SFF Book Covers That Made You Pick Up the Book

Sometimes, we can’t help but judge a book by its cover. And when a particularly gorgeous or innovative cover compels us to pick up a book about which we know nothing else, that’s considered a positive. We asked, and you answered: Here are thirteen sci-fi/fantasy book covers—featuring stunning landscapes, dragons both fearsome and anatomical, vintage space illustrations, and astonishing art imbued with movement—that instantly draw readers into the world beyond the title page…

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson!” said @_readerz. “The white/grey/blue cover [by Sam Green] is amazing.”


We, the Drowned, by Carsten Jensen,” tweeted author Kelly Barnhill. “Never heard of the book, but the cover [by Joe McLaren] was astonishing. Turns out the book was astonishing too.”

We the Drowned by Carsten Jensen book cover

“In my school library when I was 11, I discovered a book with an intriguing drawing of a mountain and dragon.,” said author Ilana C. Myer. “It was The Hobbit.” For the first edition, Tolkien drew the mountain and dragon, which have been recreated on subsequent covers.

The Hobbit book cover J.R.R. Tolkien dragon mountain

Literary agent Bridget Smith (@bredalot) had the same experience, but with Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown: “One of my favorites, by one of my favorite authors! And I only picked it up because of a girl fighting a dragon.” That legendary showdown is depicted on at least two of the book’s covers, illustrated by David M. Johnston and Kinuko Y. Craft.

The Hero and the Crown book cover Robin McKinley

The Hero and the Crown book cover

@UnsungTweets posted this cover for Stewart Cowley’s Spacecraft, 2000 to 2100 A.D.: Terran Trade Authority Handbook. The book featured illustrations from Jim Burns, Alan Daniels, Peter Goodfellow, Colin Hay, Bob Layzell, Angus McKie, and Tony Roberts.

Spacecraft Stewart Cowley

@XETWS nominated Marc Simonetti‘s cover for the French edition of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind:

Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss French book cover

@_readerz also suggested the French cover (illustrated by Benjamin Carré) for Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves:

The Republic of Thieves Scott Lynch French cover

Author Myke Cole mentioned The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander because of “the Horned King rearing on a black horse”—illustrated by Don Maitz.

The Book of Three Lloyd Alexander book cover

Similarly, @jasonxbergman called out Alexander’s The Castle of Llyr, illustrated by Jean-Leon Huens:

Castle of Lyr Lloyd Alexander book cover

@kvothe1984 nominated V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic for Will Staehle‘s cover:

A Darker Shade of Magic V.E. Schwab book cover

@eamonambrose called Ben Adams‘ cover for Brother, Frankenstein “stunning.”

Brother Frankenstein Michael Bunker book cover

@XETWS focused on Todd Lockwood‘s fantastical, anatomical cover with his suggestion of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan:

A Natural History of Dragons Marie Brennan book cover

“I picked up Wheel of Time series because I liked the look of book 8 cover art on endcap,” tweeted @diabolicalplots. Darrell K. Sweet provided the cover for The Path of Daggers and almost all of the Wheel of Time books. “Grabbed book 1 and read the prologue.”

Wheel of Time Path of Daggers book cover

We’re sure you have your own picks, so add your favorite covers in the comments!


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