Pixel Glade

Fantasy Cover Art Appreciation Part 02

03 February 2023

Sharing the Second Batch of Book Covers

As explained in Part 01 of the Fantasy Cover Art Appreciation post, I went to a yearly second hand book sale called Bookfest by the charity Lifeline and took photos of the book covers which appealed to me to look up the artists.

Click each cover to visit their edition metadata on the speculative fiction database when available.

Julian May

Julian May also published under names like Ian Thorne, J. C. May, and others.

The covers of her books are by Geoff Taylor and Stephen Bradbury. I grouped Julian May in this post with David Eddings because they share cover artists.

Trillium Series

The covers for Blood Trillium (1992) and Sky Trillium (1997) are both by Geoff Taylor.

Cover of Blood Trillium by Julian May. A woman in a violet cloak holds a glowing orb before a background of the ocean and large ice platforms. Cover of Sky Trillium by Julian May. A band of travellers drift across a river in a boat in the early evening in the woods.

Galactic Milieu

Diamond Mask (1994) and Magnificat (1996) were both illustrated by Stephen Bradbury. Galactic Milieu is not a series but is a shared universe of stories. Diamond Mask and Magnificat are part of the same series but The Adversary (1984) seems to be part of the same universe, but a different books series. Visually they share the central composition, the presence of volcanic rock, ice mountains (extreme temperatures), and precious gems or stones.

Cover of Diamond Mask by Julian May. A silvery man with wings bursts from an egg cracked over lava. Behind him are two ice mountains. The starry sky in space is behind it with the image of a woman's face imposed over the sky. Cover of Magnificat by Julian May. A silvery man with wings is bowed over a river, looking into the water. Above him is a  diamond with an elongated reptile wrapped around it. Woods and ice mountains are behind the man and an old woman's face is superimposed over the sky where sunbursts appear over her head. Cover of The Adversary by Julian May. A chrome snake is wrapped around and through a pillar of glass or diamond sitting over volcanic rock with ice mountains behind it..

The Rampart Worlds

The last of Julian May's books I got a photo of is of the book Orion Arm (2000), the cover was illustrated by Stephen Bradbury. The visual style of this cover is very different to the books from the Galactic Milieu series.

Cover of Orion Arm by Julian May. A large sun or explosion expands in the distance surrounded by jagged, barren mountains. The point of view is from the shore of a beach. The seas are stormy and beams of rainbow shoot from storm clouds like lightning. Plants with odd orb-like centers are in the foreground.

David Eddings

The following covers were illustrated by Geoff Taylor. The Seeress of Kell (1991) is from a book universe called Belgariad, while The Diamond Throne (1989) and The Sapphire Rose (1991) are from the Sparhawk Universe (Elenium series).

Cover of The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings. A dragon sits atop a silver orb floating above a scene seen from a bird's eye view. Boats float across a still river propped up by a stone wall. Behind it, a waterfall cascades down a cliff face in sinuous arcs, ice blue in colour. A red sunset turns the surrounding forest auburn. Cover of The Diamond Throne by David Eddings. A queen glowing with white light sits on a throne of diamond, it has a triangular shape with facets that reflect the light. Four sconces burn a gentle light in a symmetrical arrangement. The diamond throne reflects blues and purples. Cover of The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings. A knight holding a sword toward a light void sucking in light in ripple shapes. Torches of flame surround him and a single bolt of lightning crosses diagonally and hits the very tip of the sword..

What appeals to me about these artworks

One thing I observed is the presence of environments that would not normally be seen together like volcanic rock and ice. Reptiles reoccur maybe to reflect the subconscious reptillian brain or literally, dragons, which hoard treasure. Rare stones or gems are common, particularlly diamond, glass, or metallics. The lights are usually unnatural and emanate from the people themselves, a magical force, or are exagerrated (like the sunset in Seeress of Kell).

I realize a lot of the books from this era have male cover artists, many are well-known and recognised by Awards such as The Chelsea awards for science fiction and fantasy art (Internet Archive link to the retrospective by John Grant). I don't say this to discount their work (the designs are great!) just to make an observation. There are a few female artists recognised by the Chelsea awards, however, so if you are interested I encourage you to take a look at the link.

Next Time

In the next post on this topic, I'll share some of my favorite covers that did not fit neatly into a series or book author category.

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