Cover Art & Snippet

Posted: October 14th, 2011 under artwork, Echoes of Betrayal, snippet.
Tags: ,

Most of you may have seen the cover art elsewhere, but it’s now time to show it off here for anyone who might wander through:

And now for the snippet.  Location:   North Marches.   POV: Arcolin  Time:  shortly before Midwinter, the year that Pargun attacked Lyonya.

Arcolin has ridden over to the east side of his domain to check on troops quartered near the Pargunese border–Cracolnya’s cohort– in case of invasion.


“Anything new from the Pargunese?”

“Not directly,” Cracolnya said.  “What I do have to report, though, is startling enough.  One of my patrols ran into a party of gnomes.”

“Gnomes!  There aren’t any gnome princedoms up here.  They’re all down south, along the flanks of the Dwarfmounts.”

“That’s what I thought, too,” Cracolnya said.   “But it’s not what the gnomes think.  Apparently this was once theirs.  The hills of northern Pargun and some of the hills Kieri thought were his.”

“I haven’t seen a gnome north of Vérella in my whole career,” Arcolin said.  “And those were traders.”


These gnomes are going to complicate Arcolin’s life.     On the other hand, Arcolin is going to complicate gnomish Law, despite his best efforts to keep things simple.   The Elder Being who is an agent of transformation is amused, once he gets over being angry.


  • Comment by Alaska Fan — October 14, 2011 @ 2:17 pm


    Not until February 21, according to Amazon. But sure, Ill put up a blog note.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — October 14, 2011 @ 2:18 pm


    Mmmmm, gnomes in the far north. Good thing there is a dragon to act as an arbitrator. 😉

    Since this is the hinge book I’m not liking this “agent of transformation”. Sounds like someone who needs to be transformed in the last two books if I had to guess.

    Find out soon enough if my guess is correct about the name of this agent.

  • Comment by Kerry aka Trouble — October 14, 2011 @ 2:24 pm


    Hm, dragon looks angry. Or is there some other reason he would be breathing fire?
    Thanks for the snippet.

  • Comment by Barb in Maryland — October 14, 2011 @ 6:39 pm


    I have been admiring that cover for a while. But I didn’t want to comment on its awesomeness until YOU posted it.
    It has a DRAGON–what’s not to like??!?
    And I am betting that the story on the inside are equally awesome. I am loving this series. Thank you.

  • Comment by iphinome — October 14, 2011 @ 9:20 pm


    @Daniel Glover correct me if I’m wrong but do not agents of transformation connect those who sell transformation with those seeking to buy some and then take 10% of the proceeds? That’s not to be confused with a secret agent of transformation who could transform you but they’d have to kill you. The port agent of transformation who doesn’t do any transforming but collects import duties on it, or the agent provocateur of transformation who tries to incite others to transform while hiding their own agenda.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 14, 2011 @ 9:38 pm


    SNORT! OK, I needed a laugh at the end of this day, and you delivered…thanks.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 14, 2011 @ 10:20 pm


    Dragons do occasionally get angry. And angry dragons have been known to flame those who annoyed them.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 14, 2011 @ 10:22 pm


    Thanks, Barb. Glad you like Dragon. This particular dragon muscled its way into the story in Kings, and has become ever more determined to be noticed. Sometimes it turns and looks at me out of the monitor as I’m writing. (NO, I say. I’m sorry, but you cannot be the protagonist. )

  • Comment by Jenn — October 15, 2011 @ 7:28 am


    Hmmm. My dragons look nothing like this. (I am about to start knitting Delmar.) Of course they also act more like fire lizards anyhow.

    Love the snippet!!! Autumn is such a nice time for snippets. Now all I need is snow!

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — October 15, 2011 @ 7:38 am


    @iphinome Yes, all of those are what I have in mind if its the agent I think it is. 🙂

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 15, 2011 @ 8:11 am


    Jenn: It doesn’t look like the dragons I draw either, but then…how often does cover art exactly match anyone’s conception? I gave away the best dragon I ever did (a picture called “Ecotone” that showed an oblivious hiker with backpack crossing the border to fantasy, watched by a dragon peering over the top of a hill and around a tree. Pen & ink. I wonder if Dr. O. still has it, if Dr. O. is still with us.

    But this is a very effective book-cover dragon, so I am not casting any critical snarks his way.

