Apr 15 2013 2:45pm

Michael Whelan Paints Kaladin from The Way of Kings

Michael Whelan, Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson JordanCon Kaladin

JordanCon is this weekend. For those in the Atalanta area that want to revel in The Wheel of Time, this is your chance. Among this year’s guests are our own Leigh Butler, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Sanderson, and Michael Whelan. As an extra treat, Michael decided to finish up one of the prelimnary studies he did for the cover of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. He will have it on display at the convention.  Since I know we have one or two Way of Kings fans here, I couldn’t resist posting for those not able to attend the convention.

William Carter
1. wcarter
Very nice. I hope he has prints like that for sale.
2. AndrewB
While I like this picture, I am glad that Brandon, Michael and the rest of the SA team decided to use the cover they did. This pircture conveys the emotion that Kaladin exhibits when he goes on the bridge runs once he knowingly uses the power of the gems.

My one complaint with this picture is the color of the arrow fletchings. The brightness of the fletchings overpowers the rest of the scene. I cannot quite imagine that the Parashi would use orange fletchings for their arrows. Those arrows remind me of the arrows that you would buy at a sporting goods store.

I am not sure how I pictured Kaladin in my mind -- but this is not how I would have. I thought of him as younger than he looks in the picture. I do realize, however, that his experiences during the course of TWoK (and during the flashback periods) would have aged him. Yet I still thought he would have retained more of his youth.

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
Alice Arneson
3. Wetlandernw
Wow! I'm glad they chose the scene they did for the cover, because it was very evocative for the whole book, but... Wow! This is excellent. Very much as I picture Kaladin, which is highly unusual. The intensity is perfect, and the background just sets it off, with the lightning and the blurred, off-axis lines. Love it.
Glennis LeBlanc
4. Glennis
Can't wait to see it in person this weekend.
Jeanette Donato
5. Djinn
Nice picture but not at all how I picture Kaladin...
6. Freelancer
Before getting to anything which might be considered critical, this image is simply awesome. The details are intense, the semi-reflective surface of the shield and breastplate are wickedly sharp, the "stormlight" silhouette of the lightning strike evokes his nascent Radiant abilities, and the rendering of the glyph brand on Kaladin's forehead is well fitted to the text. Remarkable work.

IIRC, the scene in the book which drives this image includes a description of the Parshendi arrow fletchings as "scragglebark". There do not seem to be any long-flighted fowl available to provide the type of feathers usable for fletching, only the chickens in Shinovar.

That being said, the Parshendi do seem to favor orange and red among their colored items on the battlefield, so regardless of the material source of the fletchings, it isn't impossible that they would be colored such as this.

A more notable nit to pick is that Kaladin is described as having shoulder-length, wavy, black hair, the preferred hair coloring of the Alethi.
D. Pack
7. Wringleader
Excellent. Really captures the intensity of Kaladin. Hope to see more.
Lynn McDonald
8. meal6225
Thank you for thinking of us who can not attend but do enjoy this lovely artistic capture of a feel and look of a scene showing Kaladin's awseomeness!
One more tiny nit pick--bridgemen dont wear capes.
John Skotnik
9. ShooneSprings
Thanks for posting this. I wish I could be there!
10. Foreverett
I really hope you release prints for online sale! I need one of these! TWoK is one of my favorite epic fantasy novels, and I love Kaladin. Would frame this in something special. :D
Sean Dowell
11. qbe_64
I posted this on the re-read, before I realized you comment on this directly.

@2 - He is definately too old in this picture. I believe he's still only 19 in the book (maybe 20 by this point). This guy is like early 30's.
Alice Arneson
12. Wetlandernw
qbe_64 @11 - I guess it's a matter of perception. When I consider a) all that Kaladin has been through and b) the intensity of what he's doing here, and then combine those with a good look at the picture, I can easily see him as 20. A very mature, very responsible, very intense, very lived-in 20. All of which fits Kaladin rather well. He doesn't read like 19 or 20, either; he's had a much rougher experience of those years than most of us, or most of the 20-year-olds we know. We have a pretty soft life compared to his, so it's no wonder our 20-year-olds don't look like this.
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
Another nitpick - where is Tinkerbell (I mean, Syl)?
William Carter
14. wcarter

His looks aren't really a problem for me. Most of the famous men and women of the "Old West" were only in their late teens or early 20s when they did whatever it was that made them (im)famous.

