Friday Faceoff – The first cut is the deepest…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is knives, so I’ve chosen Beguilement – Book 1 of The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold.


This is the cover produced by Harper Voyager in October 2006 is certainly pretty and eye-catching. I would definitely take another look even if it didn’t have the name of one of my very favourite authors plastered across the top – but it does make this book look a lot cosier than it actually is.


This French edition, produced by Bragelonne in 2008 is also beautiful – but shows Fawn injured and in a far darker landscape. As this is a science fiction adventure/fantasy mash-up, with a strong slice of romance, the curling font is entirely appropriate. I love this cover.


Published in October 2007 by Omicron, this Spanish cover is beautiful with the stylised forest and the female character wafting through it as if she is flying. Trouble is, it speaks to me more of existential angst in a literary offering, rather than a straightforward fantasy/romance adventure.


This cover, produced in July 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks features the two main protagonists. But Dag in the book is a whole lot older and more grizzled and with Fawn sprawled across the grass looks like she’s been beguiled – and not in a good way. This may have romance but it isn’t a bodice-ripper.

33 responses »

  1. The first one, just because of the beauty of the artwork. I like the French one, too, but… I don’t know. There’s something unsettling about it. If I found both covers on the same shelf at a bookstore, I’d go for the first one and probably not give the second book another glance.

  2. I’m partial to the first one, but maybe that’s because it’s the cover I’m familiar with. I like the second one, too. The last… Nope. Fawn isn’t blonde! And as you said, Dag is older than the guy on the fourth cover. The guy in that picture… His hands look like they’ve never done a day of physically demanding or dangerous work, ever. We’re supposed to believe THIS is someone who hunts monsters? *shakes head* I admit, however, I tend to pick apart all the “wrong” details of cover art for any books I read. I wonder if that last cover was designed with the intention of pushing the romance aspect of the story and making it seem more like a historical romance or something than a fantasy novel set in the future.

    • Yes – I think you’re right about featuring the romance rather than the adventure aspect of this story. Thank you for taking the time to comment and have a great weekend:)

  3. From the title I gathered this wasn’t a light fluffy read so the first cover didn’t do anything for me. Now, the French cover. Wow! It speaks to me, Sarah!

  4. *gasp*! I LOOOOVE this book. I’ve always preferred Bujold’s fantasy to her sci-fi, and this one doesn’t get near enough attention imo. My favorite cover is the first one – and also, if you have the matching cover of the second book and you place it with this one side by side, they form a single image where Fawn and Dag are “sharing” the magic, which is why I’ve always loved this edition.

    • Yes – you’re absolutely right, of course. A fact Himself pointed out when he rather indignantly pointed out how wrong I was to prefer the French offering:). Have you read her recent fantasy novella series, Penric and Desdemona? She has written 4 so far – they are very reasonably priced – unlike many novellas and are absolutely wonderful. They are certainly one of my favourite fantasy reads of the year.

      While I LOVE the Miles Vorkosigan series, I have always wondered why her fantasy series get relatively little attention – The Curse of Chalian wasn’t even published in the UK, which is crazy, given her fan base… Have a lovely weekend and I hope the weather is better with you than it is here!

      • That really is crazy! The Chalion series has won some awards too, so I’m surprised to hear it’s not more available and more widely published around the globe. The Curse of Chalion is one of my favorite books ever! And yes I’m really enjoying her Penric novellas. I’m a bit behind though, only two out of four so far 🙂

      • I’ve been corrected by Himself – it was published in the UK, but Lois didn’t like the cover and had a falling out with her publisher over it, so the subsequent books weren’t published here…

        I’m really glad she is enjoying self publishing the Penric and Desdemona series – you’re in for a treat as the third one in the series is my favourite so far – I’ll be really interested to hear what you make of it:)). And I’m delighted you’re enjoying these – I think they deserve to be far better known!

  5. I think the French cover is my favorite, it looks so pretty! But I think the first cover is a good one too, it has a cozy and magical feel.

    • Yes, they are both strong covers – I think it comes down to personal taste. I love the fact that the French cover shows a protagonist who has suffered visible damage.

  6. I love the French cover. It’s so eye catching and really seems to show the genres. That last cover is just awful. I’d pass on that book if I just the cover without a second thought.

    • It is a great cover, isn’t it? And the book is a real page-turner – plenty of adventure with a rather unusual romantic twist unfolding in the middle of it.

  7. Ooooooooooooo, lovely set here! I follow your diagnosis cover to cover. The first two do have different flavors in terms of ages, with one appealing to younger readers vs. the other. The third and fourth covers are lacking, I agree, in approach to the material. I’d rather not think a kid’s reading a bodice ripper, thank you very much. 😉

    • Though this isn’t a kids book – it actually deals with a pregnancy in a fairly strait-laced society and the monsters they are fighting are quite creepy. And that’s my problem with the first cover – I think that is what it looks like…

  8. I think the first two are STUNNING and would definitely encourage me to check out the book while the remaining two don’t look good in my opinion. Especially in the contrast with their predecessors they leave the “low cost and effort self-publishing” impression.

    • Yes – there is definitely a falling off of quality – and I do think the last one is trying to make the book appeal to the romance market, which is a daft move. Though there is romance, that isn’t what drives the story forward, so romance lovers are likely to be disappointed.

      • I’ve seen a similar move by the Polish publisher. They tried to get new audience, so they made the covers for a series a bit more YA girls-targetted. The adult audience didn’t like the new version.

      • Well they wouldn’t, would they? You do wonder sometimes, who actually runs the Marketing departments in some of these publishing houses…

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