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:
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.
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.