For the last few books I’ve done a little series of posts about how the cover art came together, for those interested in such things, so I though I might as well do something similar for Red Country. The concept was basically set with Best Served Cold and developed a little with the Heroes and they’ve gone down pretty darned well so there didn’t seem any particular point in radically altering the approach. Map and weapons, baby.
First step was for me to produce my own map. With the Heroes the shape of the battlefield was very much intrinsic to the whole plot, so I was working with quite an accurate map pretty much from the start, tweaking it as plot dictated. With Red Country I could afford to be a lot more vague initially, and it wasn’t until I was nearing the end of the first draft that I started firming it up, eventually producing upon my accustomed squarey paper this haunting masterpiece of art and design, fit to be hung alongside anything by Rembrandt, Bacon, or El Greco:
Time to send this off to map artist Dave Senior so he could convert it to a thing of artistic beauty. The Heroes was very focused in time and place, detailed, forensic almost, the ground all important – faux military history, in a sense, so the map needed to look detailed, professional and precise as well, with the positions of units added in for an extra veneer of military exactitude. This time around the story is taking place in an expanse of largely unmapped, scarcely settled wilderness so it made sense that the map be much rougher, less accurate-seeming, more woolly and suggestive without too much worry over blank spaces, a drawn on the back of a beermat by a fella with a big beard sense. The result:
Which was very much what we’d had in mind. Heh. Always a great moment when you see an artist apply their skills to your work, gives the whole project a greater air of reality somehow. Tickles me, to think that as a kid I’d draw me maps in front of Star Trek, and dream of them coming out looking like this, and they never quite would. But now… A few tweaks were necessary from an accuracy to the story standpoint, and the relative sparseness meant that we felt we had to do a bit more with the texture, dirt and spatter than we had previously, but once Dave had done some amendments and the wonderful Laura Brett had applied some texture we were left with this as our background. Note this is slightly squashed and cropped to fit the dimensions of the hardcover wraparound, and to better focus upon the band of land across the centre in which the story takes place…
Now for some weaponry…
31 comments so far
The Near Country is so near to the Far Country, but the Far Country is so far away from the Near. How do you do it, Joe?
Will we see Aulcus again? 🙂
It’s a gift.
Perhaps in your dreams…
[…] Abercrombie on the map: The Heroes was very focused in time and place, detailed, forensic almost, the ground all important – faux military history, in a sense, so the map needed to look detailed, professional and precise as well, with the positions of units added in for an extra veneer of military exactitude. This time around the story is taking place in an expanse of largely unmapped, scarcely settled wilderness so it made sense that the map be much rougher, less accurate-seeming, more woolly and suggestive without too much worry over blank spaces, a drawn on the back of a beermat by a fella with a big beard sense. […]
Brownwash, eh? How evocative. Shouldn’t there be a massive city along it somewhere?
Seems like it’s almost time for the pieces to come together into a crude world map, what do you say Joe? This is three books in a row now with a map, is your stance softening?
“So I guess you could say I’m in the anti-map camp, if we have camps. But the thing is, there’s a part of me that loves maps”, we got you in the map camp, right? Much better here. Your draft looks acceptable, for a writer. As always, thanks for sharing 😉
Er, who’s Aulcus?
Very interesting seeing these various maps. I’m also pretty glad to see the Old Empire on there, and hopefully there’ll be references to it in the book too.
It would be cool to see the map done as colored end papers in the HC.
Joe: I take that as a no, haha.
Thaddeus, Aulcus is the city where Glustrod released the Seed. It’s on the bottomleft of the map.
This is a bit off topic but somewhat “map” related:
Are there any plans to make a war game or table top rpg based on your books?
Quick! We need a Travel Channel parody.
Samantha Brown goes on the famed Old Empire Ruin Porn tour with none other than notorious mercenary Nicomo Cosca and ends up being taken hostage or Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern eats preserved corpses alongside a pack of Shanka. “If it looks dead, eat it!”
Starikland! Awesome… Cant wait!
Still holding out for a massive Shanka invasion, maybe something involving Ishri, and so on. Massive opportunities with this one. Can’t wait to see what pops up.
The map looks darn fantastic Joe, is there any chance of a fold out parchment in the hardcover version?
Or perhaps a full digital version for computer. It would make a great desktop and help us begin to get our bearings of the new lands.
