A couple of days ago I received Map of the Sky, a paperback that is possibly worthy of the ‘doorstopper’ epithet. It’s an appealing steampunk cover with predominantly cold hues except for the orange item upon which the protagonist focuses, which also lends him a touch of warmth. The protagonist is probably a photoshopped figure but placed well on the page, dominating without being the focus. The focus is the orange object placed very close to the penultimate focus of 1/3 from the edges. The title, being silver, both blends with the background colour but stands out. I think the background is actually my favourite aspect of this cover. While the background does what backgrounds are supposed to do – support the image, leading the eye to the focal points – it is a somewhat impressionist representation of lamp posts and city buildings at night. The novel is a reasonable weight for its size and yet comfortably falls open to read the text next to the gutter even in the centre of the book, although my preference would be for wider spacing for the gutter. The text is a little small but it’s well laid out, much nicer than a mass market paperback.
Palma’s previous book, Map of Time, was a New York Times and international bestseller.
The Black Mausoleum is a – dare I say it? – it’s a pretty cover. Ok, I’m about to run from the lynch mob, but hear me out. The background sky and clouds are soft, blue sky with white and puffy grey clouds of fairy floss. My copy has a pretty border around the edge. When I first looked I didn’t ‘see’ the image, just the colours, and I expected a girls’ fantasy. A second look, focusing on the image of the warrior and dragon, make it clear this is intended to be a unisex novel. There isn’t much detail in the human figure although he’s positioned to catch the eye and he’s the darkest portion of the cover so you can’t miss him. The dragon is kind of softly coloured although very spiky. Not my favourite interpretation of a dragon: this guy is clearly meant to be a vicious predator with his hundreds of spikes, wicked beak, teeth intended for rending, arms like a human with lethal claws for hands. Careful examination of the dragon and I wonder if Deas’ dragon is too lethal, but then I have yet to read any of his books.
Although Mausoleum is a trade, there is no space wasted in the layout of the text; I suspect the book might be a surprisingly long read. The text is close to the gutter, so I’m concerned about cracking the spine: now all Jim Butcher fans will call me a wuss. I’m sure the careful and determined reader can read Mausoleum without damage, and the guys I was chatting to at Stormdancer‘s launch tonight would laugh and tell me it’s ok to demolish a book as long as you read and enjoy it!
Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie recommended Mausoleum.