Mar 29, 2010

Covering Covers: The Heroes - Joe Abercrombie

The blogosphere is abuzz with the cover debut of Joe Abercrombie's latest book, The Heroes, due out in Q1 2011. You can read Orbit's post about it here. Or read what Niall at The Speculative Scotsman thinks here. Or the Mad Hatter at his Bookshelf and Book Review here. Or Aidan at a Dribble of Ink here. Needless to say, everyone is excited for this one, with good reason.

Here is the US cover. (May or may not show up, blogger is being difficult today)

Cover Artists: Steve Stone (primary) / Lauren Panepinto (creative director)

And the accompanying blurb

War: where the blood and dirt of the battlefield hide the dark deeds committed in the name of glory. THE HEROES is about violence and ambition, gruesome deaths and betrayals; and the brutal truth that no plan survives contact with enemy. The characters are the stars, as ever, and the message is dark: when it comes to war, there are no heroes…


Curnden Craw: a ruthless fighter who wants nothing more than to see his crew survive.

Prince Calder: a liar and a coward, he will regain his crown by any means necessary.

Bremer dan Gorst: a master swordsman, a failed bodyguard, his honor will be restored—in the blood of his enemies.

Over three days, their fates will be sealed.
Abercrombie is a love him or hate him kind of author, mostly due to his dark and gritty style. His books are full of blood, violence, sex, betrayal, violence, and blood. Oh so much blood. As you can plainly see, it's starting to leak through the dust jacket. I think Abercrombie works best with people who have read a lot of fantasy, so much so that the standard tropes have begun to stagnate. He takes those tropes and alters them, sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically, thereby creating something distinct and original. It's both pulpy and commentary on the fantasy genre itself.

I'd also be comfortable saying that Abercrombie may write the best action sequences out of any fantasy author writing today. If there is someone better, please let me know, I'd be very interested in reading them.

On the cover itself, I've always enjoyed the original UK covers with the maps. This one takes the map elements of the UK originals and mixes them with the feel of the US cover of Best Served Cold, the first Abercrombie book to be published by Orbit US. That cover was a little meh for my liking but with The Heroes Orbit has emphasized the best aspects of that cover and minimized the worst while bringing in the map theme of the UK covers that works so well. The cover of The Heroes replicates the violence of the first cover while remaining distinct. I think that people will see this on the shelves and realize its an Abercrombie cover and if that name doesn't do anything for them, the blood will catch their eye.

The one questionable aspect is that it doesn't have easily recognizable hoods or swords so I have to ask "How will people know it's fantasy?" It's also important to note that this isn't the final cover so we will see what happens there along with the UK cover.

The Heroes is due out in Q1 2011 and I can't wait to return to the Circle of the World and the brilliant characters Abercrombie has created there.


  1. Wait? This isn't Abercrombie's foray into Chick Lit? I just assumed... given the lack of hoods, that er....

    I guess I should tell my girlfriend to cancel her pre-order.

  2. Looking at the novel objectively per the points above, it's Abercrombie's best work to date. It's a unique read, with a fitting structure to it, and does its predecessors proud.


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