Germany on FIRE…blade

September 12th, 2007

The German language edition of Before They are Hanged is available on – Feuerklingen (or Fireblade for the Engish-speakers amongst us). This is, of course, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Kriegsklingen (or Warblade to you and I).

You will note immediately that the German publisher, Heyne, have gone for a much more “straight ahead” fantasy approach with the covers. I actually really dig them of their type, though – lean, sharp, and graphic, and managing to remain quite classy. Plus they have my name in big letters, which never gets old. They’re actually massive books compared to the English language versions – at 800 pages a piece they have a Robert Jordan level of heftiness. Apparently you usually gain about a third in length with a translation from English, which gives them some problems when you have a book that’s already at a Robert Jordan level of heftiness, I imagine.

The slightly-abstract-titles-derived-from-quotes approach evidently doesn’t work for our cousins across the channel. The Spanish The Blade Itself has become La Voz de Las Espadas (The Voice of the Swords) and I believe the French publisher, J’ailu, are thinking of something similar for when they publish in February. The Germans have gone stripped-down and ready for battle with Kriegsklingen, Feuerklingen, and I don’t know what they’re planning to call Last Argument of Kings, but I bet it’s got Klingen on the end of it. Not enormously closely related to the content, but looking at titles and covers of current German fantasy series, there does seem to be a trend over there for these simple, punchy, repetitive series titles and these dark, graphicy covers. A linguistic thing? A cultural thing? Who knows, but one can only assume that the publishers know their own markets, and brand their products accordingly …

Posted in announcements, reviews by Joe Abercrombie on September 12th, 2007. Tags: ,

14 comments so far

  • J says:

    There is definitely a huge amount of these dark covers on the German market right now, either with a sword or an axe on the front, depending if it’s a story about human and elfes or orks and dwarfs. These boring exchangable covers go hand in hand with boring exchangable titles like “Die Orks” (The Orks), “Rückkehr der Orks” (Return of the Orks), “Die Zwerge” (The Dwarfs)…
    But honestly, covers used to be worse not so to long ago. Made by someone colorblind, I guess, like this one.

  • Bob Lock says:

    Perhaps they’re not as cool as your original covers (IMHO) as I quite like them and Last Argument Of Kings I think is the best (interesting to see how you got to final graphics). However the German covers do look good and I particularly like the font they’ve used and as you’ve said your name is featured much larger than the originals, I wonder if that is a yardstick of success, when your name takes up more of the cover than the title? 🙂


  • Homunculus says:

    I agree with the words from eleal. German fantasy covers aren’t very inventiv. I think its because the boring books eleal named are bought of many people. Sucessful things shouldn’t be changed… 🙁

  • Eleal,
    Aaaaargh! My eyes! My valuable eyes! It burns! It burns!

    Yeah, I’ve certainly come to love the UK covers, and I think they’ve got better and better. But the presentation has to fit the market, and I do like the German ones. There’s something magnificently unapologetic about them. “Yeah, this is a fantasy book,” they seem to be saying, “you got a problem with that?” Alas, with a name like Abercrombie, I think this is about as big as the lettering can get unless they make the books wider. Now there’s an idea…

    I guess a certain look tells readers – “this is your type of book. It’s just like that other one you liked.” And hopefully creates instant interest from the core readership you’re hoping to hit. It’s comfortable, it’s familiar, it’s … like that other one I liked. As you say, if it ain’t broken, why fix it?

  • Bob Lock says:

    Alas, with a name like Abercrombie, I think this is about as big as the lettering can get unless they make the books wider.

    Hmmm… or you could change it by deed poll to something shorter?

    Fitch has a nice ring to it…

    *wicked laugh*


  • M. says:

    Apparently you usually gain about a third in length with a translation from English, which gives them some problems when you have a book that’s already at a Robert Jordan level of heftiness, I imagine.

    Yes, it is. The publishers usually solve it by splitting the books in two (or even three parts with A Storm of Swords) and making readers pay two or three times the money for the book…

  • Whilst visiting the Torture Museum in Amsterdam (fun for all the family!) we saw a gigantic hacksaw used for sawing people in half starting with the, erm, pre-existing slot. We immediately christened the implement ‘Arseblade’.

    Hope to Christ the German translators haven’t visited that museum or their title for Last Argument of Kings could be interesting…


  • Beefeater says:

    Book 3 – Kampfklingen, Blitzklingen or Eisklingen?

    Answers on the back of a postcard…

    Superb covers for the English editions though.

  • Anonymous says:

    The Cover in Germany is so boring, as it’s from Heyne. And this publisher dominate the fantasy market right now. Heyne haven’t a good sense for good covers. 😉 Look at the cover for “Die Stadt der träumenden Bücher” (The city of dreaming books”…

  • Horst says:

    Hi, i´m from austria and i like your books very much.
    now i´m reading “kriegsklingen”.

    a word to the covers: i don´t like the most german(austrian) covers. i think the covers from english or american books are much better.
    a time ago i “only” bought a book because of it´s cover (roger zelazny´s “Amber”).


    P.S.: Sorry of this bad english 🙂

  • J says:

    Hi Joe,

    I just discovered that you’re a victim of cover sharing.

    Please check the cover of American romance author Kelley Armstrong for her book ‘Haunted’. There is a remarkable similarity to ‘Kriegsklingen’, apart from the name obviously. 😉


  • Hessi says:

    Well, its interesting to see your books didn t suffer from german book splitting (or how a publisher can milk his customers twice for one book). I d really be interested if the authors that are always splitted (Weber, Martin, etc.) also recieve royalities for both halfs or only the first half of it.
    Anyway, many german SF+Fantasy readers are very very unhappy (to put it mildly) about our publishers, so more and more people just buy the english editions. As for the german covers, i have seen better, but also a lot worse, but the english ones are far better.

  • Johnny Flash says:

    Today, I finally bought my German copy of "The Last Argument of Kings"… and the prize for astonishing uncreativity (pardon this neologism) goes to Heyne Verlag!

    The book is plainly entitled "Königsklingen", which means – some might have guessed already – "Kings' Blades". I wonder if they've got some geek to create some sort of random-title-generator for all Joe-Abercrombie-books or if they come with these titles all by themselves.

    FYI: "Best served cold", though having nothing to do with the actual trilogy, is named "Racheklingen" (Vengeanceblade). Something is really wrong with these people…

  • Jonnze says:

    I’ve read all of the Blades novels within the past two years and I love them so much that they became my absolute favourite fantasy sagas by far.
    I’m almost through your latest entry in the Age of Madness trilogy and I can already see myself desperately looking for a substitute after I hit the final page. It’s amazing. And you get these trilogies out at an unbelievable rate.
    I already hope and hunger for more.

    For the german titles of your books and the cover art of german fantasy releases in general….well, I can’t speak for other german readers or say if Heyne knows the market but in my opinion they are abysmally generic and confusing. Especially since I like the original titles so much. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people.

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