Over at his always challenging blog, Mark Charan Newton is showing off the revised cover art for the US release of Nights of Villjamur.
Original US Cover (Artist Unknown)
Original Cover Art: Artist Unknown
While I love the color of the stone walls in the original cover, I think that the new cover increases the epic feel of the cover in almost every way. There is more of a sense of foreboding between the miniscule figure and the castle that dwarfs it. Rather than accompanying it or (the sense I get from the original), they now seem to be at odds. Like the man is watching the castle and contemplating evil plans. The original figure could just be talking a walk. Who do you think that outsider represents? Here's the blurb.
Beneath a dying red sun sits the proud and ancient city of Villjamur, capital of a mighty empire that now sits powerless against an encroaching ice age. As throngs of refugees gather outside the city gates, a fierce debate rages within the walls about the fate of these desperate souls. Then tragedy strikes—and the Emperor’s elder daughter, Jamur Rika, is summoned to serve as queen. Joined by her younger sister, Jamur Eir, the queen comes to sympathize with the hardships of the common people, thanks in part to her dashing teacher Randur Estevu, a man who is not what he seems.
Meanwhile, the grisly murder of a councillor draws the attention of Inspector Rumex Jeryd. Jeryd is a rumel, a species of nonhuman that can live for hundreds of years and shares the city with humans, birdlike garuda, and the eerie banshees whose forlorn cries herald death. Jeryd’s investigation will lead him into a web of corruption—and to an obscene conspiracy that threatens the lives of Rika and Eir, and the future of Villjamur itself.
But in the far north, where the drawn-out winter has already begun, an even greater threat appears, against which all the empire’s military and magical power may well prove useless—a threat from another world.
I also think the text is sharper and less flowery. I'm not sure about the snowflake design in the original cover but you get the same cold and snowy sense without the excess "flake-iness" (sorry). From a marketing perspective, it does have the castle and cloaked figure that suggest fantasy, although its not as heavy handed as some other covers. While I prefer this, it might not be as clear for the normal fantasy fan looking for fantasy books channeling the original Wheel of Time covers. It definitely unique, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Overall, the new cover is an improvement although it doesn't have the same visual pop that the original had with the sharp contrast of the brown castle walls and the blue winter sky.
Nights of Villjamur hits US bookstores on June 29th, 2010 from Spectra. It's out now in the UK!