Friday Faceoff – The Pen is Mightier than the Sword


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 and is currently hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog. This week the theme is a cover featuring a fancy font, so I’ve chosen Assassin’s Apprentice – Book 1 of The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb.


This cover, produced by Spectra in March 1996, is not my favourite, however I still like it. The content is directly applicable to the cover and I particularly like the shadowed stag and birds wheeling in the air. While my preference is not to have the main character featured on the cover – it always jars with my mental image – this depiction isn’t offensively different, other than being rather better fed and groomed than the scrawny, feral character I always imagined Fitz to be.


This edition was produced by Voyager in March 1996 and is far less eye-catching. The generic ship in a rough sea could be headed anywhere and the small inset headshots don’t really add very much. I do like the design around the title and author fonts, which are at least an improvement on the usual wretched rectangular blocks plonked in the middle of the artwork. However, the overall greyness wouldn’t encourage me to pluck this one off the shelves.


Published in November 2002 by Spectra, edition manages to evoke the sense of magic. The deep blue is attractive and I like the fact that Fitz is stroking a dog while Spymaster Chade has his hand upon the boy’s head in a somewhat threatening manner. The castle in the background emphasises the sense that Fitz isn’t free to come and go as he pleases. Overall, I think this cover works really well and is a close contender.


This edition, published in 2011 by Voyager fulfils the brief as far the fancy font is concerned and also happens to be my favourite. Given that Fitz is writing his memoirs throughout this trilogy, I really like the effect that this is an old parchment and the lovely flowing font is both beautiful and eye-catching.


This Spanish edition also caught my eye – and this time the fancy font is featuring Robin Hobb’s name, which seems a smart marketing move, given just how famous she is. Published in June 2014 by Plaza & Janés México, I love the layers of action fading into the sky as the boy on horseback trots through the landscape, looking rather lonely. Which one is your favourite?

28 responses »

  1. Assassin’s Apprentice! 😀 I love this book. And while I’m partial to the 1996 Spectra cover, since that’s the version I own, my favorite is the same as yours – the 2011 Voyager one. I love the script of the title over the faux parchment background.

  2. This was a cool theme this week! I love fonts and I especially love book covers that get fonts right. (They can be disasters!) I do love your choice, and it fits with the story😀

    • Oh yes – me too, Laura. Not only is the Spectra cover very attractive – it nails the sense of threat and claustrophobia hanging over, Fitz. Thank you for popping by:)

  3. A most thorough analysis as always, my friend! Yeah, that first one’s hero looks really, really healthy–rather like a Renaissance Faire participant. 🙂 The boat is very generic–you could paste just about any fantasy title over that, but someone must have been reading Voyager of the Dawn Treader and thought, let’s focus on the boat!
    The manuscript cover’s got all those neat touches with the tears, the splotch of wax–or is it blood? I admit, that’s a beautiful cover that makes me want to pull it open. I can’t fault the Spanish or first covers quoting Martin, though; when you have one of THE names in fantasy saying the story’s worth reading, you want people to know it! The layering in that Spanish cover is definitely a nice touch; it promises action and mystery with that distant city…

  4. For the first time in a while, I don’t have a favorite. They all look familiar, though, as if I saw them somewhere, so I guess they’re adequate. And they are nicer than most of Polish editions of the book.

    • That’s interesting! Given how different the covers are, I am surprised you don’t have a favourite – though if none of them tick your box, then that makes sense:). Have you read this one, Joanna?

      • No, sadly, it’s one of those books that “missed” me. When the Polish editions came out, I never got to them, and when I started reading in English “for real”, my TBR was already swamped.
        I want to read it one day, buuut… you know. Always too many books.

      • I’m counting on the fact that when I die, I shall be shunted into a book heaven where I can get to read all the books on my TBR list…

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