Beautiful World of Books – The First Third of 2022

We’ll get back to the Wheel of Time next week, but today I wanted to do something a wee bit different. See, I really enjoyed last year’s recap post where I laid out the covers of all the books I’d read in 2021, so I figured I’d do one each quarter of 2022!

Except, well, I kinda missed the whole quarter thing, so maybe I’ll do thirds instead. Anyway, these are all the books I’ve read this year. Enjoy!

The Wheel of Time – Rise of the Dragon (Beautiful World of Books)

Welcome to Week #3 of this Wheel of Time showcase, where I’m showing the covers of the epic fantasy series some much needed love. Well, actually I’m not sure that some of them deserve all that much hype, but we’ll get through that later.

In this week’s post, we’ll be looking at Books #5-9, namely—The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, and Winters’ Heart.

Now, I have to admit that this section of the Wheel of Time is a bit of a flog. I liked the Fires of Heaven, but the three—well, three and a half—proceeding it were a bit of a bore. When Robert Jordan stopped carrying a full complement of characters as POVs (by this I mean mostly Rand, Mat, and Perrin), the story suffered for it. Now, they all have Rand. But Perrin and Mat appear only now and then, and, I can’t remember exactly, but I don’t think these latter two appear in the same book between Fires and Knife of Dreams? I’m not certain. It’s a long stretch, regardless.

Oh, and I dropped the third Tor version because it and the Orbit’s 2nd together were boring me. I’ve kept the other Orbit one for now… the colors are nice.

Tor Originals

Orbit Originals

Tor 2nd Version

Orbit 2nd Version

Little Brown Book Group

And that’s it for this week! What were your favorites? Personally, I don’t think you can really go wrong, but I especially like the newest covers, and the Tor 2nd issues. I mean, I still own the Tor 1st ones, but I may look into acquiring some of the others now…

The Wheel of Time – Early Special Editions

Welcome to Week #3 of this Wheel of Time showcase, where I’m showing the covers of the epic fantasy series some much needed love. Last week I showcased Books #0-4 (New Spring through the Dragon Reborn), and in this week’s segment we’ll feature special editions of the first two books, which—somehow—were the only ones I could find that HAD special editions.

While both Eye of the World and the Greant Hunt had hardback special editions (complete with sleeves), I could only find one rather poor picture of the outside of Eye of the World, I could also only find one photo of the inside of cover of the Great Hunt. And while one’s a bit disappointing, the inset is incredible.

Weirdly, I couldn’t find any other editions of this, though I’m sure they must exist. Right?

The next two editions are of Eye of the World—both its Amazon Edition (promoting the new TV series—which I haven’t seen and won’t be watching) (and is rather boring in my opinion)—and the 30th anniversary edition (which is just the cover from the first printing, only featuring the image of Lan and Morraine in the middle, surrounded by white, glossy and foil).

And finally, we have the editions of Eye of the World and the Great Hunt that split their books in two, thus turning the first two books into four. I think the idea was to appeal to younger readers that may not see the appeal of a thousand-page brick. So, instead, welcome to the new and improved and even longer Wheel of Time series, beginning with From the Two Rivers, continuing with To the Blight, The Hunt Begins, and finally New Threads in the Pattern.

Next week, come back for Books 4-8 of the Wheel of Time! Hope you enjoyed these special editions! Now go out and buy them all!!

Beautiful World of Books – Special

Welcome to a special month-long edition of the Beautiful World of Books, where I showcase one of my favorite series of all time! Now I know that some of the rest of you have your own opinions on whether or not this series is all that great or not (but it is, and that’s that;) —but hopefully you’ll be okay as we spend a few weeks examining the covers that we’ve seen over the course of this 15 book series!

As this is such an expansive and world-renowned series, I’ll be covering it in quite a few posts, starting with the first four books—Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, and Shadow Rising—along with the prequel, New Spring. After that I’ve a tentative schedule I’ll be looking to follow, but if you know anything about me it’s that schedules and I often have… an issue.

