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Book Cover Smackdown (Tor Book Edition)! THE SHOTGUN ARCANA (R. S. Belcher) vs. HAWK (Steven Brust) vs. KNIFE OF DREAMS (Robert Jordan)

It’s time another Book Cover Smackdown! This episode’s covers all come from the Fall 2014 Tor Books catalog.

Your mission (should you choose to accept it): play armchair art critic!

Tell us: which of these covers grabs your attention? What appeals to you? What works and what doesn’t work? Do any of them make you want to read the book?

The Shotgun Arcana by R. S. Belcher
(Tor Books | October 7, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: Raymond Swanland)

R. S. Belcher’s debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, was enthusiastically greeted by critics and readers, who praised its wildly inventive mixture of dark fantasy, steampunk, and the Wild West. Now Belcher returns to Golgotha, Nevada, a bustling frontier town that hides more than its fair share of unnatural secrets.

1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party…and the dawn of humanity.

Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness. But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town and its people will be tested as never before—and some of them will never be the same.

The Shotgun Arcana is even more spectacularly ambitious and imaginative than The Six-Gun Tarot, and confirms R. S. Belcher’s status as a rising star.

Hawk by Steven Brust
(Tor Books | October 7, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

The latest in the New York Times bestselling Vlad Taltos series is a terrific entry-point for new readers, and features Vlad’s return to his homeland in the midst of great danger.

Years ago, Vlad Taltos came from the East, to make his way as a human amidst the impossibly tall, fantastically long-lived natives of the Dragaeran Empire. He joined the Jhereg, the Dragaeran House (of which there are seventeen) that handles the Empire’s vices: gambling, rackets, organized crime. He became a professional assassin. He was good at it.

But that was then, before Vlad and the Jhereg became mortal enemies.

For years, Vlad has run from one end of the Empire to the other, avoiding the Jhereg assassins who pursue him. Now, finally, he’s back in the imperial capital where his family and friends are. He means to stay there this time. Whatever happens. And whatever it takes.

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
(Tor Books | October 14, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: Michael Komarck)

The Wheel of Time turns, and Robert Jordan gives us the eleventh volume of his extraordinary masterwork of fantasy.

The dead are walking, men die impossible deaths, and it seems as though reality itself has become unstable: All are signs of the imminence of Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, when Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, must confront the Dark One as humanity’s only hope. But Rand dares not fight until he possesses all the surviving seals on the Dark One’s prison and has dealt with the Seanchan, who threaten to overrun all nations this side of the Aryth Ocean and increasingly seem too entrenched to be fought off. But his attempt to make a truce with the Seanchan is shadowed by treachery that may cost him everything.

Whatever the price, though, he must have that truce. And he faces other dangers. There are those among the Forsaken who will go to any length to see him dead–and the Black Ajah is at his side…

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.

13 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown (Tor Book Edition)! THE SHOTGUN ARCANA (R. S. Belcher) vs. HAWK (Steven Brust) vs. KNIFE OF DREAMS (Robert Jordan)

  1. The cover of “The Shotgun Arcana” is made by Raymond Swanland.

  2. Oo that first one is creepy.

  3. David Greybeard // April 5, 2014 at 9:06 am //

    I’m also going with SHOTGUN ARCANA, by a nose. I’d say all three are fairly equivalent. I’m glad to see the Jordan series finally getting updated artwork; it was so painfully 80s.

    • Fwiw, that’s the same art they used on the ebook release a couple of years ago…but this paperback release has a new, also-cool design.

  4. Shotgun Arcana wins.

    The Taltos cover looks like a Taltos cover. The Jordan one is okay but not spectacular.

  5. I’ll go with Shotgun Arcana, but the cover art for Hawk is pretty darn good too.

  6. Matte Lozenge // April 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm //

    Shotgun Arcana is #1 for both concept and technique of the cover painting. It has a sense of space that’s powerful and eye-grabbing, unlike the Hawk painting. In fact the Knife of Dreams painting is more technically accomplished and thrilling than the Hawk painting.

  7. Piet Wenings // April 6, 2014 at 7:39 am //

    Shotgun Arcana gives me the grestest reading urge. Hawk looks wonderful and is typical Taltos, which is fine by me.

  8. Nick Sharps // April 7, 2014 at 8:48 am //

    Shotgun Arcana gets best title AND best cover award! It looks so good!

  9. Hawk. Leave I’ll leave Shotgun Arcana to the gouley lovers, thanks. If I were being offered the original artwork (oil painting, please) I’d want Hawk on the wall.

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