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 being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers with pictures of furry creatures. I’ve selected Shardik – Book 2 of the Beklan Empire by Richard Adams.
This edition was produced by Overlook Duckworth in November 2004, and is one of the default cover designs for this book, which originally came out in May 1974. I really like it – the fact that the bear’s head is made up of the buildings of the main city is spot on, as the story is about what the bear represents to this civilisation. I also appreciate the punchy title and author fonts, which are easily read even in thumbnail. I think this is a successful, eye-catching cover.
Published in January 1976 by Penguin books, this is the cover on the book that I owned. It’s one of my most memorable reads – along with the very disturbing The Girl in a Swing – there is something about Adams’ writing that got right under my skin, so it brings back happy memories. I love the image of this bear, huge and savage – just look at the length of those claws. But reluctantly, I don’t like it as much as the previous cover.
This edition, published by Oneworld Books in November 2014, is a reworking of the first cover – and while I like that one, this is my favourite. I think it’s because there is so much here that relates to the story. The profile of the bear in red is apt – Shardik’s appearance triggers a series of violent events. The wooden boards that act as backdrop represents his imprisonment, while I particularly love the fir trees as his teeth in his upper jaw, meeting the cityscape in his lower jaw. Which is a really clever pictorial depiction of the tension between the wilderness and what he represents to the Belden civilisation. I just wish more covers were designed with such respect for the story.
This Danish edition, produced by Gyldendals Bogklubber in 1977, also features Shardik up on his hind legs trying to outrun the fire that has destroyed the forest where he used to live. Look at the clouds of ash as he moves and the wisping, ashy remains of grass right in the foreground… Again, this is a scene right from the book and works really well as a cover. I like the fact that we are looking up at the bear, emphasising his huge size.
This Italian edition, published by Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli in 1976 is probably the most attractive of all the covers. The artwork is detailed and beautifully executed, though I don’t get the sense of Shardik’s power and size from this image, unlike the other covers. And it also features an unnecessarily large textbox, which I hate. That said, I still like it even if it isn’t my favourite. Which one do you prefer?