Look! It’s the first proper post on Epically Written! Let’s all give ourselves a pat on the back for getting this far (nothing is guaranteed from here on out).
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To kick off proceedings, I wanted to give you guys a nice meaty post to show you the sort of content you can come to expect from Epically Written. Cover reviews are a special kind of review focusing on one thing, and one thing only… cover art! I figured that there are so many beautiful book covers out there (and some downright ugly ones) and, more often than not, they simply get sidelined in a book review.
Now, I work a full time job, I have a young son and I’m writing a fantasy novel (oh yeah, and playing Diablo 3), so I get very little time to read these days. When I finish books, I’ll review them right here. But in between those truly momentous events, I will do cover reviews. If you want to read a little more about cover reviews and the Epically Written “philosophy” (fancy, I know) then go check out the Epic FAQs page.
Onwards with the review!
Traitor’s Blade (UK Version)
Sebastien de Castell, (2014 Jo Fletcher Books)
What’s the book about?
Falcio, a swashbuckling hero, and his two sidekicks (The Greatcoats, à la The Musketeers) are named traitors after they stood aside while their king was overthrown and murdered. Now they attempt to fulfil one final mission for their dead king and reunite the Greatcoats along the way.
The Cover Review
Alright, where to start? The first thing you notice when you glance at this cover is the simplicity of it all. There’s a lot of white background with a nice splash of red across the top half. That red splash depicts our hero, Falcio, and his greatcoat (and presumably the titular traitor’s blade, although he is wearing two, hmm…). Inside his flowing coat (more of a cape/cloak?) is some sort of pissed off-looking army. We can assume these shield-bearing soldiers are not the Greatcoats themselves, but perhaps an army belonging to those who overthrew the king, a threat that our heroes must eventually face.
Moving down from the humanoid blood splatter we come to the book’s title (nice font) which also looks to have caught some of that blood splatter. At first glance, the blood splatter on the title looks OK. But when you zoom in for a closer look (bit blurry, apologies), it looks a touch too obvious/Photoshopped. I would have liked to see blood hanging off the tips of some of the letters. Maybe an entrail or two, who knows? That’s just me being picky. You may disagree, which is fine by me. Drop a comment below and tell me so!
One thing I’ll also pick out here is the series title (Greatcoats: Book 1). I feel like it’s a little small and out of place. If, as I suspect, this series takes off and becomes really popular I wonder if the publisher might want to bring the series title to the fore a little? Having said that, the striking image above does its job well and if later covers are in a similar style (maybe different colours? Green and then blue?) then readers should have no trouble locating the entire series by the cover image alone.
The author’s name stands out well, too. Bringing that gold colour into the mix works nicely and adds a bit of variety other than red/black.
Now, this is a nice cover, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about it I couldn’t quite put my finger on. That is, until now…
Looks kind of similar in style, doesn’t it? And that is what Traitor’s Blade reminded me of – video game art/promotional material. Maybe its the red on white? It’s not a negative point for me, it’s just an observation.
Overall, I really like this design. It has a good amount of negative space, the colours are simple but bold and, most importantly, it conveys a sense of what the book is about. We get to see the protagonist without actually being shown a definite image, allowing us to form our own picture of him when reading the book.
EPIC FACT: The German cover art titles the book as "BLUTRECHT", which literally means "BLOOD LAW". Sounds like a kick-ass 80's action movie. Keep an eye out for "Blood Law II: The Crimson Judgement" coming to a book store near you!
Final Verdict: Simple but effective, visceral and intriguing. This cover stands out as something fresh in the fantasy genre at the moment and leaves me wanting to open the sucker up and start reading right away. A top-notch effort.