Ashes of the Sun and Blood of the Chosen (Orbit, July 2020 and October 2021). Covers by Scott Fischer
It was the cover of Django Wexler’s Ashes of the Sun that grabbed me while I was browsing bookstore shelves last year — and a heck of a cover it is too, by talented fantasy artist Scott Fischer.
The sequel Blood of the Chosen was just released this month. Like the first one, the cover seems to be a collaborative effort. The original art that Fisher proudly displays on his website is certainly striking…. but it’s also missing those human figures (which I assume were added by cover designer Lauren Panepinto).
Those tiny human silhouettes are a small addition perhaps, but they make a heck of a difference. See the surprisingly sterile originals below.
Original covers by Scott Fischer
While we’re on the topic of adding and subtracting from art, I will certainly concede that sometimes less is more. That was definitely the case with the single brief plot synopsis on the back of Ashes of the Sun, anyway:
Not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two. Surrounded by the relics of a dead empire, two siblings — one who wields magic for the empire, and the other who has vowed to bring it all down — will battle for the fate of their world in the first book of this epic new fantasy trilogy by bestselling author Django Wexler.
That’s a remarkably compact pitch for a 550-page fantast novel, and I appreciate it. It was enough to sell me the book. (Well, that, and the eye-catching artwork by Fischer, and the tiny little action figure by Panepinto. Sometimes it take a village.)
I know you lot aren’t as easily sold as I am, so here’s an excerpt from Liz Bourke’s enthusiastic review of Ashes of the Sun a Tor.com, titled “A Personal Story With an Epic Scale.”
Ashes of the Sun combines the scale and sweep of Wexler’s six-volume Shadow Campaigns series (The Thousand Names, The Shadow Throne, and sequels) with the creative and appealing worldbuilding weirdness of the Wells of Sorcery, a tight, intense focus on character, and a driving command of pace and tension. On purely technical grounds — prose, structure, pacing — this is Wexler’s best work yet….
In the middling-distant past of this world, there was a war between the “Chosen” and the ghouls. It seems clear that no one exactly won: Chosen and ghouls are both, apparently, gone from the world, and in the wake of that war humans have to deal with creatures known as plagueborn, which live and grow by consuming and assimilating other beings into themselves. In the Dawn Republic, the Twilight Order see themselves as the heirs of the Chosen. Their remit is to hunt down forbidden magic (dhak) and those who use or smuggle it (dhakim) and protect the Dawn Republic from the plagueborn, but the centarchs of the Twilight Order are the only ones who can use the Chosen’s magic (deiat) and have a monopoly on ancient technology, so their power is ultimately, accountable only to themselves.
Ashes of the Sun has two siblings for its protagonists: revolutionary Gyre, who wants to see the whole system burn, and will accept almost any cost if it means eventually holding repressive power to account; and Maya, taken into the Twilight Order as a child and raised to be part of the system that Gyre abhors, whose mentor has inculcated in her a respect for ordinary people and their problems unusual in her peers — and also a high respect for the necessity and honour of the Twilight Order…
Ashes of the Sun works on an epic scale. There’s layers of history, and magnificent cool shit, and corrupt systems of power that still contain honourable people doing their best…. Ashes of the Sun has scale and pace, and tension and batshit cool scenery, and I enjoyed it a hell of lot.
Here’s the full details for both volumes.
Ashes of the Sun (550 pages, $16.99 in trade paperback/$4.99 digital/$27 in audio formats, July 21, 2020)
Blood of the Chosen (480 pages, $17.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital/$27 in audio formats, October 5, 2021)
Both books were published by Orbit, with covers by Scott Fischer.
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