Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shelf Candy Saturday #44: Trey of Swords, by Andre Norton

Welcome to
Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This weekly meme/blog hop, hosted here,
features beautiful book covers!
It was originally hosted by
Stephanie @
Five Alarm Book Reviews,
a blog I really miss...

If you'd like to participate, just grab my button (or create your own), write your own post, and link up in the Linky widget at the bottom of this post. Just be sure to click on "Read more" so that the entire post will open up.
As a bonus, you can include information on the artist, designer, and/or photographer in your post, but it's not required. You can simply feature a cover and explain why you love it!
Here's my choice for this week!
(Witch World Series 1:
The Estcarp Cycle #6)
Mass Market Paperback, 180 pages
Ace Books
July 1, 1978
Why do I love this cover?

This illustration is a composite of semi-realistic, semi-stylized images.  To me, the best part of the illustration is the knight's head at the bottom of the cover.  I love the chain mail covering his chin and neck.  But what I find really amazing is the knight's helmet, which depicts a very fierce face with hypnotic, penetrating eyes that make you stop in your tracks and stare back.  The knight's eyes are closed, so it seems as if his personality is temporarily asleep, and the terrifying warrior on his helmet has taken over.  This image is a bit disturbing, yet superbly done.
I have always loved intricately detailed covers, and this one is certainly a prime example. When I first saw this book on eBay recently,  I didn't hesitate, but clicked on the "buy" button right away!  I love book covers from the late '70s and early '80s,  especially those for paperback books.  I also love the Art Deco-influenced fonts used for many of them, including this one. 

At the top left-hand corner of the cover, another knight stands, holding a flaming sword in his hands. This sword is partly hidden by the author's name, which is done in a futuristic-looking font. 

Between this second knight and the one wearing the strange helmet stands what appears to be a huge mountain of sharp crystal.  I wonder what strange adventure takes the knight to such a mountain...

At the lower right-hand corner, a menacing black shape curves out and then down, over the head of an apparently defeated dragon, while a shield appears to have crushed the body of the dragon.

This is a wrap-around illustration, too.  On the back cover, a woman (probably the novel's heroine, Crytha), clutches her flowing dress to herself as her hair whips around her in a strong wind.  She is flanked by a castle tower.  At the bottom of the cover, two knights prepare to do battle with and alligator-type creature.  The whole design just flows so smoothly, although again, it's made up of composite images.  I especially like the fact that the tongues of fire on the front cover carry over onto the back.

This is the complete, gorgeous illustration!
I couldn't enlarge it further,
because it wouldn't fit in this space.
This is the even more beautiful
hardcover edition,
which incorporates all the images
on the front cover!
These gorgeous images are the work of
Charles Mikolaycak,
renowned illustrator of
books for children as well as adults.
He was the author of
several books, too, which he
illustrated himself.

Charles Mikolaycak
(1937 - 1993)
Artist Bio from the University of
Minnesota Library Website
Charles Mikolaycak (1937-1993) was a book illustrator, designer and sometime teller of stories of a very high order. On occasion he addressed the influence of film and theater on his work. In the transcript of a talk given in 1991 at the Sacramento Literature Symposium, he spoke of his enthusiasm for theater and film and the impact advertisements for movies had on his development as an illustrator. This was a thoughtfully developed talk, and he began by addressing an object of assumed interest to his audience: “Where do the pictures come from?” He acknowledged the text to be illustrated as the first claim to the illustrator’s attention, the ideas that stem from that regard. But he continues to ask why the illustrations come to look the way they do. He acknowledged his interest in the camera’s point of view and the use of image cropping, a photographer’s device. Mikolaycak concluded his talk with the projection of slides of his work interspersed with movie stills, adding with a caveat that his work differed from the movie still. “But the connections are there, and they are real.”
(To read the rest of this article, which includes several illustrations of Mikolaycak's work, as well as that of other artist, just click HERE.)
For further information:
What do you think of my choice?
What beautiful covers
are you featuring this week?


  1. Great cover. I too like this retro looking artwork.

    On a side note this really broght back memeories. I read a few Andre Norton books when I was still in my childhood but have not thought about her books in decades!

    Though it has been a long time I think that her books are well worth reading.

  2. Hey, Brian!

    Oh, I just had to snap this one up as soon as I saw it! I love the hardcover version even more, but it's out of print, and very expensive. Maybe I'll get lucky one day, and will be able to find it at a reasonable price. I won't lose hope!

    I read an Andre Norton novel when I was in my teens, but don't remember which one. I really have to get into her novels -- she was a VERY prolific author, one DEFINITELY well worth reading!!

    Thanks for another GREAT comment!! : )

  3. Hhmm, I'm not sure I can add this to the linky but here's Wendy's shelf candy post from last week :)


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