A Rant of Ice and Fire: New Cover Art

Well, I promised you a rant today. I intend to deliver, but I’m going to keep it relatively tame. Mostly because I love A Song of Ice and Fire and I respect George R. R. Martin too much to dive in here and heavily criticise the cover art on his series, no matter how much I may not like it.

What I will do, however, is give my opinions and thoughts and tell you why I feel these new covers do not do the series justice. This is nothing against the books themselves. This is a rant squarely aimed at the cover art.

With that said, I don’t know who decided that this would be the new look for the novels that birthed one of the most popular TV series in recent memory. Is this what we can come to expect from all our fantasy covers in the future?

Game of Thrones

Alright, I do know who made the design decision behind these covers. I won’t name names, but the article from the man himself is linked at the end.

Now, I’m not 100% on whether these are only UK reissues or not. I suspect that’s the case. According to the designer behind these covers, the brief was to appeal to readers outside of the typical core.

Basically: ‘OK, Game of Thrones is really popular. Everyone watches it on TV. Let’s cash in on the same audience who know literally nothing about the fantasy genre.’

This probably means that the books will also now end up in the General/Modern Fiction section in book stores, as well as Sci-fi/Fantasy.

But what have they ended up with? A bunch of covers that wouldn’t be out of place on a collection of travel books. Take Game of Thrones for a start. The story itself takes place across such varied, spectacular locations as The Wall, King’s Landing, Essos, Winterfell, The Eyrie and numerous battlefields.

Literally never have I ever pictured a scene like the one on the front of this book. Generic mountains next to a generic sea under some depressing grey clouds. Where is this? The wilderness near Winterfell, where no characters ever go?

Is this really what we have to look forward to when publishers decide they want fantasy novels to appeal to a wider readership? Hey, a new Stormlight Archives book is coming out! Right, let’s go to Arizona for a photoshoot. People will never guess it’s fantasy! Or what about the last Kingkiller Chronicle novel, Doors of Stone? Easy, just Google “old doors” and slap it on there with an endorsement from Stephen King, that’ll appeal to the masses.

No. Leave my fantasy alone.

Here are a selection of other new covers from the rest of the series:

Clash of KingsStorm of SwordsDance with Dragons

 I don’t know about you, but:

  1. Lawrence of Arabia
  2. A Town in Greece
  3. A Town in a Desert

OK, let’s do the rest (no particular order)…

Storm of SwordsFeast for CrowsDance with Dragons 2

  1. Monastery by the Sea
  2. On the Slopes of Mount Doom (This is the best of the lot)
  3. The Grey, starring Liam Neeson

These are all nice photographs, don’t get me wrong. But they are not A Song of Ice and Fire. They are not evocative of fantasy.

Time will tell how the public react to these new covers. Will elderly ladies pick these up along with their regular Maeve Binchy? Hey, it’s not that far-fetched…


I personally feel these new covers are uninspired, a little generic and do not really connect with the story or the world contained within. I get that the publisher wants to broaden the reach of these novels and capitalise on the success of the TV show, but is this really the way to do it?

Let me know what you think, I’d be interested to see what everyone else’s opinion is on these. Thanks for reading – bring on the weekend!

Waterstones Blog Link: http://www.waterstones.com/blog/2014/02/winter-is-coming/

Enjoyed this post? Why not join the discussion in the comments below? Go on, it’s sure to be epic!



    1. It was intentional actually not to allow comments there. We’re only going to feature things in there for positive achievements and we’ll probably run some kind of voting in the future to induct things into the Hall of Epicness. Although I somewhat agree with your suggestion, it can’t go in unfortunately!

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