  • Comment by patrick — October 15, 2011 @ 1:51 pm


    I agree that the book-cover dragon scene is effective. It catches the eye and then provokes questions. For instance: why is the person on the receiving end of the dragon’s flame not toasted or at least cowering or perhaps boldly resisting. Very unusual and if it was the first I came to a book, I’d be curious to know what’s going on. That would get me to at least read the cover blurb in deciding whether to buy. Of course, in this series, I’ll have already pre-ordered, so it’s moot in my case. But I think/hope it will help sales to the type of reader who likes adventure fantasy.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 15, 2011 @ 2:22 pm


    I’m really not sure WHAT that person is doing. He looks a little alarmed, but not as much as I would. And nonchalance around a dragon is usually considered unhealthy.

    It fits slightly better a scene that will be in Book IV…and Editor did suggest moving a chunk of stuff from III to IV to shorten III. But I don’t recall that I’d finished that section that way–that the dragon was involved yet. Hmmm.

  • Comment by pjm — October 16, 2011 @ 4:42 am


    The fighter (presumably – helmet and sword) with head leaning back, might be swaying out of the line of fire. Perhaps they are on friendly terms and dragon is flaming some other being while waiting for fighter to warm to the task.

    At least the fighter is not in armour. Conductivity could be very uncormfortable.


  • Comment by Jenn — October 16, 2011 @ 7:22 am


    My dragons want to know why their are not allowed to breath fire. They don’t seem to understand that acrylic is not the best material for fire breathing.

    I would love to see a sketch (even not the best) of how you see your dragon.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 16, 2011 @ 4:36 pm


    Perhaps your dragons would be satisfied breathing symbolic fire of…um…some thin colored substance–tissue paper wouldn’t work probably but cellophane?

  • Comment by iphinome — October 17, 2011 @ 6:08 am


    @Jenn and Lady Moon

    I don’t know how big these acrylic dragons are but what about making the fire with a hot glue gun, it has enough control to trail out the glue into the shape you want and some watercolor yellow and orange paint should tint it while still leaving it mostly transparent. I’ve seen it done on people’s custom action figures and mecha models.

  • Comment by Jenn — October 17, 2011 @ 12:23 pm


    Thank you for your ideas but alas they won’t work with my dragons.
    I will just have to wait until something else sparkly (vision of The Secret of Nimh suddenly) catches their attention. 🙂

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — October 17, 2011 @ 2:12 pm


    Actually, the dragon is in partnership with the man on the cover who is a famous chef. The dragon is putting the correct searing on some steaks.

  • Comment by Dave Ring — October 17, 2011 @ 6:51 pm


    It still saddens me that publishers so seldom see any value in arranging for cover art that accurately depicts a scene from the book — or a back cover blurb that accurately reflects its contents. It just strikes me as lazy, disrespectful toward both story and author, which are the main reasons I buy a book.

  • Comment by jjmcgaffey — October 17, 2011 @ 11:51 pm


    I put the cover image on LibraryThing – a little surprised that I was the first to do so, actually. I’ve had Echoes on my wishlist there for a while.

  • Comment by jonathan Schor — October 18, 2011 @ 7:04 am


    Hinge book? Does it swing outward as at the keep of the evil wizard? Is it a countersunk hinge, invisible until the door is opened? Will I have to buy it at a hardware store?

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 18, 2011 @ 7:50 am


    jonathan: What I call the “hinge” of a story is the section where it changes direction, allowing a first (often very distant and brief) glimpse of where it’s going…where what I call “plot drivers” are all in place, and from here the story accumulates momentum on its own. (That does not, unfortunately, mean it writes itself…or, fortunately, mean there are no more surprises for writer or readers.) In every piece of Story, long or short, there’s a “hinge”–it may be one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter, or–in the case of a multi-volume story–one volume. It usually occurs somewhere in the middle, which is why dividing a work in half causes problems. The hinge requires strong transitions on both sides so that it’s not too obvious and the story flows around and through the change of direction without the reader being jerked to a halt and then again into motion.

