Thu
Apr 8 2010 1:00pm

A Crown of Swords ebook cover by Mélanie Delon

A Crown of Swords, Melanie Delon

A Crown of Swords, volume seven of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, will be available in ebook form April 20th. In celebration of Jordan’s work, we have commissioned fourteen artists to interpret one of the Wheel of Time books in their own style. (Previous editions can be seen here. The first six ebooks can be purchased here.)

So far we’ve been heroic, brooding, and action-packed. It was time to see something of the many relationships within The Wheel of Time. For that, we turned to Mélanie Delon to depict one of the most endearing, if tumultuous, couples in the series: Nynaeve and Lan.

I believe it was Jason Denzel that first turned me onto the scene of Nynaeve nearly drowning. He spoke so eloquently about a moment when a head-strong character had to let go of her ego to find the power within to save herself — it was impossible not to want to go read it. I loved that the sequence spoke to a clear romance in the story, but was also full of struggle and danger. (Nothing can be too easy when there’s the Dark One to take down.) When I mentioned the scene to in-house WoT expert, Megan Messinger, she suddenly sat up straight and gasped. A more composed Megan says,

 

“Lan and Nynaeve are two of my favorite characters, both singly and—as of Chapter 31 of A Crown of Swords—together. I love Nynaeve because she’s so unapologetic, and I discovered the Wheel of Time at a, shall we say, unapologetic time of my tweendom. But being the bitchy girl doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love, too, and, miracle of miracles, a smart, loyal, serious man can love you back. This scene is the payoff for nearly five thousand pages of separation, stoicism, and frustration; I read and re-read it until the spine cracked two thirds of the way through the book, right at “‘I will not die here,’ she muttered. ‘I will not die here!’”

Mélanie Delon’s work is exemplified by utilizing detail and soft focus, creating images that blur the edges between realism and fantasy. It was a great match for a moment of surrender and rebirth, a moment when Nynaeve must disengage from her usual character traits and, if just for second, open herself up.

The composition fell into place fairly quickly; the trick was getting the characters to look right. It took a few rounds of refining—little tweaks here and there. It’s amazing how much a subtle shift can change the presence of a character. Leigh Butler, leader of our Wheel of Time re-read, kept a watchful eye over us, making sure we didn’t get too wispy with the characters. Delon’s use of reflected light on Nynaeve and Lan is stunning and, again, performs the dual role of clearly defining the scene while adding a dreamscape quality to a character on the border between two states.

Below is a quick cycle of the changes the art went through, from sketch to finish:

Melanie Delon, A Crown of Swords ebook cover process

For Nynaeve the changes were fairly subtle, but important: an arch of the eyebrow, thinning her face, deepening the eyes. “Whoops, she needs sleeves!” (Which was fortunate because it helps keep the focus on the three most expressive parts of the picture—their two faces and Lan’s hand.) At one point I asked for hair to come across her face to give it a greater sense of struggle. Likewise, more bubbles!

Lan went through more changes: he started out a bit too pretty. We had to thin him out and add a few years. Remove the beard, add a headband. More changes in the eyebrows and mouth, pushing him to be both handsome and hard.

And, voila:

A Crown of Swords, Melanie Delon


For a larger version of the art and cover, see the Dragonmount feature.

To keep up with all of our Wheel of Time posts, including information on the ebook covers and releases, check out our Wheel of Time Index.

See more of Mélanie Delon’s work at Alan Lynch Artists. Delon’s second artbook, Elixir II, is due out this summer from Norma Publishing.

75 comments
trench
3. trench
wow another great cover.

but Nynaeve's dress is just indecent that hussy should cover herself appropriately. :p
Lannis .
4. Lannis
ACK! ::claps gleefully:: My inner Squee Girl is leaking out! I love it!
James Hogan
5. Sonofthunder
Epic. Lan and Nynaeve are some of my favs, and this is just AMAZING. Nynaeve's face is perfect and Lan...is Lan. Only minor complaint would be that her hair seems a touch too red. But really? If that's the worst I can say...

