Beautiful World of Books – The Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries

After last weekend’s review of Smoke and Ashes, I thought I’d do the Wyndham and Banerjee Mysteries on this week’s BWoB, as many feature quite pretty (or if not, interesting) covers. While a few I find disappointing—for they seem to cast Colonial India as a drab (which it wasn’t), depressing (which it very much was, depending on who you were) place—through their use of unflattering yellows and browns, in general it’s a bunch of lovely covers depicting an even lovelier series. And I do so love when a good book is matched with an equally good cover!

A Rising Man

Vintage (2016) • PegasusVintage (2020)

I have no idea who did any of the cover art for these, so if you do please do let me know. As much as I love both the first two, I hate the 2020 release from Vintage enough to make up for that. I won’t go into the reasons why—I just don’t like it. The 2016 Vintage is probably my favorite, but the Pegasus is a close second. This is the only book in the series I didn’t prefer the Pegasus covers on.

A Necessary Evil

Harvill SeckerPegasus

I had to uncrop this specifically to get the flowers to show. So they won’t match up, something that is kinda driving me nuts. But the addition of red blooms here to break up the green and brown of the jungle is what makes this one of the loveliest covers in the series, in my opinion. While there’s nothing wrong with the opposing cover, the Pegasus one features a character shrouded in the shadows of the jungle around him, something that lends itself directly to the lead’s experience in the text.

Smoke and Ashes

PegasusHarvill Secker

The most recent book in the series I’ve read is always my favorite to date. But—other than possibly the most recent Shadows of Men—I’d say it has the blandest covers. Though the smoke and indistinct shadows of the Pegasus copy did relate very nicely to the actual text.

Death in the East

Harvill SeckerPegasusVintage

The strongest covers of the series feature in Book #4—Death in the East. I’m not sure which one I like the most, and that’s okay. They’re all good, and all for the enjoying! While I’ll probably never own this in physical form, ideally I’d like to have all three of these covers (provided I also had somewhere to put them).

The Shadows of Men

VintagePegasus

The most recent release from Abir Mukherjee finds Wyndham and Banerjee traveling to Mumbai (Bombay) investigating a murder. Here, both covers go for the same stylized arch, the so-called “Gateway of India” (yes, I had to google the name). The background colors are a little different, but neither instills any real feeling of hope. One feels very much overshadowed by dread (at least that’s what I think of when I see the red and black clouds like wildfire), while the other’s drab overtones speak more of hopelessness.

My favorites here by far are the Pegasus covers—the shadowy figure, the cursive text done in an opposing color, the use of color and light. What do you think?

Beautiful World of Books – All the Books I Read in 2021

I’ve read [however many] books this year!

I’ve no idea exactly how many books I’ve read. I had some serious trouble working this out and kept forgetting books and taking them out and reworking them all and trying to sort it so that the covers I liked most were featured in the bigger slots. Okay, okay, I read 64 books. Hopefully I read another to counterbalance Murder by Other Means so it doesn’t look so silly on its own there (I DID, I just forgot to add it in lol). Otherwise, just enjoy the covers and take them all in! Did you read many of these? Did you read ANY of these? What’s your favorite?

Legends of the First Empire – The Beautiful World of Books

Like last week’s post about the Riyria Revelations and Chronicles, this one also centers on the world of Elan, specifically the early days of the interactions between ‘Men and Dwarves and Elves and Ghazel. Back when the world was young empires rose and fell, the races jockeyed for land, the borders of later civilizations slowly feel into place. It’s quite the picturesque land, if the covers have anything to say about it.

First we have the Legends of the First Empire, a six-book series, the former half of which were somewhat disappointing, though latter half were much more impressive and memorable.

Okay so I may’ve put them down slightly out of order, but in my defense I knew that. I really prefer the Age of Legend cover to that of the Age of Empyre—the witch’s hut versus the big, semi-friendly not-dragon. Anyway, next we have the three covers from the Rise and Fall, a trilogy which takes place some years following the events of the Legends of the First Empire. I’ve yet to start the series (I know, I know), but there’s only the one book out. These covers are equally if not more amazing than those above, despite the fact that two of them are unpublished and are only out in beta-form, low resolution images.

I honestly have to say that if the story of these is ANYTHING like what’s gracing the covers, it’s going to be a memorable adventure. More likely, Marc Simonetti (who did the covers for the last two books of the Riyria Chronicles and the six Legends of the Final Empire ones, is finally becoming intimately aware of the world he’s trying to capture, thus his attempts to recreate it are just getting better and better. Of all the Sullivans thus far (23?) these last three are my favorites. They’re just… stunning.

What were your favorites? And how did they compare to last week’s covers? Have you read/do you plan to read any of these? I’ve reviews posted for the Legends series if you’re interested! As before, HERE‘S a link to Marc Simonetti’s store, where you can browse/purchase his prints for your very own.

