Posts Categorized: Art

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Oh, I get it. It’s like a snowflake, and also a sword. I can’t imagine that would be a very efficient or easy-to-wield weapon. Perhaps an accident on the training yard leads to the king losing his other half? In any case, the cover’s fine (non-offensive, if bland) and fits the mould for YA fantasy, though holds nothing on Abercrombie’s previous covers (the dude’s damned with comparisons to The First Law‘s covers for the rest of his career, they were so good.)

io9‘s Charlie Jane Anders calls Half a King “a classic ‘coming of age’ story about Yarvi, the youngest son of a warrior king.” Fans of Abercrombie should feel familiar with the concept, and io9′s full description sounds like it is sure to please. “Because Yarvi is born with one disabled hand,” Anders explains. “He’s regarded as ‘half a man,’ and he can’t ever live up to his father’s expectations of what a real man ought to be. He’s expected to go into the ministry instead of becoming a soldier or an heir to the throne — but after his father and brother are killed, he’s thrust onto the throne (the Black Chair) where he has to find a way to rule. But of course his journey doesn’t turn out to be that easy.”

Along with the cover and synopsis, Abercrombie released the first chapter of Half a King. An excerpt of the full excerpt:

There was a harsh gale blowing on the night Yarvi learned he was a king. Or half a king, at least.

A seeking wind, the Gettlanders called it, for it found out every chink and keyhole, moaning Mother Sea’s dead chill into every dwelling, no matter how high the fires were banked or how close the folk were huddled.

It tore at the shutters in the narrow windows of Mother Gundring’s chambers and rattled even the iron-bound door in its frame. It taunted the flames in the firepit and they spat and crackled in their anger, casting clawing shadows from the dried herbs hanging, throwing flickering light upon the root that Mother Gundring held up in her knobbled fingers.

‘And this?’

It looked like nothing so much as a clod of dirt, but Yarvi had learned better. ‘Black-tongue root.’

‘And why might a minister reach for it, my prince?’

‘A minister hopes they won’t have to. Boiled in water it can’t be seen or tasted, but is a most deadly poison.’

Mother Gundring tossed the root aside. ‘Ministers must sometimes reach for dark things.’

I can just picture mothers and fathers reading this to their children as they lay curled within the warm cocoon of their blankets and jammies, Abercrombian nightmares biding their time until the light is flicked off.

Good stuff.

Rising from the Sea of Smoke by Julie DillonRising from the Sea of Smoke by Julie DillonRising from the Sea of Smoke by Julie DillonRising from the Sea of Smoke by Julie Dillon

When Kate Elliott, author of The Spiritwalker Trilogy, approached me about the idea of debuting artwork from Julie Dillon, who’s just about the greatest thing going in fantasy and science fiction art at the moment, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. For all of genre’s current obsession on gritty-grimdark-[insert buzzword here], Dillon is a shining beacon of colour, imagination and diversity among the drab, grey-cloaked and tired masses.

Last week, I gave a sneak peek of the art on A Dribble of Ink’s new Tumblr page (check it out, yo.), and today I’m proud to debut “Rising from the Sea of Smoke,” artwork by Julie Dillon, inspired and commissioned by Kate Elliott. Read More »

Every once in a while, an artist nails the artwork from the book they are covering. Marc Simonetti does it on an alarmingly regular basis.

Marc Simonetti's Artwork for MistbornMarc Simonetti's Artwork for MistbornMarc Simonetti's Artwork for MistbornMarc Simonetti's Artwork for Mistborn

This artwork, created by Simonetti for the Brazilian edition of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, is gorgeous, and the most accurate to imagery that I had in my mind’s eye when reading Sanderson’s trilogy. That Mistcloak! Those Inquisitors! Kelsier’s grin!

Known among fantasy fans for his work on foreign-language versions of many of fantasy’s biggest series, like Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles or Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s about time that Simonetti makes the leap to working with some of the big North American and British publisher on the first run major fantasy releases from those authors. The guy’s good enough that his art should be on bookstore shelves everywhere.

Remember back in your younger days when the hours would fly by as you dug through your bin of LEGO, bounded only by the limits of your imagination? Grown now, Alice Finch and David Frank have taken that concept to another level with their enormous recreation of Rivendell, The Last Homely House west of the Mountains, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

LEGO RivendellLEGO RivendellLEGO RivendellLEGO Rivendell

“This, of course, isn’t Finch or Frank’s first LEGO project,” explains Stew Shearer of The Escapist. “Both, in the past, took part in a collaborative project based on Hobbiton, another Tolkien location. Finch has also done a recreation of Hogwarts Castle, while Frank has built several complex castles. The two chose to build Rivendell in part because they believed it to “the ultimate challenge.”

This imagining, which takes visual cues from Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, measures in at 10′ by 5′ and contains over 200,000 pieces of LEGO. Certainly puts my old childhood creations to shame. But, damnit, those had heart! This Rivendell just has… immense amounts of creative vision, talent and hardwork.

It’s no secret the Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most masterful and celebrated film makers of the past century. The Japanese writer/director’s studio, Studio Ghibli, author to contemporary classic like My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke, has helped introduce countless young (and old) people to the beautiful Japanese legends and myths that so frequently form the heart and soul of their movies. They also provide a nice counterpoint to the Hollywood-heavy Disney and Pixar films of today. But not all of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s films are focused on the retelling of Eastern stories. This recently revealed concept art shows what could have been if Studio Ghibli had moved ahead with production on an adaptation of the classic Swedish story of Pippi Longstocking.

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Funny enough, io9 reports, “Hayao Miyazaki and [fellow animator] Isao Takahata began preproduction on an adaptation of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking books, but in the end, were unable to secure Lindgren’s permission.” Looking at Miyazaki’s history as a film maker, it’s difficult to believe that Miyazaki would run into such road blocks, but it’s important to note that in ’71 he was still in the infancy of his career as a film maker, working at Toei Animation. Lucky for us, Miyazaki’s concept art for the film still exists.

By exploring themes of adventure, nurturing love, and family, Miyazaki’s films encourage children and adults alike to remember that there’s magic in the world if they just look for it. With her superhuman strength, adventurous and unconventional personality, it’s no surprise that the master filmmaker was drawn to Pippi Longstocking.