Well done indeed.
Ron Garrison
6. Man-0-Manetheran
Beautiful! And I love being able to see the progression of the art. What a powerful piece! I'm a visual guy, and this brought a new meaning to a scene I've read many times.

Even though we just covered this a few chapters ago in the re-read, this picture reminded me of my own near-death experience. I measure my life from that point forward as it caused a profound change in my personality. Not the injury itself, but being brought near to death. Odd that I didn't relate that to Nynaeve until just now. Such is the power of art.

Thanks Melanie (and Irene)!
Tricia Irish
7. Tektonica
Beautiful. So nice to see Nynaeve! She is referred to as beautiful, but with her cranky personality, it was hard for me to picture her....and I'm a visual person too! She looks spot on. As does Lan! Got the hardness in his eyes at this point in time but handsome too.

Really interesting to see the progression too. Loved the changes in her dress, but what happened to the necklace? First it was floating as if in water and then not. Very small quibble.
Steven Pattingale
8. Pattingale
OMG ... beautiful!

P.S. Still want a calendar of these! :D


-edited for P.S.
trench
9. Crazyluck
And to make the comparison before someone else brings it up...does Nynaeve resemble Kristen Stewart to anyone else?

=)
Lucas Huntington
10. L.P.Huntington
These e-book covers that I've seen for WoT are absolutely incredible. Like, they should be on display in a gallery exhibition. I would buy duplicate copies of the WoT books just to own these, not kidding.
Alas, I have no interest in e-books though. Not enough to get a Kindle, or Nook or whatever, anyhow. :(

And the scene depicted here - I knew which scene was being depicted immediately. Never forgot when Nynaeve nearly drowned, she was one of my favorite characters too, maybe my absolute favorite.
trench
11. Crazyluck
Or maybe I'm just blind.

It's amusing. My Word Verification to post this is:

to keyhole.

Poetic, as I'm posting about a image I'm pretty much spying on.
trench
12. Ghenjei
Well that's a bit disappointing.... but I suppose they can't all be awesome.
Steven Pattingale
13. Pattingale
@ Sonofthunder 5

What colour was Nynaeve's hair at that point in the story? I remember the girls dyeing and washing out dye, but not sure which book(s).
James Hogan
14. Sonofthunder
Let me echo that calendar wish!!

@Pattingale 13:

I may be mistaken - it's always been my impression that she had dark brown hair(almost black), and I think the dying of the hair was in FoH and it was gone by now. But maybe I'm mistaken on her natural color? At work now and so can't check the books...either way, though, I still just LOVELOVELOVE this picture. And want it on my wall.
Fake Name
16. ThePendragon
It's great depiction of a scene from the book, but much like a few others of these, really doesn't work as a book cover.
Francesco Paonessa
17. ErrantKnave
Yay! Great painting. Great moment. I really like how the cycle shows the changes from one stage to the next.

I'm adding my vote to the calendar appeal.
Ron Garrison
18. Man-0-Manetheran
Calendar good. But I'd pay for them to be formatted as new dust jackets for the hardcover books! Download and print would work just fine.
Matthew Smith
19. blocksmith
Great cover art!!! Love the progression and the accompanying explanation. Once again, the artist got it right.

And yes, please TOR, consider the calendar and MOM's idea for printable dust jackets.
Tina Pierce
20. scissorrunner
Amazing artwork!
I vote for the calendar & dust jacket too!!
where can I pre-order (wishing, I know)
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
Another vote for calendar and particularly DUST JACKETS!!! These are so beautiful and would add so much to the Hard covers. Pretty please!

Downloadable? Love it!
Christine Griffin
23. quickreaver
What blows my skirt up most is the fact these e-covers are being given the dignity and attention they deserve! Far too many e-presses don't take the covers seriously, because it's digital publishing. Well, hello...if we treated e-publishing more like print work, in regards to all-over quality, everyone wins! HUGE kudos to Irene and Tor for this.
Jen Hill
24. greybon
I love it! It's gorgeous! And seeing the progress is freaking awesome! :)
Irene Gallo
25. Irene
Thanks all. Jason Denzel can tell you I spend these launch days being giddy and scared in equal parts. Believe me, It's _very_ gratifying when you guys enjoy them.

