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?

Alex Verus – Beautiful World of Books

For this year’s series reread, I’ve selected Alex Verus, a series of a dozen urban fantasy novels written by Benedict Jacka. It’s pretty much perfect as there are 12 books: one for each month. While I’m not 100% sure how closely I can stick to it, I at least hope to get through the first nine (those that I haven’t posted reviews for), and coordinate each for its own separate month. That said, there’s a decent chance I’ll end up bingeing a few in a row (or maybe the whole series)—but I guess we’ll see. For now, let’s just look at the covers and dream.

Ace

These are the US covers for the Alex Verus series. All twelve are here—Fated, Cursed, Taken, Chosen, Hidden, Veiled, Burned, Bound, Marked, Fallen, Forged, and Risen. While I don’t have a strong preference as to which covers I like better, I am partial to these because they’re the ones that bedeck my own shelves:)

Orbit

The UK (Orbit) covers often have two styles, but they weren’t different enough that I considered separating them into alternate blocks. Also as far as I can tell, one doesn’t span the entire series. This is the style that you’ll see in Fated, Taken, Chosen, Hidden and Veiled; with the entire cover the same hue and shading and the Jim Butcher quote adorning the bottom half. The others take this bottom and slap on a map of London which I quite like, albeit one tinted in whatever color the book features. If you look closely you’ll find the alternate covers have this map as well—though it’s much more indistinct. But as I said, I don’t think this style spans the entire series; I could only find it for the first half or so. Personally I like the later style better. More character, or something.

And that’s all 12 books of the Verus series! Have a favorite, or do you like both of them? Have you read this series, and if so, how many times have you been through them? Mostly I’ve only read each once, though I’ve reread Bound twice, somehow. If you haven’t heard of them/read them by now, do you think this might change your mind? Honestly, this is probably my favorite urban fantasy series, just based on the level of consistency. Both it and the Dresden Files are amazing, but some of the latter weren’t nearly as good as others. A few in the Alex Verus weren’t as strong as others, but never dipped below four stars, while Dresdens’ (particularly some of the later ones), ranked around three.

Hopefully you’ll check back at least once a month to hear my thoughts on each book, assuming everything with the reread goes well. This month’s review of Fated will probably come at the end of the month, as I have a couple ARCs to make it through first!

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!

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 Portraits of Spellslinger – Beautiful World of Books

There have been eight Spellslinger books, each one of them featuring a lot of Kellen, and a fair amount of Reichis as well, followed by just a smattering of Ferius. My favorite covers of this series are the ones done by Hot Key Books’ artist Nick Steam. I love the images of Kellen and a matching prominent player being featured on one of the cards in the Argosi deck—one card for each adventure. This theme carries over to Ferius’s own duology, which again features her and… (honestly I’m not 100% on this because I haven’t yet read them but I’m assuming) someone she’s battling and/or madly in love with! I’d have guessed the same about Kellen’s covers, but there’s no Nephenia in them, so that’s out.

I’m also a huge fan of the colors—despite the fact that there’s no hot pink (YET), or use of foil at work.

Spellslinger & Shadowblack

GoodreadsGoodreads

ReviewReview

Charmcaster & Soulbinder

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ReviewReview

Queenslayer & Crownbreaker

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Way of the Argosi & Fall of the Argosi

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All in all, this is a series of covers whose beauty is only matched by how good of books they are! So if you’ve never judged a book by it’s cover—well, you’re a liar, aren’t you;) And, if you’ve never been surprised at how well a series matches the stunning design of its cover art—look no further.

Black Heart (The Best Series You’ll probably Never Finish)

Remember the Barrow?

So back in 2014, Mark Smylie released the Barrow, a peek into his RPG world of Artesia. A dark fantasy epic featuring a woman dressed as a man, an enlightened world regarding sex, and a dark haven of strange and brutal cults, treasures and adventure. It’s been a while since I actually read the Barrow, and as I’m a bit fuzzy on the details—I won’t try to review it here. If you haven’t read it, it featured a generally good if meandering story, set in a beautifully designed and detailed world of grey and red.

But that’s not what this is about.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about the best series you’ll probably never finish. This was a reference to those series that end too early—for whatever reason—and we’ll never see an actual conclusion to. If you’re interested, please check it out, and add your own in the comments. These are only series that I’ve read—and I can’t read everything. Anyway, I’ve been working on Part 2 of at least 3 or 4, which has involved researching series and authors and emailing publishers and reading up on books. Now, one of my potentials for this list was the ill-fated sequel to The Barrow, named Black Heart.

This one has been delayed for a while, to the point that I figured it’d be a pretty easy add to the list, but after a little research into it, I’m… well, less sure. Mostly as it seems that Smylie actually seems to have this one in hand, so much so that I think it’ll see the light of day, in one form or another.

A little background first. Back in March of 2014, the Barrow released to fairly positive reviews. It was a solid, entertaining read, from a guy who had already created a world and possessed many stories set in it. But writing is hard. And it didn’t surprise anyone overly much when the sequel—which was originally scheduled to be published later that same year—was delayed. And as Smylie got distracted by other projects and battled writers’ block, the book was further delayed. Last I checked (in 2018) the project was still ongoing, with the publisher Pyr eventually expecting to print a book. Then in late 2018, Pyr was sold.

The new parent company, Start Publishing, claims to have asked for an ETA on a manuscript and received no response. I haven’t heard back from Smylie on this, but I’d assume that my emails just ended up in his spam folder, because that’s happened quite a lot during this article. But whatever happened, Pyr’s new owners nixed any plans on publishing Black Heart, and that was that.

Except, that it wasn’t.

While Smylie hasn’t finished Black Heart, he is a good 250,000 words in. With Pyr out of the picture, he looked to self-publishing. He established a Patreon to help him work on the novel, posting roughly one chapter a week, though for the past month he’s only posted one. As of May 2020, it has amassed 29 of its anticipated 47ish chapters, but Smylie says that he’s written 37 of them. There’s also a Part I PDF for subscribers, but I can’t (yet) tell you how long it is. So it looks like this thing may actually get out. I don’t know (yet) whether this concludes the extent of his plans to get the story out there, but I’ll figure it out.

Well, maybe. Eventually. Since I’m a little bit off work until… further notice, I’m a bit cheap. If you can’t wait for Black Heart, maybe go check it out? Entry level access to the 29 chapters available so far is set at $5/month, which—I’m not in a position to afford. Yet. So… tell me about it if you decide to splurge, eh?

Expect another entry into the best unfinished series soon, which will clear up most of the multibook ones in my reservoir. After that we’ll primarily deal with sequels, standalones that never saw the light of day, series that were announced but will likely never be finished, and others whose authors died before finishing them.

Black Heart

Mark’s Patreon