I found out in August that Todd Lockwood was going to be the new cover artist for The Straits of Galahesh, the second book in my Lays of Anuskaya series. Let me tell you, it’s been hard to keep things under wraps for so long. I’ve been fortunate to be able to provide a bit of input and feedback on the process. It’s been very insightful and fascinating to see the steps the cover has gone through.
The scene that was chosen for the cover is on in which Nikandr has gone to a floating village called Mirashadal. I won’t reveal the reasons he goes there, but when he does he runs into a bit of trouble—as heroes tend to do—and he has to make a rather quick exit. The result is what ended up on the cover.
Todd finished up the art yesterday and I wanted to share. Check this out:
Todd also added a few detail shots on his Behind the Water Heater blog.
I actually get a bit of vertigo if I stare at Nikandr for too long. He’s got such a great sense of motion to him. And there are wonderful details all around. The ship, the wheeling birds, the perch with its branch system, the walrus tusk bandolier. I love that Todd chose to portray one of the two men on the perch as hunkered over, like he’d been punched in the throat. And that’s because, well, he’d just been punched in the throat by Nikandr. One of my favorite parts, oddly enough, is how Nikandr’s right boot is almost photo-realistic and how it’s sharp against the slightly out-of-focus background. The ship is great with it’s windborne (as opposed to waterborne) hull. The billowing sails. The masts and shrouds and lines. I could go on and on. I love it. As far as I’m concerned, this is wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what Night Shade does with the cover design.
One of the more interesting tricks is the addition of the gulls. They were one of the latest elements added, but they’re brilliant because they give a sense of scale to the heights above Nikandr and the distance to the windship. They are a known quantity that brings sense to the unknown scale of the so-awesome-I-can-hardly-stand-it windship. I love the shadow play against the hull of the ship, too, and the golden embellishments thereupon. I can practically feel how dangerous it would feel to step out onto the expose windward mast (the one sprouting from the side of the ship we would call starboard).
I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention that in the book this is a night scene. But do I care? No. Not one bit. Covers are meant to represent the work—they are not the work itself—and they are a marketing tool meant to entice people into picking up the book to see if they’d like to take it out on a date. Does this do that? Yes, yes it does. This is something that I’d definitely stop and take another look at if I was browsing through a store. And I think it passes the icon test as well, as it’s recognizable at small scales.
On the whole, this is wonderful, and another feather in the cap for the Night Shade art team.