A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, art by Michael Whelan

It’s a little underwhelming for a Whelan cover, and, frankly, wouldn’t stand out from the crowd if not for being a Wheel of Time novel, but it’s still one of the better covers in the series. I also hold Whelan to the highest standards in the industry, so it’s not unreasonable to expect his style to be somewhat constrained trying to work inside the rules established by the previous thirteen volumes of The Wheel of Time. Compared to the art for the rest of the series, it stands out not only for its quality, but for the stylistic differences. It will never look quite right sitting against the Sweet covers, regardless of how much I love Whelan as an artist. For reference, you can see the mockup that I created using the original Darrel K. Sweet artwork. The full artwork is gorgeous:

Michael Whelan's cover art for <em>A Memory of Light</em> by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I’ve never been terribly happy with the depiction of Rand in a lot of artwork, and especially the official artwork that has appeared over the years. My favourite has always been Seamas Gallagher’s portrait, but this one is also near the top. I like how Rand looks like an adult, grim and capable, grown from the boy he was at the start of the series. In particular, I like that they’ve included Rand’s iconic red jacket and Callandor looks great. It’s also interesting to note that this art features only two of the women, where the Darrel K. Sweet featured Aviendha, Min and Elayne.

What do you think?

Discussion
  • Topher Black May 3, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I like it, but then I’ve never seen a Whelan cover I didn’t like. The Vess cover you posted earlier was freaking fantastic though!

  • Adam May 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Underwhelming. I’m a huge Michael Whelan fan – he has done some of the finest fantasy art of the last thirty years – but this looks fairly pat. You can certainly tell that he’s making an attempt to make this cover work with the style and substance of the Sweet covers.

  • Scott May 3, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Love it. A nice homage to Sweet’s art for the series, and yet totally Whelan style which wouldn’t look odd next to the Farseer series covers he did.

    Oh, and he made Callandor look GREAT!

    And I assume that’s Moiraine and Min on the back cover?

  • Nobody May 3, 2012 at 6:56 am

    It’s probably Moiraine and Nynaeve, since we know that he already asked Nynaeve to be in his circle. Nynaeve doesn’t actually wear yellow, but they appear to be trying to clue us in with Ajah colors. The Tor article says that it’s two Aes Sedai who have been with him since the beginning, and the only other option is Egwene. But Nynaeve’s braid was burned off in TOM, in case you forgot. That explains the length of the hair, if not the color.

  • Aidan Moher May 3, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Those two were my first thoughts, also, Nobody.

  • Aerik May 3, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Positives:

    Whoa. Rand is, like, proportional and stuff. Let’s compare. *pulls up Gathering Storm cover* …Aw, jeez. I feel mean. There’s not even really a contest.

    Negatives:

    Still, I have no idea who those women on the back cover are, so that makes it consistent with the rest of the series!

    …No, seriously, who are they? No red hair, so it’s not Elayne or Aviendha… According to the Wheel of Time covers, women all look identical, and you can only tell them apart by their hair styles.

    Also, this is not the first time Whelan has done man-poses in cave mouths. Google “Dragon Prince cover”.

    Overall:

    No, seriously, that cover is awesome. It looks like a real book. Callandor looks amazing, and his coat fits the style of the series perfectly. It’s little bit sad that we can’t see his dragon-hands from here, but I’m really glad that Whelan didn’t twist him into a torturous pose to get them in view.

    Can we please, please have Michael Whelan do new covers for the whole series? He could just paint a different character for each cover, and it would be fantastic.

  • neth May 3, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Well, it’s good for a WOT cover. A bit underwhelming for a Whelan cover, but not too much.

    As for the women – definately Nynaeve, and most likely Moiraine with her (based on the Tor comments). That’s no surprise, since this is confrontation with Callandor which requires two other women channelers to work properly. Min doesn’t channel and Elayne will be busy with babies. Aviendha wouldn’t leave Elayne. And rand has always seemed to have the most trust for Nynaeve and Moiraine.

  • Nobody May 3, 2012 at 8:01 am

    It will be nice to chunk a few debates out of the window. There are a couple of details that aren’t precisely canon, but I think that most of the prominent details were probably scripted. Now people will at least stop arguing about who the third person in the circle will be. Some might insist it’s Egwene, and a few might even go for Elayne, but there won’t be any real debate on it now.

  • Paige Vest May 3, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I immediately thought the blue-cloaked woman in the background must be Moiraine but hadn’t considered Nynaeve for the other, due to the hair… but seeing the other comments, I agree that it’s most likely, Ny.

    Also, I’ve made a couple of comments elsewhere about the people being properly proportioned so it’s nice to see someone else mention this as well, Aerik.

  • Shane May 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    It IS a bit underwhelming for a Whelan cover, but it is absolutely fantastic for a WoT cover. I think that’s the issue here. We KNOW Whelan is capable of better, but I feel like he may have been a little restricted in trying to keep at least somewhat recognizable as a WoT book. I just…I’m sorry, I’ve just always hated the WoT artwork. To me it just always screamed ‘low-budget publisher’.

  • Derryth McLochlainn September 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    The two women in the back are Moiraine and Nynaeve without a doubt. Moiraine is wearing the same outfit and earrings on the e-book cover for Fires of Heaven. and if you look closely you can see the ki’sain on Nynaeve’s forehead.

  • [...] years ago, only popping out here and there to provide art at special times (like the release of A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, replacing the late Darrell K. Sweet). It nice to see Whelan return to the world of Pern. You can [...]

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