I had planned to look at a Ray Bradbury anthology as my Vintage Treasures post for tonight, but I set that aside when I learned about the unexpected death of Tanith Lee today. As I was preparing a brief obituary, I was struck by just how many novels she completed in her lifetime, and how little of her considerable output I’ve sampled over the years. I thought, if it’s okay with all of you, I’d deviate from our flight plan slightly to take a look at some of the marvelous books she left us.
To start with, I’d like to showcase the pairing of Lee with one of my favorite cover artists. Sanjulian painted the covers for the 1988 DAW editions of all three novels of The Wars of Vis: The Storm Lord, Anackire, and The White Serpent, a series which the publisher labeled a “best-selling epic of war torn-empires, alien gods, and a Witch race with the power to reshape a world…” Over her long career Lee has been blessed with some of the best cover artists in the business — including Michael Whelan, Carl Lundgren, Paul Lehr, Don Maitz, and many others — but she rarely did better than these three.
[Click the covers to see bigger versions.]
The Storm Lord was originally published in paperback by DAW Books in May 1976, less than a year after her first novel with DAW (and her first foray into adult fiction), The Birthgrave, appeared in 1975. DAW didn’t really seem to know how to market it, and the original cover, by Gino D’Achille (right), dressed it up as fairly routine sword and sorcery.
Anackire appeared in 1983, with a much more memorable Michael Whelan cover (see below)… although that had the definite drawback of providing no visual linkage with the first book, which probably didn’t help fans — who’d already waited seven years for a sequel — to readily identify it.
When the third and final volume, The White Serpent, appeared in 1988 with a Sanjulian cover, DAW spent the money to have him also paint matching covers for the first two. The result was quite striking, especially when the books are laid side by side.
They also re-wrote the (frankly rather lackluster) back cover text for the new editions, playing up the epic aspects of the tale. Here’s the text for the back of the 1988 edition of The Storm Lord:
World Slayer, World Saver…
Dorthar was an empire divided, a land of master race and slave people, a realm where gods and goddesses woke to walk the land, carving pathways of terrifying destruction. Into this world poised precariously on the brink of doom, Raldnor was born.
Raldnor, illegitimate son of the Storm Lord, tyrannical ruler of the land, and Ashne’e, priestess of the goddess Anackire. Raldnor, child of power raised secretly among those enslaved by the Storm Lord’s conquest, trained in the arts of weaponry and the ways of power. Raldnor, who, seeking his lost heritage, would change the very fate of empires, as his thirst for vengeance fueled a war that would set the world ablaze!
The Storm Lord
Be sure to read Anackire and The White Serpent, the second and third novels in this magnificent DAW trilogy of a world beset by warfare and sorcery.
Tanith Lee has produced several acclaimed and famous series, and many standalone novels. But with only one exception (which we’ll cover in a future post), these are the Lee books that I find most appealing, and they’re likely the ones I’ll open first as I begin my exploration of her substantial back catalog.
The Storm Lord was published by DAW in April 1988. It is 350 pages, priced at $3.95 in paperback.
Anackire was published by DAW in April 1988. It is 414 pages, priced at $3.95 in paperback.
The White Serpent was published by DAW in April 1988. It is 396 pages, priced at $3.95 in paperback.
All three novels have been out of print since 1988, and there are no digital edition available in the US.
We’ve covered the following Tanith Lee books so far:
The Novels of Tanith Lee: The Wars of Vis by John O’Neill
The Novels of Tanith Lee: Tales From the Flat Earth by John O’Neill
The Novels of Tanith Lee: The Secret Books of Paradys by John O’Neill
The Novels of Tanith Lee: Days of Grass by John O’Neill
The Collections of Tanith Lee by John O’Neill
Tanith Lee’s Secret Books of Paradys by Matthew David Surridge
Return to The Flat Earth: Reviving a Masterpiece by John R. Fultz
Tanith Lee’s Lionwolf Trilogy by John R. Fultz
See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.