After the Conspiracy: Alexandra Rowland’s A Choir of Lies Revealed

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Last year, Alexandra Rowland’s debut novel A Conspiracy of Truths wowed us with an intricate story of political subterfuge and made us giggle with (and gasp at the sheer audacity of) its foul-mouthed, story-spinning protagonist Chant, who, from a prison cell, threatened to bring down a kingdom using only the power of his words. A fantasy for the era of fake news, the novel explores how much power we place in stories—the ones we tell each other, and the ones we’d like to believe about ourselves.

This fall, Rowland returns to this word-spun world in A Choir of Lies, picking up the tale three years later to examine the repercussions of Chant’s deeds through the eyes of his young apprentice.

Today, we’re pleased to reveal the cover for the sequel, every bit as gorgeous (and hiding just as many secrets) as that of the first volume. The center artwork is by Ryan Begley, with design by Nicholas Sciacca. Check it out below the official summary.

Three years ago, Ylfing watched his master-Chant tear a nation apart with nothing but the words on his tongue. Now he’s all alone somewhere new, broken-hearted and grieving but a Chant in his own right, employed as a translator to Sterre de Waeyer, a wealthy merchant of luxury goods, while he struggles to come to terms with what his master did, with the audiences he’s been alienated from, and with the stories he can no longer trust himself to tell.

That is, until Ylfing’s employer finds out what he is, what he does, and what he knows. At Sterre’s command, he begins telling stories once more, fanning the city into a mania for a few shipments of an exotic flower. The prices skyrocket, but when disaster looms – a disaster that only the two of them recognize – Ylfing has to face what he has done and decide who he wants to be: A man who walks away and lets the city shatter, as his master did? Or… something else?

A story can be powerful enough to bring a nation to its knees, certainly. But in the right hands, a story can rebuild a broken dam, keep the floodwaters back, and save a life – or ten thousand lives.

Art by Ryan Begley, design by Nicholas Sciacca

A Choir of Lies will be released in September 2019. A Conspiracy of Truths is available now.

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Love Locke Lamora? Meet Walter Jon Williams’ Quillifer the Knight

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In 2017, we declared Walter Jon Williams’ Quillifer “the most fun you’ll have reading epic fantasy all year,” and we stand by that claim: few entries in the genre are as equally well-imagined and cheeky as this period piece, which follows the titular upperclass lawyer-turned rogue after pirates attack his city and take everything he has.

Next year, the fun continues in the sequel, Quillifer the Knight, coming in October from Saga Press! Today, we’re showing off the cover, from artist Alejandro Colucci and art director Greg Stadnyk, and providing your first look at the plot description.

Find both below, and if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, pick up Quillifer. It’s really is a delight.

Travel the path between Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and you will find Walter Jon Williams’s Quillifer.

Quillifer, now a (minor) member of nobility, with some renown as a clever warrior, returns to court after two years away and finds himself further involved in politics and charged by the Queen with fighting off a dragon that has been razing the countryside of Duisland—what might be a chivalric suicide mission for any other knight.

All the while, the outcast princess Floria—Quillifer’s ex-lover—suddenly finds herself in a position of power via a rebellion stoked by a certain brilliant tactician as a long war, long war begins. But Quillifer has made his mark.

In this sequel, Williams, a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, returns to his clever swashbuckling fantasy series Publishers Weekly called a “ sprawling, lively episodic adventure.”


Quillifer the Knight will be published in October 2019. Quillifer is available now in paperback.

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Explore the Weird Worlds of Kameron Hurley in Meet Me in the Future: Stories

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade is high on our list of most-anticipated 2019 books, and it certainly belongs on yours. It’s a time travel-meets-military science fiction novel from one of the genre’s brightest stars, and the advance word is even stronger than that which greeted her last novel, the fearless feminist space opera epic The Stars Are Legion; a fews months out from its March release, it has already received prestigious starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly.