@7 tecktonica
Re: the necklace: I loved the idea of the floating necklace but there are so many secondary elements in the image – bubbles, seaweed, floating bits of hair. It all got a bit distracting. It seemed best to let it settle down and keep the focus on their faces. Also, if they are swimming up, the necklace would be down...but I think we may have played the artistic–license card on that if the above wasn’t true. ;-)
Kurt Lorey
28. Shimrod
Third try (might be) the charm, o eater of posting attempts.

This piece is very nice. :)
trench
29. Far Dareis Mai
Beautiful digital painting! Why oh why are these only being released for the ebook editions? As others have said, I would gladly re-buy the entire series-hardcover- to have these!

@Crazyluck- I noticed the similarity to Stewart as well!
trench
30. shadowkiller
23. quickreaver
I'm still mad these darn ebooks don't have chapter breaks. Cover art is great and all, but when you want to reread a scene in a 600 pg book it helps if you can skip right to the correct chapter.
Leigh Butler
31. leighdb
It really did come out awesome, Irene. You and Melanie are to be commended for great work.
Roger Powell
32. forkroot
Ouch! Another fantastic job. Unfortunately, these e-book covers are so good, they really point out how poor the hardcover art is.
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
But where is Lan's bruise from when Nyn clocks him....Otherwise great job. Rob
Barry T
34. blindillusion
I agree with the calendar idea and especially the dust jacket idea.

I'd still buy all new hardbacks books if they had these jackets...probably even paperbacks.

Tried to write this ealier, but it was counted as spam. Meh.
Elizabeth Adams
35. ehadams
I would also love a calendar of these covers! Such a good idea.
T C
36. Freelancer
Outstanding art once again. After seeing the progression slideshow, I am very glad they fixed Lan to not look like Orlando Bloom. ::shudders:: Maybe when he's 55 or so he'll look like Lan is meant to, maybe not.

The focus and intensity in Lan's eyes, the clearly unconscious lack of focus in Nynaeve's, are perfect.

I have one tiny quibble. Where is Lan's bruise? Nynaeve's last conscious act below the surface was to punch him in the face.

Irene, keep up the good work!

Also, hi Leigh! I like exclamation marks too!

Edit: Thanks a lot, RobM. Now I look like a bandwagoner...::grin::
trench
37. Raywind
Out of the five snapshots we see here. I have to say that I like the middle (3rd) one the most. Why? It's not as dark as the others, and Lan's eyes are actually visible... he looks like a creepy zombie to me in the final picture.
Thomas Keith
38. insectoid
Beautiful artwork. Great job, Mélanie!

Oh, and totally MoA!

Bzzz™.
Bonnie Andrews
39. misfortuona
A calandar would absoulutly rock and

Crazyluck
Yes I caught that resemblance right away. :)
Freelancer

Is bandwagoner a word?

Mis-Mashiara
Steven Pattingale
40. Pattingale
@ Punched_in_the_face (various above)

Perhaps this is before the punch in the face, despite Nyn's about to pass out look, she's a feisty one. :)
Maggie M
41. Eswana
LOVE LOVE LOVE

Beautiful. My favorite chapter in CoS, perfectly captured!

Is it possible to buy prints of these? I'd love a glossy one for my house!

