Mark Charan Newton, author of Nights of Villjamur (REVIEW), has revealed the title, synopsis and cover art for the second volume in his Legend of the Red Sun sequence.

City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton

Viliren: a city of sin that is being torn apart from the inside. Its underworld is violent and surreal. Hybrid creatures shamble through shadows and there is a trade in bizarre goods. The city’s inquisition is rife with corruption. Barely human gangs fight turf wars and interfere in political upheavals. The most influential of the gang leaders, Malum, has nefarious networks spreading to the city’s rulers, and as his personal life falls down around him, he begins to embrace the darkness within.

Amidst all this, Commander Brynd Adaol, commander of the Night Guard, must plan the defence of Viliren. A race that has broken through from some other realm and already slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the Empire’s people. As the enemy gather on the next island, Brynd must muster the populace – including the gangs. Importing soldiers and displacing civilians, this is a colossal military operation, and the stress begins to take its toll.

After a Night Guard soldier is reported missing, it is discovered that many citizens have also been vanishing from the streets of Viliren. They’re not fleeing the city, they’re not hiding from the terrors in the north – they’re being murdered. A serial killer of the most horrific kind is on the loose, taking hundreds of people from their own homes. A killer that cannot possibly be human.

It is whispered that the city of Viliren is about to fall – but how can anyone save a city that is already a ruin?

Alright, let’s get the good out of the way. The book sounds awesome. Nights of Villjamur was great (if uneven) and City of Ruin promises to further build on what Newton’s created. I’m bloody excited to get my hands on it, needless to say.

Then… there’s the cover. More specifically there’s the foxy anime lad, ripped from some obscure Japanese manga (complete with silver hair, natch) that ‘graces’ the cover. Now, Newton’s a friend of mine so I’ve had a bit of an inside track on City of Ruin, including a mention a little while ago that City of Ruin would be eschewing the style set by Nights of Villjamur (moody, dark city-scape) by including a character.

What hurts most is that (and I would bet a bucketload of whatever strange currency they use in Newton’s home country) that the artwork of the city exists without the character super-imposed on top of it. Had Tor UK had a bit of courage (as they did with the first volume) and not fallen back on the standard character-based cover, we could have ended up with another cover that would have stood nicely beside Nights of Villjamur. Instead, we have a cover that utterly fails to capture the rich, eerie tone of Newton’s world.


  • James September 8, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I agree with you, Aidan. The character insertion does a lot to ruin what could have been a good cover. Can’t say I am a fan of the huge author’s credit either.

  • PeterWilliam September 8, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Seriously, it looks like a graphic novel, or perhaps manga as you said earlier. Does this make Mark otaku?

  • Janet Ursel September 8, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    OK, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who did a double-take at seeing the manga element. I’ve got a small file of book covers that have impressed me (just in case I am ever in the envious position of being asked what I would like for my own covers). Mark’s first cover is in it. This one won’t be.

  • Mark September 8, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Aidan – I’ll accept cheque or paypal for this! That character was slap bang on the front from the off. :)

    Firstly though, what needs to be clear is that publishing is a business. Publishers need to make money. In the UK fantasy market, aside from throwing huge amounts of advertising money and co-op promotion, you need a character on the front in order to sell books. It’s almost pretty much *that* simple when you speak to the senior book-buyers, and if you ignore that then you’re probably not going to have much of a career. The paperback will (should) be getting a revamp too for its release (since it’s the big push), and yup, we’re going to have some fella on there too.

    Put simply, I have expensive tastes and I need a character on the front to help fund such a lavish lifestyle.

    I didn’t see it as manga at first (the character is an albino after all), but I actually like that. Blending elements of comic-style really doesn’t put me off. It’s interesting, and unique for a novel. As for the author’s credit being so large – hey, I’m not complaining, but even though this isn’t final, the job of this is to guide booksellers around my name – and not file me under “C” but “N”. Little details make a difference.

  • […] fellow that they hope potential readers will project on themselves. White certainly better than the cover for Newton’s upcoming novel, City of Ruin, this new cover is missing all of the Hardcover’s atmosphere that perfectly […]

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