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Summer 2014 Fantasy Book Cover Smackdown! NIGHT SHIFTERS vs. THE LEOPARD vs. BAPTISM OF FIRE

It’s another Book Cover Smackdown! The theme this time around is fantasy books hitting shelves in June 2014.

Your mission should you decide to accept it: play art critic!

Tell us what grabs your attention! What appeals to you? What works and what doesn’t work? Do any of them spark your interest?

Night Shifters by Sarah A. Hoyt
(Baen | June 3, 2014 | cover illustration by Tom Kidd)

Urban fantasy with were-creatures and intrigue. First two books in Sarah A. Hoyt’s Shifter series together for the first time: contains Draw One in the Dark, and Gentleman Takes a Chance.

There are those living secretly among us who have the power to change their physical form from that of a human to an animal, even animals thought to be mythical, such as dragons. Throughout out the ages, these shape shifters have come together to protect themselves from humans—and other shape shifters. One of those places they’ve come together is the town of Goldport, Colorado.

Draw One in the Dark
Someone—or something—has been killing shifters in large numbers, and the most ancient and powerful of shifters are converging on the Goldport to find the killer. According to their code, killing another shifter is a crime, no matter if the shifter was slaughtering humans. Now Kyrie Smith, a young panther shifter, must decide where she will stand: with her group or with humanity at large.

Gentleman Takes a Chance
Every one of us has the beast inside. But for Kyrie Smith, the beast is no metaphor. She can shape shift into a savage, black panther. Kyrie’s lonely life changes forever while waitressing at a diner in Goldport, Colorado. Investigating frantic screams from the parking lot, Kyrie stumbles upon a blood-spattered dragon crouching over a mangled human corpse. The dragon shape-shifts back into her co-worker, Tom. Now Kyrie and Tom must discover if their human sides can survive or if a war among shifters will bring out the beasts in them—permanently.

The Leopard (Marakand) by K.V. Johansen
(Pyr | June 10, 2014 | cover illustration by Raymond Swanland)

Ahjvar, the assassin known as the Leopard, wants only to die, to end the curse that binds him to a life of horror. Although he has no reason to trust the goddess Catairanach or her messenger Deyandara, fugitive heir to a murdered tribal queen, desperation leads him to accept her bargain: if he kills the mad prophet known as the Voice of Marakand, Catairanach will free him of his curse. Accompanying him on his mission is the one person he has let close to him in a lifetime of death, a runaway slave named Ghu. Ahj knows Ghu is far from the half-wit others think him, but in Marakand, the great city where the caravan roads of east and west meet, both will need to face the deepest secrets of their souls, if either is to survive the undying enemies who hunt them and find a way through the darkness that damns the Leopard.

To Marakand, too, come a Northron wanderer and her demon verrbjarn lover, carrying the obsidian sword Lakkariss, a weapon forged by the Old Great Gods to bring their justice to the seven devils who escaped the cold hells so long before.

Baptism of Fire (The Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski
(Orbit | June 24, 2014 | Illustration by Bartłomiej Gaweł, Paweł Mielniczuk, Marcin Błaszczak, Arkadiusz Matyszewski, Marian Chomiak)

The Wizards Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of those in need, a defender against powerful and dangerous monsters that prey on men in dark times.

But now that dark times have fallen upon the world, Geralt is helpless until he has recovered from his injuries.

While war rages across all of the lands, the future of magic is under threat and those sorcerers who survive are determined to protect it. It’s an impossible situation in which to find one girl – Ciri, the heiress to the throne of Cintra, has vanished – until a rumor places her in the Niflgaard court, preparing to marry the Emperor.

Injured or not, Geralt has a rescue mission on his hands.

This is the third of the Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski.

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.

4 Comments on Summer 2014 Fantasy Book Cover Smackdown! NIGHT SHIFTERS vs. THE LEOPARD vs. BAPTISM OF FIRE

  1. David Greybeard // January 11, 2014 at 9:51 am //

    BAPTISM OF FIRE is my choice. I’ll not at all even try to resist buying a copy.

    THE LEOPARD is also very attractive. Nice to see a pair of Fantasy novels without hooded, dark-faced people.

    What was the third choice? I don’t even recall now. Forgettable then.

  2. Dorothy Grant // January 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm //

    Just by the covers, one looks like an entertaining fantasy, cozy as a cup of hot chocolate and a fire in the fireplace, and the other two look like the latest descendants of the finest grimdark tradition, where the firelight would be burning down the blood-splattered house.

    If I’m in the mood for more nasty people we’re supposed to be rooting for doing nasty things to nastier people, I’d choose Baptism of Fire, to see how the author handles the challenge of an injured protagonist.

    But Night Shift looks like it’s going to be a nice light read, and will make me laugh, so I’d pick it first most of the time. Dragons in a diner? You can’t pack angst and savagery and grimdark in with greasy sliders… I’ll pick that special!

  3. 1. Baptism of Fire
    2. Night Shifters
    3. The Leopard

    If I were to pick one off the shelf at the book store, it would be Night Shifters, as it promises a more interesting read for my taste.

  4. Baptism of Fire, and then The Leopard

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