In this installment of my irregular series of cover art discussion I discuss two different covers of the same book: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson One is the UK version and the other a US version. To muddy the waters even more – it’s not a black and white discussion. I don’t particularly like either cover – it truly is a gray area here (which is rather appropriate since it is a Steven Erikson book’s cover I’m discussing).
Chris Moore is the artist who produced the UK version (above) of the cover art for Gardens of the Moon. I definitely file this cover in the ‘traditional fantasy’ section with a nice castle in the background and some wizardly dude in the foreground holding a sword with lightening flashing from it. All in all, it’s quite cheesy, though it doesn’t quite achieve the point of me being embarrassed to be seen reading the book.
Really there isn’t too much for me to say beyond it being traditional fantasy cover (thankfully it is dragon-free). It has almost nothing to do with the actual content of the book as far as I can tell. It’s just there.
Stephen Youll is the artist behind the US version (above). This cover is almost universally despised as far I can tell. In some ways that puzzling, and others it’s quite clear why. Looking at the big, detailed version, I have to say that the artwork really is spectacular – particularly the background. The dark red background appropriately sets the mood for the book.
Of course the problem is the people on the cover. These two look to be taken from a harlequin romance cover and dressed in armor (isn’t cleavage a nice, practical touch for armor?). While the backdrop is nice, these people make for a truly embarrassing cover – I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen reading a book with this cover. The only positive about the people is that the woman isn’t worshiping the man – though she is still placed in a lower, subservient position. For the paperback version (below) they markedly improved the cover by omitting the woman, though the cover remains quite bad as they left the man.
Again, I can’t see any real relation to the actual plot of the book. As I mentioned above, at least the dark red color appropriately captures the mood.
So, what’s the conclusion – in my opinion, they both suck as cover art. However, the nod certainly goes to the UK version (as it usually seems to) for not being utterly embarrassing to be seen with*.
*No, I’m not overly concerned about my appearance to others or what they think of me or my reading tastes. But that does not remove the shame of being associated with truly bad cover art.