I cannot conceal my admiration for Marc Simonetti’s talent and art, not that I am attempting such a thing. Each new artwork and book cover born from Marc Simonetti’s brushes tends to lose me in contemplation and each one manages to fascinate me in one way or another. I have two fresh examples to keep the fire of my appreciation for the work of this wonderful artist burn brighter, the covers for Rachel Neumeier’s “The Mountain of Kept Memory” (coming in November from Saga Press) and the French edition of Bradley P. Beaulieu’s “Twelve Kings in Sharakhai” (“Les Douze Rois de Sharakhaï” published by Bragelonne). Both share the same design, one that Marc Simonetti used before, the perspective over a city. In the case of “Twelve Kings in Sharakhai” Marc Simonetti’s artwork is similar to the US cover only to have an ampler vision and a more encompassing perspective. On both these covers the panorama envisioned by the artist and his playing on the light have the effect of stirring the viewer’s curiosity and the desire to visit these places, at least with the help of imagination until the books open further these worlds. There is one more thing stimulating the desire to discover more about these places, the characters. Not only do we see the cities from a distant witness point of view, but from the way the characters are positioned on the cover we share that vision with them too, moving us closer to the scene and creating an initial connection with the personages. And the characters, like the settings, remain to be discovered within the pages of the respective books.
In this gorgeous fantasy in the spirit of Guy Gavriel Kay and Robin McKinley, a prince and a princess must work together to save their kingdom from outside invaders…and dangers within.
Long ago the Kieba, last goddess in the world, raised up her mountain in the drylands of Carastind. Ever since then she has dwelled and protected the world from unending plagues and danger…
Gulien Madalin, heir to the throne of Carastind, finds himself more interested in ancient history than the tedious business of government and watching his father rule. But Gulien suspects that his father has offended the Kieba so seriously that she has withdrawn her protection from the kingdom. Worse, he fears that Carastind’s enemies suspect this as well.
Then he learns that he is right. And invasion is imminent.
Meanwhile Gulien’s sister Oressa has focused on what’s important: avoiding the attention of her royal father while keeping track of all the secrets at court. But when she overhears news about the threatened invasion, she’s shocked to discover what her father plans to give away in order to buy peace.
But Carastind’s enemies will not agree to peace at any price. They intend to not only conquer the kingdom, but also cast down the Kieba and steal her power. Now, Gulien and Oressa must decide where their most important loyalties lie, and what price they are willing to pay to protect the Kieba, their home, and the world.
Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings -- cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.
Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings' laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha'ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings' mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings' power...if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don't find her first.