  • From the Two Rivers (Books #0-4) – Thursday, April 14th
  • Early Special Editions (Books #1-2, mostly) – Thursday, April 21st
  • The Rise of the Dragon (Books #5-9) – Thursday, April 28th
  • The Art and Lore of the Wheel of Time – Thursday, May 12th
  • The Breaking of the World (Books #10-14) – Thursday, May 19th
  • Recap and All together (Books #0-14) – Thursday, May 26th

So, please come back tomorrow for the start, or stay away while I rant about how much nostalgia I get from this series. Haha kidding—I promise I won’t do that, like, too much…

Also, just a note, I won’t be talking about the Amazon series at all, mostly because I haven’t seen it. And don’t plan to. You see, I have it all imagined and pictured a certain way in my mind, and I’m not interested in seeing it done up any other way. But if you want to tell me about it, that’s cool. I’m just not going to watch it.

Shadowdance – the Beautiful World of Books

With the release of The Bladed Faith coming next week, I thought it might be nice to take a look back at some of David Dalglish’s previous series to see just how far we’ve come. Now, as the author has written and published waaay more than just a handful of books, we have quite a few options for this. The the most recent Keepers trilogy, preceded by the Seraphim one. Then there are the shared universe ones. In chronological order: the Breaking World trilogy; then the Shadowdance hexalogy (that’s 6—not including the Cloak and Spider prequel), whose own timeline overlaps the Paladins’ tetralogy (that’s 4); and at last the Half-Orcs heptalogy or septology (which is 7). That’s… a lot of books.

Now, it’s fair to say that Dalglish is one of my favorite authors, but even I haven’t read all his stuff. And while I’ve read and reviewed at least some of his stuff on here, I’m willing to bet that many of you are only kinda aware that he exists. And likely weren’t aware that he’d published nearly 30 books.

To be fair, a lot of these were self-pubbed, and haven’t been repubbed by any major outlets. But they still carry the same quality as most of the rest of his works—although the early ones are a bit rough around the edges.

Anyway, while I’ll try to work through these series fully, for now let’s focus on my original favorite, my first introduction to Dalglish—the Shadowdance series.

This was a tricky one, as only four of the books were self-published before being picked up fully by Orbit, so there are four self-pubbed entries—plus the Cloak and Spider novella. Also, two of them have different names. Though actually, it’s more than just that. Books #3 & 4—A Dance of Mirrors and A Dance of Shadows—were originally published as A Dance of Death and Blood of the Underworld, books where Dalglish changed the titles on because he did significant restructuring and rewriting so that the stories don’t really match up anymore. They’re actually quite different than the others, if I remember correctly, though it’s been a while since I read them. You used to be able to find the two self-published versions on Dalglish’s website for free—if you were curious—though I’m not sure if that’s still a thing.

Self-Published Shadowdance

Orbit Shadowdance

So, which do you like better: the classic fantasy vibe that the self-published ones have, or the more uniform, if stylized decoration upon the Orbit ones?

Rockton by Kelley Armstrong – The Beautiful World of Books

You’d be forgiven for not realizing it, but Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton series came to a close in February of this year with the release of the Deepest of Secrets. February was jam-packed with releases, so I almost missed it myself. In fact, it wasn’t until Mogsy’s review of it that I found out it was the final book.

Though I guess it makes sense. Just how many murders can one stage in the remote Yukon wilderness, where the population of moose almost surely exceeds that of humans? Now I haven’t read the latest book yet (or #6, for that matter), but does that mean that we can’t take a look back on the seven covers that have led us to this point?

Well, I’m doing it anyway.

Now I’m going to post two separate sets of seven. The first are those covers from Minotaur Books. The others… are… kind of a collected set from other publishers in English. I don’t know why, but there were some that I couldn’t find covers for from one certain publisher that I’d never heard of. So… yeah, two sets of seven.

Rockton (Set #1)

Rockton (Minotaur Books)

So, which do you like better? The Minotaur ones or the… others? Personally, I’d pick most of the others, but not absolutely all of them.

Well… maybe all of them.

By the way, just in case you were curious, check out my reviews for the first 3 books in the series below! I uh kinda skipped #4, Watcher in the Woods (as in I DNFed it), but my review of Alone in the Wild should be out sometime soon—maybe by the end of March.

• Review of City of the Lost

• Review of A Darkness Absolute

• Review of This Fallen Prey

Until next time!

The Tchaikovsky Novella – Beautiful World of Books

I seems like every year I’m reading one or two Tchaikovsky novellas a year, thinking “Wow, I should really read more of his stuff”—only to read more of his full-length novels and thinking “Wow, why do I like this guy again?” Now, I’ve heard that it’s mostly his recent stuff that’s the problem. That it’s too dry and political. And dry. And boring. Now I’ve also heard that Shards of Earth is different; a return to his older work, his better stuff.