As always, have an excellent weekend and see you all next week for more Beautiful Books!

The World of Riyria – Beautiful World of Books

This week we’re examining the covers of Michael J. Sullivan’s first two series: the completed Riyria Revelations and the as of yet open-ended Riyria Chronicles. The former was the series that put Sullivan on the map—as he came from the world of self-publishing to traditional as the Revelations were picked up and rebundled by Orbit. This series starts when two thieves are framed for the murder of a king. This marks the birth of Elan. Six books rounded out the Revelations. The latter series—the Chronicles—on the other hand, came later and explored the two thieves’ backstories. There have been four of these thus far, with another—Drumindor (so-named at the moment)—on the horizon, but with no release date yet.

These first six covers are from Sullivan’s self-published run, which I believe are all designed and painted by the author. The second batch (further down), are the Riyria Revelations rereleases via Orbit.

Riyria Revelations Books #1-6

These are quite nice for going the self-pub route, and while I thoroughly prefer them over the Orbit covers, they are much harder to find nowadays. Personally, I have the Crown Conspiracy only of these, then the rest of the Orbit ones.

Riyria Revelations Combined Versions #1-3

The following three covers are the first two installments in the Riyria Chronicles, and then the omnibus of those two. Honestly, I’d forgotten the omnibus existed but then turned it up when writing this. I mean, it’s pretty much just half of the picture off the first cover, zoomed in, but… well.

Riyria Chronicles Books 1 & 2 plus omnibus

These are my favorites of all—the Death of Dulgath and Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter. They’re the only ones to feature two little wee thieves, set upon the backdrop of a wonderful scene. I have signed copies of both, as well as bookmarks, and a poster of Dulgath to boot. I’d definitely love to have a print of Winter’s Daughter to round out the collection.

Riyria Chronicles 3 & 4

I do believe just these two are Marc Simonetti creations. Ones that I’d very much love as prints—except for the fact that they retailed for £110 plus shipping. Even if I was still tempted, they’re sadly sold out. Here’s a link to the rest of his stuff, as there’s some amazing stuff still available within.

Well, which were your favorites? And have you read any of these? Or maybe all of them? Hope y’all have a lovely weekend! Check back next week for the rest of Elan—the Legends of the First Empire and beyond!

Beautiful World of Books – The Works of Benedict Patrick

Five from Yarnsworld, two from Darkstar—all of them from the same artist, Jenny Zemanek. Say what you will about the content, the realism, the use of color, or even the books themselves; they are certainly distinctive.

Benedict Patrick may have created this beautifully dark series, written the books, and brought the whole thing to life through the power of suggestion and the written word—but it was the artist herself that took this series, this world and really gave it a face. Or six faces, to be exact.

The Darkstar series quite literally stars the stars. Here, both the Dragon and the Whale curl around the star that is the center of their dimension.

If you’ve not read these, I’d heartily recommend—well, half? I’ve read 4 of the 7 that are out, and am eagerly anticipating Return of the Whale Fleet, a book which I adore the cover of. Which are your favorites? And have you read any of this week’s books?

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Welcome to Revelation Space – The Beautiful World of Books

One of the hallmarks of modern space opera, Revelation Space has been around for nearly twenty years, having first been published in 2002. While I’ve read remarkably few of this series, even I can’t deny the effect that it’s had on recent science fiction and space opera. While Alastair Reynolds pens each book as its own complete adventure, the overarching plot is set on a scale much grander, so that it doesn’t take much digging in to the series to realize that there’s more going on than what meets the eye.

Seven full-length novels have been published to date, of these there have been one standalone (Chasm City), two in the Dreyfus Emergencies, and then four in the Inhibitor Sequence—the most recent being Inhibitor Phase, released just this year. There’ve also been a number of novellas and shorts set in the same universe, many of which have been collected within the two omnibus editions found below. Since Inhibitor Phase is one of the books I have on tap for Sci-Fi Month, I figured this would be the perfect time to feature some cover art, while at the same time introducing the universe in a bit more detail.

The Inhibitor Sequence

Revelation Space

Redemption Ark

Absolution Gap

Say what you will about the Orbit reissues (on the right), but I’m intimately familiar with the Ace covers and vastly prefer them. For the first two, at least. I hadn’t started (or acquired) Absolution Gap yet and somewhat like the blue gas giant when compared to the scarred ice world. It doesn’t help that the craft on the Ace cover of Book #3 is so indistinct.

Inhibitor Phase

I’m currently reading this one and vastly prefer the sleek Orbit cover complete with dark ice and/or water with a planetary corona in the background. Nothing wrong with the Gollancz cover—it might actually be the only one I’ve seen with a Yellowstone that’s actually yellow.

Oh wait—that’s a star. Well, it features the Scythe prominently, at least.

