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Book Cover Smackdown! ‘The Straits of Galahesh’ vs. ‘Dying of the Light’ vs. ‘Ashes of Candesce’

For those who fancy themselves as armchair art critics, it’s time once again for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are today’s contenders…

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why.
Books shown here:

  1. The Straits of Galahesh by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Artist: Todd Lockwood for Night Shade Books)
  2. Dying of the Light by George R.R. Martin (Artist: Tom Kidd for Subterrannean Press)
  3. Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder (Artist: Stephan Martiniere for Tor)

NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

14 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! ‘The Straits of Galahesh’ vs. ‘Dying of the Light’ vs. ‘Ashes of Candesce’

  1. I’m rather partial to The Straits of Galahesh, but wow, the cover for Ashes of Cadence is stunning. And who doesn’t love Tom Kidd?

  2. I’ve discussed the merits and weaknesses of the Straits cover on Brad’s webpage.

    I’m not that thrilled with the Kidd–the palette is too monochromatic for my taste.

    However, my fanboi like for Stephan Martiniere is matched by few other artists out there. I think I pick that one by a nose over the Lockwood Straits cover.

  3. “Ashes of Candesce” has a very attractive illustration, but that layout is just plain boring.

    I like “Dying of the Light” illustration and the typography used, even if it’s too monochromatic, it stands out.

    But “The Straits of Galahesh” wins this smackdown for me. It has a dynamic illustration and layout.

  4. Mike Eisen // January 29, 2012 at 8:08 am //

    And the winner is… “The Straits of Galahesh”:). Perfect cover, amazing mood.

  5. The art for “Ashes” is stunning, but a cover is much more than beautiful artwork. Not only do I love the art for “Straits,” the cover layout is inspired and dramatic. It promises action and adventure; it tells a story and invites the viewer to read the book to find out what’s going on in that scene.

    Do we know the cover designers for each of these books? Credit where it’s due…

  6. The talented Claudia Noble designed the cover for Straits.

  7. I have to go with The Straits of Galahesh. As a hobbyist photographer I like dynamic images. This one has it all. This is definitely a cover that makes me just want to buy the book without further investigation.

    The Ashes of Candesce cover is nice too, particularly as a kind of scifi/fantasy landscape piece. If I’m in the mood to read about another world, this would catch my attention.

    The cover for Dying of the Light reminds me of the typical scifi covers of the 80’s or earlier. It’s a representation of a scene dominated by one color. Okay, but not compelling – to me.

  8. All are good. I like Dying of the Light best because the muted tones and imagery remind me of old Edgar Rice Burrows books that I’ve enjoyed.

  9. Interesting that so many people seem to like Straits of Galahesh. Even a shout out to the designer on it. I think it has a pretty unfortunate cover design. The sort of one that makes the artist cringe. The bordering and the giant box for the title crop what could be a glorious piece of art down into a fairly flat and static shot of a dude’s crotch and head. Oops.

    Dying of the light does capture the look and feel of an old pulp style adventure read. If that’s what the book is, then kudos! Let’s assume that it is.

    Ashes of Candese is one of those perfect examples of a thumbnail looking awesome, but the larger image not holding up. It bugs me when the stock elements the artist is using show a bunch of artifacts after being scaled and manipulated for print resolution. But that’s a small issue, so I lean toward it as my favorite of the bunch.

  10. Ashes of Candesce gets my vote for sure. I like Straits, but I wish they would have gone the same route as book one, that cover is just awesome.

  11. All the covers are nice. Galahesh looks like a swashbuckling tale. Nice action, but pass. Looks like he might land on me. Dying of the Light makes the whole cover the art piece and I like that, but it doesn’t draw me into the story. It’s static. My favorite is Ashes of Candesce. The art is elegant and the diminishing horizon invites the reader in to an interesting floating world. I have read all the other books in the series and loved them. So I’m up for this. I’ve had a taste of that world and would like more. On my list.

  12. Ashes of Candesce hands down, IMO.

    TSoG: Woo-hoo! I love up-skirt shots! Too bad he’s wearing pants. Bet ‘cha five bucks that the painter of the artwork and the cover designer weren’t the same person on this mess. Presumably the artwork started out as a comprehensible scene, but it’s been cropped and covered up so much that now you can’t see what’s happening, except that a guy is jumping from somewhere to somewhere else. Even on its own terms, the simple-minded “Oooh, he’s jumping!” action of the painting looks immature and childish. Hopefully this is a YA book. And what’s with the looong-winded blurb?

    DotL: This looks like a Frank Frazetta cover, except that A) the characters in it got tired of holding an interesting pose and this is them taking a break, and B) the painting has been aged for ten years in a south-facing store window, burning out all the colors except for mauve. Nice typeface, though.

    AoC: A nice, rich, interesting scene, though perhaps a little too busy with fussy details. I’ll bet that all cover designers are with me in thinking that the marketing folk who decide to put blurbs on front covers deserve their own special place in hell.

  13. “Dying of the Light” wins for me. I love the look and feel of the art, as well as the typeface used. I like the other covers too, but too much text makes them look too busy. I especially hate quotes on front covers; keep ’em on the back! How annoying!

  14. The way the layout of The Straits of Galahesh crops the illustration makes it look like the figure is jumping up and through a window or over a steeplechase hurdle rather than jumping down off a cliff.

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