Still, Adrian Tchaikovsky has been pumping out one or two good novellas a year, which is quite impressive considering he’s also writing full-length stuff. For the last four years I’ve read one per—all of which have been excellent—a trend that has extended through this year. So here’s the art of the Tchaikovsky Novella:

And there they are: all the Tchaikovsky novellas from recent years! Do you have more to mention that I failed to include? I probably missed some, the way the guy keeps churning them out. Personally, I’ve read 5 of these 9 so far (the final five, while I haven’t read the first four: Ironclads, Elder Race and either Expert System ones). How many have you read? Or even heard of? And if you’ve never heard of Ogres before now, don’t worry—Tchaikovsky’s latest novella comes out the 15th of March, 2022. And it is as excellent as his recent work, I assure you;)

Beautiful World of Books – Traitor Son Cycle

This week’s beautiful covers come courtesy of Miles Cameron, for his gritty, high fantasy epic series, The Traitor Son Cycle. These five books are highly intensive (sometimes too much so) and amazingly detailed, with unrivaled weapons and equipment expertise coming out of the Dark Ages. There is a bit of a mid-series lull, but it both opens and closes very strongly. The covers are also quite lovely, though while the US (Orbit) ones tend to focus on the title character Red Knight himself, the UK (Gollancz) instead include some mythical beast for him to fight. Well, you’ll see.

Orbit Books

These are strong and gritty knightly poses. As the quote on the cover of the first book states: Forget George and the Dragon. Forget fancy knights and daring deeds. Slaying dragons is a BLOODY business. These covers are very much like that. There’s a very dose of black around the edges, and shadows galore. There’s a knight in full armor, a sword stained red. It’s almost like the artist knew that their work would adorn a grimdark series. While I do like the Gollancz covers better for their inclusion of a beast or two, I do vastly prefer the font on these covers!

Gollancz

These… well, I like these a lot better. Yes, I actually prefer the use of black and shadow in the US covers that help convey the gritty tone of the texts, but it’s hard for me to argue with the UK’s rendition of mythical beasts. Especially A Plague of Swords—because who doesn’t just love a kraken?

Well, that’s this week’s pick for beautiful covers! Next week I’ll once again be featuring the work of Miles Cameron in his second fantasy series, Masters & Mages, so get hyped for that! If you’re familiar with them—great! Because I haven’t actually read those. These, I loved—mostly. But they’re a bit dense and take a while to get through. And they can get a bit dry when the author descends into one of his military equipment or court etiquette spiels. I’d still definitely recommend the Traitor Son Cycle, especially for lovers of high fantasy and grimdark alike, just be forewarned that it can be a bit… heavy, at times. Hope you liked these covers! But which set did you prefer? And have you read these books, or want to read them?

The Long War – Beautiful World of Books

I’ve read A.J. Smith only twice before—having stalled in the middle of not one, but two of his series’ sequels. The trilogy he’s currently writing is the Form & Void trilogy, but the one that started it all was the Long War tetralogy, a series of epic, dark fantasy novels Smith wrote; set in a world he created over several years of tabletop gaming. While I’ve been having issues getting into the books themselves, the world is very finely crafted and vividly imagined. And while I continue to hear good things about the series, I’m not sure this is a story I’ll ever experience to fruition.

But I can show off the covers.

The Long War

To be honest, while I find the cover of the Black Guard somewhat interesting, the next two—the Dark Blood (#2) and the Red Prince (#3) (not to mention the Tales omnibus)—are rather boring. Weapons, by themselves, are a bit overplayed in fantasy books, and maybe as a result somewhat pedantic. That said, I quite like the axe adorning the cover of the World Raven. It’s probably my favorite of the four.

Form & Void

These all stick to the same basic sea-theme, but since they’re waaay less generic than the Long War covers. And I kinda like how well they go together.

I’m still planning on continuing the Form & Void trilogy (I need to restart #2, The Sword Falls sometime soon), but I might not ever come back to the Long War. I know Drew would be somewhat disappointed in this decision as I seem to remember him really liking this series, but has anyone else read it? And what do you think? Also, what’d you think of the covers—favorites?

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?