Friday Faceoff – If my head would win him a castle in France, it should not fail to go… #Brainfluffbookblog


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 meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is the TUDOR PERIOD, so I’ve selected one of my favourite reads of this excellent series, Dark Fire – Book 2 of the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom.

This edition was produced by Penguin in December 2005 and features a blazing London cityscape. I love the artwork and drama – but loathe that red blob plonked in the middle of scene announcing that this is a Matthew Shardlake thriller. What’s wrong with adding that detail under the main title?


Published in May 2007 by Pan Books, I love the drama of this ancient text being engulfed by flames – the title font is awesome. But I don’t like the lack of additional information, like the fact that this is the second book of the series, which is a serious fail.


This edition, published by Viking Books in January 2005, at least includes some of the vital information on it. I very much like the title text box as a ripped scroll, though I do feel they have been a tad too clever adding the St George’s Cross, which instead looks like a cross put in the corner by a grumpy teacher. The actual artwork is skilful, with the half-hidden swordsman in the foreground and the Tudor building behind him, but it doesn’t have much impact in thumbnail.


Produced by Pan Books in 2005, this dramatic depiction is my favourite for the sheer drama of the cover. The fire roaring through the windows with the winding stone staircase in the foreground immediately pulls us into the scene. I also love the stylish lettering of the title font – but again, why is it such an almighty secret that Dark Fire is the second Matthew Shardlake book in the series? It’s unforgiveable to leave a detail like that off the front cover, I feel. Notwithstanding this egregious omission, this is my favourite cover.


This German edition, published by Fischer in 2011 is another stylish offering in the form of a Tudor book, complete with the elaborate hinges and attractive font – though again, there isn’t a mention that this is part of a best-selling series. Which is your favourite?

21 responses »

  1. Pingback: Follow Friday 2019 #2 – The Haunted Wordsmith

    • Yes, they are all good covers – apart from that weird ommission regarding the series… All I can think is that there was a change in publishers after the first book. Otherwise it simply doesn’t make sense.

    • Thank you, Jennifer – it’s a marvellous series and I hope you manage to get to it. If you have an interest in quality historical fiction, you’re in for a treat:)

  2. I’m going with your choice too, Sarah. It connects so well with the title. I’ve come across a bunch of books recently where they don’t mention it’s not the first book in the series. Kind of irks me when I go to possibly buy it and find out there’s other books before it. Some I went ahead and bought the first book. Others I’m still thinking about. Have a lovely weekend:)

    • Thank you, Laura. As for the issue where it isn’t clear it’s not the first book in the series – I’d say that traditional publishers are worse than indies for this sort of omission. Like you, I do get niggled by it – it’s not fair to the reader, is how I see it.

  3. I love the first book the most but I agree with you about that red circle – I hate when publishers do things like this and spoil the look of the cover. My second choice would be the cover that is your favourite, it definitely makes me want to know more about the book.

    • Yes… there’s always a bit of a thing about staircases, isn’t there? I think they are rather magical places. I never used to let my children play on ours, but as a child I was allowed to do so and spent hours imaging I was riding somewhere magical…

  4. I have the second cover on my ebook of this(I’ve read and loved both this and Dissolution). I see your point about leaving out the information about it being the second book. I do like the cover, though.

    • Thank you for swinging by, Sue and apologies for my bad manners in not replying sooner – I’ve fallen dreadfully behind this week! Yes, it’s a great cover, isn’t it?

  5. The first cover is indeed the winner, with the fourth one running a close second, and I have to join the battle against any kind of circle, square or other geometric shapes that mar the perfection of an image. This kind of information should be reserved for the back cover… (((SIGH)))

    • Thank you, Maddalena. The thing that makes me foam at the mouth is that information should be under the title! We need to know the book is part of series on the cover, not in some grotty little blob!

    • I agree with you that the artwork is good – and you’re right… I hadn’t thought of it before, but it does have that Cadfael vibe:). If you like that series, then I think you’d love the Matthew Shardlake series, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.