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It’s time another Book Cover Smackdown! This time around, we’re macthing up fantasy covers coming in June!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Pass artistic judgment!

Tell us:

  • Which of these covers do you like the most?
  • What works and what doesn’t work with these covers?
  • Do any of them make you want to learn more about and/or read the book?


The Iron Ship by K.M. McKinley
(Solaris | June 1, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: Alejandro Colucci.)

The order of the world is in turmoil. An age of industry is beginning, an age of machines fuelled by magic. Sprawling cities rise, strange devices stalk the land. New money brings new power. The balance between the Hundred Kingdoms is upset. For the first time in generations the threat of war looms. In these turbulent days, fortunes can be won. Magic runs strong in the Kressind family. Six siblings strive – one to triumph in a world of men, one to survive murderous intrigue, one to master forbidden sorcery, one to wash away his sins, one to contain the terrible energies of his soul. And one will do the impossible, by marrying the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship, to cross an ocean that cannot be crossed.



Dawn of the Dragons by James A. Owen
(Saga Press | June 2, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

What if all your most beloved stories were true? The stuff of legend lays the foundation for lore in this first installment of The Age of Dragons, an epic literary fantasy series that is at once both strange and familiar.

In Here, There Be Dragons, an unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica—an atlas of the Archipelago of Dreams, which contains all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. And these adventures will help shape two of these men into the greatest fantasists of their generation: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

In The Search for the Red Dragon, it has been nine years since John, Jack, and Charles had their great adventure in the Archipelago of Dreams and became the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica. Now they have been brought together again to solve a mystery: Someone is kidnapping the children of the Archipelago. Their to save the world from a centuries-old plot is to seek out the last of the Dragonships—the Red Dragon—in a spectacular journey that takes them from Sir James Barrie’s Kensington Gardens to the Underneath of the Greek Titans of myth.



The Lord of the End Times by Josh Reynolds
(The Black Library | June 2, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

The End Times have come. Archaon Everchosen marches on the city of Middenheim, and if he captures it, the key to the Chaos gods’ ultimate victory will be his. The last heroes of men, elves and dwarfs gather to stop him, but to stand against the hordes of the Ruinous Powers, they must turn to darker allies. Against all reason, the last hope for the world may be the Undying King, Nagash himself – if he and the mortal races can find common cause and work together. If they cannot, Archaon’s plan will come to fruition and the world will be consumed by Chaos.


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.

8 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! THE IRON SHIP vs. DAWN OF THE DRAGONS vs. THE LORD OF THE END TIMES

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // May 9, 2015 at 6:58 am //

    That Iron Ship cover. Steamships versus Sea Serpents!

    Not impressed with the other two at all.

  2. grendel // May 9, 2015 at 5:35 pm //

    Love the Iron Ship cover. The others: meh.

  3. I think The Iron Ship is best and makes me want to read that one most. But I am very impressed with the drawing on The Lord of the End of Times.

  4. Dawn of the Dragons has a nice composition and contrast, but the illustration isn’t that good.

    The Lord of the End Times (I bet the artist is Daarken) is just what it is, a Warhammer cover. You can expect to have a tough warrior of some sort. The thing is, the are hundreds of other Warhammer covers that look the same.

    The Iron Ship has a great composition and some really nice design details. The only thing that I didn’t like about it is the gray title, it doesn’t stand out a lot.

  5. That Iron Ship cover is lovely — I’d pick that up in a heartbeat. The others look a little generic for me, especially Dawn of the Dragons. I like my dragons a little more majestic.

  6. The more I look at DAWN OF THE DRAGONS, the better I like it, but my vote goes to THE IRON SHIP, simply because that slithering, swimming serpent is shivery scary.

  7. I like The Iron Ship cover because it draws the viewer in, both visually & conceptually. Now I’m interested. I want to pick it up and leaf through it.
    The other covers, not so much. Children’s art and video games come to mind. Not my things.

  8. The Iron Ship. I mean, I wrote that last one, and I dig the cover, but…sea serpent.

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