[banging pots and pans together rhythmically, while chanting] BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD
Can anyone tell me why one of the most famous fantasy series of all time has been made to look like an easy-reader series based on a low-budget 3-d animated children’s tv show? The type and the imagery are both being Bad in specific ways, so first, let’s just address that the imagery is L A M E A S H E C K. Look how boring those are! How nonspecific! The dragon is okay, and the bird I GUESS is fine, but as a group, this is the illustrative equivalent of oatmeal. And not even a satisfying portion of it. Like a half-serving of oatmeal. And the oatmeal is using an excessive number of textures in a desperate attempt to balance the design. The oatmeal fails. The pictures don’t even make up a coherent visual collective: the detail work and lighting on the…… collar…….. thing….. on the second one looks totally out of place next to the ~softly lit~ dragon + hill (?) below it.
But ultimately, you could still have a good design around weak imagery. My problems with these covers lie mostly with the type.
I’ve only really ever talked standalones, or first covers of first books in a series or trilogy; cover design for a series as a whole this isn’t something we’ve addressed before. When designing a series, you have to take into account a) how the different covers work together as a cohesive whole, which includes deciding which specific elements must/can change vs stay the same book to book, and b) how to balance the title of the book with the name of the series. We’ve already addressed that the illustrations don’t gel, so my focus is on the second point. In most current YA or adult series, this is a non-issue. It gets thrown in as a tiny tagline with no visual weight if it gets thrown in at all, and that works fine, because the designs are clear that the books go together. Even the Throne of Glass cover gets that right.
Middle grade covers are a different story, though. Series for younger readers are much more likely to make the series name a “logo” and give it a central focus (for a variety of reasons I won’t get into because they’re all sort of intuitively obvious):