Posted: July 21st, 2010 under artwork, Kings of the North, the writing life.
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Things to notice…those guys in the lower right, with bows?   Royal Archers.  Have been ceremonial for some time now, but I like that you can’t tell what they’re shooting at.

The shiny tip of a serious looking piece of steel sticking up?   Multiple significances.    Well, yes, it is the sword, but swords in general have…other uses than sticking into people.  They can Symbolize.

Mysterious face in the background?   Um…not sure myself.  It might be any of several people (and I like that thought.)   Not Ganlin, though.  She isn’t sleek-looking.

Meanwhile, Book III continues to develop itself.    Page proofs are in and I’m working on them, and the book, simultaneously.   It means switching the brain from track to track, and the brain is not convinced that when it’s speeding along the rails generating Story, it should be shunted off to a siding and made to crawl along while I look for nitpicky problems.  I have tried the “shifting gears and flexibility will protect you from Alzheimer’s” argument, but it’s not really on board with the program.

One thing about reading page proofs is that you’re reminded what really was in the previous book to the book you’re working on…things like “Oh–I already set that up–I don’t need to set it up again” and “Good heavens, is THAT what I named him/her/it?”


  • Comment by cdozo — July 21, 2010 @ 11:08 pm


    Very nice!

  • Comment by ellen — July 21, 2010 @ 11:47 pm


    Gorgeous! Love it!!!

  • Comment by beth — July 22, 2010 @ 12:04 am


    Lovely. Is the man who I think it is? (To prevent spoilers, I won’t say who I think it is. )

  • Comment by PamelaL — July 22, 2010 @ 12:47 am


    Nice! It’s going to look great on the shelf next to Oath.

  • Comment by Rune F. Akselsen — July 22, 2010 @ 1:51 am


    This makes me reconsider ordering from the UK after all. Waiting those extra weeks for the book to arrive from the US might be worth it when the cover is this nice. 🙂
    (plus, I ordered OoF from the US, and if I order from the UK now, the covers won’t match)

  • Comment by APJ — July 22, 2010 @ 6:26 am


    Though i am very excited that Book two draws closer with each passing day :), i must admit that i was kind of disappointed with the cover. i think it looks more like a Romance Novel, rather than the Epic it really is. I know the story will overcome the covers shortfall though 😉

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 7:01 am


    Almost certainly it’s who you think it is, though he doesn’t look quite the way I imagine him…this will do. (Trying to describe in words what someone looks like so an artist can match a mental image…does not work until we get telepathy with pictures.) I’m quite happy with it.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 7:02 am


    Oooh, yeah. I was kinda hoping for a hint of the [mmmmph] but there’s more of the [mmmph] in Book III, so maybe it will make it on the cover there.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 7:03 am


    Absolutely, the current style for covers in the UK and in the US do not make for matching sets. I find the difference fascinating—some years and some books I prefer one over the other and some years and some books I’m ecstatic about both.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 7:07 am


    It does have a little romance look, though you notice nobody’s clothes are half torn off. Focus on the archers, if it bothers you. And it is true (and not a spoiler) that Kieri’s Council is hounding him to marry and produce an heir and he’s insisting that other things must come first.

    But stuff happens and more stuff happens and then more stuff happens and only some of it is about the duties of a monarch to produce the next generation.

  • Comment by Dave Ring — July 22, 2010 @ 10:00 am


    Sigh… pretty cover, but I have to agree with APJ — more suited to a romance novel. The faces need more age and experience, and I imagine the king’s hair as shorter and redder.

    I can’t help feeling that we’d all be better off if publishers made more effort to work with authors on cover art. Yes, it would be more trouble, but I think it would be right.

    Do you know if the artist has read the books and who/what the artist means the cover images to represent?

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 10:11 am


    My Editor did ask for suggestions and we talked about it.

    And I LIKE the cover. Yes, I can imagine other covers for the book, but I like this one.

  • Comment by Rachel — July 22, 2010 @ 10:30 am


    I’m really excited now. Cover is done and very nicely done, you’re working on page proofs, the release date is getting closer and closer…I’m so excited.

    Do you have the UK cover yet? I’m curious to see how it turns out. I also find the US vs foreign cover differences fascinating.

