Best and Worst Fantastic Book Covers – Sword & Book


Everyone knows you judge a book by its cover, but what makes a good cover?

I’m probably slightly biased as I have friends who design blankets for a living and part of my degree covered that, but I think we can all agree that it’s not just the aesthetics that make a difference. good coverage. Some of the more boring covers have very competent illustrations, pretty iconography, or solid fonts, and some of the prettier ones don’t do a good job as a cover. A part of my favorite covers don’t actually to do a good work To transmit anything, they’re just really pretty.

A good cover manages to convey more than one thing about the book that grabs you, whether it’s letting you see the characters, the plot features, the setting, or giving you a really good feel for the genre.

Below are a few covers that I think are some of the best and worst the genre has to offer.

The best

Blood promise by Brian McClellan

Despite everything I’m having trouble reading, I think the coverage is amazing. Yes, it’s mostly a beautiful illustration but this illustration manages to tell you so much about the main character, the tone of the story and the setting. Plus, the font choice is amazing, and the strap placement guides your eye through the cover with the beam of light to find the hidden crown near the bottom. It’s excellent.

Rage of the Dragons by Evan Winters

I haven’t seen any other cover recently that is so dedicated to showing you what the setting of the story is like this one. Every little characteristic tells you something, whether it is the type of society (matriarchal, judging by the woman leading men to war, and an empire from subtle allusions to Rome with marble carving) or what the influences are. from the real world (we definitely need more African inspired SSFs!).

The first girl by Amy Harmon

I think this is both a really smart cover design and manages to tell you a lot about the story. The Nordic themes come out very clearly with the woodcarving and the choice of font, and the red smear manages to convey a lot. It looks a bit like blood, so it’s clearly not a peaceful story, and I don’t know about you, but a shooting star always hints at a prophecy to me.

Prince of fools by Mark Lawrence (UK paperback edition)

It immediately grabbed me when I saw it on a shelf, and I think it’s obvious why. The almost flat red of the background (which goes all the way to the spine) brings out all the rest of the detail so well. The themes are also very well represented in the illustration which, combined with the choice of the font, gives a very good idea of ​​the setting, tone and characters. Dark Matriarch? Sign me up!

A shade of darker magic by VE Schwab (Tor Books Edition)

This is one of the coolest visual summaries of a plot device on a cover that I have seen. I think that’s a really clean way to present the concept of moving between worlds, which other versions of this book struggle to do, while also giving clues to the plot with the main character making it clear. the interval between them. There’s a cloak, he’s in the shadows, it’s all a bit of a secret and I think it’s revealing of the plot summary.

Children mingling by Edgar Cantero (United Kingdom Paperback)

I don’t think you can look at this cover art without knowing the genre and what it is parodying. While I’m not necessarily a fan of the collage style, it is reminiscent of that serial killer / murderer post writing style that I enjoy, while the spooky mix of house and rooting hints heavily at the horror. The way one of the characters is presented as clearly dead is, I think, really smart within the limits of style.

The worst

Again, no judgment on the aesthetic choices, just what they do as book covers.

Khalindaine by Richard Burns

It’s a classic ’80s fantasy that I think sums up just how absolutely stunning blankets that aren’t good at being blankets can be. Nothing about the story is featured on the cover. It slightly covers the scenery, but it is so far away that it is difficult to distinguish anything from it. Is it a European inspiration? Renaissance? Medieval? Roman? There is nothing in the blurb to suggest that the isolated and serene tone of the cover carries over to the book, either. I would love to have it on my wall, but it doesn’t do its job well.

The way of shadows by Brent Weeks (United Kingdom Paperback)

Everything this cover tells me is “assassin,” and Brent Weeks definitely wrote the book. It is far too concerned with selling the author and not the book itself. A bit of the setting is conveyed (the Japanese influences in the armor and sword must be intentional), but the character is too generically “assassin” to say much about the character. All the other features I can see, from the weird smoke elements to the swirling design near the bottom, say nothing more than “fantastic” in the most annoying way too.

A discovery of witches by Deborah Harkness

Somehow it manages to basically tell you nothing about the story that the title doesn’t already cover. There are some subtle hints of occultism in the embossed or recessed cross and the font, but otherwise… It’s just minimalist, I guess?

Eye of the world by Robert Jordan

This coverage does the bare minimum possible and relies entirely on the notoriety of the series. “It’s fantasy and there’s that symbol” is pretty much all it says, which is odd considering the amount of effort that has gone into other minimalist versions of cult classics. fantasy (like Lord of the Rings, or even Outlander, for example).

First brand by Andy Clark

Considering how well the art is drawn, absolutely nothing is happening. This is a prime example of the “people on the blanket in a generic pose, with nothing around them” blankets that have become commonplace. The characters are about to fight but there is no tension at all. The setting is a generic jungle, with nothing to set the tone for the story, and you can’t see what they’re about to fight or why they suddenly turned in that location. It is devoid of absolutely nothing exciting.

Shadow and bone by Leigh Bardugo

It’s pretty, while conveying absolutely nothing. I know why the stag is relevant, but as a cover that is supposed to sell the story in the blurb, there’s nothing to attract a new reader. Are those scales or bulbs around? Is the marbling representative of magic or simply a stylistic choice? Why is the deer head the most static thing there is?

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