Like most readers, I do my best not to judge a book by its cover. I do, however, like to judge covers in their own right. I thought it would be a bit of fun to look through my fantasy book collection and see which covers were my favourite.
This list is in no particular order – they are just covers that I really like!
George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire series isn’t known for its covers. Most of them are pretty simple and plain, and they certainly aren’t on many people’s favourite lists, however the cover to his short story The Ice Dragon is beautiful.
The book is illustrated (as it’s a children’s book) by Luis Royo and it’s beautiful. The ice dragon on the cover is the perfect mix of both beautiful and terrifying.
Despite the complexity and detail of the dragon and its rider, the cover is also quite minimalist, allowing the subject of the cover to really stand out.
All three covers in R. F. Kuang‘s The Poppy War series are incredible, and seem to have been designed with the UK Cosmere covers in mind as inspiration. The cover artist has made the style their own, however. The smokey texture in the colours is what really draws me to the covers, but The Dragon Republic is definitely my favourite of the three.
Seeing Rin with the black wings on a white background has an effect on you, and that effect changes once you have read the book. I love how it links to such an important aspect of the plot, so it works like a little hint, but even without that knowledge you can’t help but love the mystical feel it gives off.
As I have already mentioned the Cosmere, I thought I would show my favourite cover from Brandon Sanderson’s books.
The Way of Kings has an epic cover. The knight on the front in black armour could have been such a terrible choice of design, but the artist has used the smokey, minimalist style in such a way that it just looks amazing! I love how the black and the red intertwine in such a natural way.
The face is a bit weird, but it’s by no means the focal point of the artwork, so it doesn’t bother me too much. I also like how there is a vague landscape behind the knight but it merges into the white background and allows us to focus predominantly on the armoured figure.
This cover of The Wise Man’s Fear, book two in Patrick Rothfuss‘ Kingkiller Chronicle, is my favourite of the three books he has released so far. The autumn theme feels whimsical which is a perfect reflection of an important section of the book – if the strangest.
The image of Kvothe in the centre is a little odd as the story is rarely about Kvothe being an action-packed hero, but the main reason I love this cover is because of the fairytale-like autumn colour theme. I think that might be the only reason I like this cover, but it’s my list so I can do what I like!
I really love this classic-style of fantasy book covers, and Trudi Canavan‘s The Age of Five trilogy are all done in a similar way. I, unfortunately, don’t own this edition, and the one I do own is nowhere near as good as this.
The image of the Wild on the cover depicts the fantastical, magical feel of the book. The tree and woods behind her remind me of the Green Worlds Shakespeare often used in his plays – they were a place where anything could happen because they were magical places beyond the boundaries of the real world. The way she is dressed is a nice change from the sometimes sexualised images of female fantasy protagonists, but it is also just a really cool outfit which shows the fashion of the world.
I love these books, so there might be an element of nostalgia to this pick, but I really love this cover.
The cover of Gardens of the Moon screams EPIC. Steven Erikson‘s Malazan Book of the Fallen series arguably has great covers on all the books, however I think that right now the cover of the first book is my favourite.
It’s dark, gothic, and the landscape of the image hints at a spralling world. There are no people in this cover which is another reason I like it. It makes a nice change! The tower with the mountains behind it speak for themselves. This is a series about an entire world, not just one or two people. It is a true epic, and you had better get ready to get lost in the world.
Anything drawn by Alan Lee is incredible and should be on this list. If there was the space, and I had the time, I would talk about all of the covers and illustrations he has done.
The Fall of Gondolin is my favourite of all the covers, though. It is hard to pinpoint the exact reasons I love it so much. Much like with Gardens of the Moon, but moreso, the city with the mountainous landscape behind, and the long walk for the figure to it at the forefront, we get the impression that the world is incredibly large and this is only a slither.
The artwork on its own speaks for itself when it comes to the beauty of this cover, so I will let you look at it for yourself to see what I mean!
Those are my favourite fantasy book covers! What are yours? Let me know down in the comments.