I was sitting down in a Sydney pub with Jeremy Szal (author of the brilliant Stormblood and the upcoming Blindspace) when the topic of book covers came up. We’d been discussing my completion of the Red Rising trilogy when Jeremy put down his pint, held up a finger, and then fished his phone from his pocket while telling me that I had to check out the Polish version of the covers for the series.
And oh my, were they gorgeous. Created by Dark Crayon, the covers were brilliant studies on using a more minimalist approach to colour palette than I feel we generally see in countries like Australia, the UK, and the US, while also ensuring a bold cover that pops off the catalogue page. The character designs were also brilliant, as was the use of nicely textured backgrounds that look simple from afar, but are generally worth zooming in on to see what’s there.
This made me ask the obvious next question, and Jeremy fished out a bunch of other covers from Polish SFF publishers that he loved, and I immediately fell in love with. Naturally, I needed to share these with you.
Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
As I said above, this cover just blew me away. Based on the covers I’ve picked below, I think it’s safe to say the red, white, and greyscale seems to be a sweet spot for my tastes. I love not just the character design (which is just epic), but also the way the artist has either created or used a pre-existing lunar or planetary landscape under a red wash to add detail to what may have otherwise been a flat colour.
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Just brilliantly screams cyberpunk using greyscale and red only. The character is wonderfully constructed with excellent movement across the image giving a pure badarse feeling to the character.
Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
I love this dark and brooding cover by Dominik Broniek in that it makes me think of the online MMPORGs and video games from when I was younger. That highly detailed fore and middle ground with the blended colour scheme in the back which doesn’t stray from the central colour palette is just brilliant.
Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The detail in the armour of the central character here borders on the ridiculous. You could zoom in on it for fifteen minutes and probably still not be able to appreciate the sheer level of effort the artist has gone to putting that suit of armour together.
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
A little more comic book in style than I personally usually enjoy, but the typography layout alongside Nona and the way she exudes a (refreshingly) non-sexualised danger hits the mark for me. The accentuation of that danger through her casually crossed feet above the head of a steel-garbed fallen foe just makes this pop.
Based on my chat with Jeremy, I’ve certainly become a fan of a few Polish publishers and their efforts to turn already excellent books into something that will pop off the catalogue page in their local markets. if you know of any others gorgeous Polish covers that have escaped my article, please post them in the comments!