The Emperor's New Covers 2

January 6th, 2010

Following on from the alternative UK mass-market cover for The Blade Itself which aroused some surprising ire and some even more surprising arousal in various comments sections, comes this one from artist Chris McGrath and Designer Laura Brett for Before They are Hanged:

Click on it to embiggen. CLICK ON IT. And in case anyone’s confused as to who that’s meant to be this time around, it’s Superior Glokta, in Dagoska, from the book, “Before They are Hanged”, by British fantasy author Joe Abercrombie. I like this one a LOT. Very atmospheric, dangerous, dark, intriguing, and sets the perfect atmosphere for those sections of the book.

But (judging from previous cover discussions), some of you may not like it as much as I do, so before anyone flings themselves from the roof of the newly completed Burj Dubai in protest screaming, “Glokta doesn’t look like that in my own mind you bastaaaaaaaaaaaards!” It is important to underline that the parchmenty, B-format (slightly larger) mass market paperbacks whose covers have won such consistent approval:

will continue to be printed and made available to a hungry British public. These new treatments are intended as alternatives, and have come about partly because some key bricks and mortar booksellers have come to us saying, “we’ve done well with these books but we think we could do even better if they looked like X” where X equals a perhaps more traditional fantasy look featuring a character. A look that may appeal to a slightly different market share, and may hence spread the love a little, and sell some books to folks who might have looked straight past the original covers.

But new cover looks can also stimulate some renewed interest and attention by themselves, and it also gives booksellers the opportunity to pick whichever look they’d like to stock, and so hopefully get the books stocked and shelved more widely. Many have already taken the opportunity to do so with the new The Blade Itself, and with any luck they will follow on with this one. A new Last Argument of Kings will follow in a month or so with Jezal on the cover, and judging by the preliminary sketch, it’s going to be pretty damn good as well…

You may now throw things at me, but be aware that I am fully prepared to blame my editor for this if things turn ugly.

Ah! I almost forgot. In other news, voting has begun on the longlist for this year’s David Gemmell Legend Award, which I was last year robbed of by Andrzej Sapkowski getting more votes than me. It’s a free public vote, so by all means drop by and, I don’t know, vote for Best Served Cold or something. Wouldn’t want to unduly influence you to vote for Best Served Cold. There are a lot of good books on the longlist, including Best Served Cold. Be nice to make the shortlist again, though it seems unlikely that anyone will be able to resist the march of the all-conquering Jordan/Sanderson alliance this year. Just to prove I’m not biased, you can also vote for either the UK Cover or US Cover of Best Served Cold for the new Ravenheart Award for cover art as well, should you desire…

Posted in artwork by Joe Abercrombie on January 6th, 2010.

4 comments so far

  • Ant says:

    This is good! It does look like Paul Bettany, and I can now happily picture Bettany playing Glotka as I read the books (now on the third).

    Before reading this thread, I'd pictured Glotka as much older than he is, more like an Egeus played by, say, um, Steptoe-era Wilfred Bramble.

    — Ant

  • Ashootingstar says:

    I had a sort of hope that Glokta was still somewhat handsome, so I like the cover. I have a hard time imagining him.

  • Xamir says:

    I know it’s an old post now, and no one will care what anyone else says… old news etc. etc.

    But I must admit, I like the look of the cover, however… HOWEVER…

    I pictured Hugh Lorie (House, Stuart Little’s Dad) as Glokta, with less teeth, less hair, more wrinkles…

    And if anyone’s interested… Leanardo DiCaprio would make a decent Jezal Dan Luthar, and finally, Jason Statham as Logen Ninefingers.

    Maybe I am cracked in the head…

  • I personally think the cover by Chris McGrath is absolutely awesome. Being in the business of digital painting myself, I am aware that everyone imagines things differently. That said, I must admit I don’t agree with Xamir’s ‘objections’ only because Glokta is in his early thirties so there is no reason for him to have wrinkles or less hair. The man has been horrible tortured and disfigured, not grown older (admittedly, sufferance does make one age some). But this is, of course, only my opinion. Seeing this wonderful representation of the character makes me feel even more compassion for Glokta.

    I love all the covers for these awesome books, but my favorites are by Chris McGrath.

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