    The reason middle volumes are often considered “weak” by some critics and readers is that they misunderstand the function of the hinge book If you took the middle 1000 words out of a well-written 3000 word short story, those words would not stand alone…and yet the short story without those words would be a very rough ride. In a short story, there can be no interior arcs (there’s not enough room.) But in a multi-volume work it’s usually possible to give each volume a subordinate story arc that does not impede the long arc. Still, the volume whose arc is going to be hardest to achieve is the middle volume….because the hinge of the long arc will dominate, in feel, the hinge of the individual volume’s arc and make the volume’s own subordinate arc feel “off” in some way. It’s devilishly hard to overcome that smoothly–like two magnets with positive poles being forced together, the long and short arcs refuse to cooperate. In my opinion, it’s impossible with an even-number group….it can only be done with an odd number of volumes, which allows that middle volume, like the keystone in an arch, enough room to hold both hinges and the internal stability of its own symmetry.

  • Comment by Cindy — October 18, 2011 @ 11:31 pm


    Love the cover. And I’m actually disappointed that it’ll be in black and white on my Kindle, which I got last year. Going to be a long autumn and winter waiting for the book!

  • Comment by tuppence — October 20, 2011 @ 8:46 am


    I spent yesterday trying to channel Kolya as I sliced into a fingertip in an absentent-minded-bread-slicing moment. Spent a good chunk of time keeping said finger (not the middle) elevated with ice and doing intermittant swearing.
    It occurred to me that ‘dark ages’ fantasy with healing magic makes the period very different from the real thing. I’ve been pondering what effect it would have on the psychology and sociology of the time.

  • Comment by patricia nancarrow — October 21, 2011 @ 5:09 am


    WOW, what a great cover. Unfortunatly the cover art in the first two books released here in Australia had boring dark covers, but I am glad to say it did not put me off enjoying the stories so far. I am enjoying the snippets, they have given me much to ponder on

  • Comment by Genko — October 21, 2011 @ 3:38 pm


    Love the explanation of the hinge — I had a basic idea of it, but not to that level of detail. Also enjoyed Jonathan’s playing with the word. It would be cool to buy these kinds of hinges in a hardware store. Let’s see, how would you specify them — standard fantasy trilogy, souped-up pentalogy model, gotta have the requisite number of swords, magic, dragons, elves, gnomes, dwarves — would you specify length and pitch, like you do with screws? Does the hinge itself determine whether the door swings inward or outward, or just how you put them on?

    Regardless, I too am waiting. Mostly patiently. And I pre-ordered before I got my Kindle, so I’ll get it in color. Not sure whether I’ll get the 4th and 5th volumes on Kindle or hardcover — I’m leaning to hardcover for these. Something about it, cover art in color, and all. A sense of durability. Something.

  • Comment by Fyre — October 21, 2011 @ 7:20 pm


    As an artist and fan of your books, I love this cover…definitely more fantasy-ish than the others. Love the bright colors and of course, the dragon. He would fit in my Dragon’s Lair quite nicely.

  • Comment by Jenn — October 22, 2011 @ 7:31 am


    @genko Go hard cover.

    Of course I am a biased anti-electronic book person. There is something most satisfying about reading a book until it falls apart. The smell of the paper. Finding an old beloved book mark (I am also anti-cornerturndown) being able to see how much further you have to read because it is 2 am and you have to work in the morning but you have no will power to set the book down. The colored beauty of your bulging bookshelves. the musty smells of used book stores.

    I will not own a kindle until I can no longer own a book.

    But that just me. Excuse the tangent.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 22, 2011 @ 8:58 am


    Did you get the Orbit UK edition or the Del Rey edition? Orbit UK went for gritty, kind of darkish, almost monotone. The US covers were more colorful, not gritty. I didn’t think either were boring, but then they’re my books, so…I’m not likely to. (G)

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 22, 2011 @ 9:07 am


    I absolutely treasure the Oath of Fealty cover. To me, it’s very classy, but has enough fantasy element, and thus says “classy serious fantasy.” The Kings of the North cover is, to me, too “romance-y” with a beardless Kieri, so despite liking the color and the quality of the artwork, I like the Oath cover much better. This may be Marketing’s fault; maybe they nixed the beard. I don’t know–I said beard, and sent examples. Kieri has a beard, period. Not one of those “I didn’t shave for three days” stubbly thing that some men think makes them look manly, but a real man’s beard. Like my husband. (Stubble doesn’t look manly. It looks like a guy who usually shaves and just didn’t. Either shave it off or grow it out. And yes, I know there’s a stubbly stage in between but some men seem to live in the stubble stage.)

