From the Orbit Books Blog:

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles – until they are hired to steal a famed sword from the palace of the king and find themselves caught up in a conspiracy to overthrow the empire. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out, to get involved in the plots of the nobles and save the kingdom from itself.

Can one thief and his master swordsman of a friend keep their heads above water long enough to survive? Much less solve the mystery that threatens to topple the crown itself?

…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

In one of the most charming success stories of recent years, Michael J. Sullivan‘s The Riyria Revelations (a previously self-published Fantasy series), was picked up for publication by Orbit Books. One of the more striking aspects of the self-published series (and something that set it head-and-shoulders over many of its compatriots) was its cover art, also designed by Sullivan.

I’m happy to see, then, that Orbit’s done justice to the series with the covers for the three-volume omnibus edition of the series. Sure, I don’t love the hooded-figures (natch), but it’s not surprising to see them gracing the cover. As Lauren Panepinto points out:

Besides, am I supposed to say no cloaks when they actually wear cloaks in the books? Tell the author to stop writing in cloaks then…he’s a thief after all, it’s kind of mandatory!

And, well… she has a good point! Other than the cloaked-cliches, I’m really digging the covers. Larry Rostant‘s art is gorgeous and I love the continuity and colours of the text area. It reminds of the covers for Greg Keyes The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, but executed much more efficiently. Really sharp, all around. Can’t wait to get my hands on these!

  • Yano June 1, 2011 at 1:09 am

    i just dont understand why anyone would want real life “actors” on their covers. i’d prefer a cheap drawing to any such photos.

  • Scott June 1, 2011 at 4:34 am

    I’m a humungous fan of the series and I’ve read all of them but the 6th…and I have all 5 of the indie pubbed ones…but I’ll still be rebuying these as I LOVE this art too!

  • Shaun Duke June 1, 2011 at 5:42 am

    I’m with Yano on this. I wouldn’t touch these books if I saw them in a bookstore — not even to read the back cover. Absolutely hideous. The previous covers were far more appealing…

  • Ryan June 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I agree with Yano, not a fan of the actors on the cover either. Sullivan’s original covers were some of the best in the genre, and now they have these that are totally generic.

  • Andrea K Host June 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I’m not a fan of photographic covers, but these are reasonably well done. The original covers were much better, though.

  • Sarah June 5, 2011 at 4:22 am

    The mans arm on the first book reaching across for the sword is like a comedy arm .is it sprouting from his chest or is there a baby under his cloak that helps out now and again with the sword fighting. What a borning set of covers.Sort of covers you would find on a Mills and Boons cover.Terrible photoshop use here.just stick on a few photos of tv characters and get an artist that has no idea about anatomy or basics of and “WALLAA”this is what you get. shame on these publishers for this direction.I see better work on Deviant art than this rubbish.

  • Robin Sullivan June 8, 2011 at 4:20 am

    @Yano – most authors (including Michael) do not get any say over cover design. So, please keep in mind that covers (except those created by the author – as Michael’s previous ones were) should not be attributed to “his wants”. He has mentoned on several occassions that he prefers not to have characters depicted as he would prefer each reader to invent their own imagery. In general, I think Orbit’s covers are some of the best in the business and they felt that from a marketing perspective this is the right approach as is their perogative. One of the trade offs from moving to a large press is relinquishing control of such matters. I think the covers are professionally produced and consistent with trends in the genre.

  • Sarah June 18, 2011 at 3:49 am

    @Robin .Its not the point of not wanting figures on covers its a point of them being done in this case very badly.I could name you countless covers that have good figure art on them Painted or digital.Just some publishers dont know the right artist to choose.Its lazy publishing and keep it for the romantic covers dont blight fantasy or scifi covers with this half arsed work.If this is Orbits idea of marketting then they need different marketting strategy.