“The blood-song rose with an unexpected tune, a warm hum mingling recognition with an impression of safety. He had a sense it was welcoming him home.”
Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, called Darkblade, called Hope Killer. The greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision of a Greater Unified Realm drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, he comes home, determined to kill no more. Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s grateful heir, he can perhaps find peace in a colder, more remote land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm.
But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life. Many died in King Janus’s wars, but many survived, and Vaelin is a target, not just for those seeking revenge but for those who know what he can do. The Faith has been sundered, and many have no doubt who their leader should be. The new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance in times of trouble, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something that commands mighty forces, and Vaelin will find to his great regret that when faced with annihilation, even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword.
Like the Terry Brooks cover revealed yesterday, I quite like the stylistic choice to use a rough, textured illustration reminiscent of more traditional hand-painted fantasy covers, like Darrell K. Sweet’s work in the ’80s (which was, despite modern opinion of his work, pretty darn cool.) Above that, it’s gritty (sigh) and in your face without falling entirely victim to the tired formula of hooded-man-looks-cool that I like to complain so loudly about.
Perhaps the most interest part of the cover, however, is the little blurb above the name: ‘Never Before Published’. You’ve all seen this blurb before, on the cover of romance novels in the grocery store, or old pulp SF from the ’60s, but it’s died off in recent years. This reemergence on Ryan’s cover is interesting given the background of the series (the first volume, Blood Song, found incredible success when it was first self-published by Ryan), and the impact that self-publishing is having on the industry. (Despite what I might try to convince you of in most of my art posts) cover art is a marketing tool designed to attract casual buyers at the bookstore. This indication that those readers would be aware of Ryan’s past success and anticipate that the sequel to his first book might have been previously released as a self-published novel, is interesting and, I think, a sign of the times to come.