Yes, I know, I missed a week – but remember: I make the rules…
Anyway I was abroad – well slightly abroad: France. More specifically, I was walking in Cathar country, scaling Queribus and requiring oxygen to get up Montsegur. Amazingly, I survived – despite a bad back [please express sympathy here…].
So… back to historical fiction covers and this week it’s all about helmets. Helmets often appear, at the very least in a minor way, on the covers of many martially-inclined works of historical fiction, but I’m going to focus on some that feature the helmet as the main item.
What have I discovered? Well, I’ve discovered that helmets on their own can be pretty boring, but if the warrior’s headgear is given the right sort of aesthetic support then it can form an effective centrepiece for a cover.
What I like about this is that the helmet dominates the page and gives you a style to latch onto, but underneath is the real story – the mounted horseman with his crusader flag, running before the flames.
The colours are simple but contrasting and they produce an image that crackles with excitement and danger.
There is a little nod to Bernard Cornwell’s The Burning Land here which uses similar colours and layout but I think Martin goes one better with this one. I particularly like the brilliance of the colour just above the helmet.
But the accolade this week for the best cover featuring a helmet is Giles Kristian’s short story from last year, The Terror.
Why do I like it more than the others?
It’s very dark and yet the image is clear: the stark helmet with its fine decoration, gleaming in a patch of light.
There is no use here of contrasting colour but instead a very skilful and subtle blend of shades of black, brown and grey.
With the thin, bare trees in the background, the image creates menace. The overall effect speaks of fear and desolation.
This cover is beautifully put together.