Tor.com is very excited to reveal the title and the cover of the third novel in Brian’s Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series! The Last Mortal Bond brings to an epic conclusion the saga of Imperial siblings Kaden, Adare, and Valyn, and their conflicting struggles to save their murdered father’s empire.
Richard Anderson, cover artist for The Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire, returns to render the final cover in Staveley’s trilogy, which features Kettral soldier Gwenna fighting to pull her former teammate Valyn to safety while their giant black riding hawk dominates the background.
“This is hands-down my favorite of Anderson’s three covers for the series,” Staveley says. “It captures so many things that are central to the book: the desperation, the camaraderie, and the sheer skull-splitting badassery of the Kettral.”
Below is the original concept sketch provided by Staveley. Tor Senior Editor Marco Palmieri explains, “The author’s astonishing vision was a shining light guiding the artist’s hand.”
The piece is a controversial one, primed to enter history as one of the most argued over works in Brian Staveley’s long career. Is Gwenna smiling or is she frowning? Academics argue that it is both; a wry commentary on the duplicitous nature of man, of the mutualistic relationship between thought and action, the internal and the external. We see this theme further reflected in Valyn’s double-mouthed visage.
Deeper yet, perhaps Valyn is the only single-mouthed person in a deceptive double-mouthed world, and that is simply Gwenna’s leg on his face, having flown clean off her body, wrapping around Valyn’s head like an errant sock.
Anarchists will tell you that none of this matters. That Staveley’s work clearly indicates that this world is over and that only a giant f#$%ing hawk can carry us to redemption.
One thing is certain: the end is coming and nothing is as it seems.
The Last Mortal Bond arrives in 2016.