I wish this were the cover for the real books. Considering printing it out and taping it over the “Rand Works Out In Shader Logoth” cover on my old paperback.
trench
42. Crazyluck
misfortuona -
I would hope so. We were talking right before that post went through. You wanted to call her Katherine Stewart.

and scooted. BAHAHAHahahahahha!!!
James Jones
43. jamesedjones
39 misfortuona
Is bandwagoner a word?
I guess it is now. I wish I could create a word...
Hugh Arai
44. HArai
Just wanted to add another request for a calendar or dustjackets. These new covers are excellent.
Alice Arneson
45. Wetlandernw
Freelancer @36 - I am very glad they fixed Lan to not look like Orlando Bloom. Shudder indeed. I'm not convinced those two names should ever appear in the same sentence. Nothing against the latter, but Lan he is not!
Sam Mickel
46. Samadai
I agree with most everyone here, this e-cover is awesome and depicts a great scene.
I would also add my voice to those who would like to see these as a callendar or new dust covers.

Irene, you are obviously the best finder of talented artists there ever was.
Irene Gallo
47. Irene
And Samadai @46 makes my day! But finding great artists really _is_ the fun part of the job. Meeting production schedules, not as much.
trench
48. DontDriveAngry
If this was issued as the dead-tree cover I get the feeling booksellers would accidentally put it in the romance section. Nice painting, and maybe it works as interior art but as a cover, I'm underwhelmed.
trench
49. Tathel
I love it, the only thing is i think this would be a huge spoiler if i hadn't read the book already
trench
51. Duncan Long
Very interesting - I especially enjoyed seeing the transition as the cover sketch progressed to its final form. (I would have made it more toward the blue end of the spectrum to better suggest an underwater view, but I suppose the bubbles and light reflection handle that pretty well).

I appreciate this behind-the-scenes look at how the cover was created.

--Duncan
=====================
Freelance illustrator for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and many other publishers and self-publishing authors. See my cover illustrations at: http://DuncanLong.com/art.html
trench
52. WayneK
Re: lack of a bruise
This scene should be just moments after she hit him. In my experience bruises usually take a bit to become very visible. Plus they are in cold water which would probably slow down development of a bruise.
Jay Dauro
53. J.Dauro
shadowkiller @30

I have all of the Kindle books. Eye of the World and The Great Hunt do not have a Table of Contents, but the rest do. It hyperlinks to each chapter, and you can access the TOC at any time. I wish they would fix this, and put the real cover onto TGH, since the current one looks like cr**.
trench
54. AndrewB
I am in the minority. I did not like this cover. Before I provide my critique of the cover, I will state what I did like about it. The colors were fantastic. In addition, I thought the character angle was unique (by this, I mean Lan's hand reaching toward Nyn as she is underwater. Finally, I thought the point of view (i.e. as if the viewer was sitting on the bottom of the bay) provided a great image.

Despite my positive comments above, I could not get past the faces of Lan and Nyn. Ms. Delon's drawing of Lan makes him look younger than Nyn. The Lan that RJ depicted in the WoT always struck me as a ruggid individual somewhere between 45 and 55. He is somebody who, as Morainne's Warder over the years, has had his wear and tear (for lack of a better phrase). Ms. Delon's drawing of Lan does not capture this combination of maturity and hardness.

Ms. Delon's Nyn appears too soft. Nyn, despite her new-found taste for fine clothes, is a village woman. She is used to a hard life (and her travels since becoming a Supergirl have not erased this characteristic). By hard, I meant that she would have been outdoors most of her life. The woman in this picture does not look like somebody who has been outdoors for most of her life.

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed when I viewed the cover was both Lan and Nyn's face. I noticed all the other parts of the cover secondly.

In closing, let me state I am not an artist. I can barely draw stick figures, let alone something of the quality and imagery approaching Ms. Delon. However, I have read the WoT books quite a number of times (too many times probably, if truth be told). But since I generally love the WoT, I do not care how many times I have read the books since I still enjoy it. As a result, I have developed a mental picture of the main characters. For me, Ms. Delon's illustration of Lan and Nyn are at odds with how I picutre Lan and Nyn. It is for this reason that I did not like the e-cover to aCoS.