Dreyfus Emergencies

Aurora Rising

Here we have three covers of the same book, each with a very different style! Additionally, the 2007 original issue of Aurora Rising actually bore the title The Prefect, before it was changed for additional release. I have no idea why it was changed, or when for that matter. I haven’t read this series, and can only guess what each publisher was thinking with each (very different) cover.

Prefect Fire

Here we have the Orbit vs. Gollancz covers of Elysium Fire. Only the two this time. Now, say what you will about the Orbit cover (at left), but personally I like this minimalist style and would probably choose it over the Gollancz edition. That said… at least the Gollancz cover features Tom Dreyfus, who bears the series’ name. When confronted with that tidbit, the Orbit cover just can’t measure up.

Standalones

Chasm City

Chasm City is a enclosed-environment city on the planet Yellowstone. And while these covers are two different takes on Yellowstone, neither shows the city itself. Which is disappointing, honestly. I mean, I’m quite partial to the reissue cover from Orbit (on the right)—with the planet and nebulae behind it—as opposed to the original Ace cover (to the left), but I would’ve liked to see something of the city itself rather than some generic (if lovely) planetary shots.

Novellas & Collections

Galactic North

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

Here we have the Ace covers for the novella collections, with Galactic North (the omnibus) and Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (just those two novellas). Since it’s the same style throughout, I won’t over-analyze them. Although, I swear that’s the Pirate Starbridge from the Escape Velocity series (in both Glactic North covers)—anyone know? EV Nova is one of my all-time favorite games. Anyone else played those?

Anyway… books, covers. Ahem. So… has anyone read these? I know several of you have—Todd and Maddalena to start with. What did you think, is the series worth continuing with? I was so-so on Revelation Space but have been enjoying Inhibitor Phase more (at least so far).

The Wayfaring Covers – Beautiful World of Books

We’re deep into Scifi Month by now (something I keep forgetting exists when I schedule these things)—so I figured it’s time for an actual science fiction series to make the covers round here. And what better series to feature than the new master of the genre, Becky Chambers?

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

My Review of To Be Taught, If Fortunate

While this isn’t a Wayfarers’ book, I decided that it was close enough, taking place in a totally new solar system and dealing with some hard issues not often addressed in space opera. Also it serves as a good warm-up to the main event as while these two covers do show their differences up front, they’re much more similar than the other UK and US versions below.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Here we have three covers: the UK edition published by Hodder & Stoughton, the US edition courtesy of Harper Voyager, and the self-published original from CreateSpace. It’s clear how much the US covers take after the Selfpub one—a theme that will continue—while the UK edition goes in a much different direction, simply featuring a lone humanoid beneath the night sky.

A Closed and Common Orbit

These two are much closer, but still retain the original style of those before them, particularly where the title and colors are concerned. Think I prefer the UK one here, but it’s really a tough call.

Record of a Spaceborn Few

The third entry once again showcases two radically different styles, each of which are vibrant and noticeable in their own right. I don’t even have a favorite here. Even though I own the US edition, I’d happily have paid for the UK one instead!

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

My Review of The Galaxy and the Ground Within

Again, both eye-catching and noticeable despite the different styles. Where the US version once again goes with a variety of would-be spaceships, the UK sticks to what it does best—photos of the universe at night. Think again I prefer the UK version, but they’re both quite good. Unlike the story, which was the weakest by far…

And those are the covers for this week! Have a favorite? Don’t care? Have you read any or all of them? I’d mostly recommend this series (with the possible exception of #4).

4 Beautiful Scifi Trilogies – The Beautiful World of Books

This week, in honor of Scifi Month 2021, I present you covers from not one but FOUR Scifi trilogies, each of them visually stunning both inside and out. Well, probably. I’ve finished three of these, but not yet made it through Kristyn Merbeth’s Nova Vita Protocol. So let’s start there.

Nova Vita Protocol – by Kristyn Merbeth

Fortuna • Memoria • Discordia

I absolutely ADORE these covers! Though I am a little disappointed that they have a waxy feel to them, instead of the sleek, glossy texture that I would’ve thought. I think this would have been the better option—a smooth cover, possibly with some foil, to highlight the vibrant neon colors. Orbit did these up, courtesy of designer Lisa Marie Pompilio, and an illustration that claims it was from a bulk site. If anyone knows who arted this, let me know, please!

The Silence – by D. Nolan Clark

Forsaken Skies • Forgotten Worlds • Forbidden Suns

At first a well rendered galaxy with seemingly an infinite amount of space, the beauty that is the Silence soon devolves into a dark crusade that spans both time and space. The covers of this series are equally beautiful, even more so when you get into the books themselves. When everything around you screams of haunting loneliness on a truly vast scale, maybe you’ll understand what the author was going for. I mean, while they are quite nice, they have relatively little to do with the actual books. Another Orbit Books trilogy; this combines the designs of Lauren Panepinto and the illustration of Victor Mosquera.

