British Fiction Focus

A New Look for Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Books

Much as I admire those authors who take the time to write what they want to write right, I read something like a hundred books each year, and I only have so much space in my brain for stories—so when a series takes too long between instalments, I find myself flagging, forgetting, before finally saying fine, and giving up the ghost.

To wit, I love a quick turnaround on a trilogy, and two scant years since Wolfhound Century turned me on to Peter Higgins’ tremendous talents, the conclusion is coming soon: Radiant State is to be released in the UK in late May—complete with a striking new cover look.

But first, a bit about the book:

With his loving evocation of a dark and fantastical realm that owes much to the myth and history of 20th-century Russia, and his rare ability to combine poetic writing and kinetic plotting, Peter Higgins has created one of the most original and critically lauded works of recent years. Adored by critics and authors such as Hannu Rajaniemi, Ian McDonald and Richard Morgan, the Wolfhound Century novels now reach their extraordinary conclusion.

In Radiant State we discover both the glory and the true horror of Joseph Kantor’s plan for the Vast and its people. It is a plan that transcends the boundaries of the world. And out in the depths of the endless forest that borders the Vast, the mighty fallen angel and the powers of the earth itself will still have a part to play. Will Vissarion and Maroussia survive the violence of the end game?

We’ll see. There really are no guarantees in these awesome novels…

Sadly, it doesn’t sound like the Wolfhound Century series has sold as well as it undoubtedly deserves to, despite acclaim from all quarters. As Gollancz’s Simon Spanton says:

This spellbinding mix of fantasy and SF set in a world that echoes a surreal and magical Soviet Union of the first half of the twentieth century has won ardent fans but we would love it to reach more. This is a series that has bewitched every publisher who has seen it (we acquired it only after a fierce auction and it has sold to publishers around the world). So, to revive this series and to launch the final part of the trilogy we have decided on a dramatic new cover look both for the new book and for new editions of the first two titles.

“We wanted something that would stand out,” Spanton spake. Something “that would convey the rich, almost mythic feel of the books, something that reflects the strong sense of place in the books but which would also focus on the powerful portrayal of the characters. Who to approach for this new look?”

Who else but Jeffrey Alan Love, whose work on Gollancz’s recent raft of Simon Ings reissues impressed me to the extent that I rebought a bunch of the books purely for their lovely new looks.

I don’t love Love’s Wolfhound Century covers in the same way I did his spare interpretations of the aforementioned Ings, but in my view they assuredly do communicate the strange sense of place that’s kept me so keen on Higgins’ trilogy. To boot, they’re bold, and they’re nice and bright.

Do they stand out more than the original editions did? I’d say so. But what do I know?


Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.

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