Image description: A book cover for Spear by Nicola Griffith. The background is charcoal, shading to black at the bottom, with the author’s name at the top in orange-red and the title, at the bottom, and ‘from the author Hild,’ in white. The main image is of a great hanging bowl of black iron with inlaid figures and great bronze escutcheons for the hanging hooks. It is wreathed about by smoke and flame and fumes, and the fumes form images: in white, woods with a woman and a stone and a sword; about the trees, shading to orange, is an figure with a spear on a horse; a fort gate and box palisade, and over all, flying up in the smoke towards the author’s name, two birds.
I’m delighted to share the cover for Spear, my sixth-century retelling of Arthurian legend, publishing 19 April, 2022, from Tordotcom:
A SPELLBINDING AND SUBVERSIVE QUEER RECASTING OF ARTHURIAN MYTH BY THE LEGENDARY AUTHOR OF HILD
The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveller speak of Arturus, king at Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.
And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, makes her way on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.
Award-winning author Nicola Griffith returns with Spear, a glorious queer retelling of Arthurian legend, full of dazzling magic and intoxicating adventure.
PRAISE FOR NICOLA GRIFFITH’S HILD
“As loving as it is fierce, brilliant, and accomplished. To read it felt like a privilege and a gift.” —NPR
“Nicola Griffith is an awe-inspiring visionary . . . I finished the book full of gratitude it exists.” —Dorothy Allison
The cover is luscious, exactly what I wanted, and perfect for the book. The illustration is by Rovina Cai and design by Christine Foltzer.
For my book covers I usually I prefer bright colours, but for Spear I wanted something subtle and atmospheric. I asked for Rovina specifically, and tomorrow I’ll talk more about why, but for now: Spear is a story of wild woods, magic and mystery, of love and lust and fights to the death—it’s all about the feels—and I knew Rovina could do that.
When I was asked about images for the cover, I suggested several things—a spear, a cave, a wooded thicket, and a hanging bowl (or cup—as it’s sometimes called in the book)—all vital to the story. And as you can see we ended up focusing primarily on the cup.
Tomorrow I’ll talk a bit more about that hanging bowl/cup and a lot more about how the cover evolved—a tale involving 6th- and 7th-century manuscripts, Nazis and the Third Reich, and wrestling with millimetres…
But for now, simply enjoy this delicious image and, if you’re so inclined, go listen to me read the first page or two, which I hope will give you a taste of the atmosphere and rhythms of the book.