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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.