The map will be on the endpapers in the UK hardcover, as it was for the Heroes.
Man I love maps, and I love maps that are done well.
I wonder if they put the finished artwork in the oven at gas mark 4 to get that ye olde appearance?
And squarey paper, every budding dungeon masters best friend.
It does look ace.
[…] https://joeabercrombie.com//2012/07/25/red-country-artwork-map/ […]
Many have already said that, but… Damn, I freaking love it when you share all those writing- / publishing-related details with us! It makes your novels so much more special to me.
Why did Brainwash change to Brownwash?
Great! Just a few months wait left now!
I have a very minor concern though – the “near final” version of the cover that you posted some time ago has a few defects.
It looks as someone (the weapon or the font artist?) cut the initial map art in few pieces and then pasted them back togehter, but didn’t get them to match properly. It’s most notable at 3 spots:
1) left side between Hope and Ladra (at the knife hilt);
2) near the spine (the tip of that knife);
3) the right side (coin below the knife hilt.
Of course the cut/paste mismatch goes through the whole cover from top to bottom, but those are the most obvious places.
It may feel like nitpicking, but I really wish your gourgeous covers didn’t get maimed by such minor imperfections. I saw similar mismatches on The Heroes cover when you posted a preview for it, but I just assumed it would be fine when the dust jacket is folded. However, it is still pretty notable on the physical book.
Awesome map, Joe. It’s very reminiscent of the maps from Tolkein’s work and I mean that as the highest of praise.
Really looking forward to Red Country.
Looking forward to the book. Alas, I don’t have a creditcard, and I don’t live in the UK or US. Looks like I’m gonna have to wait untill it is actualy in the stores. No pre-ordering for me. Untill that day, I will cry myself to sleep.
Have you ever seen an old map that has been folded for a long time? They get fold lines in them that often wear the ink off, I think that is the look they are going for unless you were referring to something else.
I looked in all the mentioned spots and couldn’t find anything, so I assume that is what you are talking about.
No, it’s not the folding effect – it’s the cut & paste mismatch on the nearly final cover art.
Maybe I could upload an image. Here it is, with some arrows pointing the spots that are hurting the perfectionist in me. Click on it for a full-size version, where it’s more visible.
I’m still eargerly awaiting the book, anyways. 🙂
Very perceptive of you. But until the book’s typeset, and there’s therefore an accurate page count, you don’t know exactly how thick the spine will be and therefore don’t know exactly how wide the wraparound cover needs to be, so the designer leaves a bit of give on the width. I’m assured it’ll be sorted later.
You’ve probably answered this already…..will this be a stand alone book or another set? Sorry my memory aint what it used to be.
Curtis: This wil be the last Stand Alone, afterwards there will be trilogy.
@Joe & the Map
Awesome! I never realised that Starikland was next to the Old Empire. It just begs one question: If Starikland is on the opposite side of the Old empire and Aulcus as Culcis and
Darmium, why didn’t Bayaz&Co just sail to Starikland instead of cross all the way through the Old Empire?
Not very many authors can do what you do. You’re one of the best character development authors there has been in the last 100 years while writing a series. Your work has kept me entertained for weeks of my life.
You are close to Tolkien-esque depth; I feel like I could recognize your characters if I saw them on the street. You’re better than George Martin because you don’t ramble, you tell more in 500 pages than he does in 1200. I could compare and debate how you’re more accomplished at writing a story/novel than a vast majority of others, but it’s not worth my time typing -or your’s reading it- to do.
Thank you Mr. Abercrombie for putting ink to paper.
I’ve enjoyed it all from Logen’s camp in the north, to The Great Northern Library, Adua, Aulcus, The Old Empire, to Shabulyan and back. Not mention the ground covered in Served Cold and Heroes..
Red Country could have been a trilogy or series in itself. You covered the epic and equivalent travels of the First Law Trilogy in a third of the pages.
Thank you a thousand times over for doing what you do.
I would truly love to pick your brain, you’re a literary genius.
Side note: Get a movie made, if not for the money, but for the entertainment. Hugh Jackman as Logen, Sam Elliot as Threetrees, Jason Momoa as Shivers, maybe Shia LeBeouf as The Weakest.. last one was a joke, could work though.
Best of luck in all things Mr. Abercrombie, you’re one of the greats.