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
trench
55. Mardragon
Very nice. I think the earlier version of Nynaeve fit better though. She is in her early to mid twenties but looks younger due to her 'slowing'. In the last picture her face is expressive but too old to my eye.
The last version of Lan is the best though, although his 'band' should be much thinner I think.
Jacy Clark
56. Amalisa
Love, love and LOVE this cover!

I know that visual art is the most subjective of art forms. That said, I'll throw in my .02...

First, Lan's face: agree that his bruise would not have had time to manifest itself. The narrative did say that it was a "split" bruise. It did not give specifics as to where on the face, however for the skin to be split, it would almost have to be on the cheekbone, jawbone or lip - somewhere with bone under the skin. I'm voting for jaw, covered by the very manly five-o'clock shadow. Other descriptions of Lan have been "stone-faced", "hard-planed". I see both in this picture.

Second, Nynaeve's appearance: brown hair with red highlights. Not uncommon, at all. Okay, maybe a shade too light but that's not much of a quibble, is it? I think the "age" of her face is just right. She's actually in her late twenties; according to Encyclopaedia Wot, she's twenty-seven. And her costuming is spot on according to the narrative. Gorgeous dress, necklace - even the tiny opals dotting her braid. (I thought, at first, that they were bubbles, but realized they were too regularly spaced.)

Third, the scene itself: Beautiful! The depiction of the water, the currents, the motion of Lan's hand clawing up through the water, holding Nynaeve above him so that her head would break the surface first... his eyes fixed on the light as if on the Light itself! The slight upward tilt of the emeralds of her necklace, showing that between Lan's kicks, he and Nynaeve do slip back just a little. Just like it would be in real life.

As with previous covers, it is fascinating to see the evolution of the final product! What an insight into the artist's process!

Thank you, Mélanie Delon, Irene Gallo and Tor! And Leigh for your supervision! Can't wait for the next one! (Oh, yes... calendar, please!)
April Moore
57. aprildmoore
I agree with the comments on Nyn's hair perhaps being a touch too red, but, really, that's very minor, and this is a fantastic piece of art. Wonderful work!

If Tor could put the ebook covers in a calendar, I would be eternally grateful.

@AndrewB, I appreciate your well-spoken musings, but I disagree with some of them. Nyn spent a lot of time outdoors, especially when she was young and trying to act as a surrogate-son for her father, but that does not necessarily mean she would show huge amounts of wear and tear in her face, especially when she is still fairly young. I have known many outdoorswomen and country people -- my own family among them -- and there are always those who still retain great physical beauty in spite of whatever hardships they might have endured living in a rougher manner than others are accustomed to.

Consider also that, as Village Wisdom for several years now, she would be doing far less work out-of-doors and is no doubt repaid for her services in food, trade items and services - freeing her from much of that type of physical labor.

Just my take on it.
j p
58. sps49
Everyone has gone into all the details, so I will just say-

Great job, Melanie and Irene!

(And I'm sure Leigh was tickled to be consulted on this image.)
trench
59. Matjess
A beautiful rendition of course, but I thought Nynaeve's hair was black.
Jay Dauro
60. J.Dauro
Reading my comment at 53, I need to make something clear. The Kindle copy of The Great Hunt does NOT have the ebook cover by Kekai Kotaki. This is my complaint, I want the correct cover.

And although it's probably not legally correct, my iPod shows the ebook cover when I listen to one of the first seven (now) books. Much nicer.
trench
61. orokusaki
@Raywind,

You nailed it. I don't want to be too critical, but Lan looks like a zombie. Too gray. Eyes look dead.

I don't know; maybe Lan is just a tough one to depict. However, "all planes and angles" does not equal "high cheekbones and gaunt... and undead."
Tess Laird
62. thewindrose
What a great picture! I think it catches the poignancy of this moment. And this moment is such a break through moment. Also love the details that go into this, art my middle name is not:)

Of course I put my vote in with all the others who wish to see a compilation of all the covers in some form - although my wish would be for a coffee table book - pretty please!!

tempest™
Philbert de Zwart
63. philbert
I hate to be a nitpicker (Well, actually I love to be a nitpicker), but I'm missing something:
Where is Lan's signet ring? It should be around Nynaeve's neck, right?
trench
64. boquaz
Remember, these are e-book covers and serve a slightly different purpose than normal book covers. I think it's entirely appropriate for the art to be high quality and not from as much of an "advertising" point of view.

