Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday #151: The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, if available,
on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

The King of Attolia
(The Queen's Thief, Book 3)
Megan Whalen Turner
Hardcover, 400 pages
Greenwillow Books
January 24, 2006
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, 
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

In order to 'qualify' for a "Shelf Candy Saturday" post, a cover has to capture my attention immediately and intensely. The cover above has certainly done both!

This image has a winning combination of boldness and meticulous detail that is extremely appealing to me. The overall composition is made up of large, very dynamic shapes and angles. Compositional tension is created by the young man's arm and hand, which direct the eye to the left, being met by the strong perpendicular movement of the sword. The feminine hand placed on the young man's shoulder also creates movement and tension, as the eye shifts from the hand on the sword hilt, to the hand on the shoulder.

Speaking of hands, the two pictured here create another sort of tension -- that between masculine and feminine forces -- that is also quite appealing visually, as well as psychologically. The young man's hand shows strength of will, as well as an implacable harshness. The hand on his shoulder seems to be urging that these qualities be tempered with compassion and mercy. The young man's head is bowed. I think he's not only accepting his destiny as a strong leader, but is also listening to the gentle advice of the woman whose hand rests on his shoulder.

The boldness of the main shapes and angles is contrasted with the meticulous, rich detail in the sword hilt, the young man's sleeve (I wonder what the repeated patterns on the sleeve mean), and the beautiful, ornate frame for the book's title. I love to let my eyes roam all over the cover, only to then  dwell on the gorgeous details, and then shift back to the main shapes. This, too, creates compositional tension.

The font is a classic one -- rather like ancient Roman lettering. It does fit this cover very well, reinforcing the concepts of strength and indomitable will shown  by the young man.

The style of this brilliant cover reminds me of the work of the German artist Hans Holbein the Younger, who created portrait masterpieces in the 16th century. I feel that the creator of this cover was probably influenced by this great master. This is very evident when one compares the cover above with Holbein's portrait below. The same contrast between large, bold shapes and meticulous detail are also present in the Holbein work. However, the cover artist has made these qualities his own, and is not merely copying the older master.

Portrait of Sir Thomas More
Hans Holbein the Younger
Oil and Tempera on Oak
Frick Collection, NYC

The cover's creator is Vince Natale, who studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and graduated from the duCret School of Art in Plainfield, New Jersey. He has created book covers and other commercial works, as well as fine art, and has won numerous awards.

Of course, I can't wait to add this treasure to my collection! 

Online Links
(includes beautiful illustrations)

What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment 
and let me know!


  1. Striking is indeed the word to use for this cover.

    I agree with all the reasons you mention.

    Another extraordinary thing about this cover for me, is that ironically, much of its power emanates from what it omits.

    The covering of the young man’s eyes is striking. To a lesser extent the omission of the top of his add adds to the affect. I am sure that this was a conscious decision by the artist and in my opinion is very effective. I wonder if it is somehow related to the plot or themes of the book.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Yes, this cover is indeed striking! I'm glad you agree with all of my reasons for liking it!

      That's a very interesting point you make about the power of what's omitted. I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. Why are the young man's eyes covered? I think it might be because he thus becomes anonymous. The artist wants him to be a symbol of masculine power, and not an identifiable person. Natale emphasizes the young man's hand, which is a tight fist on the sword, as well as the sword's very strong presence. Obviously, the sword is a phallic symbol.

      The young man does have a scar on his face, but, other than that, he's less of an individual, and more of a generic symbol of masculinity. This is another element of the cover which gives it much of its power.

      Thanks for the great, thought-provoking comment!! : )


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