Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shelf Candy Saturday #81: Toward the Gleam, by T.M. Doran

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This weekly feature
showcases beautiful book covers,
and provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

This is my choice for this week!

Toward the Gleam
Hardcover, 481 pages
Ignatius Press
March 1, 2011
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Mythology,
Philosophy, Tolkien-based Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

The first thing that caught my eye, when I first came across this cover, was the similarity of the illustration in the top compartment to an illustration created by the incomparable and revered J.R.R. Tolkien.  Since this great man is one of my favorite writers, since I passionately love his fictional world and characters, I knew I had to take a closer look!

The plot of this very intriguing novel does owe much to Tolkien's enchanting fantasy world.  Thus, it was only natural that the cover for this book should have recognizable Tolkien elements in it. 

The illustration I've already mentioned is lovely.  The one in the lower compartment is more stark, more modern-looking.  The spider in one corner, and the spider's web in the other, are a clear reference to Shelob, the frightening, giant spider which appeared in The Two Towers, the second novel in Tolkien's trilogy.  It seems that the inclusion of these elements is also meant as a metaphor, referring to the machinations of the major villain in the plot.  They might also refer to the ingeniously-crafted intellectual deceptions of the evil philosophies explored in the novel.

I love the fact that both illustrations are within boxes or compartments, which are then framed by the intricately beautiful letters of the fantasy language created by Tolkien.  I also love the small book icon at the top of the first illustration, and the dragon icon at the top of the second one.  Both, I think, are references to Tolkien's masterpieces, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.

I also love that the book icon is at the top of an arch made by tree branches.  This is another clear reminder of Treebeard, a member of the ancient race of Ents, beings who are very much like trees, and who were featured in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of the trilogy.  And then there's the dragon icon, which is a reference to Smaug, the dragon encountered by Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.

The frame around the whole cover is very medieval-looking, and lends an air of ancient fantasy lore to the entire cover.  The writing around this frame, which I've already referred to, is done in a gorgeous, very elegant font.  The font used for the title and author's name is straight out of medieval illuminated manuscripts.

The color scheme is a very sober one, but it, too, lends an air of 'ancientness' to this cover.  Along with the Celtic-inspired designs at the four corners, it gives the cover an irresistible, fantasy-world look.

The incredibly talented creator of this cover is Daniel Mitsui!  I was able to find his name on the Amazon page of this book, and visited the artist's website.  What I saw there just blew me away!

Mitsui, a freelance artist, has been greatly inspired by medieval religious art and illuminated manuscripts.  His very detailed, complex drawings are done in either black or colored ink, and are quite expensive.  Although they are also available as Giclee prints, they are still a bit too expensive for me...

Mitsui was the perfect choice for this cover, since he, Tolkien, and Doran, have created works informed by a Catholic worldview.  This book is a prime example of the harmonious meeting of three minds with the same highly ethical, spiritual values.

The cover designer is John Herreid, and he explains his concept for this particular cover HERE.

Daniel Mitsui Online

John Herreid Online

What do you think of my
choice this week?
Leave me a comment
and let me know!


  1. Very insightful analysis of this great cover Maria.

    I looked up some descriptions of the book itself and it sounds very intriguing, It does not seem to be a Lord of the Rings imitation but almost an exploration of how the epic relates to our world. I may give this one a try.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      It certainly does! And your summary of it is right on target; that's exactly what this book is -- "an exploration of how the epic relates to our world."

      I've got this one on my Amazon wish list, and it will soon be mine!

      Thanks for the compliment and the lovely comment!! : )


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