But that’s not the only book Hurley’s legions of readers have to look forward to this year. This summer, she’s releasing her second short story collection, following on from 2017’s Apocalypse Nyx. Whereas that book featured only tales set in the continuity of her God’s War trilogy and starring the hard-as-nails title character, the badass bounty hunter Nyx, Meet Me in the Future: Stories ranges far wider and gets even weirder. Across 16 stories, you’ll meet a necromantic mercenary (“Elephants and Corpses”), a sartorial detective (“Garda,” previously published on this very blog), and, yes, time-traveling soldiers in a future war (the inspiration for the forthcoming novel of the same name, “The Light Brigade” originally appeared in Lightspeed Magazine).

Though some of them have appeared elsewhere, many of these stories were previously only available to “Hurley’s Heroes,” her affectionate nickname for her backers on Patreon. Taken together, they offer a remarkable sampling of one of the genre’s most valuable voices.

Today, we’re pleased to show off the cover of the collection, coming in August from Tachyon Publications. Check it out below the official summary, along with the complete table of contents, and preorder now.

“Kameron Hurley’s writing is the most exciting thing I’ve seen on the genre page.” —Richard K. Morgan, author of Altered Carbon

When renegade author Kameron Hurley (The Light Brigade; The Stars Are Legion) takes you to the future—be prepared for the unexpected. Yes, it will be dangerous, frequently brutal, and often devastating. But it’s also savagely funny, deliriously strange, and absolutely brimming with adventure.

In these edgy, unexpected tales, a body-hopping mercenary avenges his pet elephant, and an orphan falls in love with a sentient starship. Fighters ally to power a reality-bending engine, and a swamp-dwelling introvert tries to save the world—from her plague-casting former wife.

So come meet Kameron Hurley in the future. The version she’s created here is weirder—and far more hopeful—than you could ever imagine.


Of the cover, Hurley said, “I love it when a publisher really, truly gets what I’m doing as a writer. I had no idea how the braintrust at Tachyon was going to distill over a decade of what makes a Hurley story and put it on a cover. When they sent this one over to me I just typed: ‘YES THIS IS IT! THIS IS PERFECT!’ Those are the best cover consults, when you as the author just give a thumbs up and get back to work. I’ve been thrilled to work with Tachyon on this collection, and on Apocalypse Nyx before it. Fabulous folks who truly appreciate the work.”

Here is the collection’s table of contents:

An Introduction: Meet Me in The Future, by Kameron Hurley
“Elephants and Corpses”
“When We Fall”
“The Red Secretary”
“The Sinners and the Sea”
“The Women of Our Occupation”
“The Fisherman and the Pig”
“Garda”
“The Plague Givers”
“Tumbledown”
“Warped Passages”
“Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light!”
“Enyo-Enyo”
“The Corpse Archives”
“The War of Heroes”
“The Light Brigade”
“The Improbable War”

Preorder Meet Me in the Future: Stories, available August 20, 2019.

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Return to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In The Jewel and Her Lapidarya Hugo, Nebula, and Locus best novelette nominee, and a 2016 LA Public Library best book—Fran Wilde introduced readers to a world of hidden histories, warring kingdoms, magical gemstones, and the powerful Lapidaries who bind them.

This summer, Wilde returns to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism. As the book opens, the last remaining gems have been bound—perhaps unwisely—into new settings, and the control of knowledge, and the binding of it, has fallen to a time-traveling librarian, a thief, and a printing press operator.

The Gemworld is a story cycle that begins with the scattering of the powerful gemstones of the Jeweled Valley across the six kingdoms of the world. From Lin and Sima’s rebellion in The Jewel and Her Lapidary, to the exploration of the dangerous powers of the “Topaz Marquise” in the same-titled short story (available as an ebook or on Tor.com), to the mysteries of “Ruby, Singing” (another short story published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, it is a world emerging in facets, and The Fire Opal Mechanism reveals yet more of them.

Today, we reveal the cover for the book, with art by Tommy Arnold (who also provided illustrations for Wilde’s Bone Universe trilogy and The Jewel and Her Lapidary). Find it below the official summary—followed by some thoughts from the author.

Jewels and their lapidaries and have all but passed into myth.

Jorit, broke and branded a thief, just wants to escape the Far Reaches for something better. Ania, a rumpled librarian, is trying to protect her books from the Pressmen, who value knowledge but none of the humanity that generates it.