  • Comment by Jo Thomas — July 22, 2010 @ 10:56 am


    If that’s Kieri on the front cover, can you make him available for my birthday, too?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist asking 🙂 )

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 11:11 am


    You can have him until he grows out his beard. Then he’s mine, all mine. (snicker)

    (Yes, husband has a beard. Yes, I like it. No, I am not going there and providing Too Much Information.) Ahem.

    And returning to the cover design, how ’bout them archers?

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — July 22, 2010 @ 3:43 pm


    I was going to say that Kieri only used crossbows. But that was before he was king in Lyonya. So maybe. He’s only fourty-mummble maybe fifty and half elf.

  • Comment by Gillian — July 22, 2010 @ 4:53 pm


    I am currently choosing to believe that the lady in the background is Kieri’s grandmother because it amuses me to do so. I don’t really think the artist intended to represent the Lady though so I’ll have another guess when I’ve actually read the book.

  • Comment by Margaret — July 22, 2010 @ 5:17 pm


    I love this blog! I have always wondered how writers write, and Elizabeth, your explanations and descriptions of the way YOU write are a delight.

    On the other hand, it is such torment to see the book and read all the teasers, and know that I cannot get my hands on it for another 8 MONTHS! I can’t even think about how long ’til III comes out.

    Guess I am just stuck with re-reading Oath (on my 4th) and coming back here for more fun and torture;-)

  • Comment by Genko — July 22, 2010 @ 6:11 pm


    Yeah, I’m actually going back through the Deed (haven’t kept count on how many times I’ve read that — less than 50 maybe), and then maybe my 5th time through Oath. Branching out to others in between.

    The cover is gorgeous, and I always wonder who these folks are supposed to be. Doesn’t matter, maybe. Though sometimes I’d like a caption that explains.

    I appreciate the snippets, teasers though they are. They are fun. Make me wonder what else is going on, and eager to get to know the new characters.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 9:11 pm


    Daniel: Kieri had one archery cohort in his Company and there was a sort of push-pull between his armsmaster and his cohort captain on the type of bow to use. You may recall that early on in training, there was an incident where the recruits were taught to shoot with longbows, but the standard military bow in Aarenis was the crossbow. One of the reasons was the scarcity of good bow wood outside of Lyonya. Lyonya blackwood bows are famous and much-prized, but rarely found anywhere else–no bow-length blackwood can be exported. Kieri, having trained under Aliam Halveric and then at Falk’s Hall, of course learned to shoot a blackwood bow, and later a crossbow, but as a commander had no use for a bow.

    The Royal Archers of Lyonya use only blackwood bows, and the same is true of the forest rangers of Lyonya…Paks was given her blackwood bow as a very unusual gift (see her return to Kieri after that summer spent with the rangers in Lyonya.) Tsaian nobles use longbows, but they’re expensive (and not blackwood, unless they’re incredibly lucky and have some on their place….blackwood used to grow west of Lyonya, about to the level of the Verella/Valdaire road, and in one pocket to the southwest, but now it’s mostly extinct there.) The reasons for that may or may not show up in a story someday.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 9:12 pm


    Gillian: that’s what I like about those mysterious “second faces”–people can choose for themselves, or even make it someone who’s a very minor character.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 9:14 pm


    Margaret: Delighted you’re enjoying yourself here. About the writing entries–just keep in mind that not all writers do it the same way. The internet has revealed to me, in other writer blogs, that I have companions in my “discovery” approach, and also writers who are much, much more organized.

    Just in case you get the writing bug yourself and start wondering if you’re doing it wrong.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 22, 2010 @ 9:18 pm


    I’m glad you’re enjoying the snippets. It’s hard to pick out bits that are interesting but don’t give too much away. And I’m glad you like the cover. I enjoy seeing how artists interpret what the editor and/or writer send them.

  • Comment by Margaret — July 23, 2010 @ 7:04 am


    Last night I read the portion of Oath where Kieri is crowned. I came back here to see if the crown on the cover was similar, but it does not appear to be. I know that illustrators have other priorities as established by the publisher……still, would love to see that crown of rubies imbedded in golden leaves.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — July 23, 2010 @ 10:29 am


    Elizabeth, thanks for the reply. Really shouldn’t have hit send. Since it was only part of a thought. But I looked at the clock and REALLY was late for a meeting and had to get going.