    The new cover certainly says “fantasy” but it doesn’t convey any grandeur. Or not to me. I like it because it’s going to work on the shelf (which is, after all, the point of cover art) but it’s not something I’d hang on a wall if I had a wall to hang more art on. (I have books. Four walls of this room have books. Walls in other rooms have books. There’s some art, but it’s fighting the books for space.)

  • Comment by Annabel (Mrs Redboots) — October 22, 2011 @ 1:08 pm


    By the way, how do you say “Cracolnya” – is he “Crack-ol-nee-ah” or “Crackle-nigh-ah” or something completely different?

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 22, 2011 @ 1:18 pm


    Cracolnya is Cra-COLE-nnya. I need the tilde here, dadgummit. The nya is all one syllable, the nn (with tongue on palate) mashed into the “ya”. (Or perhaps more correctly, /ny/ shows the “rolled n”. I dunno. Not a linguist; I just make ’em up.) The /a/ of “Cra” can be either the flat short American /a/ (as in “bat” and “rat” and “cat”) or leaning toward a more open “ah”. Accent on second syllable.

  • Comment by Richard — October 23, 2011 @ 5:19 am


    So far as I remember there was never any concensus about who the woman on the (US) Kings cover might be. My own idea is the Lady (misted by elflight): the power behind Kieri’s throne, in her own mind at least, symbolically looking in a divergent direction. (But then the archers should be facing his way.)

    As for Kieri himself, I think the UK Kings cover went too far the other way with its wild hair: more like a Pargunese artist’s idea of what a king ought to look like?

    Orbit’s UK cover design for Echoes hasn’t yet made it to the Amazon uk site, or anywhere else I can find it without a password.

    Iphinome asked earlier about a device for a Verrakai tabard – what do you think of the design on Dorrin’s shield on the UK Fealty cover?

  • Comment by pjm — October 23, 2011 @ 6:22 am


    I have the Orbit version of Kings in front of me, and I reckon he has a beard. Not huge but definitely visible and a little redder/browner than his hair.


  • Comment by Annabel (Mrs Redboots) — October 23, 2011 @ 8:32 am


    Thanks! That’s more-or-less how I was saying it in my head, and then I got confused and Was I Saying it Wrong (like all these years I was saying Damar wrong in my head!).

  • Comment by Rolv Olsen — October 23, 2011 @ 2:11 pm


    Are you sure that’s Kieri?
    I’ve always imagined it was Arvid!

  • Comment by Genko — October 24, 2011 @ 9:44 am


    I was assuming the lady on the Kings cover was Arian. Misty because she’s not seen clearly until the end of the book, when she emerges from the shadows / assumptions of youth, etc. Totally agree about Kieri — doesn’t do it for me. And agree that the Oath cover was much better. Don’t yet know about Echoes, but it’s okay. And who doesn’t like dragons? At least among fantasy readers.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 24, 2011 @ 10:01 am


    My husband thought the lady on the Kings cover was the ghost of Kieri’s sister. Hmmm.

    About dragons…I’ve heard sneers from some SF/F fen about a dragon on the cover of a book, or a dragon IN the book, being a mark of a “typical, cliched genre fantasy.” Then again, I didn’t like their choice of books either.

  • Comment by Kevin Steverson — November 2, 2011 @ 9:05 pm


    A confession: I took the cover off my hardback “Kings of the North”…I had to…I just had to.
    And now that I have read that you thought it was to romance-y, yourself, I do not feel guilty. My wife asked me if the book was good…and that if I liked that one she had lots of books to suggest to me…she reads…(gulp)..romance..ROMANCE! I say! know the kind of covers that I am referring to..the shirtless guy with the 12 pack and a unimaginable beauty sitting beside him, leaning against his thigh..UGH! I can’t take it…I just can’t…I am an NCO..a Senior NCO for crying out loud….Please, oh please, deliver me….

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 2, 2011 @ 10:40 pm


    I understand taking the covers off books when they’re off the mark like that. I confess to stippling in a beard–a real beard, not stubble–on one copy of the digital file…it really did help, and I really do wish the artist had been given (or chosen to use) my suggestion.

    But that’s a hazard of the book business.

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