A new little thingy I’m going to do here, to hopefully have a bit more content on this blog, is do a “Top Five” of some sort every Tuesday. I probably won’t do something quite so cliché as “Top Five Fantasy Series EVAR!~!!1!,” but I will probably get pretty close to that stereotype – after all, if I was really creative, I would be a published author, not a blogger who talks about authors. 🙂

This week, we’re going to look at the Top Five Fantasy Book Covers. It should be obvious that this is simply an opinion (though certainly, a correct opinion), and I will be going only on books that I have actually seen in person and read (I’m not going to go scouring the intrawebz for all the fantasy art ever, that’s ridiculous. I’m just going to look at my bookshelf). I’m basing these rankings on an arbitrary standard of artistic quality, the degree in which the artist captures the characters/scenes from the books, and what kinds of emotions the art evokes in me. That should probably be good enough for now. Here we go.

#5 – Fitzpatrick’s War

Cover Art to "Fitzpatrick's War"

Okay, so this first one doesn’t technically constitute as fantasy, but it’s close enough in my opinion. I went into a local used books store about two years ago, and while just browsing around the fantasy section, came across this book. I had no idea what it was about, and did not even bother reading the description. I just loved the cover so much that I stuck it in my basket, and thirty minutes later, it was with me on my way home. Though the book actually takes place on earth in the future, the cover makes me think of a nation going to war in a time when magic was the only energy available to power up airships. Tom Kidd, the artist (also sometimes known as gnemo, apparently), seems to really love drawing zeppelins and airships. Click below for a larger, ‘unbranded’ image of the art.

Cover Art for Fitzpatrick's War

#4 – The Thousand Orcs

Cover Art for The Thousand Orcs

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s one of those books with that guy in it. But seriously, that cover is pretty stout, and Todd Lockwood (the artist) is undeniably one of the finest fantasy artists in the world. He has painted, drawn, or whatever so many famous fantasy scenes, that whether you know it or not, you have seen his work. He is also one of the best at action scenes, and dark art – not dark in terms of color, but dark in terms of emotion. I really feel like Drizzt, in this picture, may be out of his league. But then again, that is because I have seen the entire picture, and not just the clipped up are you have viewed up above. Observe:

Cover for The Thousand Orcs

Just tell me it doesn’t look like our drow hero is about to have a very bad day.

#3 – A Game of Thrones

Cover Art of 'A Game of Thrones'

So yeah, my eyes honestly kind of glaze over when I think of GRRM’s infamous series. I know, I know, it’s teh awesomez, but I cannot help but feel that Martin is something like the ‘Stephen King of Fantasy,’ as in, he just throws in gratuitous sex and violence just for the shock value, and not because either actually add to the story in any way. However, that doesn’t mean that when this series first started, the cover art didn’t draw me in. For whatever reason, I am always really drawn to scenes of winter. I saw this book in a Waldenbooks at the mall where I used to work, and had to get it. Steve Youll, the artist, does a good job I feel of capturing the decades-long winterscape. Plus, there’s a bigass dire wolf in the full version.

Cover Art for 'A Game of Thrones'

#2 – Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

Cover Art for 'Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn'

So yeah, there was absolutely no way I could choose just one of these covers – each of these Michael Whelan covers are so beautiful, I have to put them up as a series. The Dragonbone Chair captures Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, and Qantaaa so perfectly, I have no doubt that Michael Whelan actually read the books. The cover for The Stone of Farewell so beautifully captures the Yasira, the butterfly pavillion in Jao e-Tinukai’i, as well as Simon’s growth, his torment, and his most important possessions, that I felt like I was standing right next to the boy. And the final cover, of Jiriki, Aditu, Simon, and Miriamele on top of Green Angel Tower is breathtaking – so much so, that I’m just going to post the full, unbranded cover art from Michael Whelan’s site for you to enjoy.

Cover Art for Unbranded Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

#1 – The Way of Kings

Cover Art for 'The Way of Kings'

Speaking of Michael Whelan… the dude just gets it right. I think Sanderson has done a great job starting his epic story, and I think Whelan has contributed significantly to the novel. The art shows a strange world, with strange weather, with a heroic warrior preparing battle. On Tor.com, Whelan breaks down his process for crafting this masterpiece, and I feel confident in saying that the man loves what he does. I won’t talk any more about it, once more, a link to the full picture in all its glory.

Cover art for unbranded 'The Way of Kings'

Looking over these, it seems to me to be pretty obvious that I like evocative pictures which seem very fantastical – I admit to not have a problem with Darrel Sweet’s Wheel of Time art, for instance, but at the same time, the art really does nothing for me. So tell me, what have I missed?

E.S.

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