Night had come to the city of Skalandarharia, the sort of night with such a quality of black to it that it was as if black coal had been wrapped in blackest velvet, bathed in the purple-black ink of the demon squid Drindel and flung down a black well that descended toward the deepest, blackest crevasses of Drindelthengen, the netherworld ruled by Drindel, in which the sinful were punished, the black of which was so legendarily black that when the dreaded Drindelthengenflagen, the ravenous blind black badger trolls of Drindelthengen, would feast upon the uselessly dilated eyes of damned, the abandoned would cry out in joy as the Drindelthengenflagenmorden, the feared Black Spoons of the Drindelthengenflagen, pressed against their optic nerves, giving them one last sensation of light before the most absolute blackness fell upon them, made yet even blacker by the injury sustained from a falling lump of ink-bathed, velvet-wrapped coal.
I’ll be honest. As much as I’ve always enjoyed Scalzi’s Science Fiction novels, I have also yearned for the day when he’d finally make a leap into the more viable, much more enjoyable realm of Fantasy. Inspired by many of the most prominent self-published novels of the past several years, The Shadow War of the Night Dragon: Book One: The Dead City finally looks to be that leap towards respectability that Scalzi’s always needed.
As for the cover itself: at first I was worried that that the typography was a little over the top—I mean, it’s huge, lime green and longer than healthy, but the more I look at the cover, the more I think it just… works. It’s certainly something that would catch a readers eye at the bookstore, and that’s the true purpose of cover art. What I appreciate most, however, is that the artist, the lovely John Stanko, hasn’t gone out of his way to emulate/trace/photograph a bunch of J-Crew models, but, instead went down to his local pub, rounded up some of the fellows sitting long-faced over their beers and used them as inspiration. It gives the novel a more genuine feel and makes me believe they could take on that scary Dragon lurking in the shadows of the background.
If you’re as curious about The Shadow War of the Night Dragon: Book One: The Dead City as I am, Tor.com has an early excerpt out. Review copies are expected within the next week or so, so keep an eye out for an early review later this month! Now, to go brush up on my Cthulhu-language so I can pronounce some of those names…