When they stumble upon a mysterious clock powered by an ancient jewel, they may discover secrets in the past that will change the future forever.


“With the Gemworld, I want to tell stories about the human condition—about objectification and lost voices, about memory and hope for the future—that I think gemstones sometimes embody… at least these particular gemstones,” Wilde said. “Someday soon (very soon, I promise!) there will be a catalog of the gems, but until then, readers can collect their stories, and see their impact on their world, in these stories.”

As to her thoughts on the cover of the new book:

“I love in particular how Tommy Arnold has conveyed the connections with the cover of this novella,” she said. “The scene from the cover of The Jewel and Her Lapidary, where Lin and Sima are trapped by soldiers, seems to have evolved and escalated for these two new characters in a distant future—and that’s exactly what’s happened [to the Gemworld]. Tommy is a master of drawing the thematic threads from my stories and weaving them into the covers. ”

Preorder The Fire Opal Mechanism, available June 4, 2019.

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Flogging Mollys: Revealing Tade Thompson’s The Survival of Molly Southbourne

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In 2017, we thrilled at The Murders of Molly Southbourne, the novella-length debut from Tade Thompson (who later went on to wow us in longer form with the aliens-over-Nigeria thriller Rosewater). It’s a bloody horrific little story about a woman with a terrible affliction: every time she bleeds, she births a double of herself, identical in every way and more than eager to replace her by means of violence.

In the first book, Molly found an… unexpected way to cure herself, but it would appear the method didn’t take—or so we assume: this year, Molly returns in The Survival of Molly Southbourne, and today, we’re showing off the cover.

Find it below the official summary, and place your preorders for the book’s July 9 release.

Who was Molly Southbourne? What did she leave behind?

A burnt-out basement. A name stained in blood. Bodies that remember murder, one of them left alive. A set of rules that no longer apply.

Molly Southbourne is alive. If she wants to survive, she’ll need to run, hide, and be ready to fight. There are people who remember her, who know what she is and what she’s done. Some want her alive, some want her dead, and all hold a piece to the puzzles in her head. Can Molly escape them, or will she confront the bloody history that made her?

Cover photograph © Wojciech Zwolinski/Arcangel; cover design by Christine Foltzer

Preorder The Survival of Molly Southbourne, available July 9, 2019.

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A Grave Robber Is in Grave Danger in The Resurrectionist of Caligo

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The Resurrectionist of Caligo is one of those books that sells itself on a single sentence: a grave robber finds himself on the run after being accused of murdering one of the corpses he’s dug up. Genius—especially once you add in a hint of macabre magic in the form of a princess schooled in blood magic.

It’s a combination that landed Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga’s co-written novel on our list of 25 debuts we can’t wait to read in 2019—and now that we’ve seen the gorgeous cover (from artist John Coulthart) and read an excerpt the first chapter, we’re even more confident this is going to be as fun as it sounds.

What’s that? You’d like to see the cover and read an excerpt too? Well, then keep scrolling! Below the official summary you’ll find both! The Resurrectionist of Caligo arrives September 10, and you can preorder the book now.

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

Chapter One

Dolorous Avenue, where Caligo’s most venerable families were interred, descended trench-like into the ground, a sliver of sky visible through the encroaching flora. The ivy-sheathed family crypts stood in rows like townhouses. Flagstone paths lead to wrought-iron porticoes that shielded crypt doors from the weather. Tiny glowing ghostcandle mushrooms sprouted from chinks between the stones, and the statue of some long-dead queen clawed the air with marble fingers. Decades of rain had streaked sooty tears down her face.

Roger drew the garlic from his pocket. He tore off a clove, peeled it, and popped it in his mouth. Chewing slowly, he knelt before the metal door of the Smith crypt, then tossed another garlic clove at the statue for good measure. A decorative iron curlicue blocked the keyhole, meant to deter amateurs. Roger gave the obstruction a practiced twist and slid it aside.

“May the foul Caligo mists blacken my lungs long afore the were-beasts get me.” The sound of his voice banished fear – a little.

He glanced over his shoulder at the marble queen. Had she moved? Roger stood and approached her, watching her stone fingers as if they might conjure sparks, or fountains of ink, or whatever illusory faerie-rubbish the royals waved about as proof of their superiority.

