the covers from other genres I love, if I have time. I’m finishing the last of my draft for That Darkest Place, and want to get it to my editor by the weekend. Fingers crossed. YOU know how that goes, with your recent marathon of Point Pleasant novels. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wishing you all the best with The Darkest Place, Marcia. I just got copy edits for A Desolate Hour, so I’m right there with you, LOL.
        Good to know all of that stuff about JIm Buchter’s various series. My sister has been patiently waiting for the next Dresden book too.
        The Fellowship of the Ring was the first fantasy novel I ever read. My 10th grade English teacher gave me his copy and I was hooked.
        Gerald Tarrant (of Black Sun Rising and the two books that follow) ties with Aloysius Pendergast (different genre) as my favorite character of all time. I just might have to go back and read BSR again, LOL!

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    • Wow, Tess. You really ARE behind. Robin Hobb’s excellent Farseer Trilogy began with the Assassin’s Apprentice 20 years ago, in 1996! Then it grew into several more trilogies, and is finally coming to an end (at least the bit with Fitzchivalry and The Fool) this year, with Assassin’s Fate. I’ve been waiting for this one for months and months and months. When it is released, I will stop everything I’m doing, and spend a day or two reading it, and probably sniveling away as I say goodbye to Fitz. 😥

      The other books are all much more recent, though the first Dresden Files book, Storm Front, was published in 2006, so it’s been ten years for that one. And I have read every single one, as they were released. (I’ve followed Urban Fantasy a lot longer than I have epic fantasy.)

      All I can say, is READ FASTER! Hahahahahaha.

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  2. When I had to come up with my cover, I asked myself (and by my publisher) what did I want? My original idea was a man trapped in a dead end alleyway with weapons on edge showing that he was scared (this was the first scene of my book). I then thought, hang on how about you seeing the thug coming towards you, as it is in a stream of consciousness pov, so that made sense.

    Then again was thrown out the window, my final idea was what the book was. A person is writing his memoirs before he heads off to war. So it was an overhead shot of a writing table, with pen and quill, etc. I like the cover, now how to do then next one?

    I do love a lot of those covers and have read at least 3/4 of those books. Thank you, Marica for sharing.

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