Legends of the Duskwalker – by Jay Posey

Three • Morningside Fall • Dawnbreaker

While the Legends of the Duskwalker didn’t exactly start everything for Jay Posey, this is the trilogy which conveyed the screenwriter from writing narratives for such video game series as Rainbow Six to his own published words. This is certainly not the first nor last you’ll hear of it from me, as his science fiction thriller Three remains one of my favorite leads—not to mention series starters—of all time. Additionally, this was the first series that introduced me to Angry Robot, who published these. Steven Meyer-Rassow provides the cover art for these, in a style that I absolutely love (though it seems he’s recently taken his craft in another direction, you should still check out his work).

Keiko – by Mike Brooks

Dark Run • Dark Sky • Dark Deeds

Before Mike Brooks made the jump to epic fantasy and the Black Library, the Keiko was the series that put him on the map (well, I guess that and maybe punk). A trilogy that doesn’t read like a trilogy, act like a trilogy, or end like a trilogy—the Keiko introduces us to a ragtag crew that toe the line between family and associates. Brought to life by the scifi artist John Harris and published by Saga Press, this may be the final trilogy I included in this week’s Beautiful World of Books post, but it won’t be the last science fiction you’ll see for the month!

Have you read any of these? Which covers are your favorites? Anything else that strikes your eye? Let me know!

The Life of the Lightbringer – Beautiful World of Books

If you follow me, you probably know that I’m not a huge fan of Brent Weeks. His Night Angel stuff was alright (though I haven’t finished the series), but for me his Lightbringer series is a miss. After DNFing Book #1—The Black Prism—I also DNFed Book #2, The Blinding Knife. Apparently Kip didn’t stop annoying me anymore between Books 1 & 2, not to mention my disdain for most of the other characters. Despite my feelings about it, I still hear about this series quite a lot. Many of my friends love it. Many of my followers love it. Lots of random people love it. Though, I’m not a fan of the series, there is one thing I love about the Lightbringer.

The covers.

I mean, y’all saw that coming, but still. The covers are quite pretty. No US and UK differences here, but the shared covers are still quite impressive. There are two different covers for the first book, the Black Prism, but the rest of the English language ones feature what is obviously the same artist.

Though Richard Jones’s artwork adorns the cover of the initial Black Prism release (the one on the left), I’m not sure whose covered the others. The remaining books (starting with #2) are the Blinding Knife (2), the Broken Eye (3), the Blood Mirror (4), and the Burning White (5).

While all of the covers are strong, I’d have to say my favorite has to be the Burning White. It’s just the rainbow of swirling colors that gives it the extra edge. Next… is probably the Broken Eye—for that nice bit of poison-green and the ominous tree and crows. After that, I’d say in order goes the Black Prism (on the right), the Blinding Knife, the Blood Mirror, and the leftmost Black Prism. But it’s not like I’ve thought about it much or anything. Certainly not more time than I spent reading the actual series surely;)

What’s your favorite cover? And did you like the series? Hope everyone has a great weekend!

The Shadow Campaigns – Beautiful World of Books

Now, I haven’t actually read the Shadow Campaigns, but they’ve been on my TBR for years. In fact, I’ve both the ebook and audiobook edition of the Thousand Names. Annnd still haven’t read them! Actually, while writing this up, I spent a little on Goodreads looking up editions and… has anyone else read this series? I mean, I know Steff has. But otherwise… anyone? I’ve heard it’s really good, but I don’t KNOW that. So, let me know.

But let’s get on with it.

Below are the five main installments of the Shadow Campaigns, along with the two significant novellas—the Penitent Damned (0.5) and the Shadow of Elysium (2.5). On the left are the UK/EU covers and on the right the US ones. For the novellas, the official versions adorn the left side, while the alternate versions are on the right.

The Penitent Damned

(Shadow Campaigns #0.5)

The Thousand Names

(Shadow Campaigns #1)

The Shadow Throne

(Shadow Campaigns #2)

The Shadow of Elysium

(Shadow Campaigns #2.5)

The Price of Valour

(Shadow Campaigns #3)

The Guns of Empire

(Shadow Campaigns #4)

The Infernal Battalion

(Shadow Campaigns #5)

Now I don’t really have any strong feelings one way or another—and I am literally judging all of these on their covers alone—except that I prefer the US version of the Price of Valor and the UK one of Guns of Empire. Oh, and the official version of the Shadow of Elysium. Otherwise, they’re all very nice covers in my opinion, altogether making up a series I still very much want to read!

What do you think: what’re your favorite covers—The US, or the UK ones? Or maybe you like some of each? Also, has anyone read this series (or parts of it)? What’d you think?