    I can’t remember if the horse nomads had bows. Need to go back and check. So maybe the ones from the North do as well. Though these are on foot and Kieri was wondering about the royal guards and a larger standing army in Oath. So, yes, I’m really intrigued as to their meaning on the cover. Any number of angles. 🙂

    Patiently waiting for the release. Probably going to check in to pre-ordering at my local bookseller soon.

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — July 23, 2010 @ 7:47 pm


    Really like the archers. Good position, just before release. (By “good position” I mean the archers exhibit good technique; but the position of the archers in the graphic layout is good too.) No helmets, but as I recall the Lyonian tradition runs to very light defensive armament.

    The depiction of archers definitely weighs against the notion that the cover has too much of a romance novel look.

    As a former bookseller I shout to all presently in the trade: Face that book out!!! Let that good cover do its work.

  • Comment by Richard Moon — July 24, 2010 @ 11:43 am


    I like the cover. The mysterious figure in the background? I think she is Kieri’s sister.

  • Comment by red_day_dawning — July 24, 2010 @ 1:50 pm


    New cover looks marvelous, although I’ll admit I was surprised to see faces illustrated rather than the armoured silhouettes from Oath of Fealty and the new Paks cover. Although perhaps my covers look different to the US editions? – here in Australia we generally receive the UK covers.
    I’ve nearly finished Oath of Fealty, and I love it! It’s wonderful to read more about the other characters from The Deed of Paksenarrion. In fact it feels marvelously indulgent, as though you had written the book just to satisfy lingering curiousity.
    All sorts of questions are bubbling, but I’ll leave that until I’ve actually finished, and after I’ve caught up on the other posts here at the blog.
    I’m enjoying Oath so very much and am very excited to hear about the next book.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 24, 2010 @ 2:06 pm


    The UK covers are completely different. You can see the Oath of Fealty US cover here.

    And indulgent…maybe. It’s to satisfy my own lingering curiosity. (As in, the characters kept nagging me. “Tell my story!” “No, mine!”)

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 24, 2010 @ 2:06 pm


    Glad you like it. As for the mystery…that’s an intriguing thought.

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — July 25, 2010 @ 9:26 am


    I think my biggest thing to get over in accepting this guy as Kieri is, that IN MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE [YMMV], THAT jaw and THOSE cheekbones are not normally encountered in combination with red hair on a guy.

    On Maureen O’Hara, yes, but not on a guy.

    The redhaired guys of my experience have generally looked either like leprechauns [e.g. Spencer Tracy, to name a widely-known one] or had more triangular faces with wide foreheads and narrower chins. I can’t come up with anyone Really Well-Known who looks like my cousins Jack and Charley, but to me Kieri has always looked a lot more like THEM.

  • Comment by red_day_dawning — July 25, 2010 @ 3:31 pm


    Oops, I had meant to make it clear that it was a wonderful indulgance for *me*, the reader, to have my curiousity satisfied. Did not mean to imply that it was indulgance on your part.

    And, yeah, the covers are remarkably different!

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 25, 2010 @ 4:26 pm


    If the cheekbones and jaw bother you, mentally put a nicely trimmed but kingly beard on him. He does have a beard, you know (or maybe didn’t) and that’s a nice concealing other shape. But neatly trimmed, not a great bushy mass.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 25, 2010 @ 4:29 pm


    Well, but it’s also an indulgence for the writer…or for me, at least, in this instance. I wanted to write these books.

  • Comment by Kathleen — July 26, 2010 @ 12:04 pm


    I find it interesting that the primary color impression of the cover (US) of Oath was blue and for Kings it is red. Makes me wonder what the next cover color will be…

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 26, 2010 @ 12:16 pm


    I’ll bet they already have an idea, even if I don’t.

    It would be nifty to have it cycle through–adding gold and green maybe–and return to blue for the final one (for reasons you can’t know yet.)


  • Comment by Kathleen — July 26, 2010 @ 2:05 pm


    You just gave 5 colors — does that mean we are going to get 5 books???? This gready gus will do a happy dance if so.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 26, 2010 @ 3:55 pm


    Well…that’s how many I think it will take, because III feels like a hinge book. But time will tell.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — July 27, 2010 @ 10:26 am


    Five plus three for Deed plus Gird plus Luap makes an even ten. Sounds good to me! 🙂

  • Comment by Rob B (from SFFWorld) — July 27, 2010 @ 11:16 am


    Hi Elizabeth!

