UK vs. US covers

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Annie by Safetysuit.

You guys, I'm torn. Usually I am ecstatically proud of the quite frankly jaw-dropping covers designed for so many books published here. The UK covers are great, but never seem to quite catch my eye in the same way. But now I'm at a quandry.

There are two books where I am honest to goodness torn. I've not read either yet (since they're not out), so I only have the covers to entice me. Yeah, anyone who said "don't judge a book by its cover" lied big time.

Enter Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It is about a female assassin, which is a major woot! in my book. She is pulled out of a salt mine prison by the prince's captain of the guard offering her freedom if she wins an upcoming contest choosing the next royal assassin. A mix of Poison Study and Graceling adding in a fight for her life? Um, sold?

So here are the two covers.


They each have their own, distinct appeal. But I am having a few problems with the US cover. First of all, the hair.

Yes, yes, I know she is moved to the palace (which you can see in the background and is one of the highlights for this cover), and she has to learn courtly ways and such. But the perfectly coiffed hair? The flawless skin? This girl was in the salt mines for a year, where most people there don't survive past a month, apparently. I can't believe she would come out looking like that, even with a mountain of mudbath treatments. Also, her eyes look too... serene. Perhaps a bit mysterious. Which I suppose could lend to the "underestimating" factor, but I just don't get the vibe that this girl could kill me. Now, the UK cover on the other hand seems to fit in for an assassin. I mean, by page three in the book it is describing her shoving a pickaxe into one of her old taskmaster's guts and feeling the sticky blood run down her hands. *glances up to US picture* I'm just not seeing it. It's just not coming across that she's a hardened assassin to me, the "best" in her kingdom.

Now onto some other details a first glance might have missed.

Now I like this detail. Here is the first hint that she is a fighter. Some have commented on the strange sizing of the dagger, but I like that they've included a throwing knife (it has to be properly weighted so it will fly end over end). That is a really nice touch, and feels realistic for an assassin to me. And call me silly, but I love that this girl has got a bicep. It could be even bigger to me, but I'm glad they didn't just pick a dainty waif and expect me to believe she could take down full grown men.

Also, something I almost completely missed. She is clenching her fist, I suppose to show her defiance/determination? It's a pretty tight grip (also emphasizing her arm muscles) but the angle is all wrong if she is looking for a fight. And then there is her serene expression again to contend with.

Now there are still plenty of things wrong with the UK cover, in my opinion. Her clothing choice especially seems to lend to a much more urban fantasy feel rather than an alternate world fantasy, but I do love she has wrist, knee, and leg guards. Her shredded shirt and overly-tight clothes do nothing for me. An assassin should have free movement and that leather-looking material looks really restrictive. A very nice touch with the bare feet though (almost didn't catch that one either). I'm guessing that is to emphasize her silent assassin skills (though with the background looking like ice, I can't help but think how cold her feet are!). Hair seems too long to belong to an assassin, but it does look impressing flowing behind her as she approaches looking very much like she's going to eviscerate you.

So yes - torn. Do I wait happily for my little indie bookstore to get the US version in? Or do I order the UK version from the book depository? I dissected this one so much, I'll have to hold off comparisons with the other book for another time. :)

Oh, and so you know I wasn't lying about the pickaxe on page three, here is a preview of the book. ^_^


Kirthi said...

Hi Heather!
Gosh, this is a really pressing argument you've made! I'm usually a fan of UK covers, and in this case, I am for the UK cover. The US one looks too girly and superficial, whereas the UK one puts emphasis on the made idea of the story. Honestly, I can't tell which one you should get >_<

Great post!

Jenny S. Morris said...

I have heard so much about this book. I vote for UK. I don't really like the US but I haven't read the book so I don't know which on is more accurate.

Good luck choosing.

Enna Isilee said...


NiceOrc said...

One question - how does she use the knife on her bicep? It doesn't seem to be in a very accessible position - but then, my library studies course didn't cover knife fighting in great depth, so what do I know?

Heather Zundel said...

I love your comments! And you are making excellent points on your own!

Honestly, NiceOrc, maybe you just didn't take the right library school courses. ;) All the cool people signed up for knife fighting early.