“Poor jammy tartlet.” Roger passed a hand over her marble cheek. “Having to witness my transgressions. You won’t sell me out, will you, your highness?”

He gave a mock bow and retreated to the crypt door. Lifting a surgeon’s charm from beneath his shirt, he kissed the shard of skull embedded in pewter for luck. He selected a tension wrench and, working by feel, torqued the lock’s internal cylinder, then manipulated the tumbler pins with a diamond pick.

“May Reason drive out the hags and warlocks who sell their unicorn paste on Mouthstreet to the unschooled masses,” he whispered. The internal mechanism clicked. Close. So close. And then…

Pang. Pang. Pang.

Roger froze. Metal struck metal – three times, then silence.

“I refuse,” he whispered as cold sweat dribbled down his forehead, “as a man of science to acknowledge witchcraft, spirits, vampyres, polterghosts, goblins, fae, volcanic subdragons, saint-sprites, mermaids, miracles–”

Pang. Pang. Pang.

The sound came from Roger’s right. Shadows enveloped the portico. Behind him, he could make out the gray, rain-washed cobbles of Dolorous Avenue and the silhouette of the stone queen.

A faint blue light floated in the dark before his eyes. His stomach twisted.

Wary of watchmen, Roger hadn’t bothered with a light. Now, arrest by a flesh-and-blood man seemed almost… welcoming. Roger fumbled in his pocket for a candle. He struck frantically with his flint and iron, struggling to light the damp tinder, then the wick. At last the flame flared up.

With a shaking hand, Roger raised the candle toward the shadows. He nearly fainted at the sight. A child swayed in the far corner, a pale girl-like thing in a puff of white nightdress. Her hands clasped a bouquet of glowing mushrooms – the hovering light. Her white sliver of neck ended in a blob of darkness. No head, no face.

The candle rolled from Roger’s fingers. “By the Lady’s nethers!” He couldn’t rise from his knees, nor unclasp his hands.

Whaaaaaatddddiiiiidyouuuuuubringmeeeeeeee???

Roger pressed his palms to his face. Garlic oil coated his fingertips. He pulled the second bulb from his pocket, lobbed it at where the girl-thing’s head should have been, then grabbed the candle. It hadn’t gone out.

The being crouched and caught the garlic bulb when it bounced off the wall. A face like a half moon appeared above her neck, as if she’d swung back a mop of dark hair. Her mouth made a thin line. No eyes, just black holes.

Hottttttttcroossssssssbuuuuuunssssss

She tore at the garlic, defying all that superstitious nonsense of its protective qualities. A clove hit his shoulder. His chin. His eye. He heard a shriek. Her? Or himself?

Roger lurched to his feet. His head smacked a curl of wrought-iron lattice. The holes in the being’s face filled his vision. All went dark.

 

Garlic – strong and fresh – tickled his nose. He felt ill.

“You ain’t dead.” A voice. A girl’s voice, lit with annoyance but otherwise normal. “If your legs work now, then run. Afore I fetch someone bigger.”

Roger lay on his back. He struggled to sit up. A girl crouched over him holding the candle. He wiped crushed garlic from his upper lip, blinking. She was a normal-looking girl with a soaked, otherwise normal-looking face.

“See?” she said. “I washed off the flour an’ the coal. You ain’t being hauled off to hell just yet.”

“That were… you?”

“I like scaring scoundrels, not killing ’em. But breaking locks, grave robbing and such, you near deserve it. Besides, I saw the prison brand on your neck. Get nabbed again, and you’ll hang.”

Roger Weathersby, man of science, faced with this more-or-less logical explanation for his paranormal experience, laughed. It hurt. His head throbbed. Self-consciously he retied his neckcloth to cover the black, crenellated wall tattoo that marked him as an ex-convict. Warm blood plastered his hair to his forehead. “So what,” he said at last. “You the caretaker’s lass or some such?”

The girl thrust the candle flame at Roger’s nose. “A minute ago you was begging for mercy. I won’t let you forget it. Who am I? My mother is a night-walking pixie and Queen of Crumpets. I work in a laundry during the day while she sleeps, and at night she turns into a faerie. She brings me hot cross buns.”

