Spellwright by Blake Charlton (UK Edition)

Well, apparently Blake Charlton’s UK publisher reads my blog. I tore his UK cover apart when it was released a few weeks ago, and just today, a new cover for the novel was released. It’s an improvement, for sure, but still not a cover I could ever fall in love with. For one thing, the art intern is still dressed up in a cloak, and casting some sort of magical ball that never appears in Spellwright, but at least there’s some sort of direction behind the artwork. Having just finished Spellwright, my biggest frustration (besides the poor photo manipulation, typography and general mish-mashed feel) is that the cover just doesn’t represent the novel as accurately as the US cover. But, I guess that’s the difference between commissioning Todd Lockwood art and hiring your art intern as a model.

  • James December 11, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    So they took the original figure, increased the size, and pasted it over a similarly colored background so that everything is a muddled mess…

    I am having a hard time deciding which is worse. The former looked like a Tchaikovsky-reject, but… look, just throwing him in front of a castle is not going to change the fact that the cloaked guy looks silly. You can throw him in front of anything you like, a lavender penguin if you wish, but that is not going to make it look any better. I am no fan of the Lockwood art, but at least that is real art.

    I understand the cloaked figure is in these days, but really, there is there not a point when someone has to stop and say, “Hey, this photo of my cousin Johnny in a cloak just isn’t working out as well as we’d hoped, maybe we should try a different angle.” I mean, just because you have to have a cloaked figure doesn’t mean it has to be generic and terrible. Here’s an example. And if you want more, find the French art for Brent Weeks’ books. This is almost as bad as the self-published attempts I come across.

  • aidan December 11, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Bingo, James. Sprunk’s novel (and all the work Lou does at Pyr) is a perfect example of how you can follow market trends, and still created a cover that’s as much artwork as it is a marketing tool.

    I’ll disagree about this one being worse than the last one. I do think this is an improvement, if only because the blue/gray overtones work better for the novel.

  • James December 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Pyr is doing a fantastic job in terms of cover art, some of the best I’ve seen lately. Still, I find myself wishing that someone would take the cover art coming out of France as a good example of what works.

    I can’t decide if it is worse, but they are both terrible. I think the cloaked guy stands out in all the wrong ways, which is why I am having trouble calling it an improvement.

  • James (Speculative Horizons) December 12, 2009 at 12:18 am

    This is a minor improvement, but the scale is – to put it bluntly – fucked. The figure is too big, and doesn’t look like he’s actually standing on that ground at all. In fact, what the other James said pretty much sums up my own feelings.

  • Simon December 12, 2009 at 9:41 am

    James & Aidan..= 2 of the best known book critics alive………. SATIRE!

  • aidan December 12, 2009 at 10:31 am


    I can’t tell if you’re genuinely congratulating us… or trolling us.


  • Reuben December 15, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    You know what it is for me? I hate to be a malcontent, but I’ve finally figured out what I don’t like about these covers. It’s not the cloaks, or the colour or the scale, it’s the fact that the cover art is mostly made up of a photoshopped photograph. Covers like this just look kindof cheesy and cheap for lack of a nicer word.

    I understand that budgetary constraints might be the reason for this, but surely there are a couple starving art students out there who could pump out some pretty quality fantasy art for a reasonable price?

    You know even some runish script with magical swirlies coming out of it would look cooler than this guy. It would also be slightly more relevant to the story by the sound of it. Just a thought.

  • aidan December 15, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I agree 100%, Rueben. Good art should be the bottom line.

  • Arachn December 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Well, that’s a new one. There are covers I hate (series like The Wheel of Time, mainly, and A Song of Ice and Fire’s, though some may like the latter’s “minimalism”), but this… this is a new dimension altogether. I’m actually having a hard time believing this cover is… real. Wow. Just use the other version, people; I beg of you.