Charles Vess' cover for The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

So, this is amazing. I was first introduced to Charles Vess through his collaboration with Neil Gaiman on Stardust, wherein I fell immediately in love with his art. I’ve previously shown off some of this Wheel of Time sketches, but I wasn’t aware that the full-colour cover for The Eye of the World: From the Two Rivers was ever revealed. So pretty. Vess’s renditions of Rand, Perrin, Mat, and Elayne(? or a red-haired Egwene?) are as whimsical and full of character as I’ve come to expect from him. How have I not seen these before?

UPDATE: So, a little clarification. Vess finished (or nearly finished) the project, the cover and ten interior illustrations, but the plug was pulled near the end because Harriet McDougal Rigney, Jordan’s wife and head-honcho of all things Wheel of Time, felt that the style didn’t suit the series. I wonder what she thought of Todd Hamilton’s artwork that appeared in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time? Very disappointing.

And here’s the hi-res art without the cover elements (click for bigger):

Charles Vess' rarely seen cover for The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

And, yeah, this isn’t really the cover for The Eye of the World, but rather the first half of the novel, split in two for a younger audience (and, in recent years, so that Tor can introduce readers for cheap/free without having to discount the entire first volume), but damn if “Charles Vess’ rarely seen cover for The Eye of the World: From the Two Rivers by Robert Jordan” isn’t a damn long title for a blog post.

  • Paul May 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Meh, I don’t care for it at all. It’s way too cartoonish. I understand it was meant for kids, but in reading these books the plot is way too complicated for kids to understand.

  • Aidan Moher May 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Are you familiar with Vess’ other art?

    Also, I think you’re selling kids short to suggest that The Eye of the World is too complicated for them. I was reading and enjoying Michael Crichton and other adult fiction when I was 10.

  • [email protected] May 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    This cover and 10 b/w interior illustrations were finished and ready to go before Tor pulled the plug on the project. And Michael Kaluta had done the same for the second half.

  • Aidan Moher May 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Well, now I’m just depressed. Thanks for the clarification, Charles.

  • Malcolm R. Campbell May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    My goodness, it’s hard to understand why anyone would give up such a wonder as this and go with a cover that looks like it belong on the front of a research paper.


  • Kendall May 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    What a shame; I love Vess’s work and this is splendid. I’m curious how the interior illos and Kaluta’s stuff looked. Sigh. I’m no fan of the series, so I wouldn’t have bought it, I admit . . . but this? This would’ve tempted me something fierce.

  • Adam Whitehead May 3, 2012 at 6:30 am

    The Hamilton situation was rather different. In that case, he was working on a few black-and-white illustrations for the world book and rather late in the day had his contract amended to provide many more pictures than agreed in full-colour. He was rushed to hell and back to meet the deadline. In that case, Tor seem to have been the ones at fault. I don’t think anyone, let alone Hamilton, Harriet and RJ themselves, were happy with the results.

  • [email protected] May 3, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Weird e-conversation. I feel like I’ve been dropped into the middle of something that I don’t have a clue as to what is going on. Which I don’t. Who or what is the ‘Hamilton situation’ and what illustrated edition of the books was he/her working on?

  • Aidan Moher May 3, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Charles — The ‘Hamilton Situation’ refers to the artwork in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, a companion book that was released years ago. You can see some of the art here:

    Nothing to do with these eBook editions.

  • Josiah May 3, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I read the eye of the world starting when i was about twelve. I understood it just fine.