I think the faces are perfect. In the end, you got Lan right on. The light brings out the little gray in his hair, I don't see how some people see him any less than ~45 here.
T C
65. Freelancer
philbert@63

I'm certain that anytime Nynaeve wore a dress with this revealing a bodice, Lan's ring would have been in her pouch. She did not make a habit of displaying it openly. She was on her way to meet with Nesta Din Reas Two Moons, the Mistress of the Ships. So she was dressed to impress, and mixing a display of emerald drops with an oversized man's ring would be distracting at least, tacky at worst.
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
philbert @63 - to follow up on Freelancer's comment, when Nynaeve is still in the boat and figuring out how to get out, there's the following:
It might help to shed the dress, but she was not about to bob to the surface of the river in nothing but shift and stockings and jewels. She was not about to leave those behind, either. Besides, she could not get out of the dress without loosing her belt pouch, and she would drown before losing what was in there.
Which is a fair indication that it was Lan's ring; there are several mentions of her tucking it (and sometimes her Great Serpent ring) in her pouch for one reason or another.
Charlie McMurchie
67. FromtheLangToun
In my mind's eye I had never thought of Nynaeve being so beautiful as depicted here but it somehow feels absolutely right. I've always thought of Lan looking older than he does here & I don't think that'll change. That's not a criticism of the artwork, it's a reflection of my mindset.
Agnes Kormendi
68. tapsi
This is simply amazing, these covers just keep getting better and I thought that was impossible...

I love how Nynaeve looks just barely conscious here, just on the brink of giving up and also the determination on Lan's face.
trench
69. LordJuss
Utterly gorgeous. I may never be able to see Nynaeve any other way. Was she based on a real person?

LJ.
trench
70. mps26
@ Irene,

Cover is great, Nynaeve looks perfect.

Not sure if you are still taking suggestions for favorite scenes for future ebook covers (just noticed you had asked back in January). But I had two suggestions I wanted to put out there:

Winter's Heart:

(Spoiler) I know the Cleansing will likely get the top spot, but I really liked the scene where Rand gets bonded by Elayne, Min, and Aviendha.

Gathering Storm:

(Spoiler) Has to be Rand on Dragonmount. IMO the most pivotal scene in the entire series, powerful and emotional; the moment when Rand stops his downhill slide. Certainly more important than Egwene fighting the Seanchen, or any other scene in the book.

Anyways, that's my two cents. You've done awesome so far, I'm sure you'll nail the rest.

MPS.
Tina A
71. Tinaa
Wow. Totally love this cover.

I'll add my vote here for the calendar and the downloadable covers.

Pretty please?
David Platt
72. The Not So Dark One
Hi - sorry i'm not a fan of this one - it's goood art and all - not saying its not very good, but it just doesnt do it for me. Also I dont feel it captures the scene as written which was very dark and murky - at one point Nyn hits him thinking some fish has grabbed her. They are a bit too glamarous and calm for what the scene felt like when reading. judging by the comments here i'm in the minority and i'm certainly not panning it - so keep up the good work.
trench
73. ctkierst
Has anybody found the ebook for sale yet? Specifically, to Canada?
trench
74. dragonflare
i like the cover a lot but ... where's the calluses on the hand of Lan and I would assume he'd have plenty of visible scars.
trench
75. Isabel_G
I like the motive for this picture, especially because Lan and Nynaeve are the focus of this cover. But I must say that the characters faces don't look at all like I imagined. I'm in particular confused by Nynaeve's red hair, in my head that's very wrong.
trench
76. CamaroFan
finally found the actress nynaeve reminds me of... am i seeing things, or does it kinda look like this girl was the inspiration?
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1423955/

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