|Art by Michael C. Hayes|
I hesitated to add Jeff Salyards’ second book of “Bloodsounder’s Arc” series on my most anticipated books of 2013 - although his debut novel “Scourge the Betrayer” was one of the pleasant surprises of 2012 - not because I lost the interest in the series, but because there is no precise official release date yet. “Veil of the Deserters” is scheduled to be published in fall/winter by Night Shade Books and though for the moment the release date is far we can already take a look on the cover artwork for Jeff Salyards’ second novel. If the first cover was made by J.K. Woodward for the second novel Night Shade Books chose Michael C. Hayes, who previously worked with the publisher at the cover of Teresa Frohock’s “Miserere”. Michael C. Hayes is an emerging talent and I am certain that in the future we will hear more and more about this excellent artist. His current portfolio is a powerful testimony in this sense. “Veil of the Deserters” is a good cover, but there is something about it that keeps nagging me. I find it a bit crowded, with Braylar’s sister, Soffjian, finding herself in a perilous position. So close and with the back turned to a hand-to-hand fighting might not be such a wise decision, an unfortunate rebound of the sword-bearer or a missed attacked from Braylar and his two-headed flail can cause a lot of damage. Of course, the image is frozen into position and when the characters are in motion the things might not be the same, but from Soffjian’s position she is in a defensive stance and could remain too close to the melee. It is also true that there is something more to the scene and Soffjian can be found into defensive although it is not her wish. Other than that, I love the background, the sky in turmoil a match for the dynamism of the scene, and the details of the armors and weapons, especially the viciousness of the flail, a perfect representation of the dreaded thing from Jeff Salyards’ story. And when it comes to medieval weaponry and armor I have a weak spot, fully satisfied here. I also like a lot that Soffjian is properly equipped for fighting and not the summary outfit, more appropriate for an underwear fashion show rather than combat, we’ve seen in fantasy art before. With such wonderful details I am left with only one concern, I wonder where the lettering will be. Overall, it is a nice cover and hopefully, one of the many with which Michael C. Hayes will delight us in the future.