She paused. “What’s that look for? You think I’m mad?”

“You mean your mother is a street-walking doxy and Queen of Strumpets, right? She lets the dead watch you while her room is busy, eh? Got a cozy nest in a hollowed-out crypt somewhere? Smart lady, your mother.” Roger had apprenticed for an undertaker and seen what could befall a nine year-old girl fending for herself on the streets.

Preorder The Resurrectionist of Caligo, available September 10, 2019.

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History Twists in The Last Tsar’s Dragon by Jane Yolen

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

As the author of well more than 300 books—many of them in the genres we all love best—Jane Yolen is a veritable institution in sci-fi and fantasy, and yet any new book from her warrants excitement for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you never know quite what to expect when you crack one of them open (her most recent is a novella-length prose poem about a contemporary Baba Yaga).

Today, we’re happy to bring you news—and the cover—for one of her next releases. Co-written with her regular collaborator (and son) Adam Stemple (Singer of Souls), The Last Tsar’s Dragon is a fantastical alternate history that brings dragons into the true story of the waning days of the Russian monarchy.

Check out the official summery below, followed by the cover, with art by Elizabeth Story and design by Anabelle Gerardy Design.

It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Although the Tsar continues to send his reign of fire to scorch his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—instead he lays waste to his entire country.

Even dragons are cannot quell the conspiracies arising around the Tsar, from the ranks of the oppressed, political operatives, and one nameless functionary watching power slip away. Even the Tsar’s foreign-born wife believes that his tactics are tantamount to evil. But revolution is in the air—and the Red Army is hatching its own weapons.

Discover the crux of Russian history as it is radically and entertainingly re-imagined by dynamic writing team Jane Yolen (The Emerald Circus) and Adam Stemple.

Preorder The Last Tsar’s Dragon, available June 19, 2019.

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Bradley P. Beaulieu Answers 5 Questions About the Cover of Beneath the Twisted Trees

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Next summer, Bradley P. Beaulieu and DAW Books deliver Beneath the Twisted Trees, the fourth volume of the Song of Shattered Sands, the immensely epic, immensely rewarding fantasy series that began with 2015’s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. We’ve loved following this sand-swept Middle East-inspired saga—and the fate of its tenacious protagonist, pit-fighter turned rebel leader Çeda—and been in love with its world ever since we first glimpsed the shining city on the cover of the first book.

And speaking of covers, since then, we’ve also brought you your first of Çeda herself on the cover of book two, With Blood Upon the Sand, and today, we’re sharing the artwork that will adorn Beneath the Twisted Trees, created by Micah Epstein. Check it out below the official summary, and then keep reading for a quick q&A session with the author, who shares his thoughts on the challenges of crafting a mid-series cover, and shares a few of his favorite covers of all time.

The fourth book in The Song of Shattered Sands series—an epic fantasy with a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action.

When a battle to eradicate the Thirteenth Tribe goes awry, the kingdoms bordering the desert metropolis of Sharakhai see the city as weak and ripe for conquest. Çeda, now leader of the Shieldwives, a band of skilled desert swordswomen, hopes to use the growing chaos to gain freedom for Sehid-Alaz, the ancient, undying king of her people. Freeing him is only the beginning, however. Like all the people of her tribe on that fateful night four centuries earlier, Sehid-Alaz was cursed, turned into an asir, a twisted, miserable creature beholden to the kings of Sharakhai—to truly free her king, Çeda must break the chains that bind him.

As Sharakhai’s enemies close in and the assault on the city begins, Çeda works feverishly to unlock the mysteries of the asirim’s curse. But danger lies everywhere. Enemy forces roam the city; the Blade Maidens close in on her; her own father, one of the kings of Sharakhai, wants Çeda to hang. Worst of all, the gods themselves have begun to take notice of Çeda’s pursuits.

When the combined might of Sharakhai and the desert gods corner the survivors of the Thirteenth Tribe in a mountain fastness, the very place that nearly saw their annihilation centuries ago, Çeda knows the time has come. She was once an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai. She has been an assassin in dark places. A weapon poised to strike from the shadows. A voice from the darkness, striving to free her people.

