We’re very excited to share this first look at the cover for James A Moore’s The Blasted Lands! This sequel to Seven Forges sports another stunning cover from artist Alejandro Colucci. Moore was kind enough to share his reaction to Colucci’s work below.
I have to say, Alejandro Colucci is amazing. I had seen his work several times before I started making the connection between the art and the person making it, and when I heard that he was going to work on the cover for Seven Forges that connection was not yet cemented.
When I was asked what I’d like to see as the cover for Seven Forges I gave about three pages of descriptions for possible covers having absolutely NO IDEA what the final decision would be. Listen I’ve been at this for a while and to a very real extent you look at cover art with the same sort of expectation you have for playing slot machines in Vegas. That is to say you hope to break even and promise yourself not to flinch when all you get is the same sort of mix of fruit that you get in a cup of generic fruit cocktail.
But now and then, you win a jackpot. I looked at the depiction of Drask Silver Hand on that first cover and knew I had a winner. The man who showed it to me was none other than Marc Gascoigne, the head of the whole Angry Robot team. He was also the man who had to put up with my endless run of suggestions on the cover. I looked at the first draft of the cover and was delighted. Why? Because, by all that is holy, Alejandro Colucci actually read the descriptions culled from the manuscript for the book and then used that description. I can’t possibly explain how rare that is. I showed the rough of the cover to several trusted friends who had also worked as my first readers and the reaction was the same from the lot of them. I won the jackpot.
And then, I won again.
When Marc asked me about the cover for The Blasted Lands we agreed that it should be in a similar vein to the first book, but with a different character at the center of the illustration, this time Tusk (King Tuskandru) would be the focal point. Listen, I am the first to point out that I really am not kind to illustrators. By that I mean I really don’t give that much to work with. In the case of Tusk there were a few points that had to come through, like the scars he has on one arm, a massive line of scars caused by a chain that cut his arm severely. His face, like all of the people from the Valley of the Seven Forges, is mostly covered by a veil, leaving little to work with but the eyes and the oddities of the clothes the character wears.
In the case of Tusk one of the challenges was his helmet. I described it as a skull shaped piece that fit over his head, with odd teeth and horns. That’s pretty much all he had to work with. I expected something rather generic and instead, I was rewarded with a truly devilish construction. One look at that helmet and I wanted to know what sort of monster would have a skull of that sort buried in the flesh of its head. It’s perfect. The Blasted Lands are rife with creatures, each deadlier than the last and most of them as yet unseen in the series.
The other item that had to be done well was the sword Tusk carries. It had to be the sort of blade that would make most of the people coming his way think that being anywhere else was a mighty fine idea. And again, Alejandro Colucci nailed it. The thing about the Sa’ba Taalor is that they are about as dark and intimidating as they can be, and despite that appearance they are still human. I feared that whatever covers came my way would miss the mark and either make them into lean and handsome men who just happened to have veils or would make them into parodies, too large and bloated to come across the right way. Instead, Colucci managed to find the right balance for me.
And then he went a step further and caught the feel of the areas where the characters should be seen. The stark cold of the first cover carries beautifully for me, especially since Drask is the very first of the Sa’ba Taalor met in the books. The second cover, the cover for The Blasted Lands, managed what I genuinely thought couldn’t be done and upped the wattage substantially. The wasteland in the background sums up the Blasted Lands perfectly. The shades of red and brown and gray blend to show the overall world that the Sa’ba Taalor have dwelled in for their entire existence. That’s a powerful thing.
Alejandro Colucci has designed covers for my books that stand out, that catch the eye and that make me, as a reader and consumer, want to know more about the books behind those covers. I look forward to what he might come up with next. Now if I can just convince him to make them into T-Shirts.