Brandon Sanderson’s latest entry in his Stormlight Archive book series finally gets cover art courtesy of Michael Whelan. And funnily enough, Whelan worked through a highstorm to bring this to us.
Journey Before Destination
Rhythm of War is the latest entry in Brandon Sanderson’s best-selling epic fantasy book series: The Stormlight Archive. And now, it finally has an equally as epic book cover thanks to the renowned artist Michael Whelan. Funnily enough, at the time Whelan was working on this cover on August 4, Hurricane Isaias was blowing through his current residence of New England like a highstorm from Roshar. Okay, maybe not quite like a highstorm, but I’d imagine it made little difference to the people inside either storm.
Michael Whelan also made the covers for all the previous Stormlight Archive books, and each one somehow managed to be more epic than the last. It’s not surprising considering that he reads every single book he draws covers for. While Rhythm of War hasn’t been released yet, Whelan’s covers for the Stormlight Archive books always manages to be spot-on. So I’m quite confident that this one, coming straight from Tor Book’s website, is no different.
Analysis Time (Warning, Minor Spoilers for Stormlight Archive Ahead, Read at Your Own Peril)
The cover of Rhythm of War seems to depict the world of the spren (read: spirits), known as Shadesmar. The books describe the seas of Shadesmar as being made of innumerable tiny glass beads, with each bead representing an object, thought, or emotion in the material world. You can quite clearly see those beads here in the cover. That sparkling surface in the lower background that looks like sands of a desert? That’s not sand. Those are those glass beads. They’re actually where ocean is in the material world, as you can see by comparing a map of the two realms.
The land the characters are standing on is where ocean is in the material world. Those oddly geometric plants are also spren of a sort. Shadesmar actually has its own spren-based ecosystem that’s lavishly depicted by Whelan here.
Speculation Warning (Also, More Minor Spoilers for Stormlight Archive)
Speaking of the characters though, on the front cover, you can see Shallan Davar: one of the main characters of Stormlight Archive. Her left hand has a glove on it because among the Alethi, the main race of Stormlight Archive, having an uncovered left hand is considered obscene for women. It’s as bad as if a woman’s chest was uncovered in our world. It’s a nice attention to detail Whelan is showing here, although I have no idea what that tiny object Shallan is holding in said left hand is. The only thing I can say is: “MacGuffin Alert!”.
The white-haired man on the back cover is a mystery though. I don’t recall any white-haired men being of any importance in the previous books. This one though, is holding a spear and is dressed in Kholin blue. It suggests that he might very well be Kaladin Stormblessed, another of the main characters who’s a gifted spear-wielder and is a retainer of the Kholin house. However, previous artwork by Whelan himself depicted him as having dark hair. I’m uncertain why he would have white hair here, assuming that he is Kaladin, but it likely has to do with the story.
As for that monolith in the background, I have no idea what it means. It could be one of the Oathgates that leads back to the material world, but there’s no indication of which one this is. Not that it would unless the supersized spren guarding it come out and tell us.
Michael Whelan did it again. He drew yet another fabulous cover art for a Stormlight Archive book, and through a practical highstorm to boot. Can you say “hype time”? If you are hyped now, you can preorder Rhythm of War right now on Amazon. The Kindle version is $15.99, but the hardcover version (aka: the best version) is $28.99. The e-book version may be cheaper, but I guarantee that you won’t regret it if you get the hardcover version.