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 we got together in Proxy’s absence and decided to find covers featuring a hooded character – and very frustratingly, I found myself staring at Insatiable, the first book in Meg Cabot’s series I highlighted last week! After a great deal more searching, however, I came up with this offering – The Summoner – Book 1 of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series by Gail Z. Martin.
This cover was released by Solaris in April 2007 by Solaris. I really like the way that we only get half the hooded character, adding to the air of mystery. I also like the colour, which is a welcome change from all those dark, brooding covers that abound in this sub-genre.
This French publication was released by Milady in 2014, and they clearly didn’t appreciate quite so much mystery as the hooded figure is now fully revealed, albeit still off-centre.
This edition was published by Double Dragon in 2007. Not a hooded anybody in sight – but there is a real sense of menace as that doglike/demon face stares out at us over the luminescing ball of light. I really like this one – it’s certainly different as well as being beautiful.
This Czech edition was produced by FANTOM PRINT in 2007. The hooded character is replaced by a grim-looking king that reminds me of the ringwraiths from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. I think the effect is both beautiful and menacing with the fine detail on the armour and muted colour palette. However, my favourite is the previous cover – the Double Dragon edition. Which one do you prefer?
The world of Prince Martris Drayke is thrown into sudden chaos when his brother murders their father and seizes the throne. Forced to flee, with only a handful of loyal colleagues to support him, Martris must seek retribution and restore his father’s honor. But if the living are arrayed against him, Martris must learn to harness his burgeoning magical powers to call on a different set of allies: the ranks of the dead.
This fantasy tale, released in 2007, is a solidly crafted piece of work in a highly recognisable world. The hero, Tris, is suitably likeable and upset after the death of his family. His companions include a hardened mercenary who is also loyal; a boyhood friend who becomes increasingly nervous at his increasing power; a court bard and in amongst their adventures, they manage to scoop up a princess on the run. Nothing original, there.
But Tris is an emerging necromancer whose source of power comes from his links with his dead grandmother. However, his brother’s wicked sorcerer is blocking his path to his dead family and he is tormented by images of his sister’s ghost imprisoned and unable to escape – unless he can build sufficient power to challenge the master necromancer whose power seems overwhelming…
As with all the better S & S, the magical element isn’t merely an additional weapon to be flicked around at the end of a wand. It is dangerous and quite capable of wiping out the magical user, along with all his followers if he can’t very quickly get the hang of how to harness it.
I’m not going to promise you an original world of complex characters that lodge in your head and won’t let you go… Neither will I claim that this is the greatest addition to the canon – that said, all the reviews I’ve read about the series have claimed that it goes on getting better in the subsequent books. However, in The Summoner the characters develop as the adventures stack up, the magic does have an interesting twist and Martin writes engrossing magical action and keeps the narrative pace moving at a good clip. All in all, an enjoyable read for fans of this sub-genre.