    Sharp looking cover that fits in well with the previous book! I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the book early next year!

    Hopefully by then I’ll make my way through the original trilogy.



  • Comment by elizabeth — July 27, 2010 @ 12:26 pm


    Daniel: Glad that makes you happy. Hope it also makes powers-that-be happy.

    Rob B- When I get the page proofs actually in the mail (due to a bottle of ancient picante sauce found in the back of the fridge yesterday and spread over eggs & potatoes, that didn’t happen then and won’t happen today either) I will try to put Kings out of my mind except as a reference for continuity until III is finished. It would be nice if III would announce its title, or some clue thereto.

    But of course I can’t, really, and as the release date creeps nearer, I will start leaning over the barrier, hoping to see its shining face drive through and show up on bookshelves.

  • Comment by Jenn S. — July 29, 2010 @ 10:06 pm


    Was scrolling down to catch up on posts and the cover art caught my eye. It looks pretty great! Aside from the long hair and clean-shaven look, that’s pretty much how I pictured him. I’m really excited about reading this—I just reread Oath and am so looking forward to the sequel.

    Both Kieri and Dorrin look younger than I thought they would on the cover—but I know authors don’t have too much say in the cover art, and anyway Kieri has that whole elven thing going on. Dorrin, though—isn’t she in her late thirties? Or is my estimation off?

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 30, 2010 @ 4:46 pm


    Dorrin’s probably early to mid 40s, and somewhat less glamorous than the cover image…but I’ve seen some women in their early fifties who look pretty darn young. (Maybe it’s natural, maybe it’s Magery??)

    But it’s cover art, not a photograph of the real person…so good looking people on a cover, like good-looking people in real life, have an advantage. In this case, the advantage is attracting readers to the book.

  • Comment by Louise H. — August 5, 2010 @ 6:37 am


    Dear Elizabeth,

    Just a remark (my first on this blog) to the cover. I personally acquired the British edition of Oath and must say I do prefer the cover as it does not contain “too much information”. I think the same will go for Kings, as, frankly, I find the image too defined and not at all in line with my visual of Kieri. The image on the cover seems slightly creepy to me and way too mucht like the (in my eyes) awful model Fabio they use for lurid romance novel covers. The guy just frankly turns me off reading the story inside the book if I am not already familiar with the works of that particular writer. That’s why I quite often prefer the books to the movies or tv series as well, as I get to shape the characters to my own liking within the parameters of the writer’s definitions. My pet peeve is that producers or directors do not seem to have read the book, because they will change just about everything in producing the screen version, even when writers specify black hair etc. etc.

    But I absolutely cannot wait to get my paws on Kings, whatever the cover!

  • Comment by Sherri — August 12, 2010 @ 5:53 pm


    It’s a very nice cover. Very nice. I don’t agree with the picture of the Fox, if that’s who it’s supposed to be, and that seems to be the general assumption here in the commentary.

    However, we all see characters the way we want to see them in our heads. That’s one reason why I cannot watch the True Blood series, as much as I <3 the Sookie Stackhouse book series. The gentleman who plays Eric Northman in the tv show is too small of stature and build to match the picture in my head.

    The good news however is that I can (AND WILL) buy this book, enjoy the cover, and still see the Fox the way I see him…with a nicely trimmed beard, much akin to the one Alan Rickman is wearing in RH:PoT. A much less fleshy face. Not gaunt, but sharper, the cheekbones a little more prominent and possibly more aquiline, especially since his Elven has come out. The hair is more brownish red, not quite so…red. The nose is close, but not quite it.

    Glad to know you and I agree on the Fox's beard, Miss Elizabeth! Thank you very much for letting us see the cover! It really is very nice, and it just proves once again that everyone sees things differently in their heads…


  • Comment by Marita — March 25, 2011 @ 6:56 pm


    Both U.S. covers are BORING BORING BORING.

    The books inside are fabulous – such a talent!

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 25, 2011 @ 10:10 pm


    Cover art: no cover, like no book, satisfies everyone. Mileage varies, and I’ve had a lot of good comments about the US covers AND the UK covers.

    Very glad you liked the books inside, though…thanks!

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