Cover art for The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

When Angry Robot Books announced that they had acquired Kameron Hurley’s The Worldbreaker Saga, the first epic fantasy from the author of God’s War, I knew readers were in for a treat. Hurley’s series, beginning with The Mirror Empire, is one of my most anticipated novels of 2014, and Angry Robot Books is known for their fun and progressive approach to cover art. It’s a match made in heaven, right?

Hurley describes the three volume epic fantasy as “Game of Thrones meets Fringe,” and promises that it’s the most intricate and complex book she’s ever written.

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. At the heart of this war lie the pacifistic Dhai people, once enslaved by the Saiduan and now courted by their former masters to provide aid against the encroaching enemy.

Stretching from desolate tundra to steamy, semi-tropical climes seething with sentient plant life, this is an epic tale of blood mages and mercenaries, emperors and priestly assassins who must unite to save a world on the brink of collapse. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler struggles to unite a country fractured by civil war; a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family to save his skin; and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayals, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, only one world will rise – and many will perish.

The cover features artwork by Richard Anderson, whose arresting and unique art has been featured on some of the most memorable fantasy and science fiction covers of the past few years, including Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades, and Peter Watts’ Echopraxia.

I caught up with Hurley to chat about the beautiful cover, and some clues about what fans can expect when the novel releases later this summer.

The Mirror Empire by Kameron HurleyThe Mirror Empire by Kameron HurleyThe Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
Kameron Hurley
This cover is quite a departure from the Bel Dame Apocrypha. What does it say about The Mirror Empire?
It’s certainly more a departure from the U.S. covers than the UK covers, though I see what you’re getting at. It’s apt, though, because The Mirror Empire is a huge departure from my previous books – still subversive and a little dark, sure – but far more solidly over in the epic fantasy category, with huge stakes, blood mages, genocide, flesh-eating plants, and… unexpected social dynamics. What I really dug about this cover was that it very clearly conveys exactly what the book is – a shadowy epic fantasy with world-shattering stakes.
Richard Anderson delivered wonderful artwork for The Mirror Empire. What makes him such good fit for the book?
Richard Anderson has a powerful and unique way of representing light and motion. I love his style for this series in particular because it’s not realistic so much as… nightmarish? It’s a bit like viewing the world from a dirty or deeply aged mirror; a half-remembered dream. His use of color here is also striking. Writing a book where giant rifts open between worlds, I worried that the cover art would deliver a World of Warcraft-style portal. But Richard’s vision here – of a literal vertical wound between the worlds – was extraordinary. And thematically spot on.
What do you hope readers will think when they see the cover in bookstores? (Besides “I want to buy this book!”)
Buy a box of books? Seriously, though, the goal of a great cover is to connect the right audience to the right book. I hope this one says, “Holy shit we’re in for an epic ride.”
Any final thoughts?
Just thanks, as ever, to the Angry Robot Team, in particular Marc Gascoigne and of course Richard Anderson. This was the least fraught cover development process I’ve ever been through (and this is number six!). Every email Marc sent I was just like, “Yes, that’s perfect. Carry on.” It was a huge relief to know I was working with folks who totally understood the book and how it should be positioned. That’s rarer than it should be in this industry, and super refreshing.

Cover art for The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Preorder The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley: Book/eBook

When I reached out to ask him about his work on The Mirror Empire, Anderson was quick to point out how much he enjoyed working the cover. “Working on the cover art for The Mirror Empire was a great experience,” he said. “Working with Angry Robot for the first time, I was really impressed with the amount of reference and research done, which really helps to inspire me, and really helped to capture the idea of what what Kameron Hurley would enjoy.”

“I love to work a little abstract at first and clear things up in the process, which I believe gives the viewer some space and guidance for there own imagination to play,” he finished.

2014 is proving to be an enormous year for Hurley. In addition to The Mirror Empire, Hurley is also nominated for two Hugo Awards: “Best Fan Writer” and “Best Related Work”, for her essay, “We Have Always Fought”. God’s War was a runner-up for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for “Best Novel”.

The Mirror Empire is set for release on August 26th, 2014, and is available for preorder.

  • Paul Weimer May 12, 2014 at 2:01 am

    I love the details on this cover. The blurred abstract feel of those details is distinct and different. It does look of a piece like the cover Anderson did for Brian Staveley

  • Tom Lloyd May 12, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Nice, will be keeping an eye out for that one!

  • Mieneke May 12, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Stunning! I really love the bold red detail. It makes the cover jump out at you.

  • Kevin B. May 12, 2014 at 5:15 am

    That’s a great cover. I love the smudgy style and the red portal is a real attention grabber.

  • […] Get more thoughts from me about the process, and some quotes from the amazing cover artist, Richard Anderson, over at A Dribble of Ink. […]

  • Miriam May 12, 2014 at 6:11 am

    She’s been really lucky with her cover art! This one is stunning too…

  • Dave Thompson May 12, 2014 at 6:35 am

    That’s an incredible cover. And AGoT meets Fringe? Yes, please.

  • Rob B May 12, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Stunning cover, can’t wait to read this one and get the physical book. Funny, that bleeding edge in the center made me think of a knife or sword cutting a bloody opening as much as a rift.

  • Hanna W. May 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    When I first saw this I actually thought of the cover art on Brian Staveley’s books, so I’m not surprised that its by the same artist. But I seriously cannot get enough of book covers like this, I love the art. :)

  • Mulluane May 17, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Another great addition to my TBR pile! And a new (to me) artist to watch.

  • […] Cover: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, posted by A Dribble of Ink […]

  • Cover Art for The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan September 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    […] certainly got a winner. Right? In all seriousness, Richard Anderson knocks one out of the park again, delivering a cover that’s not only hit-you-over-the-head ballsy, but a beautiful cover in […]

  • Cover Art – The Mirror Empire | QUICK COVERS September 25, 2014 at 8:41 am

    […] The scale, composition and subdued palette sliced with red all call out “I’m epic, I’m massive, thinks happen !” And it’s different than so many other books on the store shelf. The sword-ish red slice splits the image appropriately as the book is about two worlds at war. The figures represent their separate factions of warriors and underdogs well. For a discussion with the writer about the artwork jump through HERE […]