It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, a landmark epic fantasy trilogy published in the ’90s. So, when Hodder & Stoughton, one of my favourite SF/F imprints, announced they’d be publishing the series in the UK with brand new covers, I was appropriately excited. I’m usually a fan of Hodder & Stoughton’s covers, and Summers’ previous work for Hodder & Stoughton is stylish—particularly his cover for Lavie Tidhar’s A Man Lies Dreaming—but these are a big miss for me.

Even in a vacuum, where the series doesn’t already have some of the most iconic cover art, by one of the field’s legendary artists, these just aren’t right for the series. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn might have inspired George R.R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire, but they’re not edgy or dark. They’re bright, expansive, and full of colour—these covers do little to convey the tone and spirit of Williams’ classic tale.

That all said, I do think the cover for Stone of Farewell is the best of the bunch, and is nice in a gritty, punch-you-in-the-face kind of way. Reminds me a bit of Stina Leicht’s (very good) contemporary Irish fantasy, Of Blood and Honey.

What do you think?

  • Rob May 28, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Very much of a miss for me, too. 2-color covers for this iconic series is a great disservice and I doubt these covers will boost sales. Is that a spear-tip on the cover of The Dragonbone Chair?

  • Olaf Keith May 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Actually, I think these are quite good. And very bold and striking. MS&T is often misrepresented as a tolkien-clone fantasy of the early 80s, when it is in fact and very clever and subtle subversion of many tolkienian tropes. There are many, many dark and gritty passages in these books (Simon´s time on the wheel for example) and I think these covers emphasize a different facet of these books.

    But in fantasy a lot of people only want same, but different. What is the point in using the same cover art style that you used 25 years before? It is bold to go into a completely different direction with these.
    Also, keep in mind that for the time being these are ebook covers only:-)

  • neth May 28, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    wow, these are bad enough for me to actually come out of hiding and comment. I see what they are doing – dark, gritty, tones of Game of Thrones, these books are for grown ups, and such. But they really miss the mark on spirit of the books, even with the dark events that occur.

  • Bibliotropic May 29, 2015 at 2:58 am

    I like the stark contrast of the black-and-white, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve seen those exact covers on other books, so weirdly, it makes them blend in rather than stand out.

  • Jared May 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Eh, I’m probably biased, so take the grain of salt as you may. But I really like them, for the following reasons:

    – As Olaf noted, they’re eBook covers. They need to be clear and stark and have massive font and leap out in small spaces like Amazon.

    – For those of us that have been reading and loving this series for 20 years? They’re probably not for us. Just like the weird intentionally-dull ASOIAF rejacketing a year ago, I don’t think these are for existing readers.

    – That said, they do fit. For me at least: I think the series is grimmer than hell – an immense saga of PTSD, lies, darkness and near-apocalyptic destruction. So these work.

    – I know Whelan is a demigod (except for the occasional Sanderson glowing-poop cover), but the originals ain’t all that: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/memorysorrowthorn/images/b/bd/Michael_whelan_the_dragonbone_chair_front.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20110812172457

    So, whatever. And again, grain of salt. But they make sense (on multiple levels) and I like ’em.

    (Whelan’s back for the new book though, so I guess everyone wins.)

  • Waargh May 30, 2015 at 8:01 am

    The new covers are f*****g awful.

  • alGea June 8, 2015 at 9:10 am

    With a republishing of the original trilogy and the new book coming out maybe the original trilogy will finally get an audiobook! These covers suck BTW.