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The Most Metal Fantasy Cover of 2010?

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We’ve mentioned a few instances this year where we’ve preferred the British book jacket of a particular title to its American counterpart, but in this case the opposite is true. From the moment we saw the cover to Empire in Black and Gold, the first volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s Shadows of the Apt series, in the Pyr Books catalog a few months back, we were impressed with the heavy-metalness of it all. It wasn’t until last week, when the ARC turned up, that we went online looking for info on Tchaikovsky and found the original British cover, which struck us as awfully generic. Pyr clearly took the win by hiring Jon Sullivan to emphasize the action elements in the series; check out the two covers for Dragonfly Rising (the immediate sequel) for further confirmation. (Though not quite as metal, the US cover for Dragonfly is still quite arresting, and leaves no room for doubt as to whether there is action packed into the story.)

Even Tchaikovsky’s British publisher seems to have caught on; when the fourth book of Shadows, Salute the Dark, comes out early next year in the UK, it will feature Sullivan artwork that adheres to the character-driven visual tone established on the first three covers but still manages to incorporate some dynamism. Tchaikovsky himself has declared it “the best cover yet” in the series, and the SF blog Speculative Horizons agrees: “It’s in keeping with the other covers in the series, yet manages to look completely different at the same time.”

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