No longer.

Now she’s going to lead.

The age of the Kings is coming to an end . . .


Our interview with Bradley P. Beaulieu follows…

You’ve officially crossed the halfway point of this six-book saga, and the cover seems to signal that, with a more intimate portrait of Çeda than we’ve seen before. What can you tell us about this image, and how it relates to where we are in the overall story arc?
It’s a great observation. I felt like it was time for a cover that showed more of Çeda’s personality. She began this journey with a lot of fire in her heart. She was only a girl when she vowed to avenge her mother’s death at the hands of the kings of Sharakhai. Later, when her path crossed that of a king time had forgotten, it reawakened that quest in her, but she’d vastly underestimated how difficult it was going to be. As driven as she was, as capable as she was in some ways, she was too inexperienced, and armed with too little information, to follow through on her vow.

Things have changed a lot since then. Over the course of the first three books, we see Çeda grow into someone more up to the task of taking on the Kings. She’s gained in her abilities. She’s gained in her knowledge of the thirteenth tribe and made powerful allies. As the fourth book opens, Çeda knows that time is fleeting and that Sharakhai’s fate will soon be decided. And now she’s ready to act.

That sense of readiness is what I hoped to capture in the cover, and I think Micah did a wonderful job of it. The Çeda we see here is confident and capable, a woman not just willing to do what it takes to protect those who’ve suffered so greatly under the rule of the kings, but able. At last, she’s ready to step out from the shadows and lead.

With prior books, you’ve been very involved in the process of cover creation. Was that the case this time? Were there any other directions considered before this one was chosen?
This cover was a little different in that we didn’t really consider too many other options. From the start, my editor and publisher, Betsy Wollheim, her art director, Adam Auerbach, and I were pretty laser focused on zooming in on Çeda. And, given the title of the book, we wanted the adichara trees to be involved as well. The trees play such a central role in the story. They tie closely to the asirim, the miserable creatures who live among the roots beneath them. They are a link to Sharakhai’s past. So we all felt confident in a cover that accentuated these two things (Çeda and the trees) in a dynamic, impactful way.

I provided various references for the trees and Çeda’s garb. Some were from the text itself. Others were from the Pinterest board I keep for the Shattered Sands series. We went through a color sketch stage and then a final rendering, and I provided a few thoughts on each. I’ll be honest, though. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a powerful cover, so my input in these last few stages was minimal.

As someone who has designed and commissioned art for your own self-published books, I’m curious: is it more important for you to have a cover that seems true to the book, or one that is more marketable (i.e. in line with current trends)?
Years ago, when I was just breaking into the field, I would have said I want a cover that seems true to the book. I wanted a scene rendered that could encapsulate the grandeur of it all, the same way that the covers of my youth did. My thoughts on the subject have evolved, though. I’m published all over the world. I do this writing thing for a living. My livelihood depends on sales. And so I’ve come to see book covers for what they really are: marketing devices.

This isn’t to say I don’t want a cover that’s true the story. I do. And I have my own personal views on what might make for a good cover. But in the end I recognize my voice is just one among many. It would be shortsighted of me, even foolish, to want my tastes placed above all others. There are, after all, a hundred ways to approach cover design. A thousand. And the thing of it is, I trust my publishers, art directors, and the artists themselves to be more up on trends than I am.

It’s easy for authors to think of covers as permanent, which is partly why we get so particular about them. And I suppose in a way they are permanent, but they’re also a snapshot in time. The artistic tastes of the readership is a constantly changing thing. There’s a sense of one-upmanship and finding the next big trend in art and cover design. And so we have to look at covers as being designed not so much for the book itself, but as a way to attract the maximum amount of attention in this Darwinian evolution of artistic tastes and messaging.

That’s a pretty long-winded way of saying that these days I’m more concerned about the marketing. The cover’s primary job begins and ends with enticing the reader to pick up the book (virtually or otherwise). It’s then the story’s job to keep them there.

Can you think of a recent book with a cover that really stood out to you, or one you picked up just for the cover?
I love maps, and so Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, with the stylistic map of London incorporated into the design, was instantly attractive to me. I like all of the the Peter Grant series covers rendered in that style.

