Whilst February was something of a wasteland in terms of new historical fiction to peruse, March is proving to be a cracking month. Isn’t life unfair? Because there are quite a few contenders for this month’s crown and I can probably only mention some in dispatches, ignoring many which only last month might have proved world-beaters. Without exaggeration, I could have suggested about fifteen candidates this month. It’s a bugger, but hey-ho, life goes on. Here are the candidates.
First some honourable mentions, because we can’t all win first prize – in fact of course there isn’t a prize so there’s no real cause for massive disappointment. As my old mum used to say – rather too frequently with reference to me – it’s the taking part that counts. So, ‘taking part’ in no particular order [that sounds very official…] are:
Glyn Iliffe’s The Voyage of Odysseus, Anthony Riches’ Altar of Blood, Peter Tolladay’s The Thorn in the Crown, Ben Kane’s Hunting the Eagles and C R May’s Fire and Steel.
All of these have been ‘done before’ to an extent, but they are still well put together and they make an impact whether it be with the ship’s sail, the soldier’s gleaming armour or the designs on the shields. Interestingly, it is the text of the author’s name which draws the eye in one of them [clue: there’s a ‘P’ in it…]
And so to the final two.
I’ve chosen two very contrasting covers.
First up is Janet Todd’s A Man of Genius.
What elevates this one for me is that it is a little different: it is not plastered with chunks of red, gold, silver and black – so that’s a bit of a relief. Its generally pastel shades are pleasing to the eye. The constant danger with pastel is its tendency to descend into blandness, but I think this image has enough interest to prevent that. The trick is the stark contrast of light and dark: the Venice skyline with the ships below.
And yes, [sighs] I could do without the recommendation on it, and instead, I would have liked the image itself to give me a little more information about the nature of the story, but there you go…
Now the final submission, and my pick for cover of the month, is Nick Brown’s The Emperor’s Silver. So why does it merit this lofty position?
This is actually the fifth book in the Agent of Rome series but the style of this cover differs markedly from the earlier books – and that’s a bold decision, so I like it. It still gives us the sense of action and conflict, but it does so using very few colours. The fonts are simple and the text is aligned cleverly with the image.
There is a certain balance to it all. The split image stands out against books with a similar sort of subject matter. Anything that stands out in the plethora of books now available is doing pretty well.
I’m sure many will disagree with my choices perhaps dismissing my thoughts as subjective balderdash, but I like to ring the changes a bit and I feel I’ve stayed consistent to some fundamental criteria. What criteria, you demand hopefully? That’s a question worth a post all on its own, so I’ll do it later this month, or next – depending on how the writing’s going. It’s going well at the moment and thank you for asking.
As always, I would love to have your comments on my choices or other contenders I’ve not chosen and let us hope that next month also brings forth a bumper crop of covers in this genre that we all love.