Cover Talk

Today I finished Music to My Sorrow, the last of the Eric Banyon books.  Not only the last of those by Mercedes Lackey with Rosemary Edghill, but in entirety.  This is the conclusion, where all the characters are able to close this chapter of their lives and move on.  Either that or they’re dead.  We’ve got stakes (though not quite as high as in some previous books) that are personal, we’ve got all those bits and pieces hinted at for the past three books coming together to form a cohesive whole, etc.  It’s a conclusion in every sense of the word.

So let’s talk about something more interesting than my rereading a book for the umpteenth time.  Let’s talk about the cover art and how I absolutely despise every time I have to look at Music to My Sorrow.  Because this series spans so many years of real and fictional time, it’s also a great one to do a bit of compare and contrast with, so I have a lovely photo below of my entire set.  (I may be missing a book.  If so, it’s called Bedlam Boyz and it’s by Ellen Guon.  It’s on my amazon wishlist – which ends up as a “I mean to get this at some point” list – and I’m sure I’ll pick it up when I have gift card money to spend on the shipping.)

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Anyway, the two older books are, well, so very eighties.  And yes, they were both published in the nineties, but the art style on Summoned to Tourney in particular is just…so very eighties.  I’m relatively okay with Perenor dueling Terenil on Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, but Kory, Eric, and Beth on their elvensteeds-cum-motorcycles is just…ugly.  They don’t even look like people anymore.

Then we shift into art of the 2000s.  Like art of the eighties and nineties, it shows us what we imagine our main characters to look like, though the art style itself is more realistic and cleaner than earlier decades.  I like the portrayals of Eric that we see on Beyond World’s End and Spirits White as Lightning in particular.  Ignoring specific physical descriptions in the books, he looks like a friendly guy that you’d trust.  So when we’ve got this very different image of him on Music to My Sorrow, you can see one reason why I don’t like this about-face on Eric’s appearance.

The other advantage of the two middle books is that neither of them has any of the bizarre and creepy elements the last two possess.  On Mad Maudlin‘s cover, Rionne does not look like Bloody Mary or the Blue Lady or even an elven Protector.  She looks like a demon or something.  I do know and remember that the Sidhe do have control over their appearance and how they choose to look, but that does not at all match any of my expectations for an elf.  Then we have Bard Jormin of the almost waist-length bloodred hair on the cover of the last book.  I can give you some credit for a face distorted by hatred, but I still don’t buy this particular appearance.

Music to My Sorrow just has so very many issues with its cover.  If this is supposed to be the final confrontation, I don’t think that’s what Eric was wearing and he’s definitely not playing the flute (gasp!).  If it’s supposed to be more symbolic on Eric’s part of the cover, why is it the final confrontation for Jormin?  Why does Jormin’s hair look more like an ordinary redhead’s than a pure, bright red like the book describes?  Everyone knows it’s artificial in the book, though some know it to be by magic and most believe it to be by artifice.  Doesn’t matter regardless.  And why does he look like some kind of demon?  I get the whole “hatred makes you ugly” idea, but elves of both the Bright and Dark courts are so consistently described as being attractive that I find it hard to reconcile these disgusting visages with what I imagine.  On another note, why is it Jormin on the cover?  Because we have the “good” Bard versus the “bad” Bard?  Frankly, considering that Jormin is a flunky of the villain, it seems like it should be the villain himself on the cover, not his bright and shiny distraction.

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