I also love series that set a specific tone and style up front and stick with it throughout. A great example is John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series. Each book has a different weapon on the cover but the series as a whole has a consistent, epic feel to it.

The covers of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series are wonderful. The abstract characters and subtle use of maps in various basic shapes make for really eye-catching designs.

Lastly, I’ll call out Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. There’s something really subtle and effective going on with all of them. Relatively simple backgrounds are used throughout, but the typography, layout, and subtle use of light combine to really make them pop.

What are some of your personal favorite fantasy covers of all time?
I have to call out Michael Whelan in general, who created so many iconic covers, from C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy, to Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, to Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series. And on and on. He had a huge influence on the books I bought during high school and beyond.

I’ll also call out Walter Velez’s art for Thieves’ World, a thing that had me flipping to the cover constantly to imagine various scenes set in and around the Vulgar Unicorn.

And Tolkien’s own cover art that graced the 1970s Ballantine editions of The Lord of the Rings, the covers I first found in my grade school library, hold a special place in my heart. I didn’t know at the time that Tolkien himself had made them, but I find that they have just the right amount of whimsy, mysticism, and adventure packed into them.

Preorder Beneath the Twisted Trees, available July 16, 2019. The first three books of the Song of Shattered Sands are available now.

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We’re Serving Up Another Heaping Helping of Tokyo Ghoul with the B&N Exclusive Monster Edition, Vol. 2

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Last year, just when you thought manga sensation Tokyo Ghoul couldn’t get any more thrillingly, disgustingly delicious, we served you up the Barnes & Noble exclusive Tokyo Ghoul: Monster Edition, collecting the first three volumes of the smash series in an oversized format, printed on premium paper (the better to savor all the gory details), and with a cover as lurid as the flesh-munching action within.

And you positively ate it up. (We knew you would.) Ghouls that you are, since then, you’ve no doubt been hungry for more.

That’s why we’re doubly delighted to announce Tokyo Ghoul Monster Edition, Volume 2, another heaping helping of the ghoul vs. ghoul vs. Ghoul Investigator drama you crave.

Check out the cover below in eyeball-popping full color, and place your preorders now: the book arrives next April, and once again, you can only find it at Barnes & Noble.
Tokyo Ghoul: Monster Edition, Vol. 1 is available now. Preorder Volume 2, out April 19, 2019.

The post We’re Serving Up Another Heaping Helping of Tokyo Ghoul with the B&N Exclusive Monster Edition, Vol. 2 appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

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Revealing This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

A little over one year ago, we brought you the first word of This Is How You Lose the Time War, a jointly written novella of temporal warfare and timeline-cross’d romance co-written by award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Today, we’re pleased to close that loop (a small time travel joke, y’all) with another post telling you a little bit more about the hotly anticipated mashup—arriving on shelves next summer from Saga Press—and showing off the cover art, which takes illustrating the concept of love amid a brutal war across time in an unexpected direction…

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

Co-written by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.

As you can tell from the blurb—and as you might expect if you’ve read the authors’ prior bodies of work—this is a book that blurs the lines between pure genre and quote-unquote literature, and the cover—designed by Greg Stadnyk— reflects that with clever subtlety. As Saga Press editor Navah Wolfe puts it: “How to capture a book that feels epic, romantic, literary, and spans all of time and space in one cover? I barely knew where to start—but Greg knocked this one out of the park.”

Amal is a big fan. “I absolutely adore this cover! It really gets to Red and Blue as the heart of the book: their distance from human, their equal-and-opposite-ness, the way they reflect and distort each other across time and space,” she said. “Everything else is details I can’t wait for readers to discover.”

Adds Max: “Red and Blue make war through broken time—they are enemies and reflections and more, they’re inhuman and all too human. I love how this cover captures that shape, that rhythm. Maybe the birds are broken, and the type. Or maybe it’s the world that’s broken against them.”

This Is How You Lose the Time War will be released July 16, 2019, but you can preorder now, which is kind of like time traveling, if you think about it.

The post Revealing This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/revealing-this-is-how-you-lose-the-time-war-by-max-gladstone-amal-el-mohtar/