The Path of Daggers, volume eight in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, will be available in ebook form May 18th. 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 seven ebooks can be purchased here.)
Julie Bell was on my artist wish-list for this ebook cover project right from the start. There are few artists as comfortable with figure drawing as Julie. The only question was, which book and which scene? Fairly early on, Megan Messinger had described the “Bowl of Winds” as a pivotal point in the book that focus on the strength of character and ability the women in the Wheel of Time possess. Since Julie has a hard-earned gift for painting strong women that are every bit as powerful as they are beautiful, it seemed a natural fit.
Still, some hard decisions had to be made. The scene includes thirteen women working together. If we did a long shot, we could include all thirteen, but then we loose the ability to engage with specific characters. When you add in the thumbnail-size that ebook covers are often first seen at, I thought it best to focus on a few of the key characters: Elayne, Aviendha, and Nynaeve.
The scene fell together pretty quickly after that. I have to say a special thanks to our Leigh Butler who called me in a mild panic after the sketches were approved: it seems that the clothing in the scene was described in the book before this one. Not something I ever would have caught. And further proof that the more people we let into the process, the better it is for the project.
In the end, Julie created strong and individual characters, each one looking as competent in their own right as the next, clearly working together for a greater power.
This is not surprising to anyone that knows Julie and her work: she is one of the most disciplined and grounded artists I have met. She and her family—husband Boris Vallejo and sons Tony and David Palumbo—live a life fully dedicated to art. Not in a flamboyant or trivial way, but with an intense focus on craft and hard work, tempered by a true delight in bringing fantastic images to life.
Those of you familiar with her fantasy illustration should check out what I call “the three Julies.” Beyond her commissioned work, Julie creates personal paintings that push her stylistic range. And then there’s Julie the wildlife painter. Yes, I’m a sucker for animal paintings in general, but she has an incredible ability to idealize a subject matter while maintaining its visceral heart.
It was an honor to have her involved with this project. When the painting was done, we spent a day visiting Julie. Hear what she had to say about The Path of Daggers and her career in general:
To keep up with all of our Wheel of Time posts, including information on the ebook releases, check out our Wheel of Time Index.
Special thanks to Megan Messinger for video editing.
For the full-sized cover image, check out Dragonmount’s The Path of Daggers feature.