If you look at some of the surviving pictures of them, they tended to look quite a bit older than they really were. A hard life on the frontier and constant exposure to harsh weather will age you.
Sean Dowell
15. qbe_64
@12 - Are you saying that running bridges for miles in adrenaline fueled death waiting for you every second situations for months on end is somehow more trying than the excessive drinking and sleeping to noon that I did when I was 19 in my first year university? (wohoo Canadian drinking age!).
Actually, come to think of it, I looked pretty shitty after than year too.
Alice Arneson
16. Wetlandernw
Well, I'll certainly grant you that excessive drinking can be nearly as hard on the body as Kaladin's life; at least his experience (with the way he went at it) made him physically stronger instead of just trashing his liver. :) I'm thinking that sleeping until noon would have been nice for him, though.
Karen Fox
17. thepupxpert
Wow this is really intense, at first I thought maybe he did look a little older than he should be but I've since revised my opinion that he could look just like that. After all, the only bathing they get is when it rains and they are living in squalor and running for miles at a time and then being fired upon, I'd probably look like that too although I wouldn't have survived the first bridge run for sure. However I am not sure WHEN this picture is supposed to depict, as a slave running bridges they only had vests and sandals right?
Trae Ashleigh
18. Trae
He definitely looks a bit too old when I compare the image to the one I have in my mind. The lines in his face age him beyond that of Kaladin in the book and the redness around his eyes seems overmuch. However, the artistry is well done. I'm not altogether fond of the arrow-fletching though.
19. Freelancer
thepupxpert @17

Assuming that anyone reading here has read the book, and SPOILER ALERT for the rest...

Late in the book, when Kaladin is goading the Parshendi archers to focus their attack on him, he is wearing armor made of a Parshendi corpse's natural breastplate. He does a Reverse Lashing onto the shield (unknowingly), and draws all of the arrows fired in a particular volley at once, knocking him backwards, but ending with dozens of arrows stuck into it. The shield should have Parshendi bones tied to it.

But remember, this image was done as a preliminary study, and Michael chose later to fully paint it. Quibbling over the accuracy to the story text is pointless.
20. Confutus
It has been pointed out that Roshar has a 500 day year, so age 19 on Roshar would be mid 20's by our standards. Combine that with his hard life, and he could easily look older than we might expect.
21. StinePet
Wow, this is so wrong on so many levels for me. First of all it is far from any image I have had of Kaladin, but that would be different for a lot of people so not too relevant. The age thing has been mentioned and I agree completely with those who think he looks too old in this picture. Can you say ancient-never-been-outside-wearing-a-wig?

What is mostly wrong though is that he looks utterly deformed. Check out the angle of his head when seen toghether with his shoulder as well as the placing of his shield. Where does he hold the shield? Most likely it is held in his fist by a buckle of some sort placed in the middle of the shield. The arm would also likely be bent so that he can rest the shield on his upper and lower arm to have greater resistance to hits. Not stuck out behind his shoulder like that. Jeez.. And look at the hand gripping the spear. Baby hands? By the dimensions his spear is a slender one. Lets say three, maybe four, pencils stuck toghether. I encourage all you big strong males out there to give it a try. Your fingers overlap don't they? And sticking your fingers out like Kaladin is doing in the picture feels weird, right? Hold your weapon lightly, but not too bloody lightly, I say..
I'm not even going to go into the expression on his face and the lines there on..
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
Replace what you're seeing as "shoulder" with "chest armor" and see if things look different.
Farah Majeed
23. FiFo871
I truly hope he can draw Ferras Vansen from Shadowmarch Series as he has painted the book cover for Memory, Sorrow and Thorn as well as Shadowmarch Series itself, he painted Briony and Barrick, why not Vansen??
He Is an amazing artist

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